Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You

Expert Tips For Escaping Coercive Control

October 12, 2023 Attorney Billie Tarascio
Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You
Expert Tips For Escaping Coercive Control
Show Notes Transcript

Have you left a relationship with a coercive controller?

  • Is your child going between your home and the home of the coercive controller? What can you do about it, and how can you manage it both personally and in the court?
  • Is your child exhibiting fear? Look for the hidden signs manifested in sadness, anger, high-achieving, or dissociating.

These are some of the areas we talk about today in the Modern Divorce Podcast featuring Billie Tarascio and Dr. Christine Cocchiola, LCSW, DWS, a coercive control educator and social justice advocate. Dr. Cocchiola offers powerful advice and information about what to look for when it comes to domestic abuse and the harms inflicted onto both adult and child victims.

Herself a survivor, she’s had a successful career as a professor teaching social work for the last 20 years, she has been a social justice advocate since the age of 19, volunteering for a local domestic violence/sexual assault agency. Her expertise is in the areas of coercive control and the traumatic experiences of both adult and child victims, researching and developing training on these topics both nationally and internationally and supporting clients with her clinical expertise.

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Billie Tarascio: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast. I'm your host, Billie Tarascio, owner of Modern Law, co owner of Win Without Law School. And today we are talking with Dr. Christine Cocchiola, an expert on coercive control and domestic violence. She was recently in a live on our Facebook group and people absolutely could not get enough.

It was a great conversation. So welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here, Christine. 

Christine Cocchiola: Thank you so much for having me, Billie. 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah, I, I really appreciated your insight. I know people want more and you've got a real story to tell. So Dr. Coachella, will you give people a little bit of background 

Christine Cocchiola: about you?[00:02:00] 

Sure, sure. So I started working in advocacy at the age of 19. Someone I know was abused as a child and I really wanted to become a domestic abuse sexual assault crisis counselor. And I volunteered at that agency and then was fortunate enough, I got a teaching degree, but was fortunate enough to get a position at the Department of Children and Families working in child welfare.

And then from there worked in schools and was a teacher, but also a social worker working in schools and a guidance counselor working in schools. And I think the story is, is that I began teaching every semester here on the college level. I'm a college professor and teach on the power and control wheel and the post separation abuse wheel and didn't know that I was actually living in that circumstance.

So I met my ex partner when I was 16, fell madly in love, You know, started a family and was teaching on this concept every single semester and did not recognize it in my own life. And I think, I think the part of [00:03:00] this that's important is that historically we have looked through the violent incident model when we think about abuse.

And that's just really archaic. It's not helpful at all because most abuse, if not all, literally all, is based on one person exerting power over another person. It's power and control. And the abuse that happens is often when the abuser has lost control, when they feel control slipping through their hands.

This is when we see most femicides and philocides, is when an abuser has just not been able to retain that control. And so... I think really important for people to recognize that coercive control is literally the foundation of all domestic abuse, and it could be happening. Um, Dr. Evan Stark states, it's like carpenter ants devouring the foundation of your home.

You don't even know it's happening until it's too late. So, that's a little bit about me. So, 

Billie Tarascio: let's dive into this. How, 

Christine Cocchiola: how [00:04:00] 

Billie Tarascio: Because I see almost every person who comes out of a domestic abuse situation does not realize the severity of it at first. I see that absolutely universally, even if someone has been physically and violently abused for years off and on, there's so much minimization and rationalization that happens within the relationship that it is not until they get out of it and begin working through it that they truly grasp the severity of what they went through.

And it's very, very hard as a family law attorney because, of course, their stories do tend to change and evolve. You're saying this has happened to you as an expert. Will you please help us understand what is going on 

Christine Cocchiola: here? Sure, absolutely. And I think, yes, to your point is that stories can change because it's so nuanced and victims often have a desire.

So what we know about victims and survivors and, um, is that they have certain character traits and that tends to be highly empathic, loyal to a fault, [00:05:00] like to a fault, right? Looking for the best in people. The glass is always half full. And so they don't want to believe that their abuser is an abuser.

Nobody wants to believe that the father of their children is an abuser. And that's really what What I think ends up happening is there's a significant trauma bond. People become bonded to the good times. And the brain's way of dealing with all of the harm is to continue to go back to safe zone. What's safe zone?

Safe zone is when There was a good moment. So what happens is that victims and survivors will latch onto that good moment instead of actually, um, I call it getting a clarity list. Like what are all of the negative bad things this person has done to you throughout your life, throughout the relationship?

And Look at that list. And unfortunately, it's a traumatization to look at that list, by the way, to remember the infidelity, to remember the lying, to remember the gaslighting. But give it a name, because we [00:06:00] become bonded all the time. Think about, think about the puppy dog who goes back to the owner. Like, think about children who want to be with a parent even if they've been abusive.

This is our brain's way of saying it can't be that bad. It has to be, it can't be that unsafe. It has to be okay. And then add in this whole idea of cognitive dissonance where we want to disassociate. from the negative. We just don't want to actually be there living in that negative. People throw us a bone, or some people call it breadcrumbs, and we pounce on it because we want to believe that there's no such thing as a person who we think we have a loving relationship with who would intentionally try to harm us.

Just wanted to put that out there to just say thank you. Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you, each and every one of you as well. We will be back with another episode, so welcome back. Thank you for coming in. Victims are empathic. Victims are loyal. Victims do want to forgive. Oh my gosh, [00:07:00] like if somebody asks for forgiveness, then, and, and Beiderman, Beiderman found this in his coercion chart in the Korean War when he was investigating, um, under communist regime, prisoners of war.

And what he saw is that people would start off after being, like, accused of maybe sharing military records. They'd start off with, no, absolutely not, I never did that. But after the slow erosion away of your autonomy, people actually end up going to, you're absolutely right, I'm so sorry, I can't believe I did that, even though they never did it.

We can be worn down so much in these types of relationships, and he called it, you know, it's prisoners of war experience, but what we know, this happens in the family system. It does. Where you just get your autonomy. Your agency is slowly eroded away. You have no agency anymore. You don't know, you don't even know what you should know.

Right. Yeah. The other thing 

Billie Tarascio: that happens when you're in a [00:08:00] relationship is you are sort of figuring out who are we as partners. Who are we as partners? What is my role? What does our relationship look like? And the dynamics do change right throughout the relationship. It ebbs and flows. Somebody might be making more money and then somebody else might end up making more money and that it changes all the time.

So when I hear you speak, it sounds very black and white, but what I see is very gray and messy. Can you help, can you help me 

Christine Cocchiola: understand that? Yeah, so it is very nuanced because, uh, so I think that when we think about someone who's trying to exert power and control over us, they do it in very manipulative ways.

And the idea behind it, it's kind of like that movie Gaslight, right? Like it's the lowering of the lights, but making somebody think that the lights weren't lowered. And so if somebody is intentionally trying to do that with another human being who is intentionally trying to trust them, [00:09:00] think about it.

Victims and survivors. are trying so hard at these relationships. So if I am an abuser, all I have to do is keep moving the line. I just keep, I just keep pulling the line a little bit, and you're going to keep coming towards me because you don't want to believe that. So I think for your listeners, it's so important to understand that this is not black and white.

And like you can, we hear stories, I think like the NXIVM cult, like Keith Ranieri gets 120 years because he was a sex trafficking woman. He locked a woman up in a room for over a year, I believe almost two years. And But that, like, that locking up in a room, we're like, oh my god, that was horrible. We have a mom right now in California who the, the husband wrote a list of the way, a hundred chores she had to do in the house every day, like some crazy list.

Of course, the judge looked at that and said, what the heck? What man is gonna make his wife, like, follow a chores list, right? That's like more overt. Sure. [00:10:00] I'm telling your listeners that it can be so covert, right? It can be so insidious. So, so, like, difficult to actually put our finger on, but the question is, Is there something in your gut that is making you feel uncomfortable?

And the abuser's goal is to basically, by the way, erode away that intuition. So you have to ask yourself, if I wasn't in this relationship and this was happening to my sister or my girlfriend, would I see that that behavior right there when that person mocked my girlfriend at the party? Yeah. Right. So it's really about having antenna up.

And if you don't even know you're in the bad relationship, do you have your antenna up? 

Billie Tarascio: Sure. So, um, let's say our listeners are in a relationship and they're, they're pretty sure it's unhealthy. They, they know they don't feel respected. Maybe the other party's saying they don't feel respected either. They want to try to make it work.

How [00:11:00] can they understand and really analyze what is my relationship dynamic? Is this saveable? Is 

Christine Cocchiola: it worth saving? Sure, so I would say there's so many resources out there. John Gottman wrote an amazing book He's like an expert on relationships and marriages. He also has the emotional abuse questionnaire.

He calls it emotional abuse, but in his book it's called the seven characteristics of a highly effective marriage. It can be like Obviously of a partnership. And, you know, you open that book and you're like, Oh, I don't need any of these, really? Like, that's a problem. Or he talks about the four horsemen in relationship, like contempt, disparaging another person.

So, ask yourself, if these, is there a pattern? Is there a pattern of one person trying to diminish another person in some way? Is there a pattern of someone trying to Not elevating me as a human being, but actually putting me down as a human being in my family [00:12:00] system, in my work, in my social circles. It doesn't have to be all of them.

Yeah, it can be one of them. For me, I'm highly successful in my career. I was a college professor and doing, I was teaching the Stranger You Know program in the state of Connecticut. I had a lot to be proud of and I was. I had good self worth and obviously still do in my, in my work capacity, in my career, but then I would go home and I'd be questioning myself.

I'd be saying, wait a minute, what just happened here? Why did that, why was I just called that name? And was it a joke? Am I too sensitive? Am I overreacting? So, When we tell someone, listen, that hurt my feelings, and they tell us one time, oh, you're just being sensitive. That's one thing. When we tell someone that they've hurt our feelings again, and they tell us again that we're too sensitive, they're not willing to look at themselves and change that behavior.

That's a stop sign. Not even a, like, that's the thing. We have to, like, get rid of the misnomer red flags. I mean, [00:13:00] it's literally what, I always say to people, Google the green flags in a relationship. Oh, yeah. Let's look at it that way. What are the green flags? Right, 

Billie Tarascio: what do we have going for us? The other thing I think that Gottman talks about is repair.

I think it's Gottman who says what, you know, the most important thing is we're going to hurt each other in relationship. Let's assume that, that's part of the deal. But do we repair? Are we able to come together, see each other as humans, respect one another, and make progress towards repair? And if that is not happening, and I used to call that like, And like the same problems keep coming up again and again and again, and they're deal breaker behaviors, but you're not ready to be done, and then one day that same thing is enough of a deal breaker how many years later that you're actually done and you're walking away, and it's because that problem never got fixed.

Um, 

Christine Cocchiola: do you see that? Absolutely. So, I think that what goes on is that the, again, that line keeps [00:14:00] moving. There might be a negative behavior, there might be a slight repair, like, you know, maybe a low level repair, and then you invest again. Survivors are known to reinvest entirely again. They get excited about something going well, they want this partnership.

And there's, you know, let's be perfectly frank, for many victims and survivors, there is this knowledge that if things don't work out, And she decides to leave, but it's going to get ugly. It's going to get really bad. And that's, so, do you really want to take that risk? You know, I attempt, the average person attempts to leave on average seven times.

And why do they go back? Because there's a begging and a pleading, please come back. If you don't come back, I'll lose everything. I love you so much. But there's also a, if you don't come back, you'll lose your children. If you don't come back, you're going to lose the house. 99 percent of victims are financially decimated after these types of circumstances, whether the judicial system or otherwise.

So why leave? I [00:15:00] mean, like we want victims to leave, but we also understand that it's a trap. I mean, it's called a trap. That's what we call it. It's a trap. Because if you leave, it's going to get worse, oftentimes with post separation abuse. Okay, let's talk 

Billie Tarascio: about that. Let's say we've got listeners who know that they're going to end up divorced, or they're going to end up outside of their partnership.

It's going to end, but they don't know how, they don't know when, and Is it fair to say that the process of setting boundaries and beginning to set yourself up can begin during your relationship, before you're separated, and will help you once you're 

Christine Cocchiola: separated? 110%. If you know you're with an abuser, you have to strategize.

Okay. Make sure that you're looking from the 10, 000 foot view and preparing yourself for whatever it is because, um, once the abuser, so if we think about the characterological disorder, they're characterologically disordered, [00:16:00] and the, they grew up with a significant amount of shame and were not able to be authentic in their own lives as children.

So, What do they do? They project that shame onto everyone else. Mm hmm. And in that the moment that they are seen, Mm hmm, legitimately seen, they're going to retaliate. So how do you prepare yourself for what that's going to look like, right? And so does that mean you really should have a place to go? You know, you should be prepared, maybe be saving money, ensuring that, you know, you're going to be able to get back on your feet afterwards.

Yeah, There's a lot to discuss there because the pathology of the abuser is that they can't win, right? So, Rosenfeld did that study, I may have mentioned it the other day on the live, but, you know, these people are drawn towards conflict. They actually enjoy it. The court becomes a stage for them, so they're like, bring it on, I'm ready, let's go, and they go into court, and they're able to be in a position of going back to your original question, this [00:17:00] position of, they, they seem like they're confident, they seem like they're put together, and the victim, of course, is broken.

Like, broken after years of being trapped, after years of trauma, after knowing that they may lose their house, their children, and whatever else, the victim is broken and presents that way, and then there is this pathologizing of victims that is not accurate. It's trauma. Right, right. I also 

Billie Tarascio: see when this happens that the victim will end up allowing quite a bit of parenting time while they're trying to get on their own feet.

They're still dependent on the help and then they want to go back to the court and say but this parenting time is dangerous and they've got This evidence weighing against them that they, they've, they've allowed this for many years or many months pending the divorce. There's not much I can do as a lawyer to rehab that.[00:18:00] 

What do you suggest victims do? 

Christine Cocchiola: Oh, that's a tough one though, because it's like walking a tightrope. Yeah, what's the right answer, you know, so, um, I mean, what, what do I say as a parenting coach? That's my primary role is to help protective parents when they leave these abusive situations or they're in the midst of them, how to support their children so their children actually can see clearly who the protective parent is, right?

To give them safety. So what do I say? The more time that your children are with you, the better off they are. Mm hmm. So, if you can. If you have to go to work and you're, like, relying on the abuser and then, like you said, later on it comes and it bites them in the butt, right? Is there other people in your life that you can trust to take them on?

So, the abuser will like to isolate both the adult victim and the children. And I say it's really, really important for victims and survivors to surround themselves with as [00:19:00] many trusted people as possible and to continue to expose their children to those people because the abuser is saying bad things about those people.

Whether it's about, you know, grandma and grandpa, or aunt, whoever, the abuser is trying to fracture all of those attachments, including the attachment to the, to the protective parent. The best thing to do is to continually bring those people around. So. You know, um, I have clients who say to me something like, well, my daughter was so mean to my father, my father doesn't even want to come over and visit her anymore.

And I say, tell your father she's a victim of abuse. And she's just projecting out her fears and her anxieties and the indoctrination she heard. He needs to come around and accept her for who she is. In that she can get healthy. So to your point, The more that children are around all of these protective parts, the better off they are, the less, like, I hear moms say, he doesn't even want to be around the kids, he's busy off with his new partner.

I'm like, that is a blessing. That is a blessing. [00:20:00] So. Yeah. 

Billie Tarascio: So putting together your resources. Starts when you're in the relationship and those resources are financial certainly, but they're also humans Who do I have on my team? Who do I have that's gonna help me with child care? Who do I have that's gonna support me when I have to navigate how to talk to this person how to respond to this email?

What are like your top tips? 

for protective parents. So what they can do to protect themselves and to protect their children if they're sharing their children with an abuser. 

Christine Cocchiola: I would say that, and this is, um, so I am not a lawyer and I am not giving legal advice and I know everybody's situation is different and no one knows their children better than the protective parent.

No one. Okay, but one of the problems, one of the, I think, the mistakes we make is, as protective parents, we are living in this world of thinking the relationship isn't that bad. We're hoping it's going to get better, and [00:21:00] in that, we gaslight our children into believing that the relationship is not that bad.

So, all of a sudden, then, the relationship tanks, and we expect the kids to get it. Well, how could they get it if we've been, for years, pretending it's okay? And that, by the way, is not to shame a protective parent. I get why we do that. We don't want our children to think their family's breaking up. We don't want them to think they have an abusive parent.

Whatever it is. So... I would say, I call it intuition disintegration. And what we're doing is, I don't even call it gaslighting because gaslighting has malice intent. There's no malice intent here. We're disintegrating our children's intuition. We're minimizing what they might be feeling. So there might be an argument in the home or there might be an accusation.

And then we kind of like, it's the elephant in the room nobody talks about. Instead of saying, yeah, you know, um, there, you know, there was some inappropriate behavior. by dad or mom, and we're taking care of it, and we're addressing it, [00:22:00] but, but we don't have to put the other person down. We never disparage the other person, but I think that in an attempt to keep equilibrium, we often diminish what's really going on, and then we expect them to have clarity when, again, The bomb drops, right?

And so I think it's really important that as protective parents, we're able to call out behaviors that are inappropriate. For example, um, you know, the child's really upset because dad maybe didn't show up, um, again for a visit or showed up 30 minutes late again. And that's a pattern, right? So can the protective parent say, I get why that's frustrating.

I can see that that's happened a few times. I'm sorry. Right. All we're doing is calling out the behavior. We're not calling him any name. Mm-hmm. , but we're acknowledging what's actually occurring versus saying something like, oh, your dad probably had to work late. And, you know, he worked so hard and he's financially supporting us.

So in [00:23:00] some ways the person who started off in this relationship, meaning the protective parent, the um, victim, was always a person who saw again, the glass is half full, was always trying hard to ensure that people thought well. of the other person. And we did that to a fault. And that's problematic for children because they can't get clarity.

They're confused. So when these children all of a sudden align with an abuser, well, after years of being indoctrinated unbeknownst to the protective parent, Unbeknownst, and then the protective parent participated in some ways in diminishing what was really happening. Of course, it's easier to align a child.

A child is going to go right underneath the umbrella of the person who has the most power. So I would, for me, What we know is psychologically traumatizing for children is a betrayal. Betrayal trauma is significant in this. So they're betrayed [00:24:00] by the abuser because they know if I don't do what the abuser tells me to do, he's going to reject me.

I'm going to be abandoned. That sounds so painful. What happened to my protective parent is going to happen to me. So children are significantly betrayed, but they don't even know they're betrayed. They just know that they're like really living in this hyper vigilance. But then they're also betrayed against their protective parent because they're told, Oh, your protective parent, you know, they took all the money or, Oh, your protective parent, they didn't really love us.

That's why they have a new boyfriend. There's all of these narrations that are going on. So it's a compound and complex trauma for children. If we give them clarity, then we actually take away some of that confusion. Now again, never disparaging. So remember, and I know you know this, Billie, I'm sure you see this a lot.

There's one, oftentimes there's fighting words, right, going on [00:25:00] where kids go home, they hear a bad thing about this parent, they go to the other home, they hear a bad thing about that parent, right? That's the difference. Protective parents have to show up differently. If you want your children or your child to know the difference between you and that other person, you have to show up differently.

Which means you're never disparaging that other person. You're never, you're never saying, we have no money because he took all the money, because that's what he's saying. You're saying things like, sweetheart, we can't get that because the budget doesn't allow. Right. Right? And you're being clear about that.

Right. Um, and you know, if they reach a certain age, maybe they know how much, you know, they're getting, you're getting in child support if they're eight, you know, seventeen or something like that and they're questioning you. But we have to give them clarity. Sure. 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah. So, any like. Covering for the other parent or trying to fix [00:26:00] the relationship or running interference, which maybe you did all the time in your relationship, like kind of has to stop.

And the kids need to have their own relationship and be able to see reality and have us reflect kind of neutrally about that. And, and, Just hear them and reflect that to them, and then do it in a way that is neutral with regards to the other parent. So instead of saying, I didn't get child support, that's why we don't have money in the budget.

You want to just say, we don't have that in the budget right now. We're not 

Christine Cocchiola: able to do that today. Right, and I would, so when it's an abuser, I think it's also important to come up with, like, examples for them. Like, it might be something like, you know, I was talking to my girlfriend at work, and, you know, she was telling me how, um, how they weren't able to go on vacation this year because um, her, her ex actually didn't pay, you know, um, what he was supposed to for child support and that is [00:27:00] really stressful for her.

Like, we don't have to use our example but we can teach them about other worldly examples that gives them a, they have a very narrow view of the world. And typically the view is only the view that the abuser has given them. How do we expand their world that other people have divorces, other people get child support, other people maybe have to move from a house to an apartment or move out of the family home.

They have a narrow view and the, the, the coercive controller wants them to think that their view is the worst view in the world and that the protective parent is the reason for it. So how do we expand that view for them? We give them examples. Mm hmm. Yeah. I think one 

Billie Tarascio: of the other really difficult things is finances are so important, so important, and being, you know, financially self sufficient comes with so much freedom.

How [00:28:00] do you coach or help victims to become more financially independent, to reject the notion of being the stay at home mom, of taking on the hundred 

Christine Cocchiola: chores? Yeah, I mean, I think that a lot of that has to do with healing, right? So a lot of these parents become so stuck because they've lost the relationship either with their children they had hoped to have or in some cases have entirely lost, you know, um, it's never entirely gone, but they may not see their child when they would want to see their child.

I mean, sending a child off to an abuser has to be the worst nightmare in the world, right? So, um, but You know, so, I like to talk about it in relationship to grief. So, Kubler Ross came up with the five stages of grief, and, um, David Kessler was working under her, and they were coming up with the sixth stage before her passing some 25 years [00:29:00] ago.

And then David put it aside, and then David... that lost his son. His son was like 21 suddenly and he went back to Kubler Ross's library with and got permission from her family and pulled out the sixth stage, which is finding meaning. This is in no way trivializing the loss. So grief and loss are significant when, when, when it's so disenfranchised, when people don't even get what you're going through.

Like try to tell these stories to the average person. They're like, that doesn't happen. Is family court really that bad? Could it be that bad? Right? So, so I think that there is this disbelief and this not wanting to believe that it could be this bad. So that creates a disenfranchised grief, which is significant trauma.

But what our children need more than anything is to see their protected parent in a position of personal power. And so is that back to work? Finding your, finding a place where [00:30:00] you feel that you're useful someplace in your world, or is it working at the local horse barn? I don't care what it is. What are you doing for you?

Because if your children think you're broken, they're not going to lean on you. Right. They will lean on you when they think you're strong and they'll come back to you if they think they can come back to you without you accusing them, without you questioning them, without you saying, How come you left?

How come you haven't talked to me in three years or three months or three days? If they walk in the door and you are just accepting them unconditionally and you have personal power, they are going to stay. So, I always say, if you don't have your children in your lives, Be ready to have them. Show them that you are moving on with your life and that it's, it's a good life and that you miss them and you have a hole and you'll always have that hole.

But we have to show them that they didn't break us because that's [00:31:00] exactly what their fear is. Their biggest fear is that they are carrying shame because they rejected us in some way. And that is a shame that they're carrying. If we keep making that the issue by being broken... What, what person's going to want to face that shame?

I don't care if you're 25 or 15 or 45, you're not going to want to face 

Billie Tarascio: that. That was really, really good, really powerful, and I know that it's something that comes up for people all the time, where they, they might feel like they're owed an apology from their child, and they are unwilling to move forward without that apology, and I can't tell you, just, it, it's not gonna help, it's not, it's not, it's not.

So, 

Christine Cocchiola: I'll give you a little bit of the psychological, like, aspects. So, when children are coercively controlled, and they're living under the domination of an abuser, they learn very quickly that the only way to survive is to adhere to his, align to his rules, [00:32:00] or be rejected. Right? So that's the whole betrayal.

And so in that, what does he do? The course of controller's goal is to create children who are compromised in their, in their healthy ego development. So I always say these children are not their chronological age. They are much, they are in a rusted development because their brains become broken. by this consistent wearing down of their agency.

Children are supposed to grow up and be independent and move on and have different experiences. The course of controller is always trying to diminish that. So in that diminishing of them, that is their inability. Think about it. You can't be yourself with him. Can you, you have to hide who you are. So what is hiding who we are creates shame.

And in that shame. If I go back to a protective parent that I called a horrible name or that I rejected, and she says to me, why did you reject me? What are you doing to my shame? You're making it come right back up. [00:33:00] So it actually compounds the trauma. So protective parents who are looking for answers, the answer is.

That the coercive controller, diminished your child's agency, took away any ability for them to have a voice and made them live in shame. And your role is to allow them to live without shame when they come to you. That's your role. It's very powerful. Unconditional love and the ability to be authentic is what every single child needs.

The Course of Controller takes that away. We have to give it back. Let's talk about the Protective Parent Program. 

Billie Tarascio: What is it? How can people join? Who 

Christine Cocchiola: should join? So it's for anyone of children of any age where they are trying to A, figure out like what the heck happened to their kid because I always say we're parenting different children.

Like, did you ever, did you ever expect you would be parenting a [00:34:00] child who was abused as a child? Like, no, none of us expect that, right? And the abuse is so insidious and nuanced that it's unacknowledged by systems. Nobody acknowledges it, right? So it's really about addressing our trauma as victims, but also seeing it all through the layering, of course, of control.

It's an additional lens. It's like putting on a pair of glasses. These are trauma victims, but now What did coercive control do to them? And then going through grief and loss, like really addressing how much loss there is with all of this and the grieving process. We grow around our grief. Grief, grief never gets smaller.

We grow around it. And then, uh, talking about how to become less reactive and more responsive. And I give people the tools to become, like, what do we say when our kid comes home and says, Dad said you stole all the money. How do we, how do we deal with this? I think we did a little role play last time I was with you.

And then, um, boundaries and consistency, and in that [00:35:00] our children begin to build trust in us, because if, if all of these things are lining up, they begin to trust us. And if they can trust us, then we can reignite their attachment to us and create resiliency and safety. So that's really the goal. It's 180 pages or 190 pages of workbook content, 12 hours of video, and I do a live, and then people can do self study also if they wanted to do self study.

Billie Tarascio: Okay, so online course with a workbook, move at your own pace, but there's also live Q& A. How often are the live Q& A? 

Christine Cocchiola: If you do the live program, it's, uh, I have an eight week program that's an hour and a half every week, and then I have a Saturday accelerated that's two hours on Saturdays. 

Billie Tarascio: Fantastic! And how much is the program?

Christine Cocchiola: Um, it's $539 for the self study and I think $1195 for the live. Because it's like, like I said, an hour and a half a week for eight weeks. And, in addition to that, I do have a lawyer training that I'm just launching because I want lawyers to really understand what this looks like and how [00:36:00] it manifests in both adults, um, adult victims and children and what's the pathology of abusers.

So that should be launching next week. Um, I'm hoping that some law firms just say, Hey, let me just buy this from my law firm and, uh, just get a little more educated about what coercive control is. Because it's a great idea. It's missed so often, as you know. It feels impossible. 

Billie Tarascio: Even for those of us who are super educated, it feels impossible.

Um, do you do work as an expert witness at all? 

Christine Cocchiola: I don't. I do for reunification camps. So if any child's being forced into reunification camps, I'm willing to do those types of testimonies. I just don't really have the space to do otherwise. And you know, this is what I've I started doing it a little bit of few years ago, and I had done it years ago in my DCF days, but, you know, the court date gets scheduled, then it gets postponed.

It's like, you can't teach college and, and work around, like, the postponements and all of that, and I'm sure you do all the time. 

Billie Tarascio: Right, yeah, it, [00:37:00] litigation is, you know, it's crazy, so I, I totally get it. Dr. Coachella, thank you so much for your time today. It's been wonderful as always. This episode has been great.

If you all have enjoyed this episode, please download it, give us your opinion, provide feedback, send it to your friends, and definitely check out the program. We will link to that so that people can find the program. 

Christine Cocchiola: Thank you, Billie. And if I can mention, I just started my own podcast, Perfect Prey and I'm only on episode two that is out now, but really talking about what happens to children in these circumstances, really just trying to like, so I have a lot of free content out there because I want people who maybe don't want to take the program or can't take it can certainly access services elsewhere.

Billie Tarascio: So love it. Perfect Prey. Thank you so much. Have a great day. 

Christine Cocchiola: This podcast is brought to you by Perfect Prey. 

Billie Tarascio: One consistent theme you'll hear from me, Billie Tarascio, is that we do not believe in a one size fits all solution. That's why at Modern [00:38:00] Law, you can find anything you need for your family law case.

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