Health And Wellness

How Britney Spears' Conservatorship Chaos Displays The Domestic Abuse That Even High-Profile Women Can Face

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britney spears

How many women do you know who have moved from dependence on their mothers and fathers to dependence on their husbands?  

Do you know any woman who has ever preferred dependence to the ability to choose for herself? Asking for permission to shop or buy food or speak to friends is entirely different from talking with your family about options and co-creating a solution that is mutually desirable.

While many of us had someone looking over our shoulder when we were 15 or 16, how many of us would tolerate living like a bird in a gilded cage like Britney Spears does now?

If you are in a challenging situation today, learning that Britney Spears’ father controls every aspect of her life is a wake-up call for you because it's just a high-profile example of the domestic abuse that some women have tolerated for centuries.

The tragic death of Gabby Petito and the disappearance of her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, reminds us that we each must awaken to prevent domestic violence before, not after, it occurs.

RELATED: Can We Protect Our Kids From Abusive Relationships? Gabby Petito's Death Makes Me Want To Try

Here are some of the ways society can change so that all women can live a life of freedom, safety, and joy.

Public education.

As a victim of Domestic Violence myself in 1998; I literally created a Witness Protection Program for myself and went into hiding for many years. Since then, I have provided 10,000 free consultations to women and men around the globe who have experienced threats and intimidation. With new skills and support, they created peaceful, safe, and affordable solutions. 

Educating the Police.

Last month, Moab City Police officers responded to reports of disorderly conduct involving Petito and Laundrie. Experts have since identified the common signs among abused women who are afraid to speak up to police.  

Officer Daniel Robbins wrote in the police report, “I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis." No charges were filed. As we now know, Gabby Petito was murdered, and the circumstances of her death are not yet clear.

Educating Health Care Providers.

Few therapists and coaches understand domestic abuse and yet they continue to provide advice or suggestions to their patients and clients. Unless you have experienced something dangerous, tragic, and complex, can you actually advise someone about how it handle it safely and successfully?

There are thousands of experts with this skillset; whether their lives were threatened as was mine or they endured and ultimately overcame psychological and financial abuse. Be sure to carefully vet any expert before beginning a support or treatment program.

Educating Attorneys and Judges. 

It's as important for legal experts to become aware of the hallmarks of domestic abuse so that they become a legitimate part of the solution. In my work as a Certified Mediator, I have seen so many women reluctant to divorce abusive husbands.

They understood that the court system was often swayed by their husband’s presentation rather than by their pleas for safety for themselves and their children. Many of my clients have successfully left their marriages and are now enjoying safe, independent lives and you can, too.  

RELATED: 30 Important Domestic Violence Lessons To Learn From The Gabby Petito Brian Laundrie Case

How Domestic Abuse Begins.

Controlling a woman begins by destroying her self-confidence. When the motive for grooming her is psychological or financial control, depression usually follows. Then, if she hasn’t received effective support and loving care, the next step may be that the abuser takes complete and total control of her life like Britney Spears’ father.

For the past 13 years, Spears was stripped of most of her rights. She was subjected to intense surveillance that monitored her in every way, even through audio recordings from her bedroom.

When enough information came to light, fans took to social media with the hashtag #freebritney to raise awareness. “It really reminded me of somebody that was in prison,” said a former employee of the security firm hired by Spears’s father to protect her. “And security was put in a position to be the prison guards.”

Spears' story is now the focus of “Framing Britney Spears,” “Controlling Britney Spears” and “Britney Vs Spears”  examining her father, Jamie Spears’ control over her life since 2008, and her previously unpublicized attempts to break free.

Solutions for all women.

Britney’s situation devolved over time; not overnight. If you or someone you love has reported controlling behaviors to you, please encourage her to do this right away:

Seek secret professional support immediately.

Inform her not to complain to her partner or to anyone that he may know about any aspect of her life.

Knowing you’re in trouble is the first step to preventing disaster. Few people expect abuse; no one enters into a relationship prepared for it. Whether you are in a relationship with someone who has hidden his illness or your partner develops a mental illness as did my husband, the most important action step is seeking secret professional help as soon as you witness examples of behaviors that trouble you.

Never wait for your situation to become dangerous; do not wait until what happened to Britney Spears or to Gabby Petito happens to you or to someone you love.  

Britney Spears' conservatorship dictated her medical care, how often she saw a therapist, who she could date, and who she could be friends with. All of this was dictated by her father. As with abusive husbands and boyfriends who often cut ties to their wife’s family and friends, Spears became totally isolated.

In addition, news reports now state that anyone speaking against the conservatorship to Britney could lose their job within days.

Britney realized that she had a choice. According to Ronan Farrow on CNN, “She wanted to begin to establish that she believed something illegal was happening and …she felt people involved in maintaining this conservatorship should go to jail.”

Each of us has one precious life that we can enjoy or endure. We have the ability to step outside of torture and with skills and support we can each learn to thrive.

Whether you have the self-confidence to take action today or not, you can find a solution that works for you. Like me, many professionals are ready to help you. Please contact someone before life becomes unbearable.

RELATED: 21 Signs You're In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Susan Allan is a life coach and author of 101 Divorce Secrets: A Survival Guide. You can also email her for a complimentary 1-hour consultation for you or someone you love.