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In the previous track we discussed Systematic Desensitization
As a cover up for the underlying depression many males may lash out at others
and become batterers. According to "How Men Handle Depression," "What
you see are the footprints of depression or the defenses a man is using to run
from it. We see it in self-medication, isolation and lashing out."
Cost #1. Is your client concerned about being arrested? This is an obvious consequence to violent behavior, yet as you know, many batterers truly believe that they won't be caught and what they are doing isn't wrong in the first place. Darrell, a 42 year old carpenter, had been court ordered into anger management therapy after severely beating his wife, Trish. Darrell stated, "I can't believe I had to spend two nights in that stinking place and just for putting her in line! Somebody has got to do it, and it is my right as her husband."
Cost #2. Is your client concerned about not being able to return home? As you know, if a batterer is arrested, there is the very real possibility that he will not be able to return home until going to court. Darrell stated, "I had to get my mom to go over there and get me some clothes. Imagine, I couldn't even set foot in my own house! She doesn't pay the bills. I do. She should have had to stay somewhere else."
Cost #3. Is your client concerned about seeing his kids? As you know, many abusive men aren't allowed to see their children until they see a judge. When reflecting on his ugly divorce to Trish, Darrell stated, "I never laid one finger on those kids. Why would I punish them for having a stupid and lazy mother? It's not their fault! Now I can't even see them until I finish these classes and the judge gives the 'OK'."
Cost #4. Is your client concerned about wasting his time and money? As you know, the majority of batterers are court ordered into anger management classes. They have to pay for the classes and could possibly miss work in order to make one of the meetings. Most abusive men look at these classes as a waste of time and money. When considering his anger management therapy Darrell stated, "I really don't think all this is necessary!! I may have gotten out of line a bit, but this is ridiculous! I'm missing 2 hours of work and paying for this crap!"
Cost #5. Is your client concerned about giving his partner the upper hand? In his mind, he gave his wife the upper hand by being caught. Now she thinks she can say anything she wants. When thinking back on his arrest, Darrell stated, "I can't believe she sent me to the can! I hate that place almost as much as I hated the smug look on her face when I saw her in court."
Have you noticed that all of these comments have to do with how inconvenient the consequences of Darrell's abuse were for him? As you know, men that batter women normally aren't concerned about how their violence hurt someone else, but how it hurt them. The effects on those that they have hurt matters only to the degree that it will affect them.
Anger is a negative experience so closely bound to pain and depression that it can sometimes be hard to know where one of these experiences ends and the others begin.
Six Payoffs for the Abuser
Payoff #1. Does your client use the
abuse to get his way? Darrell said that when he got home from work, everybody
would get in line. "I never had to say 'It's my way or the highway,' because
it was pretty much understood."
Payoff #3. Does your client abuse his partner so he gets to be right? Darrell stated, "When she got home one night, she was being all snooty and refused to explain where she was and why she hadn't fixed any meals for the kids. That irritated me, so I popped her one. It worked. She was always home and always had dinner on the table after that night."
#4. Does your client feel that the abuse gives him a final say? Darrell stated,
"I get to have the final say. When I say we're done talking, we're done talking.
She knows better than to push me past that point."
Payoff #6. Does your client abuse his partner so he gets to make all of the decisions? Darrel stated, "I never had to worry about where she was or what she was doing, like going out to the bars. I just put my foot down. She wasn't going. Period!"
Many batterers will keep on abusing their partners because the benefits outweigh the costs. He believes that feeling superior and getting his way is more important then being sent to jail or wasting money on anger management classes. Abuse is not an addiction. It is not a physical craving that is out of the batterer's control.
So, why doesn't he just change? Because there is a short-term gain to using control and abuse, and there is most definitely a long-term cost. As you know, many batterers don't change because they like the short-term gain, but cannot see the long-term costs of their destructive behavior. I'm sure you will be able to recognize this resistant behavior in recognizing costs as I describe Mitch, Cory, and Harold.
Mitch always complains about being tired during our sessions, and wants to leave early. He doesn't really care about what has gone on in the group. He just wants to do his time and get out. Mitch hasn't learned anything. He already "knows it all."
Cory, a construction foreman who is what we would call a perfectionist, likes to argue with every comment made by almost anyone. He often starts by saying, "Let me tell you where you're wrong." Of course, he leaves out the rest of that thought, which would be "and where I'm right."
When Harold walks in, and I know I have to be ready to deal with him. He'll try to take up the entire two hours talking about how he was denied due process and how his wife is at fault too. It really "pisses him off" that she isn't also here in the group. Harold's wife agrees with him. She claims that she, too, is at fault and that Harold is basically a good guy. At least that is what he tells us.
Six Step Anger Visualization
Asking about how the abuse started is really an important question to perhaps link it to depression. The answer is important, and the question is important. If he never thinks about it, how will he change? Well, he won't, of course. As you know, with many abusers, nothing is ever their fault, they are either blaming the system or their partners. Thus, layers of blaming others masks their underlying depression.
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