the last track we outlined the main Illusions battered women maintain about themselves.
Now let's look at ways to help your battered client uncover the illusions she
Stacy, a 32-year-old housewife, described the most recent attack
by her husband Logan in our first session. She stated, "The phone was for
him, so I took it to the garage where he was working on his carpentry project.
Then a few minutes later after he was off the phone I went back in to see if he
wanted something to eat. He was furious with me for interrupting him again. He
came at me with a board and just started hitting me in my side over and over."
Exercise: 5 'Illusions Inventory' Items
Stacy worked through an Illusion Inventory that I have found can often help
a battered woman to explore myths that she may be holding to prevent her growth.
Stacy and I discussed the following 5 Inventory Items:
1. Illusions regarding emotional support: "What are some beliefs you
have about emotional support? That you don't need it? That you can't live without
it? That you must have it from a certain person?
2. Illusions regarding
financial support: "What are some beliefs you hold about financial support?
Have you looked into public assistance? Have you ever written down a sample budget
for food and other expenses?
3. Illusions regarding housing: How
much would housing cost if you lived on your own? Have you looked at ads in the
4. Illusions regarding care of children: How much does
child care cost? What subsidized programs are available?
regarding protection of herself and her children: What is the procedure for
a restraining order? What is the effect of a restraining order?
the Stacy had categorized her list of illusions, we worked to uncover the unrealistic
nature behind her illusions. After this reflection, Stacy stated, "If I had
a job and had to put my kids in pre-school, then they would be safe from Logan's screaming. I guess my need for Logan to care about me doesn't hold water if the
kids would be better off being out of harm's way. They have to walk on egg shells
during the day for fear that any noise we make will wake him and he'll get out
of bed screaming and hit me."
Stacy began to realize that staying at home
with her kids was not bringing to pass her illusion of the happy, well-adjusted
family, but was in fact contributing to its dysfunctionality.
a battered woman works through her illusions or myths of leaving, she often
uncovers issues she has previously avoided dealing with. For example, as you will
see, Susan's leaving Marty resulted in her having to face her fear of getting
Case Study: Susan
Susan, a 28-year-old battered mother of two young children, came
to see me because she wanted to leave her husband Marty. Susan was afraid she
couldn't possibly make it on her own. She maintained the Illusion of Dependency.
During one session in which we were addressing Susan's Illusions or myths about
Financial Dependency, she stated, "I actually can't think of a single reason
why a woman with a Master's degree in Accounting would not be able to get a job,
if she really set her mind to it. I guess I always just assumed I wasn't good
enough. Marty always told me a woman like me would never make it!" Susan
had postponed getting a job and leaving Marty because she believed she was dependent
on him. By maintaining her Illusions of Dependency, Susan was able to avoid dealing
with her fears of reality and getting a job.
We have also discussed the
Illusion Inventory that can assist a battered woman to uncover the truth behind
her illusions and move forward to face her fears, such as getting a job.
next track we will discuss Pains and Pluses Journaling.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Graham-Bermann, S., Sularz, A. R., & Howell, K. H. (2011). Additional adverse events among women exposed to intimate partner violence: Frequency and impact. Psychology of Violence, 1(2), 136–149.
Jouriles, E. N., & Kamata, A. (2016). Advancing measurement of intimate partner violence. Psychology of Violence, 6(2), 347–351.
Spangaro, J. M., Zwi, A. B., & Poulos, R. G. (2011). "Persist. persist.": A qualitative study of women's decisions to disclose and their perceptions of the impact of routine screening for intimate partner violence. Psychology of Violence, 1(2), 150–162.
VanMeter, F., Nivison, M. D., Englund, M. M., Carlson, E. A., & Roisman, G. I. (2021). Childhood abuse and neglect and self-reported symptoms of psychopathology through midlife. Developmental Psychology, 57(5), 824–836.
Zarling, A., Bannon, S., Berta, M., & Russell, D. (2020). Acceptance and commitment therapy for individuals convicted of domestic violence: 5-year follow-up and time to reoffense. Psychology of Violence, 10(6), 667–675.
Zhang, X., Zeelenberg, M., & Breugelmans, S. M. (2021). Anticipated guilt and going against one’s self-interest. Emotion.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION
What are the parts in a five-part inventory of illusions for a battered
woman? To select and enter your answer go to .