The task assigned is a review of the book Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen. I will provide examples and summarize the main concepts of the book to include Intimate Partner Violence, Battering, and Intimate Terrorism. I will reference the text Family Violence, Across the Lifespan by Ola W. Barnett, Cindy Miller-Perrin, and Robin D. Perrin in order to support my theoretical claims. I will select a critical part of the book and explain why it was challenging to read and understand based on my perspective, and then select a character to analyze using one of the theoretical perspective. This book is sad and disturbing, the punishment inflicted on Fran by her husband Bobby Benedetto is unacceptable and criminal, but unfortunately, is probably a more common occurrence than we care to acknowledge.
The overall concept that is most prevalent throughout the book is Intimate Partner Violence, IPV, as defined, violence between spouses, ex-spouses, or separated spouses; between cohabitors or ex-cohabitors; between boyfriends or ex-boyfriends and girlfriends or ex-girlfriends; and between same-sex partners or ex-partners (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, and Perrin 15). The key to understanding IPV is the focus on violence by the abuser, in this case, Bobby Benedetto. There is 18 years of violence and abuse in the book, Traumatic Bonding has likely occurred, explained as a cyclical pattern of loving behaviors coupled with sporadic violence may increase the abused partner’s dependence on the abuser over time (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, and Perrin 287). So many times the violent act is carried-out by Bobby with the intention of hurting or intimidating Fran, as was the case with the first occasion of violence when Bobby squeezed Fran to the point where his fingertips made a “tattoo” impression-like mark on her upper arm in order for him to exercise his control over her because she had danced with the brother of a friend.
Another concept that runs throughout the book is “Battering”, as defined; repetitive, severe physical and psychological abuse accompanied by fear and control (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, and Perrin 44). This concept is all about power and control over the victim, in this case, Fran. On a daily basis, Bobby would manipulate Fran to do, act, and wear what he wanted at that time, again all in an effort to control her and then explain that it’s because he loves her. Fran becomes vulnerable and powerless, almost like a prisoner waiting for the next assault or degrading comment. There are examples ranging from Bobby telling Fran she looked “like a whore” because she was wearing a dress he didn’t like or initiating a rage and choking Fran because there were dirty dishes still in the sink when he came home from work.
The concept of Intimate Terrorism is also pervasive throughout this book, as defined, a pattern of assaultive, fear-producing, controlling behaviors, both criminal (as in physical assaults and stalking) and non-criminal (jealous monitoring of the partner’s friends and activities, and public humiliation) (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, and Perrin 253). An example of this concept and its affect could be the constant anxiety that Fran feels in anticipation of Bobby’s violence and not knowing what will trigger the next attack. The result of this violent cycle has most likely caused and resulted in Fran suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in which Fran is constantly re-experiencing the various traumatic beatings she has endured at the hands of her husband.
The most challenging part of the book to read was when Robert was taken away from his mother by Bobby after he beat her for the last time while she and Robert were living in secret. As a father, it is difficult to understand the brutality towards the person you said you love and wanted to spend the rest of your life with at your wedding, but to subject your child to the direct and indirect exposure of your violence is another form of terrorizing. To think of the pain that Robert has endured through the years of watching and listening to his father’s tormenting and beating of his mother must have clearly resulted in Robert also suffering from PTSD and anxiety disorders.
It is hard to analyze Bobby as a character by using one theoretical perspective but I am confident that Lenore Walker’s “Cycle of Violence Theory” (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, and Perrin 315) best describes Bobby’s behaviors as a classic batterer. As defined, the theory has three phase’s, the first phase is “Tension Building”, minor incidents of violence, along with the build-up of anger, verbal put-downs, jealousy, threats, and breaking things. This phase could describe the initial escalation by Bobby to start intimidating Fran prior to their marriage. The second phase is the “Battering Phase”, where major violent outbursts occur like Bobby breaking Fran’s collarbone and nose. The last phase is the “Honeymoon Phase” where the perpetrator is remorseful and loving. There were times where this would apply, but Bobby was not consistently loving after he beat Fran, rather he would often attempt to downplay the intensity and effects or even blame Fran for causing the incident while downplaying his violence, and in some cases denying that it took place, as with the initial instance where Bobby explained that he “just came at you a lil”.
Even though socialization theories are not explored in the nearly 400 pages of this book, the most significant and understandable piece of information comes from a brief dialogue between Fran and her ex-mother-in-law when Fran comes back to New York to look for any information that would lead her to find her son, Robert. At this point, Bobby had come to Florida, beat Fran unconscious, and took Robert away with him to hide. Fran went to her ex. mother-in-law and asked “what was your husband like?” and “did he hit you?”, when no answer is given, to me, that was the most important point of the book, and it explained to me that Bobby had been exposed to abuse and behaviors within his own family and that he would repeat the cycle of violence as an adult within his own family.