Tag Archives: behavior

‘Coercive’ behavior made illegal in England, Wales

Physical violence will no longer be needed to prosecute someone for abusing their partners or family members in England and Wales.

A new law makes it a crime to use repeated threats, humiliation and intimidation to control people.

It will mean that “coercive or controlling” behavior can be seen as domestic abuse and can be prosecuted as a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

Authorities say stopping someone from socializing, controlling their social media access or using apps to put them under surveillance will in some cases be covered by the new legislation. Making threats to publish personal information can also be viewed as a crime.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders says this type of behavior “can limit victims’ basic human rights” by reducing their freedom of movement and their independence.

“This behavior can be incredibly harmful in an abusive relationship where one person holds more power than the other, even if on the face of it this behavior might seem playful, innocuous or loving,” she said. “Victims can be frightened of the repercussions of not abiding by someone else’s rules. Often they fear that violence will be used against them, or suffer from extreme psychological and emotional abuse.”

Many victims say the trauma from psychological abuse is worse than the trauma of physical abuse, Saunders said.

The new legislation was created after a majority of people consulted by the government said that existing laws on abuse did not offer sufficient protection. It is supposed to apply only in cases where the offending behavior is repeated or chronic.

Cats speak with meows, blinks, tails, whiskers

When it comes to cats, those meows mean … well, a lot of things.

With each purr, yowl or even blink, felines are saying, “Hello,” “Let’s snuggle” or “Beat it, Dad.”

For the increasing number of pet owners who want to connect with their often-aloof fur babies, experts say there’s something to gain from those attempts at communication.

Cats are independent, and so they are easily misunderstood, said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and author of the new National Geographic book “How to Speak Cat.”

He aims to unravel the mystery by helping people discern what cats are trying to convey.

Crafty kitties can make 16 meow sounds and usually only unleash them when people are around, he said.

Meows can be their way of saying feed me, pet me or let me out, and hardly ever get exchanged between cats.

That’s because cats learn they can get something desirable from people if they meow, said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She wrote the 2003 textbook “Feline Behavior.”

The meaning of a scratch or a hiss is pretty clear, but cats can talk in more subtle ways — with their eyes and tails.

A slow blink from a feline, for example, is like a wink between friends, Weitzman said.

“Blinking is like a kitty kiss,” he said.

And extending their tails straight up equates to a human handshake, he said. A cat perks up that appendage as it approaches to show it’s happy to see you.

Susan McMinn, 55, of Tryon, North Carolina, was eager to try the slow-blinking exercise with her Siamese cat, Jade, after reading the book.

“I sat and blinked slowly at my cat and she blinked right back. I know she loves me, of course, but now I feel I understand her communication even more,” McMinn said.

McMinn has owned Jade for 10 years and has had six cats over her lifetime, but she says it’s clear she still has a lot to learn.

“And I thought I was an expert!” she said.

Even ear and whisker movements signify something worth listening to. If a cat’s ears are flat, don’t get close because it’s scared or facing a fight, Weitzman said.

A kitty is happy, calm or friendly when its whiskers are naturally out to the side. Twice as thick as a human hair and rooted three times as deep, the whiskers guide them, help them with prey and show how they are feeling.

Learning to communicate with cats becomes even important for those who adopt a pet based only on the color or breed they want versus a connection with the animal.

At Happy Cats Sanctuary in Medford, New York, a potential owner might ask for a “white cat with fluffy fur,” said Melissa Cox, director of communications and development.

She tells them not to go by looks alone because the true indicator of compatibility is spending time with a cat and getting to know it.

For McMinn, she says she isn’t done with the book and plans to use some of its training tips.

But now she knows “what to look for in her (cat’s) tail and ear movement, whisker positions and in her eyes.”

Editorial: Supreme Court Justice David Prosser must go

Justice David Prosser is too emotionally troubled to remain on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His behavior on the job would have resulted in dismissal from any ordinary workplace, and the state’s highest court demands a higher – not lower – standard of conduct.

He must resign.

Prosser should have been disqualified from the bench last fall, when he made a campaign promise to support Gov. Scott Walker’s right-wing agenda if voters retained him. It’s unethical and highly unusual for judges to make campaign pledges to uphold laws if they’re elected, especially laws they’ve never seen.

Prosser made good on his promise when he voted to uphold the governor’s controversial union-busting bill earlier this year.

But of even greater concern is Prosser’s temperamental unsuitability for the court. That became evident last fall when it was widely reported he’d called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a “total bitch” and threatened to “destroy her.”

Prosser blamed his behavior on provocation from Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. The editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was among those who did voters a disservice by accepting this as a reasonable excuse.

Now Prosser is blaming Bradley for accusations that he put her in a chokehold. He does not deny the charge, but says she brought it on herself by approaching him with her fists in the air. He’s indicated that he grabbed her by the throat to protect himself. Really.

What actually occurred is under investigation by law enforcement, which is a sorry scenario for any state’s supreme court to face. But the most important fact is already known: It is never acceptable to grab someone by the throat.

If any doubt lingered that Prosser has what is known euphemistically as an “anger management” problem, it lifted when he was caught on camera June 30 angrily snatching a microphone from the hand of a Fox 6 news reporter. Even knowing he was on camera, Prosser couldn’t control himself.

Prosser is one of several right-wing leaders in the state, including his fellow conservative Justice Michael Gableman, who are rumored to be gay. The rumors stem mostly from the fact that he’s one of those always-suspect “family values” politicos who never married or had a female companion. The word on Prosser from his years in the Legislature is that everyone assumed he was gay but he never discussed it.

Now there are items on the blogosphere equating Prosser’s presumed sexual orientation with a hatred of women. That stereotype is as ridiculous as the myth that all gay men are pedophiles and dress in drag.  A review of crime statistics will show that straight men, not gay men, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of violence against women in our society.

In fact, among the many victims of Prosser’s temper is openly gay state Sen. Tim Carpenter. Prosser once charged at the Milwaukee Democrat on the floor of the Assembly during a heated debate.

The LGBT community is no more responsible for Prosser than the targets of his anger are for his verbal and physical attacks.  And most of us are among the many voters who’d like him to go.

Sexuality survey refutes key evangelical claim

Right-wing evangelicals claim that acceptance of gays contributes to widespread sexual promiscuity, but a new government survey of Americans’ sexual behavior offers evidence to the contrary.

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer teens and young adults are having sex of any kind than they were in 2002, the last time the survey was conducted.

Among 15 to 24 year olds, 27 percent of males and 29 percent of females reported they had never had sexual contact with another person. Only 22 percent of males and females that age reported being virginal in 2002.

During the years between surveys, acceptance of same-sex relations has risen dramatically and five states have enacted same-sex marriage laws. (Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, has the lowest divorce rate in the nation. Divorce rates are highest in the southern Bible Belt and western red states.)

The new sex survey also looked at same-sex relationships, and found that twice as many women as men admit to having had a same-sex experience. Among 15 to 44-year-old women, 13 percent say they’ve had a sexual experience with a woman. Only 5 percent of men in that age group acknowledged being intimate with another man.

aWomen were also three times more likely than men to say they are bisexual.