Partnered with a Survivor: David Mandel and Ruth Reymundo Mandel

Season 3 Episode 7: Understanding and Validating Survivors' Acts of Resistance

June 04, 2022 Ruth Stearns Mandel & David Mandel Season 3 Episode 7
Partnered with a Survivor: David Mandel and Ruth Reymundo Mandel
Season 3 Episode 7: Understanding and Validating Survivors' Acts of Resistance
Show Notes

Too often conversations about domestic violence define survivors as passive trauma survivors with the emphasis on the negative mental health and addiction consequences of the perpetrators' patterns of behavior. And while these impacts are real they only tell part of the story.  On a daily basis, survivors engage in  small and large acts of resistance to coercive control & domestic violence.   Based in their knowledge of the perpetrator,  their assessment of the system and available supports, survivors engage in targeted strategic actions that are important to their own safety and  the safety and well being of their children. Not just passive recipients of abuse,  survivors actively use a variety of behaviors to carve out physical and emotional "safe zones" a term coined by Dr. Evan Stark, author of Coercive Control.  These acts of resistance can include:

  • Lying the the perpetrator
  • Defending their children from abuse
  • Fighting back physically
  • Standing up for what they and their children need 

They can include ways to defy the perpetrators' rules or places in the survivor's mind where she fantasies about freedom or retreats into her mind when he is abusing her .  

In this episode Ruth and David discuss:

  • how these acts of resistance are often decontextualized from the perpetrators' pattern 
  • survivors acts of resistance, particularly survivors from Black, Indigenous and other marginalized communities, often criminalized 
  • the importance of professionals recognizing these acts of resistance as part of the process of partnering with survivors and avoiding failure to protect practice 

David & Ruth also showcase the audio from a video produced by Orana House, a refuge in Western Australia, called "Warrior Women" that showcases survivors' acts of resistance. Watch the video.