Today, a horrific crime occurred. A 48 year old West Palm Beach woman, Jennifer Berman, died in an apparent murder/suicide with her 16 year old son, Alexander, and her 15 year old daughter, Jacqueline. She had sent emails to the chidren's father, her ex-husband Richard Berman, and to members of her family. In these emails she warned them that she was going to harm herself or other family members.
This couple had been involved in difficult divorce proceedings and were still in contact. Neighbors claimed that this was a nice couple and the children were pleasant and certainly not trouble makers. However, the news stated that the husband had not paid any child support while the wife had to sell personal items just to buy such necessities as toilet paper and food. Without very many details available yet, this appears to be a case of coercive, and possibly controlling and abusive, co-parenting.
When couples are breaking up, the worst in their characters can be not only revealed but exacerbated. My friend and colleague, Dr. Debra Wingfield, has written extensively, counseled clients and trained fellow professionals about how to recognize the characteristics and how to handle these difficult relationship situations. She has devoted years of counseling, training, research and heartfelt giving to victims of domestic violence, coercive parenting and "Control Freak" co-parents.
After reading about this tragic ending of 3 lives, apparently the aftermath of a difficult break up, I set up a very special interview. On Wednesday, January 15, on the Healthy Baby Boomers Network Radio Show, I will be speaking with Dr. Debra Wingfield about the signs, symptoms, coercive tactics, and controlling behaviors of parents who victimize their spouses.
Domestic violence, when one spouse is physically and/or sexually abusive to the other spouse, has received lots of media coverage and professional presentations, articles and books. But the area that has not been looked at very much and is even often ignored by the court system, is that of coercive parenting and controlling co-parenting. The threat of danger, witholding of money for basic existence, stalking, lying, misrepresenting, charming others and discrediting the victim, even without actual physical violence, can create fear, anxiety, even terror, in the life of the victim.
Please check out this important show. It could save the life of someone you care about who is stuck in this type of painful situation. And if it is YOU, do not despair. There is hope and there are people who understand and care about what you are going through.