Domestic violence has been depicted in feature movies before. “Enough,” “The Burning Bed” and “Sleeping with the Enemy” depended on star power to draw in their audiences. “Once We Were Warriors,” the dark, award-winning New Zealand classic, explored violence in an urban Maori family. Now the multi-award-winning feature film “No Ordinary Love” (NOL) joins this pantheon of movies that glues viewers to their seats with a view of intimate violence and abuse that is far too familiar to many of us. In this movie, coercive control, the topic of a current global conversation about how best to respond to domestic violence, is center stage.
Join Ruth & David as they interview Chyna Robinson (writer, director, producer) and Tracy Rector (executive producer), the powerhouse pair behind “No Ordinary Love,” a movie about two families where status and power intertwine with coercive control. In one family, the pastor uses religion as a tool of control. In the other family, a survivor struggles with a partner, whose job as a police officer, increases danger instead of safety and protection.
From the “No Ordinary Love” website: “Lines between romantic ideals and control become blurred when Tanya’s husband can no longer handle the stress of his career as a police officer. His warm kisses turn cold, and she is left fighting for her life. At the same time, Elizabeth’s idyllic life is marred when her charming husband manipulates her into believing that she is going insane. As Elizabeth counsels Tanya, she realizes the signs of abuse in her own marriage. When both women decide to leave, they realize it isn’t going to go as smoothly as they’d planned. The escape they seek turns deadly.”
David & Ruth talk to Chyna and Tracy about the mission behind the movie, the artistic choices associated with depicting coercive control, and the strong positive response the movie has already received.
Chyna Robinson, is the award-winning writer-producer, director, behind the short film, “Greenwood,” about the struggle of WWI vet to protect his family during the 1921 racist massacre in Tulsa Oklahoma. Tracy Rector, a domestic violence survivor and veteran of the domestic violence movement in the United States. Chyna & Tracy brought their own personal experiences & cultural perspectives to speak to intersectionalities such as race, religion, the impact of cultural attitudes and systemic failures of entities such as policing & social services toward black women survivors.
Chyna and Tracy will be screening “No Ordinary Love” at many of the upcoming Safe & Together Institute events. We hope you join us and the NOL team for these events.
You asked, we answered. Amidst our current, global political and social upheavals, during movements, activism and testimonies, 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.
Note: Some of the topics discussed in the podcast 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’s 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.