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Designing Women S4 E6 - Extra Sugar - What can we learn from Charlene’s cousin?

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

In this week’s episode of “Designing Women”,, we learned that Charlene’s cousin, Mavis, is in trouble. Let’s focus this “Extra Sugar” on what we can learn from Mavis’ situation and where we can go from here.

Most importantly, support is available 24/7. Please call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

A few of the references we mentioned in this segment:



Welcome to this week's edition of Extra Sugar.

So, like I mentioned at the end of the last episode, this week's segment is so much heavier than I personally prefer to cover.

But it was such a significant part of this designing women episode and truly such an ever present part of our lives, whether we know it or not, that it felt really important to use this segment to talk about it and that it is domestic abuse and intimate partner violence.

So before we head in, please consider this the biggest of trigger warnings.

If this is going to trigger uncomfortable feelings or memories, please consider walking away and come back Monday for our next regular episode.

If you're sticking around for the segment, I'd like to cover a few things.

Some of the latest statistics, some tips on what to do if you experience it, whether you're a friend or the soon to be survivor themselves and some resources.

So first, let's talk a little bit about the presence of domestic abuse in our society today to be sure I got it right.

I pulled a definition straight from justice dot gov.

The Department of Justice's website So they say domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, psychological or technological actions or threats of actions or other patterns of coercive behavior that influence another person within an intimate partner relationship.

This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound somebody.

So of course, that runs the gamut from hitting to stalking your partner using location devices on their phone.


I would underscore domestic abuse does not always leave physical marks.

You won't always notice the lifetime movie.

Telltale Black Eye.

The signs may be much more subtle and certainly not even physical.

Please keep that in mind.

Domestic violence can happen in any type of relationship to any couple in any socioeconomic class with any range of familial familial factors.

That is to say it can happen in a male, female marriage with 2.5 kids as we saw play out in this episode.

But it can also happen in married couples without kids, unmarried couples, heterosexual couples, gay couples, couples with a lot of money, couples with very little money.

And I hope we've realized this by now.

But experiencing domestic violence is not limited to females, males can also experience domestic violence.

Though it is worth noting, statistics indicate outcomes tend to be more severe for women, which we'll talk about more in a minute.

It's also worth mentioning.

And this part is really hard for me to talk about the effects of domestic violence are not limited to the couple in question.

Children who witness domestic violence are in particular, predisposed to a number of painful long term and short term outcomes.

For example, at young ages, Children who witness violence at home may show signs of behavioral reversal, like thumb sucking or bedwetting, or they may have severe separation anxiety as they grow.

They may display lower self esteem, which may cause behavioral issues like fighting using substances, et cetera.

And then of course, when they're in relationships themselves, they're more prone to violence.

According to some statistics, I found via the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, which last year merged with the National Domestic Violence hotline to create the new joint venture project opel in the United States, more than 10 million Americans experience domestic violence annually.

This might blow your mind a little bit Salina.

If each one of these adults only experienced one act of violence, that would mean an adult in the US would experience violence every three seconds.

But of course, they're not experiencing just one incident.

Domestic violence is by definition a pattern.

So people experiencing it are experiencing it more often than every three seconds.

One in four women and one in 10 men experience sexual violence, physical violence and or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Um And they say that, um that comes with an I PV, an intimate partner, violence related impact such as being concerned for their safety ptsd symptoms, injury or needing victim services.

Approximately one in five females and one in 20 males need medical care as a result of domestic violence.

There are other indicators of severity like the need for an attorney.

Um There's different severity of injury, et cetera and all of those seem to indicate more severe outcomes for women.

Uh This one shocked me.

The partner's access to a firearm can increase the risk of death for females by 400 From 2016 to 2018.

Domestic violence victimizations increased some 40%.

And one other interesting fact and statistic I found was that the majority of abusers are only violent with their current or past intimate partner.

Some 90% of prior abusers have no criminal record.

So these stats aren't meant to scare anyone and I'm not trying to make you like side eye your partner, your your friend's partner or anything like that.

Um But I do think it's really startling how under the radar domestic violence can fly.

And I want to be really clear about that.

I think we saw that play out in this episode with that in mind, there are a few traits domestic abusers share and certainly some red flags.

So traits that abusers share can include, um certainly minimizing the sheer existence or um even further the effects of their violence on their partner.

So like, no, that was, it wasn't that bad or, you know, it didn't happen.

Um abusers often objectify their partner or treat them like property, um abusers have low self esteem.

So even if an abuser appears successful, they may feel differently on the inside.

Um And finally, as we saw in this episode of designing women, one of the traits can be um that they appear really charming and delightful to people outside the relationship despite what's actually happening behind closed doors.

Yeah, I don't want to use the term sociopath.

Yeah, let's just say maybe sometimes it's sociopathic behavior.

Yeah, I think that's right.

Um There are a few red flags for domestic violence.

Um and those include can include extreme jealousy, unpredictability, cruelty to animals, um embarrassment or humiliation of their partner in front of others and harassing their partner at work.

So I'm gonna link to um one page in particular um where I pulled these from on our website because I think some of the traits and red flags can feel really subtle and you may not even identify them as signs of abuse or the potential for abuse.

So again, like in this episode, Mavis and her husband appeared to have a really solid relationship, almost the relationship people envied and Charlene had no reason to question that.

Otherwise they've been together since high school or something.

I mean, that's a lot of years of her knowing both of them.

And we found out from Mavis that the violence had been going on that long and Charlie never knew.

So I just wanted to add those traits and, and I'll link to all that stuff because I think it's really important.

Um, I'm also going to add here something I really didn't feel like fit in anywhere, but I really want to make sure I say it.

Many of the resource websites include a quick exit button to ensure you're able to do.

Just that if you're concerned and someone might see what you're looking at.

I don't have a way to offer that on our website just because truly, I'm not tech savvy enough.

Um, but I did title this episode something a little more benign sounding.

Um And I don't think our branding would give anything away.

So, um, it was just really interesting to me that these organizations have, um, identified that as a barrier for the exact people they're serving and then they found a way to overcome it.

I just, it seems simple but it's the little things I feel like a huge thing.



Um So with all that in mind, what the heck can we do as friends or supporters?

It's actually a lot.

So if you're the friend or loved one of a soon to be Survivor, Survivor, your role is so important.

First and foremost, please don't judge them chances are good.

They're experiencing enough shame to fill their own house.

They don't need your pity, they don't need your judgment, they just need your support.

Surprisingly, the resources I found suggested avoiding encouraging them to leave, which is what we saw Charlene do in this episode, at least in part.

Um Instead they suggest focusing on an action plan, which fortunately, we also got to see Charlene do.

She gave Mavis and her daughters a precise escape escape route um including financial support since that was a major concern of Mavis and a long term commitment of her support.

So it wasn't like she handed her some money and said, good luck.

She helped her find an action plan that would work.

That really is textbook in terms of offering support to a loved one in this situation.

Um The resources I found said to remember that your role is to be their confidant, listen to anything they want to share.

Practically speaking, this is really important in case they need you to serve as a witness at any point if this all goes legal.

But personally speaking, they really just need someone to share with, they need to get it out.

Um And here, confidentiality is just so important watching this designing women episode.

I actually was a little surprised with kind of how fast and loose Charlene was with Mavis's information before check with Mavis.

Um They had that scene in the house with the ladies where she was having trouble hiding how impactful this was on her.

So she ended up sharing what was happening.

Um Unfortunately, Mavis was ok with that.

Um But really that felt that that would normally cross a line if you were, if you had a friend that was in that situation.

So I just wanted to mention that um another place this episode really nailed.

It was how the ladies address things with Mavis.

So Project Opel suggests that if you're talking to a loved one, experiencing domestic abuse, let them know you're afraid for their safety, you're afraid for the safety of their Children.

This is not their fault.

No one deserves to be abused.

Um That even if the abuser apologizes, it doesn't mean they're going to stop abusing.

I feel like that was something Julia said when she said I've never seen a situation where this is resolved on its own.

Um It was really one of the important tips or um sort of pieces of information they shared was that alcohol doesn't cause abuse.

Many alcoholics actually never abuse people and most abusive alcoholics who stop drinking will continue to abuse.

Sometimes alcohol abuse and physical abuse get a little conflated.

Um There's a good chance the abuse is only going to get worse.

It's really just gonna escalate over time and you want to make sure you're telling your friend that um and you want to make sure they know they're not alone that you're gonna be there to help them or help them find others who can help be realistic.

Don't make them promises you can't stick to with them.

Um, but let them know they're not alone.

One tip that was in here that I think if you're not, if you haven't dealt with the situation, you might not think of, but you might need to pick a code word if they need to escape quickly or if you need to call the police or if you need to pick their Children up from school for them or something, maybe establish a little bit of a code word.

So I feel like we saw a lot of those tips play out in that scene at Sugar Bakers when Mavis came to visit the ladies.

Um So that was one of those examples of where this episode really hit all the right notes.

Um So finally, I want to end on some words directly to anyone listening now who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

Um It's not your fault.

This is a choice, your partner is making themselves, they could make a different choice.

They don't have to hurt you to express their feelings.

There are options to get out of your situation though.

They may and very likely do seem impossible or challenging.

No one is saying it's going to be easy and no one is saying that's fair.

It's absolutely not, but it is possible.

So if you're in immediate danger call 911 if the danger isn't imminent and you need someone to talk things through with and perhaps even brainstorm a plan for survival.

You can call the NAS National Domestic Violence hotline at 1 807 997233.

Again, that's 1 807 997233 or S A F E they offer 24 7 domestic uh 24 7 confidential support.

Domestic abuse happens far too often.

Again, it's not fair.

It's not right.

And friends of soon to be survivors have a critical role in supporting their loved one.

And with that support, soon to be survivors can be just that survivors.

Thank you for listening.

This week, this has been this week's edition of Extra Sugar.


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