(THIS Josh Powell stuff, for those unaware of who he is)
I know it's probably a good idea for me to stay away from this case, but I've been fascinated by it for years. I just can't stop thinking about it all...
Josh has always seemed to me to be an abusive and controlling person. I've never met the man, so my assessment of him comes from what I've seen on the news, what I've read, and my own experiences.
Abusive people are usually insecure. They are scared of losing anything in life, and channel that fear into trying to control every aspect of their life, including the people in it. They do this through abuse: emotional, physical, sexual, or some combination. When they feel safe and secure, they'll be kind and calm, which can be confusing to their victims. (As long as you do what the abuser wants, they treat you nicely, so it feels as if their treatment of you is a result of the way you act.) Abuse is their response to perceived threats of control being taken away. (To victims: That means they feel threatened when you don't do what they want you to do. That doesn't mean you ARE threatening them, it just means that when they don't have control over you, they feel threatened.) They blame the other person for their fears, but the truth is simply: They feel scared, insecure, and out of control, and they don't know how to deal with those feelings. They compensate for their fears and insecurities by controlling (abusing) the people that they have the easiest control over (generally spouses and/or children).
Observations on Josh:
Susan threatening to leave him would have TERRIFIED him. He would have done everything he could think of to get her to stay. It never would have crossed his mind that maybe she needed to get away from him for her own safety, or that it could be good for her to leave. Abusers see the people in their lives as possessions or extensions of themselves. (If he wanted her to stay, then she needed to stay. In his mind, his thoughts are her thoughts. They are not separate. In an interview two years after her disappearance he said, "She loves me, and I love her, and I don't understand why everyone is trying to alienate her against me." (The following question is based on the assumption that he was telling the truth and didn't murder her and drop her body in the desert.) Does that sound like a rational statement to make two years after she left him?)
The threat of losing his sons was too much for him to handle. He told people he couldn't live without them, and if HE couldn't have them, no one could. Again, it seems he believed that the best thing for them was what he wanted: He couldn't see that they were separate beings with needs and wants and LIVES of their own.
I've seen some blame porn. I think that's silly.
Blaming porn for violent crimes is like blaming food: Before every murder takes place, the murderer eats. Therefore food causes murders. There might be a correlation, but that doesn't prove causality. There are a LOT of people who look at pornography and they never murder their children. I understand that if a man (or woman) ALREADY thinks of people as possessions, looking at pornography could add to the problem. When you look at the world through colored glasses, it doesn't matter what you look at, you will only see that color. (My experience was a man who read the scriptures and felt justified in treating his wife like a piece of property... I think I would have preferred he looked at porn. It would have been easier to sort out what was real and what was his fuckedupedness.)
Obviously Josh Powell is an extreme case, but that doesn't make less extreme cases any less damaging. Just living in an environment where you are thought of and treated as a possession is damaging. It hurts. It is confusing. It erodes self-esteem and self-worth.
I worry that some people will look at the case and think, "My abuser hasn't done anything as bad as THAT," and dismiss their experiences. Josh has been made into a sick monster. I've heard people talk about how evil he is, but look at what his mom, his sister, and even his kids thought of him. They loved him and thought he was sweet and kind and would never hurt anyone. I've written about this before: Abusers are NOT monsters. They look and act and ARE normal people... Normal people with fears and insecurities that rule them and cause them to do whatever they can to control every aspect of their life, including the people in it.