Equally a useful primer on aspects of domestic violence and a purely harrowing story (with a walloping twist), “Power and Control” is highly recommended.
— Rob Nelson, Minnesota Post
A stark reminder that this kind of violence is all around us.
— Ira Booker, City Pages
— Educational Media Reviews Online
— Video Librarian
*** Point[s] to the complexity of the problem and the critical need for national, state,
and community-based responses to crimes of abusive behavior.
“Power and Control” would be valuable to all those interested in domestic abuse issues.
— Library Journal
By Rob Nelson
Subtitled “Domestic Violence in America,” “Power and Control” proves to be a sharply detailed and occasionally heart-wrenching look at what Duluth-based activist Ellen Pence calls an “outgrowth of patriarchal society.”
As co-founder of the Domestic Violence Intervention Project almost 30 years ago, Pence is one of the key architects of what has come to be known worldwide as the “Duluth Project” — a once-radical and now simply levelheaded manner of looking at abuse through the overlapping lenses of culture, politics and gender.
The Duluth model is also known for having instituted the law of mandatory arrest of abusers at scenes of domestic violence.
Pence, who was recently diagnosed with terminal breast cancer (and will appear in person at the MSPIFF screening), gives the documentary some of its pathos and nearly all of its historical scope. But the film’s protagonist is Kim Mosher, who, along with her two young daughters, moves to Duluth from Wabasha in order to escape her abusive husband.
As Mosher and her jittery kids take up residence at the Safe Haven Shelter in Duluth, New York-based director Peter Cohn observes the difficulties of a single-parenting survivor’s quest to find work, housing and peace of mind.
At the same time, and rather amazingly, Cohn turns the camera on Mosher’s abuser, and includes the views of those who take aim at the Duluth model for allegedly ignoring the needs of male victims. There’s a certain gallows humor in scenes with these conservative academics and “men’s rights activists,” who have indeed been given plenty of rope.
Equally a useful primer on aspects of domestic violence and a purely harrowing story (with a walloping twist), “Power and Control” is highly recommended,”’
Minneapolis City Pages
By Ira Booker
It goes without saying that a documentary about domestic violence is going to be uncomfortable viewing. Peter Cohn‘s Power and Control should be doubly so for local audiences, set as it is in our own backyard. Cohn digs into the history of the Duluth Model, a homegrown strategy that revolutionized domestic violence treatment in the 1980s by addressing the issue as more cultural than personal. Testimonials from survivors, abusers, counselors, and cops make a solid case for the program, as we watch women beginning to claim power for themselves and men struggling to understand their own violent actions. Cohn even gives some camera time to opponents of the Duluth Model, although their family-values platform doesn’t come off particularly well in the context of the film. Visually speaking, Power and Control places substance before style, seldom reaching much beyond talking-head interviews and establishing shots. That does little to mute its local impact, however. Hearing interviewees speak with marked Minnesota accents as landmarks like the Duluth lift bridge loom in the background serves as a stark reminder that this kind of violence is all around us.
Educational Media Reviews Online (Highly Recommended)
By Barb Bergman, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Power and Control provides an exploration of domestic violence in relation to the application of the Duluth model.
Thirty years ago Ellen Pence and others established a different response model at the battered women’s shelter in Duluth, Minnesota. Now common policies for response and therapy that began in Duluth include mandatory arrests when injury is involved in a domestic disturbance and therapy based on using the Power and Control wheel to help understand abusive behaviors and provide victims with a proactive response. The Duluth model seeks to provide a unified process from the initial police response, the courts, and the social services provided after. Ellen Pence talks about the progress that has been made while also expressing disappointment that domestic violence remains a persistent problem.
What makes this film effective is that it follows a real family. In a series of interviews filmed over the course of several months, Kim talks about why she left her abusive husband, her time in the shelter, regaining confidence, getting a job, behavioral problems seen with the kids, and ultimately letting her husband move back in with her and their three young children. The film also includes a men’s therapy group session and brief interviews with several of the abusers, including Kim’s husband.
Although focused on the Duluth model, the film does use a chapter to introduce several critics and opposing viewpoints. One point made is that oftentimes the victim does not want to sever the relationship with the abuser, and therefore argues that a different therapy approach is required.
Power and Control will be useful in a wide range of courses in the sociological sciences.
Companion videos for law enforcement and health care are also available.
Video Librarian (*** Recommended)
By M. Puffer-Rothenberg
Director-producer Peter Cohn frames his documentary about domestic violence in the U.S. around the influential work of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP), established 30 years ago in Duluth, MN, by social activists Ellen Pence and Michael Paymar. What has become known as the “Duluth Model” argues that violence against women stems from a male-dominated society, and the “power and control” wheel developed by DAIP to chart aspects of destructive behavior is now used worldwide. Pence and Paymar are also known for successfully advocating for related law enforcement policies (such as mandatory arrest in domestic violence instances) and establishing a treatment program for abusive men. The two are interviewed here, along with academics, medical and law enforcement personnel, and the batterers in the DAIP men’s group, while some critics of the Duluth Model also offer brief remarks. Cohn personalizes the issue by chronicling the experiences of one shelter resident, Kim Mosher, whose husband physically absued both her and her three young daughters. Marshaling courage and determination, Mosher finally decides to get a divorce, finds a low-paying job, qualifies for housing, and moves into a new home with her children. In the documentary’s final moments, however, Mosher reconciles with her spouse — a reminder of the messy reality of family relationships. Also featuring a 50-minute version edited for profanity, this is recommended. [Note: the companion documentaries Domestic Violence and Law Enforcement and Dometic Violence and Health Care are also newly available, priced at $125. Aud: C, P.
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By Carol Holzberg
“Happily ever after” is more the stuff of fairy tales than real life, as statistics reveal that as many as one in four conjugal relationships are characterized by coercion, intimidation, isolation, and battering. This stark portrayal of physical and sexual domestic violence in America gives a close-up and personal look into the life of Kim Mosher, a 30-year-old mother of three, who courageously leaves her home and takes her children to a women’s shelter in Duluth, Minnesota, in 2008. The film uses Mosher’s candid reflections of her 10-year marriage, characterized by repeated physical and psychological abuse, as a portal to explore domestic violence in the U.S., where women are victims of mistreatment every 18 seconds. Interviews with Mosher, her abusive husband, domestic-violence advocates, law-enforcement personnel, and others point to the complexity of the problem and the critical need for national, state, and community-based responses to crimes of abusive behavior. The college and university price is $295.
By Joan Pedzich, Harris Beach PLLC, Rochester, NY
Director/producer Cohn follows the harrowing journey of victims of domestic violence. Kim recounts the escalating violence in her marriage and takes viewers along as she leaves her abusive spouse, Josh; enters a Duluth, MN, shelter; gets a job; and qualifies for housing. Women’s advocates, law enforcement officers, domestic abuse experts, victims, and abusers, including Josh, add context with information on patterns of abuse, causes, and treatments. Duluth’s groundbreaking Domestic Abuse Intervention Project is explored along with recent challenges to its practices. Cohn wisely focuses on Kim, who compellingly tells her story and makes a choice near the end of the film that illustrates the complexity of her situation and the practical and emotional hurdles of those who live with domestic violence. Bonus features include extra interview footage and subtitles. Power and Control would be valuable to all those interested in domestic abuse issues.
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