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Building Resilience in Battered Women
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the last section, we discussed the seven Personal Terrorisms often experienced by
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.
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.
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."
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 .