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Interventions for Leaving a Violent Relationship
Violent Relationships continuing education psychologist CEUs

Section 11
Coping with Intimate Partner Violence (Part 1)

CEU Question 11 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Domestic Violence
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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In the previous track we discussed the Addictive Love cycle of an overwhelming need, withdrawal symptoms of depression, and growing dependency. To survive her Addictive Love while your battered client is deciding whether to leave or not, she may need some Life Preserves.

In this track we will discuss one of the three Life Preservers a battered woman can use to help her cope with her abusive situations. See how these facilitate her choice to leave or her choice to stay.

3 Life Preservers, Part 1 of 2

Life Preserver #1: Support Groups
As we have discussed on previous tracks, support groups can be very effective in helping women cope with abusive relationships. Evelyn, a 33 year old, mother of three, and her husband, Brett, grew up in the same neighborhood and have been married for ten years. Evelyn stated, "Last Tuesday Brett got very angry with me because the bed sheets looked crumpled. He pushed me so hard in the back that I fell onto the bed, and he screamed at me, 'Make it neater! I'll do whatever it takes to teach you to be a good wife!' (K 113) For the most part, whatever Brett says basically goes. To keep peace, I do it. I don't like fighting and I just don't want my kids to get hurt too."

As you know, women who have been abused often feel they are going crazy and are ashamed of the abuse. With Evelyn, support groups helped her to get rid of these false ideas. As you are aware for many, without a support group, there is no one to tell her that she's not crazy. During a meeting, Evelyn stated to the group, "I still struggle with feeling responsible for what happened. This support group gives me the reality checks and the courage I need to go on. I'm starting to feel that I am an intelligent person. If I would have had this support group ten years ago, I never would have been able to convince myself that I was the one with the problem."

In an individual session with Evelyn after she had attended several meetings, she stated, "The group is helping me to accept the reality of my physically abusive relationship with Brett. I can't believe how foolish I was; now I can see how horrible Brett's physical and verbal abuse has been to me. For the first time in my life, I have a list of phone numbers of women to call. Stephanie especially has been a godsend to me." When battered women find each other and receive validation from the group, recovery is enhanced.

So Evelyn's testimonials regarding the benefits of a support group aren't telling you anything new. So why include it in this course? Are you currently treating a battered client individually that is trying to leave? What when, and where is your local support group? Would it be appropriate to inform her of the groups existence? Or is the standard operating procedure for your agency?

"Rejecting Negative Messages" Exercises
Specifically Evelyn benefited from the "Rejecting Negative Messages" exercises in the support group. In this exercise, the women in the group say out loud the negative messages they hear and often believe. I write these statements on a flip chart. Then, the women are asked to turn these negative messages into positive messages. For example, Evelyn often heard from her husband, "You're a bitch-just like all the rest of them." Evelyn made this positive by saying, "I'm assertive and unique. I'm human and humans have feelings."

Four Steps to Reject their Negative Messages
After the statement becomes positive, the women can follow 4 steps to finally Reject their Negative Messages:
-- Step One - Ask the members to write down on a separate slip of paper negative messages or words that they would like to never have to hear again.
-- Step Two - Place a wastebasket in the center of the room.
-- Step Three - Then each group member in turn reads her messages aloud, if she wishes, and tear them up, and throw them away.
-- Step Four - As they throw them away, you may suggest the women can say to themselves, "These words do not belong to me. These words are not who I am."

Obviously in addition to a support group the battered woman may have family and friends as a support for her. The next track will deal with the role family and friends play in addition the role maintaining a balance plays in her decision to stay or to leave.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Chen, J., Walters, M. L., Gilbert, L. K., & Patel, N. (2020). Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence by sexual orientation, United States. Psychology of Violence, 10(1), 110–119.

Crossman, K. A., & Hardesty, J. L. (2018). Placing coercive control at the center: What are the processes of coercive control and what makes control coercive? Psychology of Violence, 8(2), 196–206.

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. 

Elliott, B. A. (2015). Survivors’ coping with intimate partner violence: Insights and limitations. Families, Systems, & Health, 33(3), 295–296.

Foster, E. L., Becho, J., Burge, S. K., Talamantes, M. A., Ferrer, R. L., Wood, R. C., & Katerndahl, D. A. (2015). Coping with intimate partner violence: Qualitative findings from the study of dynamics of husband to wife abuse. Families, Systems, & Health, 33(3), 285–294. 

Lambert, J. E., Benight, C. C., Wong, T., & Johnson, L. E. (2013). Cognitive bias in the interpretation of physiological sensations, coping self-efficacy, and psychological distress after intimate partner violence. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 5(5), 494–500.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 11
What is the name of the exercise which instructs the group to reword the negative messages of their batterer? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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