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Pop-Culture Conversation Starters: #FreeBritney

Terms or Phrases to Know:

Conservatorship: A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who allegedly cannot care for themself or manage their own finances.

#FreeBritney: the movement that started on social media when fans of Britney Spears started noticing harmful behaviors taking place due to the conservatorship she was under. Fans would reach out and tell Britney that, if she needed help, to wear a certain color or do a certain action in her posts. When she started doing what fans asked, suspicions kept rising.

Coercive control: A pattern of controlling behaviors that create an unequal power dynamic in a relationship.

Are you a parent, guardian, or grandparent who wants to have conversations with youth or teens about healthy relationships and preventing abuse? It’s important to speak youth or teen’s language. CASA’s team is here to help in a new, culturally relevant blog and newsletter series we are calling Pop Culture Conversation Starters.

Hopefully, our team can do some of the leg work—such as research and monitoring pop culture—to help you have an easier route for engaging with youth and helping them understand the dynamics of power and control and how to have a healthy relationship.

You may or may not have heard about the #FreeBritney Movement, but it is likely something youth are keeping tabs on. In a nutshell, pop icon Britney Spears spoke publicly for the first time back in June about the conservatorship her father, Jamie Spears, has had over her for the last 13 years. The night before the hearing, Britney Spears called 911 to report conservatorship abuse.

Jamie Spears was awarded this conservatorship when Britney had various public mental breakdowns, which many think were brought on by the social pressure she was experiencing from being a child star and rising to fame at such a young age.

According to the New Yorker, “Since the establishment of Spears’s conservatorship, she has released four albums, headlined a global tour that grossed a hundred and thirty-one million dollars, and performed for four years in a hit Las Vegas residency. Yet her conservators, who include her father, Jamie Spears, have controlled her spending, communications, and personal decisions.”

She alleged that her father was using coercive control to keep her from having another child, will not allow her to be alone with her boyfriend, and essentially controls all her finances, which includes giving himself a generous salary of $16,000 monthly.

Britney Spears also said during the hearing, “It concerns me I’ve been told I’m not allowed to expose the people who did this to me. All I want is to own my money, for this to end, and for my boyfriend to drive me in his car.”

Since the hearing, Jamie Spears has agreed to step down as Britney’s conservator. However, there is no formal timeline for when this transition will occur. It could be weeks, months, or years, keeping Britney in this cycle until further notice.

At CASA, we stand with survivors and vehemently oppose any form of coercive control or abuse.

Key Talking points:

  • Talk to your child about coercive control, what it is, and how to recognize the signs.
  • Talk to your child about familial abuse: just because someone is family does not mean they cannot harm or mistreat you!
  • Talk to your child about the way Britney Spears has been portrayed in the media, often being blamed for the conservatorship. Let them know that victim blaming is never ok and that no one could ever do anything that would justify abuse of any kind.

It concerns me I’ve been told I’m not allowed to expose the people who did this to me. All I want is to own my money, for this to end, and for my boyfriend to drive me in his car.

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