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In the last track we discussed the three Life Preservers of support groups; family or friends; and Balance Tactics.
In this track we will discuss how battered women hide from their emotions in order to provide an impression of normalcy by taking an Emotional Getaway, so to speak. Through an emotional getaway a battered woman can escape her feelings to allow her stay. Thus these are really emotional gateways to prison.
As you know, many battered women will turn to alcohol, sedatives, or "busy" tasks in an attempt to avoid the feelings they have about their abusive situation. Because of this, many battered women cover up their emotions, and fail to recognize the warning signs in their life that something isn't right. Haddie, a 45-year old mother of three, hid her emotions and fears in order to keep up a façade of normalcy. I found it helpful with Haddie to divide the reasons for her emotional getaway and not expressing her emotions into three categories.
3 Reasons for Emotional Getaways
#1 - Protection from Additional Abuse
Haddie first walked into my office with a black eye, a cut on her forehead, a jaw that was beginning to swell, and several bruises on her arms. In a session, Haddie stated, " I walked into the bedroom to find that Clint had torn a hole in the hand-embroidered jewelry case my grandmother had given me. I sat on the bed crying only to see that he'd also ripped some of my clothes in the closet to shreds. When he came into the room I was so angry all I could do was scream at him and beat his chest. But, my anger made Clint hit me harder."
After some discussion
of this incident, Haddie stated "I should have pushed aside my anger and
gotten the best of him by not giving him an additional reason for beating me."
Are you currently treating a client who needs to be reassessed for her
ability to push aside or ignore her emotions as a means to maintain her safety,
if she has decided to return? Some women do this automatically, however I have
treated some clients who lack the ability to control their emotions, even though
their safety is at risk. Do you have a client that might currently benefit from
anger management training and needs to create an emotional getaway from their
anger if they have decided not to leave?
Haddie stated, "I didn't want to be the picture of a pitiful woman in my friends and coworkers' eyes. I had enough of that from myself. Most of my friends and people I worked with see me as a capable and outgoing person. Their view of me actually bolstered me much of the time, for the view I had of myself was much worse. I explained the bruises by saying Clint and I went on a camping trip and I fell down a steep hill."
Haddie felt that the only way to keep any kind of dignity and a feeling of normalcy with coworkers and friends was to create an emotional getaway by hiding her emotions as well as her bruises from the people with which she was closest. As we have discussed on a previous track do you have a client, who, in your next session, you need to discuss people with which it is safe to let down their guard around and not hide her emotions? Letting down her guard and not hiding her emotions may be the spring board she is needing to decide to leave.
Reason #3 - Denying
Denying that she is a victim of abuse often prevents a battered woman from seeking the help she needs. Obviously, Haddie's frequent use of the emotional getaways to serve as protection from more abuse, protection of her image, and denying the abuse, did not help her to face the abuse, they only helped her to hide it. As you know, Haddie's acceptance and perhaps eventual leaving begins with admitting that she is a victim of abuse, and not by minimizing or denying what she is feeling.
Haddie did leave Clint shortly after our sessions had begun . Would it be beneficial to replay this track prior to your session with your Haddie who is taking emotional Getaways. Or how about playing this 7 minute track as an educational tool in you next session? If so make a mental note to replay track 13.
After leaving Clint, I found it beneficial for Haddie to explore her hidden fears regarding being on her own. The next track will explore those hidden fears.
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