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Coping with Intimate Partner Violence (Part 1)
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In the previous section, we discussed the Addictive Love
cycle of an overwhelming need, withdrawal symptoms of depression, and growing
dependency. To survive her Addictive Love while your battered client is deciding
whether to leave or not, she may need some Life Preserves.
In this section, we will discuss one of the three Life Preservers a battered woman can use to help
her cope with her abusive situations. See how these facilitate her choice to leave
or her choice to stay.
3 Life Preservers, Part 1 of 2
♦ Life Preserver #1: Support Groups
As we have discussed in previous sections, support groups can be very effective
in helping women cope with abusive relationships. Evelyn, a 33 year old, mother
of three, and her husband, Brett, grew up in the same neighborhood and have been
married for ten years. Evelyn stated, "Last Tuesday Brett got very angry
with me because the bed sheets looked crumpled. He pushed me so hard in the back
that I fell onto the bed, and he screamed at me, 'Make it neater! I'll do whatever
it takes to teach you to be a good wife!' (K 113) For the most part, whatever
Brett says basically goes. To keep peace, I do it. I don't like fighting and I
just don't want my kids to get hurt too."
As you know,
women who have been abused often feel they are going crazy and are ashamed
of the abuse. With Evelyn, support groups helped her to get rid of these false
ideas. As you are aware for many, without a support group, there is no one to
tell her that she's not crazy. During a meeting, Evelyn stated to the group, "I
still struggle with feeling responsible for what happened. This support group
gives me the reality checks and the courage I need to go on. I'm starting to feel
that I am an intelligent person. If I would have had this support group ten years
ago, I never would have been able to convince myself that I was the one with the
In an individual session with Evelyn
after she had attended several meetings, she stated, "The group is helping
me to accept the reality of my physically abusive relationship with Brett. I can't
believe how foolish I was; now I can see how horrible Brett's physical and verbal
abuse has been to me. For the first time in my life, I have a list of phone numbers
of women to call. Stephanie especially has been a godsend to me." When battered
women find each other and receive validation from the group, recovery is enhanced.
So Evelyn's testimonials regarding the benefits of a support
group aren't telling you anything new. So why include it in this course? Are you
currently treating a battered client individually that is trying to leave? What
when, and where is your local support group? Would it be appropriate to inform
her of the groups existence? Or is the standard operating procedure for your agency?
♦ "Rejecting Negative Messages" Exercises
Evelyn benefited from the "Rejecting Negative Messages" exercises
in the support group. In this exercise, the women in the group say out
loud the negative messages they hear and often believe. I write these statements
on a flip chart. Then, the women are asked to turn these negative messages into
positive messages. For example, Evelyn often heard from her husband, "You're
a bitch-just like all the rest of them." Evelyn made this positive by saying,
"I'm assertive and unique. I'm human and humans have feelings."
Four Steps to Reject
their Negative Messages
the statement becomes positive, the women can follow 4 steps to finally Reject
their Negative Messages:
-- Step One - Ask the members to write down on
a separate slip of paper negative messages or words that they would like
to never have to hear again.
-- Step Two - Place a wastebasket in the
center of the room.
-- Step Three - Then each group member in turn reads her
messages aloud, if she wishes, and tear them up, and throw them away.
-- Step Four - As they throw them away, you may suggest the women can say to themselves,
"These words do not belong to me. These words are not who I am."
in addition to a support group the battered woman may have family and friends
as a support for her. The next section will deal with the role family and friends
play in addition the role maintaining a balance plays in her decision to stay
or to leave.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Elliott, B. A. (2015). Survivors’ coping with intimate partner violence: Insights and limitations. Families, Systems, & Health, 33(3), 295–296.
Foster, E. L., Becho, J., Burge, S. K., Talamantes, M. A., Ferrer, R. L., Wood, R. C., & Katerndahl, D. A. (2015). Coping with intimate partner violence: Qualitative findings from the study of dynamics of husband to wife abuse. Families, Systems, & Health, 33(3), 285–294.
Lambert, J. E., Benight, C. C., Wong, T., & Johnson, L. E. (2013). Cognitive bias in the interpretation of physiological sensations, coping self-efficacy, and psychological distress after intimate partner violence. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 5(5), 494–500.
What is the name of the exercise which instructs the group to reword
the negative messages of their batterer? To select and enter your answer go to .