The 1993 film "What's Love Got To Do With It" presents many of the classic symptoms and effects of domestic violence. As such, it provides a great deal of insight into this phenomenon, both on the part of the abuser and on the one who is receiving the abuse. The film is a musical biography of Tina Turner, who was one of the late 20th century's most popular singers. The movie opens up with Tin Turner as a young girl singing in a church choir. Even at this early age her prowess as a singer, the power of her voice and the zeal she expresses through her musical performance, become readily apparent. It is crucial to note that despite such an enthusiastic performance, Tina Turner (who is going by her true name at this point, Anna Mae Bullock), is enduring a tumultuous home life. Her mother eventually abandons her (although hermother takes Tina's sister with her), leaving Tina to grow up under the care of her grandmother.
As a young adult, Tina reunites with her mother and her sister, the latter of whom takes the fledgling singer to a night club at which Ike Turner is performing. Tina is invited onstage and sings so well with Ike and his act that he decides to incorporate her into her band. Tina's talent is so undeniable that Ike restructures his band so that Tina Turner will now share co-billing with him in it. Personally, Ike is able to get Tina to become his wife, although when the pair initially met Ike was married to someone else. The Ike and Tina Revue goes on to have considerable success largely due to Tina's engaging performances and stellar singing on a succession of hit recordings. However, this success is tempered by Ike's numerous infidelities, increasing addiction to drugs, and jealousy of his wife's talent (Maslin, 1993) -- all of which manifests itself in his increasingly frequent beatings of his wife.
Eventually, Tina is able to unite with a friend who helps her learn to adopt principles of Buddhism. The confidence that she is able to assert through embracing this religion and philosophy enables her to gain the strength and courage necessary to leave Ike (Ebert, 1993). She is able to rebuild her self-esteem, so that when Ike comes again to threaten Tina (at the movie's conclusion), she is able to overlook him and the gun he wields and go on with her life.
Domestic violence had a tremendous impact on Tina Turner's life, both within the movie and outside of it. Ike's domestic violence was merely one of the ways in which he attempted to completely dominate his wife and subvert the fact that she was more talented and successful a performer and artists than he was. As such, Ike's domestic violence served to reinforce his ability to subject his wife to significant verbal abuse. Tina, of course, would more willingly endure such verbal abuse than the physical abuse tha often accompanied it. Therefore, Ike was able to completely reduce Tina's self-esteem to the point that it was virtually non-existence. As such, he was able to inflict verbal abuse in the most obvious of places -- such as in front of other people and in public places. His doing so was a way of asserting his control over Tina's life. By continually verbally abusing her, which he was able to do because anything less than total acquiescence on her part would trigger more domestic violence, Ike could maintain the dearth of confidence and self-esteem that plagued Tina so that his power over her was all the more pervasive.
Additionally, the domestic violence that Tina endured enabled her to labor for Ike in a position of virtual servitude. Ike's frequent beatings of Tina were physical manifestations of his total emotional, business, and pecuniary domination of her. Because anything that Tina said (or anything that Ike did, for that matter) was liable to provoke a violent reaction from her husband, Ike was able to take advantage of Tina in the music industry. In fact, he did so in a way that was largely indicative of the way that most record executives, managers, etc. are able to take advantage of the singer's and songwriters whose talent they routinely exploit for capital gain. One of the most revealing scenes in the movie is when Ike and Tina are in court after she has filed for divorce. Virtually all of the assets that Tina's prowess as a performer produced -- from the house the pair were living in to lucrative royalties and publishing from the songs that she sang -- were awarded to Ike. At one point Tina even stated that she was willing to concede everything, except for her legal rights to the name of Tina Turner (which Ike had bestowed upon her).
Explanations for domestic violence may be puzzling for the uninitiated or for those who have never lived through or witnessed a friend and a family go through a domestic violence situation. The patterns in domestic violence are that routinely a woman endures physical and verbal abuse from her husband, believes that these outbreaks actually stemmed from some aspect of her behavior or character, and actually forgives the man and permits him to continue abusing her. One of the chief reasons why woman find themselves in these destructive patterns of violence is because they have low self-esteem. This fact is elucidated well within this film. As previously mentioned, Tina grew up in an unstable home environment and when she had met Ike he seemingly represented everything that she did not have including wealth, fame, and charm. Women with low self-esteem are willing to tolerate denigrating treatment at the hands of a man because they do not feel good about themselves. They frequently believe that they need a man to validate their existences, and also believe that even the terrible treatment they endure that is inflicted by their partner is better than not having a partner at all.
Also, because women have low self-esteem, they almost always believe that they are somehow to blame for the abuse to which they are subjected. In this way they believe they are both the victims of domestic violence as well as the causes of it. There is a similarity between this sort of perception and that which children have when their parents get divorced. Many children somehow believe that they did something wrong in this situation, or that if they had perhaps done something better things would have worked out more favorably for their parents. This same sentiment pertains to women who are victims of domestic violence. Partially such a thought or feeling is initiated because the men tell the women things like that the women provoked them. But oftentimes, women simply believe that innocuous things that they do (perhaps such as bringing up a certain subject or not doing something fast enough, doing more of it or doing less of it) or do not do actually triggers such violence. Such perceptions are almost always incorrect, of course, but they still explain why women are willing to contend with situations in which they are victims of domestic abuse.
Essentially, then, women tend to have psychological issues associated with domestic violence which identifies the various points-of-view that convince them to stay in these relationships longer than women without such psychological uses would. Therefore, one of the most effective interventions is for such women to seek psychological therapy or counseling, perhaps. In addition to putting up with domestic violence and he verbal abuse that frequently accompanies it, many women in these situations actually make excuses -- either to themselves or to others -- for the repugnant behavior of their partners. Therefore, in domestic abuse counseling for the survivors of such…