A “Tangled” Web of Domestic Violence

Submitted by Samuel Treanor, Human Resources Analyst

"But he never hit me.” This is a common statement of surprise from domestic violence victims when they learn they are being abused. Domestic violence includes a range of behaviors used in a pattern to establish power and exert control by one partner over the other. The definition does not specify physical violence. Instead, the range of behaviors could include other forms of violence, including emotional, psychological, verbal, financial, spiritual, or others. 

You have seen these behaviors in the movie "Tangled". Mother Gothel’s behavior toward Rapunzel is abusive, but never physical. Instead, Gothel exercises control over Rapunzel by playing on her fears. In her villain song “Mother Knows Best,” she sings “One way or another, something will go wrong I swear”; she belittles her, “You’re looking a little chubby”; and then isolates her, “Skip the Drama, Stay with Mama, Mother Knows Best”. 

Gothel does not lift a finger against Rapunzel, but maintains control. She dismisses Rapunzel’s feelings, “Please, that’s demented”; further isolates Rapunzel, “Trust me, my dear, that’s how fast he’ll leave you […] Mother knows best”; then manipulates the situation to make it look like Rapunzel’s love interest is abandoning her, creating further dependence on Gothel. Gothel’s behaviors do not include physical violence, yet she abuses Rapunzel throughout the movie. 

Contra Costa County’s domestic violence service agency is STAND! For Families Free of Violence. Their 24-hour crisis and counseling line is (888) 215-5555. They are available if you suspect domestic violence or have questions about it.