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Strategies for Battered Women
Strategies for Battered Women

Section 4
Track # 4 - How to Unravel Guilty Feelings via a 3-Step Process

Question 4 | Test | Table of Contents
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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In the previous track, we discussed four common "If Only" rationalizations the battered woman uses to gain a feeling of managing the unmanageable. If you recall, the If Onlys were related to alcohol, dysfunctional family history, uncontrollable anger, and insecurity.

In this track, we will be unraveling guilty feelings that result from their relationship with a batterer. Where do these guilty feelings come from? Who is your client listening to?

Feelings of Guilt
As you know, being in a battering relationship often causes feelings of guilt and responsibility for the abuser's behavior or problems. You are aware that she truly believes she deserves to be kicked, punched, thrown to the floor, or what ever other physical acting-out violence her battering partner decides to delve out to her.

Michelle, age 37, probably is similar to a client you are currently treating. Like many battered women, she believes that she deserved the physical abuse she received from her husband, Steve. As you know, a battered woman's "feeling that she deserves the abuse" may stem from our society's common belief that it is the woman's role to uphold a marriage and make sure her children are safe.

Citing research from her book, Battered Wives, Del Martin states that women do not remain in relationships simply because they like being beaten. As you are aware, battered women have trouble leaving because of many complex psychosocial reasons.

Placing the Blame Process
These psychosocial reasons can also be called the "placing the blame process". Think for a minute. Ask yourself how does the "placing the blame process" contribute to the guilt that battered women feel? Michelle stated, "I'm not really a very good mother. The children have seen Steve slap and hit me on many occasions, but it is almost always because of my own stupidity." Does this sound like a client you are currently treating? Like many battered women, Michelle has put the blame on herself and is convinced that Steve's abuse is her fault and that she deserves it.

Exercise: 3 Questions for Unraveling Guilty Feelings
However, let's look at the other side of the "placing the blame" coin. Michelle felt guilty because she could not meet all of Steve's needs. Here is a list of three questions I asked Michelle in order to assist her in unraveling her guilty feelings by discovering their source:
1. "Are these thoughts and ideas that you truly believe?"
The first question deals with ownership of beliefs. Question 1 is, "Are these thoughts and ideas that you truly believe?" Michelle stated, "Sometimes in my gut, when Steve calls me an idiot, I feel sick and twisted inside, like maybe he's just on a power trip and this is what he thinks."
2. "Are you so used to hearing these thoughts and ideas that you aren't even thinking about what they really mean?"
The second question deals with increasing awareness of habitual patterns. Question 2 is, "Are you so used to hearing these thoughts and ideas from Steve that you aren't even thinking about what they really mean?" Michelle continued, "But, Steve says this so much, I begin to think I am an idiot, too."
3. "Do you trust the person that you are hearing this advice from?"
The third question deals with providing the client with the ability to "consider the source" of the feedback. Question 3 is, "Do you trust the person that you are hearing this advice from?" Michelle and I discussed whether or not someone is the right person to ask for help or feedback.

In summary, the three questions you might consider asking your client are related to:
1. Ownership of belief: Are these thoughts and ideas something you really believe?
2. Habitual thought patterns: Are you so used to hearing these thoughts and ideas you feel they are true because you have heard them so much?
3. Evaluating the source: Is the person saying these things someone you can really trust?

The next track discusses guilt specific to the battered woman's children.

Author - OnlineCEUcredit.com team. See Instructors page for details.

What are three questions you might discuss to facilitate the unraveling of the battered woman's feelings of guilt?
To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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