A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

‘Fred and Marie’ fictional video — This is not fiction for some couples

TRIGGER WARNING:  This video is 15 minutes in length and will almost certainly trigger some, so please be prepared.

“Fred et marie” is a video produced by Bonjour, Inc. It is in French, but there are English subtitles.  This video does an excellent job of portraying coercive control, entrapment, social abuse & isolation, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, threats of physical violence… and the profound fear which all this induces in the victim.  It also shows poor bystander responses.

 

 

21 Comments

  1. Mark Foertmeyer

    Barbara,
    This was heartbreaking and a powerful portrayal of the life lived with a power, control and position maintaining abuser. What must I do, what must we all do if at a party like this? Courage mustered and the Freds of this world must be strongly confronted and the Marie’s encouraged to leave for a safe place surrounded by caring people. No doubt Marie payed a serious price after all the cheerful happy friends left. The party was over but an entire evening of abuse was underway as the door closed on the last guest. Please Maries of the world pack your bags and leave these evil Freds. Your life is being diminished and one day you will vanish.

    • Hi Mark
      What must (what can?) the bystanders do when they witness a situation like what Fred is doing to Marie? What a good question!

      Here are some suggestions. I’m giving you links to posts at this blog, and to other resources we recommend.

      How to Support an Abuse Victim (btw, this article will explain why some of what you said in your comment is not all that helpful, Mark. … it’s not a good idea to ‘tell victims what to do’. Even if you mean well and really want to help her, please don’t tell her what to do.)

      And this article explains how to bystanders can convert into gentle questions the statements and instructions they might want to give to the victim:
      Converting statements into questions – a skill for bystanders who want to help victims of abuse

      Of course, you would only speak your questions privately to the victim. She won’t feel safe responding to your questions unless she is sure the abuser cannot listen in to the conversation. And be aware that some abuser’s monitor what their victims are doing on the phone and on the web and their email. Some abusers are very crafty at techno-stalking their victims.

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/12/04/converting-statements-into-questions-a-skill-for-bystanders-who-want-to-help-victims-of-abuse-4/

      Be alert to and resist the abuser’s attempts to recruit you as his ally:

      Helping an Abuse Victim without being Duped by the Abuser

    • But I’m guessing, Mark, that you were asking more about what the guests could have done right then and there at the dinner table in Fred and Marie’s house.

      I’m not an expert in this, but you could consider looking Fred hard in the eye and saying “That’s not okay mate!” when he was belittling or maligning Marie or doing something to subtly intimidate her.

      It would not be a good idea to make an extended rebuke to Fred at the dinner table about his behaviour, because if you did that the chances are Fred would punish Marie even harder after the guests left. So you’re aiming to simply give a slightly stern look and a few words that convey to Fred that he is out of line (and that convey to Marie that you are on her side and are willing to support her if she privately reaches out to you…). And then, if you can, divert the conversation at the table to something less dangerous.

      And never ever laugh with Fred at his ‘jokes’ when his jokes are putting Marie down. Just convey in a very plain and simple way: “That’s not funny, Fred.” Or say “Cut it out, Fred!” with a bit of a teasing glint in your eye, to show him you are only ‘gently’ rebuking him.

      It’s a fine line. You want to convey to Marie that you don’t buy into Fred’s tactics towards her. You want to make Fred feel a bit uncomfortable about his abusive attitudes and beliefs, but you also want to implicitlyl invite him to change. Without making mincemeat of it.

      I highly recommend this Australian web page A Guide For Families, Friends and Neighbours. If you click on that link you will find lots of suggestions for how to support the victim. It also gives tips for how to respond to her abusive partner… and I am pasting those suggestions here:

      How can I respond to her abusive partner?

      Be careful. Don’t place yourself in a position where the person who is being abusive could harm or manipulate you. Don’t try to intervene directly if you witness a person being assaulted – call the police instead.

      If the person who is being abusive is your friend or relative, you may feel caught in the middle.

      It is important to understand that if you approach the person who is abusive, he or she may:

      tell you to ‘mind your own business’
      deny the abuse, or say ‘how can you think I could do something like that?’
      make it seem like it’s ‘not that bad’, or that it only happened once
      make it seem like it’s the other person’s fault, or that it’s her behaviour that’s the problem, not theirs
      say that they couldn’t help themselves, they were drunk, just ‘snapped’, or ‘lost control’.
      None of these responses mean that he or she is not abusive. It is common for a person who is being abusive to deny or minimise the abuse. Probably the only way you will be able to ‘verify’ that a person is abusive is if their partner tells you that they are, or if you witness the abuse. Even someone who appears to be ‘respectable’ and ‘normal’ can be abusive in the privacy of their own home.

      It is possible that the person who is abusive may admit the abuse was their fault, but say they don’t know how to stop their behaviour. If the person who is abusive is male, he can be encouraged to call the Men’s Referral Service (in Victoria Australia – there are other services for abusive men in other States and countries) for anonymous and confidential advice on how he may go about ending his use of violence. See serviceshttp://www.dvrcv.org.au/talk-someone/victorian-services. If the abusive person is female, she can contact her local Community Health Service.

      If you do observe abuse, and you feel safe or able to, talk about the behaviour you have observed. For example ‘You are both my friends, but I think the way you criticise and intimidate her is wrong’. But if you only know about the abuse because the victim has talked to you about it, check with her first before saying anything to her partner. Her partner could become more abusive to her if he or she thinks she has told someone.

      A man speaking to another man, or a woman speaking to another woman about their abusive behaviour can be a helpful way of approaching this issue. Don’t focus on trying to understand why the person is abusive, or on trying to work out how to change him or her. Don’t get involved in excusing the abuse. Focus on what the person who is abusive is going to do about it, and encourage them to call the Men’s Referral Service.

    • Finally, here are a few more links, Mark.

      These give suggestions for how we can all work together to stop men’s abuse of women and children. The links might give only a few suggestions for how to behave at Fred and Marie’s dinner party, but they give lots and lots of suggestions for how men can contribute to SYSTEMIC change in the whole of society.

      Tony Porter makes a call to men everywhere: Don’t “act like a man.” Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other. His solution: Break free of the “man box.”
      Tony Porter is one of the founders of A Call To Men. I highly recommend his work.

      https://www.ourwatch.org.au/Preventing-Violence/Men

      http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/fiona-mccormack-preventing-violence-against-women-in-australia/6552078

      http://www.domesticviolence.com.au/pages/what-men-can-do-to-help-stop-domestic-violence.php

      http://www.ntvmrs.org.au/

      A fantastic pdf booklet which is put out by Calgary Womens Emergency Shelter for those who want to support victims of domestic abuse: https://www.calgarywomensshelter.com/images/pdf/SocialResponses_Handbook.pdf

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/resources/online-resources-family-and-friends/

  2. Eagerlabs

    Oh dear..got me at the neck alone. At least they turned her lovely carrot song back on at the end. It got stuck in my head at the beginning, and was like he turned it off on me too. Hopefully that video will help others also. Thanks for posting it!:)

    I’m still praying and will continue for you all.

  3. Anonymous

    I saw this video a couple of years ago and shared it on another website. It was enlightening and validating. My h was a bit more subtle with his manipulation most of the time, however, when guests were over, I did ALL the work and was working the entire time guests were there and he was not lifting a finger and would find things to demean me about even though everything was going smoothly, very humiliating. Then when guests were gone, he would usually THANK ME for all my “hard work” and then want sex. His angry tirades were crazy. I remember thinking back then, “Man, can’t she SEE how awful he is?!” while at the same time, putting up with my own abuse!! Sigh…So glad to be where I am today, but it took 30 years for my eyes to be opened. Thank you all so much! You give the gift of FREEDOM to those of us stuck in the mire.

  4. Anonymous

    Oh, and (I meant to say this, too) the advice here on how to handle abuse when you see it is really wise and helpful. All situations are unique. I think in my case, my h would have listened to someone tell him, and he would be “nice” about it, but then nothing would change because he would justify it within himself (with his own crazy thought process). But for some abusers, this could be very dangerous to the victim. Thank you for clarifying what observers can and should do.

    • Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comments!

      I changed your screen name as you’d given your real name. If you haven’t yet read it, I urge you to read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you may want look at our FAQ page.

      • Debby

        Hi Barbara,
        I’ve been reading and commenting for 4 years. Not sure why it changed me. It usually shows up as Debby.

      • okay. I knew I recognised your name, but wasn’t comfy publishing your full name.
        Something must have changed in the settings on your WP account or the settings in the computer or phone you are using. Maybe an automatic upgrade on your device led to the settings change which is auto-inputting your full name in the “Name” field of the comments box. I think you might have to manually correct what is put into the “Name” field before you hit submit.

  5. Charis

    I have seen this video before (can’t recall where/why). Seeing it again was painful.

    One thing I think was portrayed very well was the victim’s fog or confusion and her attempts at resistance – even in little ways. Her fog of confusion can almost be seen written across her face as her husband says one thing (putting her down, degrading her friend, demanding she call to cancel her friend’s arrival, telling her what to wear, accusing her of betrayal with his friend Alain, etc) and then immediately switches to false love/kindness in the next heartbeat (“My love”, “see that wasn’t so bad”, “you’ll look gorgeous in this”, caressing her cheek, speaking softly) and then off to the next tirade. The confusion is plainly written on her face and in her eyes as she searches for the answer, the next step, what to say…what to DO.

    She resists a little: “Geraldine is my friend, she’s already invited and coming.” “I like this dress.” “Did you get the parsley? – Fred?!” “Alain is YOUR friend, not mine.” And as he swats each away with insults and excuses followed by more false kindness and coldness – her eyes are searching for the truth of her reality. Who IS this man? Am I to blame? Who am I? What am I going to do? How do I fix this?

    For me…the story was in her face. It was my own.

    As far as the question of what do the dinner guests do. That is an interesting question. I wonder if pairing Barbara’s pointed statement with leaving the party might work: “Fred, that’s not funny; it’s completely offsides. Thanks for inviting me but I think it’s time for me to leave.” Getting up and leaving the party might send a stronger message to all individuals present. It reduces the audience for Fred (one less person to laugh at his poor behavior). It pings the radar of the remaining guests who may have been too afraid to take similar action – leave or say something. And, in fact, when one person or couple leaves the party often others start to follow suit even if not for the same reason. Finally, it sends a small nod to Marie that there is one person who is not willing to stay and participate in the fun at her expense. It lets her know she may have a safe companion to trust. Someone she could open up to or confide in if that person were to reach out to her to check on her safety.

    I do like the fact that there was a lady guest who seemed aware of what was going on and approached Marie…although the timing was, perhaps not the right moment. And I wonder if a male guest chose to say something to Fred – and leave the party – that would send a clearer, non-confrontational message without necessarily putting Marie in more jeopardy.

    • Good thoughts Charis! Let’s explore that idea of a guest saying “Fred, that’s not funny; it’s completely offsides. Thanks for inviting me but I think it’s time for me to leave.”

      It’s not a bad idea by any means. I’m wondering if, while saying and doing that, the guest could also somehow convey to Marie that she is not the one that’s causing the guest to leave. Being in the fog and so brainwashed by Fred, Marie might well think it was her fault that the guest left. And certainly that would be what Fred would accuse her of, once they were alone. So is there a way the guest could subtly convey to Marie that he or she was on Marie’s side, while conveying to Fred that his behavior was wrong and that is why the guest was leaving?

      • Charis

        I’ve wondered the same and puzzled over nuances.

        Would something like this work?
        “Fred, that’s not funny; it’s completely offsides. Thank you for inviting me but I must excuse myself and leave. Marie, it makes me sad to see Fred treat you this way and I simply cannot abide by it.”

        Or even “…Marie, it makes me upset to see Fred behaving this way and I cannot sit idly by.” That might be a softer or more gentle slope for Marie post-party.

        I toyed with handing Marie the “Thank you for inviting me to the party” line but I wasn’t so sure that was accurate considering the make-up of the group. And, from my personal experience – all friends were controlled by the husband. So, I think, *maybe* this second simple phrase might do it to let Marie (and Fred) know that the guest not only doesn’t approve of Fred’s behavior but understands the cost to Marie.

        What do you think?

      • Thanks Charis! I like both of these suggestions—

        “Fred, that’s not funny; it’s completely offsides. Thank you for inviting me but I must excuse myself and leave. Marie, it makes me sad to see Fred treat you this way and I simply cannot abide by it.”

        “Fred, that’s not funny; it’s completely offsides. Thank you for inviting me but I must excuse myself and leave. Marie, it makes me upset to see Fred behaving this way and I cannot sit idly by.”

        Here’s another possible tweak:

        “Fred, that’s not funny; it’s completely offside. Thank you for inviting me but I must excuse myself and leave. Marie, it makes me upset to see Fred treating you this way and I know that if I were to stay and keep silent about it, I would be condoning Fred’s behaviour. So no offence to you, but I think the best thing I can do now is leave.”

  6. TuffEnuff

    What struck me this time watching the video (seen it twice), is that when the friend bolsters Marie’s courage to the point that Marie thinks to herself, “Yes, why does he get to tell me what to wear” and then comes to the table in the red dress, her courage melts when Fred’s anger is apparent and he slaps the table. I could see her sliding into her chair, her knees going weak, knowing that when the guests left, she was going to pay for this moment of independence.

    • debby

      It is difficult to know exactly what to do. But one thing we all have learned or are learning is that we are not dealing with reasonable (and even at times, conscionable) people. Anything that is said, even point blank saying that FRED is the “issue” will likely result in Marie being blamed anyway. If it ends badly for Fred, Marie will be blamed. It doesn’t make sense to rational people but to an abuser, they must twist reality to suit their end game.

      But any one of these people is free to contact Marie in private and offer the same comments and offers of help. Our natural response as rational, caring people who DON’T hurt others is we all want Fred to “see the error of his ways” but what may be more effective, immediately and in the long run, is for MARIE to “see the error of FRED’S ways” and start her journey of discovery of how valuable she is as a human being, that she is not REQUIRED to submit to such treatment by Fred or anyone.

  7. Gothard survivor

    Wow. I think Fred is nicer than my husband has been.

    • Three sad faces — 😦 😦 😦 — shows how sad I am for what you have been through.

    • A Dreamer

      I’m with you, Gothard Survivor. I don’t know your story or circumstances but I thought Fred was fantastic, by comparison, to my monster. Marie was allowed to use the bathroom, she wasn’t beaten, no forced ‘sex’ (let’s call it rape as forcing ‘sex’ is really rape), no locking her out on decks many stories up….. all in all, I was sadly fine with Fred.

      But gratitude and gratefulness is the wrong answer since Marie is not being loved, cherished, supported, but rather manipulated, controlled, and coerced. She deserves better and Fred deserves to go sit in a corner, all alone, for life, with a can of worms to eat…. no more ‘relationships’ for him….nope, he lost his chance. One can only dream…..

      • NG

        Still, we only saw a small segment of their relationship.. we don’t know how bad he can be and how far his control can go. We didn’t see their private bedroom moments, perhaps there was sexual abuse too.
        I think the small glimpse into their home was bad enough.. 😦

      • Clockwork Angel

        I think these comments serve to show how it is so many women end up in abusive relationships in the first place, particularly when our fathers were abusive. Our point of reference for how a man should treat a woman is completely broken, so anyone who seems better than daddy must be an okay guy. (Makes me scared to marry.)

        Likewise, even if an abused woman gets away from abusive husband #1, she’s only known an abusive marriage, so she is likely to use husband #1 as a point of reference when choosing husband #2. If husband #2 seems better than husband #1, then he must be loving and kind, right? (Wrong, of course!)

        It’s a sad, sad cycle. I wish there were some sort of training abuse victims could take that would help them fix their point of reference. I don’t think the red flags list from the local shelter is sufficient. We need positive examples of how men are supposed to be treating women, not just a list of negatives.

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