Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979
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Let us consider this interactional relationship
further. In the last chapter it was noted that psychiatric labeling
has been used to explain why women stay and to excuse their assailants. Here the
medicalization of violence and its victims is examined from two perspectives:
(1) How did the victims interpret their status vis-à-vis illness and health
while they were battered? (2) Can a medical paradigm explain the process by which
these women finally ended their violent relationships?
women's self-evaluations revealed physical and psychological abuse to
varying degrees over a two to twelve-year period. What is not clear is the extent
to which these women were in 'crisis' in the clinical sense: an acute emotional
upset in which one's usual problem solving ability fails. Whether these women
could be termed in crisis is important not only theoretically, but also clinically
since it has implications for social and clinical responses to battered women.
Clinical definitions of crisis confine it to acute upsets lasting between one
and six weeks (Caplan 1964; Hoff 1989). If this definition is followed, then each
battering episode could retrospectively be viewed as a crisis, but not the entire
battering period of several years. Application of the term 'crisis' depends on
objective observations as well as subjective interpretations supplied by the upset
person. Accordingly, these women cannot be assessed retrospectively for whether
they were or were not in emotional crisis during each battering episode. What
we do know, however, is that they somehow coped with the trauma of battering by
various means, some of which were constructive (e.g. seeking help) and some destructive
(e.g. suicide attempts or overeating). What needs to be examined further is the
adequacy of their coping.
It has been
noted that some of these women felt socially isolated.
They coped essentially alone for many years with the trauma of battering. Whether
they were in emotional crisis with each battering episode or not, the fact that
they survived and no longer live in terror demonstrates that they managed highly
traumatic situations to the best of their ability. Significantly, no matter how
they felt emotionally, they nevertheless carried out their social roles as wives,
mothers, and/or wage-earners over many years of repeated trauma. This picture
of competence, strength, and ability to cope starkly contrasts with the one of
helpless victim or one haplessly driven by 'forces' inside and outside the 'family
system'. It also suggests that 'survivor' is a more appropriate term for them