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Section 7
Building Resilience in Battered Women

Question 7 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed the seven Personal Terrorisms often experienced by battered women.

Now let's take a look at an offshoot from these Personal Terrorisms. This offshoot is the excessive demands of not only the battered woman, but also the excessive demands of her battering partner.

As you know, battered women who experience intimate partner violence IPV place a very high standard of perfectionism upon themselves. However, battered women often must also struggle to meet the demands of perfectionism from their battering partner. I find that this demand for perfectionism produces continuous low self-esteem in the battered woman.

Lucy, 30 years old, told me in a session how she constantly strove to meet her husband Tom's excessive demands of perfectionism around the house. She stated, "I really did a lot of work trying to keep the lid on things, keep things happy. I would get up in the morning and adjust the thermostat to exactly what Tom wanted. I would turn on a particular lamp. I would prepare his breakfast. He demanded half a grapefruit, a particular grapefruit knife and spoon, a cloth napkin, the radio on a certain station. If I forgot any one of these things, there was hell to pay for the next two days, because, he insisted, I was trying to undermine him, and make him miserable."

Struggling to meet these excessive demands made Lucy compulsive, yet she still wasn't able to meet Tom's standards of perfection. She stated, "You could eat off my floors. But even if I did everything right he still managed to find something wrong. You would be amazed at what I was able to accomplish in 24 hours to keep Tom happy."

♦ Lucy's Five Question Resilience Building
With Lucy, a five question test helped her to make worrying about being meeting Tom's perfectionist standards more realistic. As I read these five questions, see how they apply to your Lucy.
1. Is the worrying necessary? Lucy felt her worrying was necessary because physical abuse was involved. My next goal was to discuss how much worry was productive and how much was counter-productive, which led me to question two.
2. If so, what does it mean? Lucy felt the worrying was important to her because it gave her a sense of comfort and control.
3. How long will the worry last? Lucy stated she would spend many hours a day worrying. We then discussed whether she might consider limiting her "worry time."
4. How will you deal with the worry? In order to limit her "worry time", we discussed other possible ways she might provide herself with a sense of comfort. Lucy decided it would be great to take a hot bath while playing the radio, something she would never do when Tom was around.
5. Is it something you can change right now? Through this series of five questions, Lucy began to realize that she could not control Tom's anger, but she could control the amount of time she spent worrying about it.

Would these five questions help a Lucy you are currently treating by taking a second look at the amount of time she spends worrying about future abuse?

The next section, deals with illusions the battered woman may be manifesting.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Frey, L. L., Beesley, D., Abbott, D., & Kendrick, E. (2017). Vicarious resilience in sexual assault and domestic violence advocates. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 9(1), 44–51.

Howell, K. H., Thurston, I. B., Schwartz, L. E., Jamison, L. E., & Hasselle, A. J. (2018). Protective factors associated with resilience in women exposed to intimate partner violence. Psychology of Violence, 8(4), 438–447.

López-Fuentes, I., & Calvete, E. (2015). Building resilience: A qualitative study of Spanish women who have suffered intimate partner violence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(4), 339–351.

What are five components of excessive worrying a battered woman may consider? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 8
Table of Contents