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

Section 12
Coping with Intimate Partner Violence (Part 2)

CEU Question 12 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Domestic Violence
Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, Psychologist CEs, MFT CEUs

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The previous track outlined Life Perserver #1 the role support groups play.

This track deals with the role family and friends and a balance plays in her decision to stay or to leave.

3 Life Preservers, Part 2 of 2

Life Preserver #2: Family and Friends.
Aside from support groups described on the previous track as we have discussed earlier, family and friends also provide a second option for a battered woman in gaining support. However, as you also know, this can be a very difficult task. Evelyn, whom we discussed on the previous track was afraid to confide in her family and friends because they always viewed her as being so strong.

She stated, "Last week we were all meeting for dinner together. I didn't get ready for dinner fast enough, and I mentioned that we were only about five minutes late. But as we were passing through the door, Brett threw me into the door frame so hard I fell to the ground. I had to hide my tears and pain at dinner because I didn't want my family to think I was weak."

Four Steps to Seek Support
Evelyn used the following 4 steps to seek support from her friends and family. As I read these steps, think of your Evelyn. Would any of these steps help her to ask her family for support resulting in facilitation regarding her decision to leave?
-- First Evelyn found someone to trust.
-- Second Evelyn had a general discussion with this trusted person about abuse. If Evelyn didn't think this person would understand her feelings or relationship, she found someone else to trust and started again.
-- Third Evelyn vented her feelings. Once Evelyn found a family member who was willing to listen, she wanted to tell every horrifying detail of her relationship with Brett.
-- In the fourth and final step in seeking support, Evelyn attempted to find multiple sources to confide in. For Evelyn, having told one person was not enough. She wanted to tell someone else in hopes that eventually she would run into someone with the same story. Evelyn began to regularly attend the battered women's support group, as well as the Thursday 12-step co-dependence group. Then she was able to meet new people to share her story with.

I find it crucial to break this process into steps because often times the battered neglected the first two steps in assessing who she can trust, followed by a general discussion regarding abuse to test the waters so to speak regarding their empathy and sympathy for those physical abuse in general.

Life Preserver #3: Balancing Tactics.
Aside from seeking support systems through groups, friends, and family, battered women may also gain support to leave through maintaining balance. Have you found, like I, that many battered women struggle to maintain a balance between their fear, anxiety, and sadness with other aspects of their life when coping with the abuse in an effort not to leave?

Four Tactics for Maintaining Emotional Balance
I have found 4 Tactics that are useful in helping battered women maintain a balance regarding these feelings when coping with the stress of a battering situation. Think of your Evelyn as I read this list. Is there something in this list that you could use in your next session to facilitate her decision to stay or leave?
-- #1. Knowing what the abuser is communicating. An example of this was Brett's slapping and pushing Evelyn. Evelyn began to see that his abuse could be a statement about Brett's low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy at the machine shop. He feared that she would see how inadequate he truly thought he was and leave. For the first time she saw her leaving a real threat to Brett's self-esteem.
-- #2. Being aware of the abuser's purpose. I stated to Evelyn, "An abusers motive are usually control and to diminish his partner so that she will doubt herself and be more controllable. After several sessions, Evelyn began to see that Brett's anger about her housekeeping skills was not really a result of her being a bad housekeeper. Rather, it was about making Evelyn doubt her abilities, thus becoming more controllable. Uncovering Brett's purpose of controllability was making her decision to leave much easier.
-- #3. Being aware that you are only in charge of your own happiness. As you know, abusers often make their partners responsible for their happiness. I explained to Evelyn that Brett would say things like "You make me happy. You make me mad. You made me do it" in order to gain more control over her. As you know, battered women often fail to realize that every person is capable of deciding how another will affect them.
-- #4. Knowing
you are separate from the abuser. I stated to Evelyn, "Brett may not be willing for her to have a different opinion, thus making her responsible for everything he feels." Evelyn replyed, "Brett hated it when we didn't agree on things, even stupid things. Once I told him I didn't like a favorite movie of his very well, and he started screaming at me, 'Why do you have to ruin everything I enjoy?' I didn't say it to convince him the movie was bad, I was just sharing an opinion. I didn't say that again after he exploded like that."

With Evelyn, these four balancing tactics of knowing what the abuser is communicating; being aware of the abuser's purpose; being aware that you are only in charge of your own happiness; and knowing you are separate from the abuser; helped her to balance her fear, anxiety, and sadness. With this level of emotional balance Evelyn was able gain the perspective to leave Brett.

In this track and the previous track, we have discussed the three Life Preservers of support groups; family or friends; and Balance Tactics. In the next track we will discuss Emotional Getaways, or how battered women often ignore their emotions, particularly feelings of fear. I will also outline 5 Hidden Fear questions to use with a battered client who is denying her feelings.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
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 12
What are four Balance Tactics you might consider including in your next session with your battered client? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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