Category Archives: General Information

‘It’s like being in a cult for one’: Read 14 tactics used by coercive controllers

East Anglican Daily Times/March 7, 2017
By Gemma Mitchell

Experts in the field of domestic abuse gathered in Suffolk to explore the intricacies of a crime that is “invisible in plain sight”.
A sold-out audience filled the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds on Monday, March 6 for the third Conference on Coercive Control, with presentations from a line-up of celebrated professionals.

Keynote speaker was American university lecturer and author Lisa Aronson Fontes, who described a manipulative relationship as “like being in a cult of one”.

Dr Fontes said dangerous romances often started out happy, with abusers using methods that seem loving, such as constant texting or not wanting to be around anyone else.

She added: “It looks like the care that many women crave, then over time that warm beam gets narrower and narrower and she wants to get that back and she feels like it’s her fault she doesn’t have it.
“Her life is then spent looking for ways of getting into that light again.”

One form of abuse that survivors often feel unable to talk about, Dr Fontes said, is sexual coercion, violence and degradation. This includes revenge porn, sex on demand and forced prostitution.

“Coercive control feels like being trapped in a cage and you can’t get out and you don’t know where to turn,” Dr Fontes added.

Professor Evan Stark, a forensic social worker and lecturer, praised the criminalisation of coercive control – calling it a “revolutionary moment in our women’s movement”.
According to Mr Stark, around 25% of women in abuse relationships are never assaulted, and in some cases it is “low level” harm which police may not take seriously, such as biting, pushing and shoving.

This is where the new law, which was passed in England and Wales in 2015, can come into play.

It carries a maximum prison term of five years for perpetrators who repeatedly subject spouses, partners and other family members to serious psychological, social, financial and emotional torment.

Mr Stark deems coercive control a “liberty crime” that turns victims into “slaves in their own homes”.

He added: “When you smell the suppression of freedom the stench of injustice reeks through society like a great wind.”

Dr Jane Monckton-Smith, an expert in domestic homicide and stalking, told the conference abusers often used coercive control because they were experiencing “separation anxiety” – a fear of losing someone.

She said: “They do not want to be separated from this person that they control because that person is absolutely fundamental to the way they feel about their life.”

It is this trait that can lead to a domestic murder, Dr Monckton-Smith said.

She added: “Some killers say to me once they kill someone it’s like a relief, they don’t have to worry about owning her anymore because she’s gone.”

Organiser Min Grob said she was “ecstatic” about how well received the Conference on Coercive Control had been since she launched it last year.

She added: “What I wanted to do is have coercive control pitched at a level that anyone can get more knowledge or understanding, from frontline workers, professionals and people in relationships or those who know someone who is being coercively controlled.

“It is a day of learning because coercive control is invisible in plain sight and even if you don’t realise it we all know someone in our family that could be being coercively controlled.”

Ms Grob, who has experienced domestic abuse in the past, said putting on an event like this made her feel “safer”.
Here are 14 ways coercive control can exist in an intimate relationship:

– Controlling access to a phone and social media

– Enforcing a certain diet

– Prohibiting or limiting contact with friends, family and health services

– Monitoring and controlling a person’s time or movement

– Regulating what clothes, make up, hairstyle is worn

– Continual belittlement, telling someone they are worthless

– Harming or threatening children

– Jealous accusations

– Constant phone calls, texting and emails

– Controlling access to money and transport

– Forcing sex

– Name calling

– Refusing contraception

– Preventing a person from working and sleeping

Seeing the warning signs of a toxic relationships

In the flush of a budding romance, a person may dismiss or minimize the telltale signs that warn of future relationship problems.

That person may minimize or dismiss bad behavior because “he’s so good-looking” or “she doesn’t act like that all the time.” Or, worse, they blame themselves for their partner’s destructive actions.

Don’t ignore these signs if you’re serious about finding that special someone, experts say. In the end, when you’re asking why it all went wrong, it’s usually those “red flags” that were your first indication to move on.

Some signs of domestic problems are obvious — blatant infidelity or physical violence — but others are more subtle, said Maren Richards, crisis intervention coordinator for the Community Violence Intervention Center in Grand Forks.

“Name-calling, verbal put-downs, humiliation or making a person feel like they’re worthless or crazy” are common tactics of an abuser, she said.

Another prevalent attitude that the man should be in control weaves through the cases of many victims of domestic abuse.

“We see a lot of abusers using their ‘male privilege,’ that belief system that says males are dominant and should take charge,” Richards said. “They treat their partner like a servant — to care for the children, do the housework — and say, ‘I’ll make all the big decisions.’ ”

Some people are content “to go with the flow,” she said. But sometimes, if their opinions are never heard, they just give up.

Warning signs

Here are some signs that can help you determine if you are, or someone you know is, in a toxic relationship:

1. You’re always walking on eggshells.

One of the first signs of a toxic relationship is when one partner is always controlling, but that doesn’t always mean physically threatening or violent. It can simply be that you feel frightened to share your opinions — you’re constantly walking on eggshells because you’re afraid of your partner’s emotional reactions, experts say.

It’s also about emotional safety. Partners should be able to express themselves without fear of what’s going to happen when they do.

2. Your partner tries to control you.

Control and emotional manipulation are hallmarks of domestic abuse.

The abuser uses guilt to shift blame for poor behavior, Richards said. “They’ll say, for example, ‘If you wouldn’t have made me mad, I wouldn’t have done it.’ And the person will believe it and think, ‘Yes, I really did make him mad. I guess it was my fault.’

“It’s an ugly cycle, and the further you get into it, the harder it is to see what’s happening,” she said. “I hate to use the word ‘brainwashing,’ but it changes the way they view themselves and the way they think.”

3. Your partner punches a wall or throws objects during a fight.

Not only are these unhealthy ways of regulating emotions, but they could escalate to actions that really do cause harm. This kind of behavior is meant to intimidate another person.

“Even a look — like the one moms give their kids in a grocery store — that says, ‘Get in line’ ” can be an attempt to intimidate, Richards said.

Physical actions — such as grabbing someone’s arm and saying, “Get back here, I’m not done talking to you” — can be early indications of abuse. But that may not happen early in a dating relationship.

“If someone hit you in the face the second time you go out with them, it’s easy to walk away,” Richards said. And the abuser knows it.

“Generally, there’s kind of that buildup. It may start with a push. It rarely immediately escalates to a higher level.”

4. You’re being isolated from family and friends.

The abuser may take steps to control who you spend time with, as part of a subtle effort to manipulate you, Richards said. “They control who you see so they become the sole influence (in your life), and it’s harder for you to leave.”

They also use finances as a way to control their partner, she said. “(For example) they may keep you from working.

“One of the largest barriers to leaving is being financially dependent. It may feel overwhelming — the person may not see how they can make it on their own, especially if children are involved.”

5. You’ve been lied to.

“Honesty is an important facet of healthy relationships,” Richards said. “If someone has lied to you, you’ll want to figure out what this person’s intentions are.”

Was it to engage in some behavior they knew you wouldn’t be on board with or supportive of? If so, that might be a strategy they’ll continue to use.

“Little white lies,” especially when used to protect someone or spare their feelings, are probably not a sign of abuse, Richards said. “But if they’re lying about what they’re doing, who they were with, or where they were, that’s an indicator that something unhealthy is happening.”

6. Your family and friends tell you something’s wrong.

You may not realize you’re in a toxic relationship until things get really bad, especially if things have slowly gotten worse, or it’s gone on for so long it seems normal, experts say.

It’s important for family members to identify a domestic abuse issue, Richards said. “You could say something like, ‘I’m concerned about you; I think (the relationship) may be unsafe.’ But you have to be careful not to be too pushy because you may push them to further isolation. It’s about finding that fine line.

“You can make the offer, show concern, and let them make the decision about what to do,” she said. “It’s a tough thing to support someone who’s in this situation. It’s kind of like addiction in that the person has to be ready to make that big step.”

Help is available “if you’re not sure about your relationship,” Richards said. “You can come in (to CVIC) to talk.

“We see a lot of people come in and say, ‘I’m not sure I should be here,’ but they usually are in the right place. They don’t recognize how bad it might be, but we do, because we work with this every day.

“It’s hard to come to terms with (the fact that) someone you love would do that to you.”

In the Name of Love: Abusive Controlling Relationships (DVD)

How do individuals get involved with cults in the first place, and what steps can be taken to “deprogram” and heal those who have been drawn into these damaging groups? These questions and more are addressed in Cults Inside Out, written by a leading cult expert Rick Alan Ross. Over the course of three decades, Ross has participated in around five hundred cult interventions, provided expert court testimony, and performed cult-related work all around the world. With the help of current and former cult members, Ross demonstrates many of the tactics the groups use for control and manipulation-and, more importantly, some of the most effective methods he and other experts have used to reverse that programming. As a result, readers will find themselves armed with a greater understanding of the nature of destructive cults and an improved ability to assess and deal with similar situations-either in their own lives or the lives of friends and family members.Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out
In the Name of Love: Abusive and Controlling Relationships 

One third of American women report that at some time in their lives they were involved in abusive controlling and often violent relationships. Entertainer Tina Turner and Nicole Brown Simpson were just two well-known examples. Why don’t the victims of abusive partners leave? What draws them into and holds them much like prisoners within destructive and potentially unsafe relationships?

In the Name of Love: Abusive and Controlling Relationships

Cults: An Educational Volume 

A review of the cult problem and its history; a detailed explanation of cult “brainwashing” techniques; the warning signs of cult involvement; most frequently asked questions about cults and cult involvement; coping strategies when dealing with cult members; and bringing people out of cults through planned interventions

Cults: An Educational Volume

Take the Narcissistic Personality Inventory

USA Today/March 16, 2009

Authors Drew Pinsky and S. Mark Young, a professor of entertainment business at the University of Southern California have studied celebrities and the general population by administering a widely used screening tool called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), which is included in The Mirror Effect.

The book advises answering the 40 questions below in a single sitting, without asking for help or clarification. It notes, “There’s no such thing as a good or bad result on this test. Scoring high on the narcissism inventory, or high on any of the component categories, doesn’t mean you have a disorder, or that you’re a good or bad person.”

Print this out or track your choices of which statements best match you – then test your friends, family, that guy at the office – anyone who’s narcissism score you want to know.

1. A. I have a natural talent for influencing people.
B. I am not good at influencing people.

2. A. Modesty doesn’t become me.
B. I am essentially a modest person.

3. A. I would do almost anything on a dare.
B. I tend to be a fairly cautious person.

4. A. When people compliment me I sometimes get embarrassed.
B. I know that I am good because everybody keeps telling me so.

5. A. The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me.
B. If I ruled the world it would be a better place.

6. A. I can usually talk my way out of anything.
B. I try to accept the consequences of my behavior.

7. A. I prefer to blend in with the crowd.
B. I like to be the center of attention.

8. A. I will be a success.
B. I am not too concerned about success.

9. A. I am no better or worse than most people.
B. I think I am a special person.

10. A. I am not sure if I would make a good leader.
B. I see myself as a good leader.

11. A. I am assertive.
B. I wish I were more assertive.

12. A. I like to have authority over other people.
B. I don’t mind following orders.

13. A. I find it easy to manipulate people.
B. I don’t like it when I find myself manipulating people.

14. A. I insist upon getting the respect that is due me.
B. I usually get the respect that I deserve.

15. A. I don’t particularly like to show off my body.
B. I like to show off my body.

16. A. I can read people like a book.
B. People are sometimes hard to understand.

17. A. If I feel competent I am willing to take responsibility for making decisions.
B. I like to take responsibility for making decisions.

18. A. I just want to be reasonably happy.
B. I want to amount to something in the eyes of the world.

19. A. My body is nothing special.
B. I like to look at my body.

20. A. I try not to be a show off.
B. I will usually show off if I get the chance.

21. A. I always know what I am doing.
B. Sometimes I am not sure of what I am doing.

22. A. I sometimes depend on people to get things done.
B. I rarely depend on anyone else to get things done.

23. A. Sometimes I tell good stories.
B. Everybody likes to hear my stories.

24. A. I expect a great deal from other people.
B. I like to do things for other people.

25. A. I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve.
B. I take my satisfactions as they come.

26. A. Compliments embarrass me.
B. I like to be complimented.

27. A. I have a strong will to power.
B. Power for its own sake doesn’t interest me.

28. A. I don’t care about new fads and fashions.
B. I like to start new fads and fashions.

29. A. I like to look at myself in the mirror.
B. I am not particularly interested in looking at myself in the mirror.

30. A. I really like to be the center of attention.
B. It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention.

31. A. I can live my life in any way I want to.
B. People can’t always live their lives in terms of what they want.

32. A. Being an authority doesn’t mean that much to me.
B. People always seem to recognize my authority.

33. A. I would prefer to be a leader.
B. It makes little difference to me whether I am a leader or not.

34. A. I am going to be a great person.
B. I hope I am going to be successful.

35. A. People sometimes believe what I tell them.
B. I can make anybody believe anything I want them to.

36. A. I am a born leader.
B. Leadership is a quality that takes a long time to develop.

37. A. I wish somebody would someday write my biography.
B. I don’t like people to pry into my life for any reason.

38. A. I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public.
B. I don’t mind blending into the crowd when I go out in public.

39. A. I am more capable than other people.
B. There is a lot that I can learn from other people.

40. A. I am much like everybody else.
B. I am an extraordinary person.

SCORING KEY:

Assign one point for each response that matches the key.
1, 2 and 3: A
4, 5: B
6: A
7: B
8: A
9, 10: B
11, 12, 13, 14: A
15: B
16: A
17, 18, 19, 20: B
21: A
22, 23: B
24, 25: A
26: B
27: A
28: B
29, 30, 31: A
32: B
33, 34: A
35. B
36, 37, 38, 39: A
40: B

The average score for the general population is 15.3. The average score for celebrities is 17.8. Pinsky says he scored 16.

Young says it is important to consider which traits are dominant. For example, an overall score that reflects more points on vanity, entitlement, exhibitionism and exploitiveness is more cause for concern than someone who scores high on authority, self-sufficiency and superiority, he says.

The seven component traits by question:

    • Authority: 1, 8, 10, 11, 12, 32, 33, 36
    • Self-sufficiency: 17, 21, 22, 31, 34, 39
    • Superiority: 4, 9, 26, 37, 40
    • Exhibitionism: 2, 3, 7, 20, 28, 30, 38
    • Exploitativeness: 6, 13, 16, 23, 35
    • Vanity: 15, 19, 29
  • Entitlement: 5, 14, 18, 24, 25, 27

Reasons why abuse victims return often complex, experts say

The Salem News, Massachusetts/April 10, 2008

Peabody – Jania Pacheco returned to her Oak Street apartment late last fall just as her neighbor Jessica Herrera was leaving, bags in hand.

Herrera was shaking. Her right eye was blood red, Pacheco said, and the area surrounding it was bruised from just below her eyebrow down to her nose.

“It was literally like charcoal black, purple, blue,” she said. “We knew, evidently, that it was him (Herrera’s live-in boyfriend).”

They had a brief exchange. Herrera hugged Pacheco and thanked her. The 25-year-old mother of two told Pacheco she needed to go.

“I said, ‘You need to do what’s best for you,'” Pacheco recalled telling her neighbor. “You need to run for your life.”

She hoped her neighbor would leave for good, but that wouldn’t be the case.

“She kept coming back for something,” Pacheco said. “It didn’t seem like love.”

Herrera’s body was found Sunday in the closet of the 7 Oak St. apartment she shared with the boyfriend, Ashley Fernandes. Police charged him with strangling her. Fernandes pleaded not guilty in Peabody District Court on Monday morning and is being held without bail.

“We were just shocked, really shocked, but not surprised,” Pacheco said.

She’d made occasional phone calls to police when arguments from Herrera’s apartment were too loud to ignore, she said.

Now, she’s asking herself why her neighbor of nearly four years stayed after enduring so much abuse. It’s a question that rarely has a simple answer, say those who work with victims of domestic violence.

Peabody police Sgt. Sheila McDaid, who heads the department’s Domestic Violence Unit, said she could not speak about Herrera’s case. But she said complex issues like past relationships and the nuances of the current one factor into leaving.

“Again, there’s all the underlying circumstances we may not even know about,” she said. “I don’t believe anybody who’s been battered likes the battering.”

Fear is an overriding part of the decision making. Sometimes a victim has to devise an escape plan, McDaid said.

“Domestic violence is a crime,” she said. “It’s a unique crime because it’s committed by someone who allegedly loves you or someone you love. It’s not black and white.”

Candace Waldron, executive director of Help for Abused Women and their Children, agreed with McDaid that the reasons for staying are often complex and multifold.

“I think that’s one of the most frequently asked questions,” she said. “There’s a lot of reasons.”

Perpetrators don’t always batter and can be charming and affectionate at times, or they shift blame on the victim. And victims find a host of reasons to stay: for their children, fear of loneliness, loss of the connection.

“They may believe that the abuser will stop or the perpetrator will change because they love them,” Waldron said.

Keep in touch

As neighbors, Pacheco and Herrera chatted regularly, Pacheco said. They became pregnant around the same time, and eventually their children played together.

When Herrera returned to 7 Oak St. after the incident in late fall, she shied away from Pacheco, only waving a hello from time to time, Pacheco said.

“I think she was ashamed that she came back,” Pacheco said. “She was a totally different person and didn’t talk to us as much as she did before. It was like someone else had come back.”

It’s a symptom Waldron has witnessed all too often. The HAWC executive director said victims start to isolate themselves whether it’s out of the shame for staying or their willingness to appease the perpetrator.

Once isolated, a victim has few outlets to share feelings or experiences.

“That becomes almost like a brainwashing environment,” Waldron said. “If you don’t have a lifeline to the outside, it’s very hard to see that there’s any hope for you.”

She encouraged friends and family to keep in touch with a victim. It often means being rebuffed multiple times, but it lets a victim know whom she can rely on when she finally leaves for good.

“Staying connected is like throwing a lifeline,” Waldron said. “Stay connected, as hard as it can be.”

McDaid wanted to flip around the questioning toward the abuser rather than point fingers at the victim.

“Why did he do this? Why do people batter? Why don’t we as a society look at the perpetrator?” the police sergeant asked. “Society tends to look at the victim and say why don’t they do this. Sometimes it’s not that easy.”

Taking stock of syndrome

The Star/August 27, 2003
By Gael Branchereau

Relationships can develop in hostage situations whereby victims fall for their captors due to a condition called the Stockholm Syndrome with some continuing their relationship even though the victims’ lives are no longer at risk.

Thirty years ago last week armed robbers burst into a Stockholm bank and began a six-day siege that saw four hostages become emotionally attached to their captors, a phenomenon that has since come to be known as the Stockholm Syndrome.

The term was defined by an American psychiatrist, Frank Ochberg, who researched the Aug 23, 1973 robbery at Kreditbanken in which a romantic relationship developed between one of the captors and a hostage.

“The party has just begun!” yelled 32-year-old robber Jan-Erik Olsson as he entered the bank mid-morning and fired off a round from his sub-machine gun.

He took four bank employees hostage, demanded three million kronor, weapons, and an escape car.

Most importantly, he demanded that Clark Olofsson, a heavy-duty criminal serving time in prison, be released and brought to the bank, a request which was met.

The siege ended after six days when police gassed the bank and the robbers gave up.

To the surprise of many, some of the hostages, including 23-year-old Kristin Enmark, physically protected the robbers as they left the bank, to ensure police wouldn’t fire on them.

Ochberg, an expert who worked with the FBI, was serving on a task force on terrorism and disorder set up by the US Attorney General’s office after 11 Israeli athletes were executed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

As part of his research, he decided in 1976 to delve into the events surrounding the Stockholm bank robbery to explain how the hostages could develop warm, compassionate feelings for their violent, armed captors.

“The remarkable behaviour of hostage Kristin, her affection for her captor, his reciprocal affection for her and her anger at the authorities became the basis for my definition of the syndrome,” Ochberg told AFP by telephone.

“The syndrome begins with shocking and sudden capture, terror and infantilisation (where) you cannot eat, talk, move or use a toilet without permission,” he explained.

“But then somebody gives you permission to talk and eat and move, and live,” he said.

The gift of life “results in primitive, primordial gratitude” which is the foundation for all future feelings of love, he said, recalling the semen traces found on the floor of the bank vault.

“To try to have a mutual understanding in that kind of situation is not so strange, it’s a method of survival,” Enmark once said.

But Ochberg begs to differ, insisting that “it is not a reflex for life” but rather “a sense of gratitude.”

In fact in some cases, as with Enmark and her captor, victims and hostage-takers continue their relationship even though the victim’s life is no longer at risk.

Despite many rumours to the contrary, Enmark did not marry her captor though they did remain friends.

In the most famous case of the Stockholm Syndrome, Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publishing baron William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by the leftist Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974 and robbed a San Francisco bank together with her captors, brainwashed into denouncing her capitalist roots.

She was sentenced to seven years in prison for armed robbery, but had her sentence commuted by then US President Jimmy Carter.

William Sargant, a British expert in mind control who interviewed Hearst before her trial, concluded that a person whose nervous system is under constant pressure can display “paradoxical cerebral activity”, that is, bad becomes good and good becomes bad.

In the late 1970s, Ochberg sought to promote the Stockholm Syndrome to help save lives in hostage-taking situations, and convinced the FBI to apply his theories and spread them abroad.

They were put to use in 1977 when Moluccan separatists held a school and train hostage in the Netherlands.

“We wanted the captor to take the pulse of a sick hostage, in order to establish a ‘touching relationship’,” he said, stressing that the captor’s reciprocal attachment to the hostage is key to developing a relationship.

That attempt failed however when a doctor among the passengers volunteered.

Two hostages and six terrorists were killed in a final offensive after a 19-day siege.

According to Ochberg, the Syndrome can also be diagnosed among women who suffer from spousal abuse and journalists who cover conflicts.

‘Wildest Dreams’ do come true

Oprah, Tina bask in kinship during tour and interview.

USA Today/May 15, 1997

By Edna Gundersen

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is stalking Tina Turner as the Acid Queen continues her Wildest Dreams tour around the USA. After cheering at the May 1 opener, Winfrey stayed in Houston to air a live segment fulfilling a few of the wildest dreams women expressed in 80,000 letters. Now she’s trailing the tour to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where Thursday night Turner performs the third of five concerts at the Greek Theater. Turner will appear on Winfrey’s show Friday. USA TODAY reporter Edna Gundersen caught up with the two stars during a break from the tour.

Houston — Publicists, managers and hangers-on bustle in the hallway as two of the nation’s most powerful and charismatic self-made women huddle behind closed doors.

“Girlfriend, check out these shoes!”

Oprah Winfrey, crouched on the floor of Tina Turner’s dressing room at Woodlands Pavilion, is marveling at a long row of identical black spike heels. Turner, in snug cream leather pants and loafers, erupts in giggles and sinks into a sofa to nibble on celery.

“I am her biggest groupie,” confesses Winfrey, sporting a shaggy Tina-like wig that Turner suggests needs major styling. “This is my first Tina concert ever. Somebody has to hold me back!” The talk show queen is stalking the Acid Queen for both cheap thrills and a noble purpose. Tina’s appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show Feb. 21 inspired a series of shows honoring accomplished women. After cheering at the May 1 opener of Turner’s “Wildest Dreams” tour, Winfrey, 43, stayed in Houston to air a live segment fulfilling a few of the wildest dreams women expressed in 80,000 letters. She trailed the tour to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where Thursday night Turner, 57, performs the third of five concerts at the Greek Theater. She’ll appear on Winfrey’s show Friday.

“It’s exactly the way I imagined it,” Winfrey says after she and her TV crew observe backstage prep. “Chaos, fun. If you didn’t love this work, you would be tired all the time.”

She could be talking about either job. The pair’s electric personalities and unstoppable drive only hint at deeper parallels. Both are Southerners who overcame poverty, abuse, racism, sexism and dispiriting career slumps.

Born in Nutbush, Tenn., Turner rose to fame while enduring abuse from her husband, Ike. After walking out in 1976 with only a handful of change, she turned to housekeeping and food stamps before her honeyed rasp caught the ear of manager Roger Davies. In 1984, Private Dancer returned her to stardom. Today, Turner’s song-and-dance workouts still fill arenas. The leggy Hanes mascot, Buddhist and mother of four sons lives in Switzerland and France with German record exec Erwin Bach, 40.

Winfrey, raised in rural Mississippi and a Milwaukee ghetto, was Miss Black Tennessee and a news anchor in Baltimore before building a TV empire in Chicago. On her top-rated weekday show (up to 20 million viewers a day), she has shared her weight battles and disclosed that she was raped by a cousin at age 9. The workaholic squeezes philanthropy, writing and acting into an annual schedule of 200 shows.

Q: How did this power merger come about?

Oprah: It was an infectious, spontaneous moment. I passed a monitor as Tina was rehearsing and was just taken aback by her aura and energy.

Q: Did your early struggles fuel a drive to achieve?

Oprah: I’m glad I was raised in Mississippi at a time when being colored and female meant (low) expectations. Now I’m grateful for my days of emptying slop jars, hauling water from the well and going to the outhouse and thinking I was going to fall in. It makes walking through the house with the many bathrooms and marble floors and great view that much better.

Tina: A friend told me, “If you never got truly wet you can’t appreciate being dry.” (Hardship) gave us strength and tenacity to break the rules and step into a new arena.

Q: Do either of you regret revealing so much publicly?

Oprah: No. I believe all pain is the same. So if Tina can overcome pain, it speaks to the possibility that all of us can. That’s the beauty of sharing.

Tina: For a while, I was ashamed to tell my story. Now people come up and say very softly and very quietly, “You’ve given me such a great inspiration.”

Q: People repeatedly ask why you didn’t leave sooner.

Tina: I was living in hell, and I wanted to get out, but you must build confidence and endurance so you don’t go back.

Oprah: When you look back, can you believe yourself? I was never in a relationship with anybody who hit me, but I remember a relationship in my 20s where he left and said he wasn’t coming back, and I was on the floor crying and begging and pleading. I thought, “I’m no different from a battered woman.” I kept a journal at the time, and not too long ago, (after) reading it, I sat in my closet and wept for the woman I used to be.

Q: How would you have advised Tina in her darkest days?

Oprah: I encourage women now to leave when he hits the first time. That’s when you have the most strength. Tina and I have similar stories, in that I was abused as a child because I didn’t know where the boundaries were. My need to please was so strong, and I had a fear of telling. Tina, when you left Ike, did you still fear he might come looking for you?

Tina: I knew he would, and he did. I prepared myself. When I saw him and his entourage, all his goons, he was so ugly. It was an ugly energy, like the Mafia. I had such strength then. I asked someone to get a gun for me, and I would have killed Ike if he had tried to force me back. I’m very happy I didn’t, but I had that much hate at that point. I was not going back. Later, I sat in his car, and we had a talk. The man was so scared, he kept fiddling with his hat. I was past him totally.

Q: Do painful experiences feed a reluctance to marry?

Tina: I don’t have a desire to marry. Erwin is wonderful. We are perfect just as we are. Why do I need to bring another element in for the sake of tradition? We are as married as we’d be if we had a ceremony. Besides, I want to keep my stuff mine and his stuff his. That’s the reality. I need that freedom.

Oprah: Ditto, absolutely. I really do feel that people want to see a wedding because they want to party and see the pictures. I have a wonderful relationship that works for me.

Tina: Is that your man I saw outside with your dogs? He’s very good-looking.

Oprah: Noooo. That guy is shmatteh compared to Stedman (Graham). You haven’t met him? Oh, you should see him. My guy is really great-looking.

Q: Does the culture’s obsession with age annoy you?

Tina: When you are in harmony, in sync, having a good time, nobody cares about age. I’m not paranoid about my age.

Oprah: Because she’s got those legs!

Tina: Age has nothing to do with my work. As long as I’ve got makeup, I’m not worried about face lifts, because there is too much risk that the surgeon might mess up.

Oprah: Oh listen, I’m just hoping 57 can do this for me. Look at her. She’s just the hottest! We have to go shopping.

Q: Are any of your wildest dreams unrealized?

Oprah: We have all the shoes. There is not another shoe left to buy in the world. You get more focused on the grandest vision for your life as a human being and how you share it.

Tina: My quest is an opening of that third eye over the planet. Once I get that, I plan to do what Oprah is doing, to let people know how they can control some of the suffering.

Is your abuser a narcissist?

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1994 American Psychiatric Association
Edited by Rick Ross, March 2004

Is your abuser/controller a narcissistic personality?

Check the following criteria:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity as seen through fantasy or behavior, need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.

Beware of someone you are involved with has five (or more) of the following characteristics common amongst those diagnosed with “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

Requires excessive admiration.

Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.

Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Note: These criteria are excerpted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1994, American Psychiatric Association.