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Interventions for Leaving a Violent Relationship
Violent Relationships continuing education addiction counselor CEUs

Section 2
Track #2 - Tools for Treating the Underdog Syndrome

CEU Question 2 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Domestic Violence
Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On the previous track we discussed the Pre-Somatoform Risk Behaviors of Compartmentalization: Repression, Deadening, Resigning, Projection, and Externalization.

Now let's look at how a battered woman's role as the Irresponsible Child can allow her to have her fundamental rights as a person abused be an important factor in her decision to leave.

As you know, the battered women's role as the Irresponsible Child can prevent her from making her own decisions. Have you found, like I, that being the underdog and having her life decisions made for her are often psychologically actually comforting for the battered woman? Without the misery and discomfort of her abuse, a battered woman is faced with the more pressing obligation to make her own decisions. Think of a client you are treating who is assuming the role of the Irresponsible Child, and giving up their many Fundamental Rights.

Monica, age 35 and her husband, Derek, both held top management jobs in the corporate sector, when they met seven years ago. However, Monica quit her high profile job to become housewife and mother of three. During our first session I noticed a large bruise on Monica's arm. She said she was here because of her migraines and needed some help with stress. She appeared to be a prime candidate for the Underdog syndrome from assuming the Irresponsible child role.

Share on Facebook How to Assess the Irresponsible Child Role
As the sessions progressed I asked Monica…
-- #1. Are you able to choose your friends?
-- #2. Do you decide how to use your time?
-- #3. Do you decide what to eat, wear, and how to look?
-- #4. Do you decide how much money to spend?

By asking Monica these questions, I was able to help her see how her role as the Irresponsible Child was holding her back from making any of her own decisions, and from some fundamental rights. As I discuss Monica's loss of power regarding her rights related to speech, money, time, feelings and wants, think of your Monica and perhaps some education during your next session.

5 Rights of Battered Women

Share on Facebook # 1. Right to the Freedom of Speech
Monica's Irresponsible Child made it easy for her to give up her Right to the Freedom of Speech. Monica told me, "After I married Derek, the first thing I couldn't do was talk about past relationships. Then eventually it got to the point where I couldn't share my goals and dreams with him. Once I told him about a childhood dream to own a house on a lake and he started to choke me, screaming at me to shut up about stupid bullshit we couldn't afford. The marks on my neck didn't hurt nearly as bad as the death of my childhood dream."

Monica knew that when she would state her goals and dreams, Derek would silence her because he considered it to be critical of him, so she stopped. Is it appropriate to your Monica's situation to talk about freedom of speech? Obviously by appropriate, I mean to assess whether standing up for her rights would endanger her safety or not, prior to her leaving.

Share on Facebook # 2. Right to Spend Money
Monica's Irresponsible Child Role made the idea of not being responsible for managing her money attractive. Monica stated, "My husband usually handles the finances and if I need something then I ask him for money. But, every once in a while I sneak something for myself into the cart at the store." As with many battered women, I felt Monica had failed to realize that even if it is a small amount, everyone has the right to spend money without asking for permission. Is it appropriate to your Monica's situation to talk about freedom spend money?

Share on Facebook # 3. Right to Take Time
Like many battered women, Monica often complained about not having time for herself. She was so overwhelmed with household duties and her family that she rarely asserted her right to take time for herself. Monica stated, "By the time the kids are in bed and dinner is cleaned up, I've spent so much time scurrying around for everyone else that I don't have the energy to do anything for myself. I've wanted to paint my nails for weeks now, and I just can't find the time." Is it appropriate to your Monica's situation to talk about freedom of take time?

Share on Facebook # 4. The Right to Feel
Monica, like many battered women, had given away her Right to Feel in an attempt to smooth things over with Derek. She stated, "In the beginning, I'd tell him I preferred something one way, like my eggs scrambled, but he would always do it his way no matter what. Then he'd just try to convince me why I'd like it better his way eventually. After a while I just didn't feel anything. Derek would just tell me why I was wrong if I did." In my sessions with Monica, I thought it was important to stress that there are no right or wrong to feelings. Is it appropriate to your Monica's situation to talk about freedom of speech?

Share on Facebook # 5. Right to Do What You Want
Throughout our sessions, Monica also began to see that she had given up the right to do what she wanted to do. We worked to identify what I call her "If Then" fantasies, such as, "If I love him enough…he will love me back." We identified the actions Monica was taking to make the relationship work, and saw how Derek was not living up to his end of the bargain and making the same sacrifices Monica was.

Monica stated, "I never realized just how much I have been giving in this relationship, and how little I receive from Derek. Our whole life has been so lopsided. It's really not fair, I want to do something that is for me, that I want to do, that has nothing to do with Derek." Is it appropriate to your Monica's situation to talk about the right to do what she wants?

If your client is considering leaving, would a discussion of the right to speak, spend money, take time for herself, express feelings, and do what she wants be appropriate?

In the next track we will discuss the role psychological control plays in postponing the decision to leave.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 2
What are the five Fundamental Rights that battered women often fail to realize they deserve? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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