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After Corey, age 24, was introduced to the concept of Red Flags discussed on the previous track, he stated, "Hitting Wendy was the only way I could shut her upand get her to listen to me!" Corey had been arrested for punching Wendy in the stomach and twisting her arm until it became fractured. This incident of abuse occurred one Friday night after Wendy said she would be going to a movie with her girlfriends instead of staying home with Corey. In the group, I asked Corey what were some ways of Expanding Choice Points to his violence.
you know, a variety of Choice Points are taught in Group Intervention sessions
in general. However, I have found there are four useful Choice Points for batterers.
These Choice Points are: Distractions, Rules of Engagement, Roots of Anger, and
Cognitive Restructuring. Think for a moment, as I describe each of these four
Choice Points, consider whether they might be appropriate for your next session
with your physically and/or verbally abusive client.
Corey stated, "I just wanted Wendy to know where I was coming from. I wanted to get my point across. I wanted her to know I wasn't going to stand for her ignoring me." By using a distraction, Corey could allow himself to cool down before continuing his discussion with Wendy. I also suggested to Corey that he might mention to Wendy the issues that bothered him right when they started feeding what he began to call his "angry monster." This way, those bothersome issues, or "angry monster feeders," would be less likely to build up and reach a boiling point.
Choice Point #2 - Rules of Engagement
Another rule of engagement was a "no yelling rule." Corey's awareness of yelling was crucial because he had started to notice that shouting matches between Wendy and himself, like the one on the Friday night of his arrest, often led to his punching and arm-twisting. A third rule of engagement was that they would attempt to discuss problems that could potentially lead to physical abuse in a designated area that offered distance between the two. For example, if Corey and Wendy sat at opposite ends of the kitchen table and did not allow themselves to get up until the conflict was resolved, there was a safety zone between them.
Are you currently treating a client who might benefit from Rules of Engagement such as: setting time limits on arguments, decreasing yelling, and discussing issues across a table rather than face to face? As you know, at first clients put down these suggestions with sarcasms like "oh yeah, I'm really going to look at my watch when we discuss the bills!" However, when reminded of the possibility of jail time, have you found some clients find the motivation to consider using Rules of Engagement dramatically increases?
Choice Point #3 - Roots of Anger
For example, Corey stated "I get really pissed when Wendy spends time with her friends!" Corey's next statement showed that the feelings beneath the anger were jealousy and rejection. Corey stated, "Wendy doesn't care if I'm at home alone on a Friday night or not. Only sluts go out at night by themselves!" Think of a client you are currently treating. What do you think his or her response will be when you ask, "What emotion do you feel is under the anger, or at its root?"
Choice Point #4 - Cognitive Restructuring
the next track we will discuss the differences between batterers who are overcontrolling
and those who are undercontrolling.
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