Partnered with a Survivor: David Mandel and Ruth Reymundo Mandel

Season 3 Episode 8: Understanding Reproductive Coercion: An Interview with Dr. Heather McCauley

August 18, 2022 Season 3 Episode 8
Partnered with a Survivor: David Mandel and Ruth Reymundo Mandel
Season 3 Episode 8: Understanding Reproductive Coercion: An Interview with Dr. Heather McCauley
Show Notes

In this episode, David & Ruth continue their series on reproductive coercion as part of the cycle of intimate partner violence with an interview with Dr. Heather McCauley from the Michigan Consortium on Gender Based Violence MSU. 
Dr. McCauley discusses the newest research on reproductive coercion, the correlations to intimate partner violence, unwanted pregnancy, STI & health issues.   


  • Reproductive coercion is a common part of perpetrator's patterns of coercive control, violence & abuse.  
  • Condom manipulation & pregnancy coercion are two common ways perpetrators entrap  victims in relationships.  
  • Survivors who share children with a perpetrator are often unable to extricate themselves because of societal support, religious beliefs,  gender biases & institutional support for the 'authority' of the perpetrator over their victims. 
  •  Family court, criminal courts & our systems of care often blame women for having children with perpetrators. 
  • Pregnancy is assumed to be in the control of the survivor, even when domestic violence is known issue. 
  • Women in this situations can face tremendous judgement including being thought of  as stupid, promiscuous , failing to understand the impact of domestic violence or choosing to continue a relationship with a perpetrator. 
  • These attitudes  further entrap survivors,  victimizing them & placing them child survivors in danger.  


In this interview, David, Ruth & Dr. McCauley talk about topics like:

  • How important it is to identify common acts of resistance to reproductive coercion so we accurately assess survivors protective and safety strategies. 
  • How resistance to reproductive coercion often elicits violence - as does any form of resistance to a perpetrator of intimate partner violence. 
  • How a lack of professional awareness of the patterns & strategies of reproductive coercion is a danger to survivors & their safety & wellbeing.  
  • How reproductive coercion is much like the war time strategy of rape to enforce compliance, to frighten & to control. 
  • The  need for men to be part of the discussion around consent, family planning & reproductive health & the need for further engagement & accountability for perpetrators. 

 With some governments moving to remove reproductive rights, bodily self determination, access to abortion & birth control, it is vital to have a discussion of what reproductive coercion is, how it most often manifests as behaviors & what the impact is for survivors. Diving down into how reproductive coercion is supported by our societal attitudes, laws & institutional practices is key addressing the systemic nature of reproductive coercion. 

The podcast also includes positive statements on the dignity & autonomy of women &  speaks about the prevalence of attitudes which support & normalize reproductive coercion.

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Check out David Mandel's new book "Stop Blaming Mothers and Ignoring Fathers: How to transform the way we keep children safe from domestic violence."