Episode 9, Partnered with a Survivor Podcast

with Ruth Stearns Mandel & David Mandel

About Episode 9: “My daughter is being abused and I don’t know what to say:” The friends and family episode

In this episode, Ruth & David discuss how family and friends can be effective allies to loved ones living in abuse. Victims often first disclose to friends and family members. Even with the desire to be supportive, kin can respond with judgment and victim blaming. These responses can have the effect of silencing the survivor, increasing their isolation, shame, and sense of being trapped. David and Ruth offer practical tools, strategies and language for friends and family in how to partner and support a loved one navigating domestic abuse and coercive control. Definitions of Coercive Control and Domestic Abuse are outlined to help friends and family identify and understand non physical forms of abuse and the risk and harm associated with those forms of abuse.

Drawing from the Safe & Together Mode’s partnering framework, used to train social workers and professionals in the domestic violence and child protection fields, Ruth and David discuss the importance of affirming, asking, validating, collaborative planning, and documentation. Ruth and David touch on diverse topics such the unique barriers to disclosure faced by survivors in same sex relationships, how cultural beliefs about gender encourage victim blaming and increase the ability of perpetrators to entrap survivors, and how to really listen to a loved one who is being abused while maintaining a behavioral focus on the Perpetrators choices to harm and abuse. Ruth speaks about her own experiences as a survivor who faced judgement and disbelief by friends and family, and how it impacted her and impeded her safety and healing.

***This podcast does not represent legal advice, and is not intended to replace accessing formal services.

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More About The Podcast

You asked, we answered. Amidst our current, global political and social upheavals, during movements, activism and testimonies, during legal cases, fear and victim-blaming – we’ve heard your voice asking for clarity, insight and thoughts about how all of this is reflected in the Safe & Together Model. Many of the stories and news pieces we hear about from our partners all over the world involve complex questions, yet the beginnings of change and hope are based on the sound, simple principles of the Model.

To that end, in our new podcast, “Partnered with a Survivor,” S&T’s Executive Director and Founder, David Mandel and Ruth Stearns Mandel offer a raw and intimate glimpse into their personal and professional partnership and what it means to truly partner with a survivor, raise a family based on S&T principles and engage in social change at every level. This is a podcast for practitioners and parents, partners and employers, coworkers and friends – and anyone else who may want clarity, understanding, hope and healing.

What does it mean to give consistent consent? What is coercive control? How do you probably see it or feel it every day? This is a podcast you’ll wish you had heard when you were a teenager. In unsure, confusing times, it’s our goal to widen the audience for the Safe & Together Model-associated material to survivors, their family members, and even perpetrators. For professionals familiar with the Model, it will offer another angle on the issues addressed by the Model. For those who don’t know Safe & Together, it offers a connection to the themes and ideas behind the work.

These podcasts are a reflection of Ruth & David’s on-going conversations which are both intimate and professional and touch on complex topics like how systems fail victims and children, how victims experience those systems, and how children are impacted by those failures. Their discussions delve into how society views masculinity and violence, and how intersectionalities such as cultural beliefs, religious beliefs and unique vulnerabilities impact how we respond to abuse and violence. These far-ranging discussions offer an insider look into how we navigate the world as professionals, as parents and as partners. During these podcasts, David & Ruth challenge the notions which keep all us from moving forward collectively as systems, as cultures and as families into safety, nurturance and healing.

*Trigger Warning: Some of the topics discussed in the next 30 min are deeply personal and sensitive, which may be difficult for some people. We also use mature language to describe some feelings. Finally, we use gender pronouns like “he” when discussing perpetrators and “she” for victims for two reasons: 1.) statistically, more men are perpetrators than are women when it comes to domestic violence, abuse and coercive control; and 2. For clarity sake, sticking with one pronoun causes less confusion for the listener. We know there are many men who are in abusive relationships and we are not invalidating their situations.

About the podcasters: David and Ruth are committed to creating systems and cultures of nurturance and safety. David Mandel founded the Safe & Together Institute which trains systems in domestic violence aware practices from a child safety lens. Ruth Stearns Mandel is a survivor of complex abuse, child abuse and domestic abuse growing up in a cult. She is a former teacher and trainer using her experience to clarify messages and complexities around abuse and survivors.