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In the last track we discussed how a mental or physical handicap can result in increased batterer control, authority unresponsiveness, and court leniency.
In this track we will look at the four characteristics of a double-bind relationship that can prevent a battered woman from maintaining her position of power resulting in her reluctance to leave.
As you may know, in a double-bind relationship, the abuser uses paradox and contradiction to create instability and confusion for the battered woman. As was illustrated on the last track that dealt with mental and physical handicaps the battered woman learns that she is in a paradox, or a double-bind, and that no matter what she does, she cannot win, nor do it right.
4 Characteristics of a Double-Bind Relationship
Characteristic #1 - Intense Relationship
Characteristic #2 - Conflicting Messages
Jeannie stated, "Ben always told me that if I lost weight, things would be better. He said he wanted to be intimate with me, but had trouble when I was overweight. After I had lost sixty-five pounds, Ben said that I had finally done something that he had always wanted and now things would be better between us. So it's like I'm finally good enough. But then he said there wasn't any money because I had spent it all and he was too mad at me to even look at me. I did everything to try to make Ben happy, but Ben would just find something else. There was always something wrong with me."
Have you also found that a second common conflicting message in battering relationships is "If you withdraw from me in any way I will punish you" but "If you reach out to me in any way I will reject you."
Jeannie stated, "Ben used to get really mad if I wasn't in the mood to have sex with him. I wanted to make up for all the times I told him no, so after I lost all that weight, my friend and I went out and I bought a new negligee. It was red. I worked it out so Stephanie could take care of the kids and everything, and Ben and I had the night to ourselves. I put on the negligee and Ben got really angry. He was so mad. He threw me into the bathroom vanity and yelled, 'Nobody will tell me when I'm going to have sex! I will have it when and how and where I want!' What Ben did that night just crushed me, absolutely crushed me."
Do these constant conflicting, push-pull, message leave your client so confused that she cannot sort thing out clearly enough to even think about leaving? If so, that brings us to inability to clarify.
#3 - Inability to Clarify
Characteristic #4 - Prohibition
French psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray sees the therapy goal of leaving as constructing a separate, unique, and powerful position for the battered woman. Irigaray states, "Perhaps helping the battered woman to see a new position of power can help her to escape her previous feelings of being trapped in one-down, powerless, abusive situations. "
Think of a battered woman you are currently treating. Does she experience Double-Bind or an Intense Relationship, Conflicting Messages, Inability to Clarify, and Prohibition from Escape. Would it be beneficial in your next session educate your client regarding the double-bind and these four characteristics? If so, you might consider replaying this track just prior to your session with her. Or perhaps playing this track in the session.
The Double-Bind Control Technique generates
much anger in the victim. The next track reviews the Anger Letter for you to compare
with a similar technique you may be currently using.
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