On the previous track we discussed the Pre-Somatoform
Risk Behaviors of Compartmentalization: Repression, Deadening, Resigning, Projection,
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.
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.
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.
How to Assess the Irresponsible Child Role
the sessions progressed I asked Monica
-- #1. Are you able to choose
-- #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?
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
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
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.
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?
# 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?
# 4. The Right
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
# 5. Right to Do What You Want
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
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?
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
In the next track we will discuss the role psychological
control plays in postponing the decision to leave.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Binion, G. (1998). Women’s rights as human rights: Progress or parallel universe? [Review of the book Women's rights, human rights: International feminist perspectives, by J. Peters & A. Wolper, Eds.]. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 4(1), 69–76.
Dichter, M. E., Thomas, K. A., Crits-Christoph, P., Ogden, S. N., & Rhodes, K. V. (2018). Coercive control in intimate partner violence: Relationship with women’s experience of violence, use of violence, and danger. Psychology of Violence, 8(5), 596–604.
Metz, C., Calmet, J., & Thevenot, A. (2019). Women subjected to domestic violence: The impossibility of separation. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 36(1), 36–43.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION
What are the five Fundamental Rights that battered women often fail
to realize they deserve? To select and enter your answer go to .