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Insights into the Subject of Domestic Violence

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Statistics show 1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. Those statistics suggest that coercive controlling domestic violence is perpetrated almost entirely by men. Victims of domestic violence are more likely to experience psychological, physical and emotional ill health. The complexity of issues surrounding domestic violence can be difficult to work through and understand.

Exposure to domestic violence is quite prevalent among my clients so I felt the need for attending this workshop on coercive controlling domestic violence (intimate partner terrorism) to continue my professional development and to feel well-equipped to deal with the issue. I am familiar with the impact of domestic violence but I still believe that the spectre of domestic violence is a complicated issue that as a counsellor I must address with grace and competency.

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Whether that experience of being abused took place one year ago or ten years ago some of these individuals craved the chance to tell their story. However, due to several reasons some clients will not bring up their abuse histories on their own. For instance, some clients may not even recognize they are in an abusive, controlling relationship because that type of relationship may be “normal” for them. These clients do not necessarily recognize psychological, verbal or other nonphysical forms of abuse as abuse. Many victims and survivors feel a sense of shame or embarrassment about these experiences. Some even feel they are somehow to blame for being the target of abuse. Another common issue that I have been working through with clients has been the self-blame and guilt associated with not leaving an abusive relationship sooner.

In my therapeutic work, I usually encounter clients at the survivor stage than clients who are still in the thick of an abusive relationship. Survivors may be out of their abusive relationship but still experiencing lingering effects of trauma, including feeling unsafe, experiencing flashbacks or being jumpy, also helping these clients with issues such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, emotional withdrawal, feelings of helplessness and low self-esteem. Therefore, this workshop created space for me to be mindful of tailoring my approach to client’s experiences and symptoms.

the workshop has been useful for me to have working understanding of the forces of attraction that bind people together, the attachment patterns that are integral to violent relationships, and how we might assess and approach these clients. So this workshop gave me confidence in how to enable clients to reflect on their experience and even chancing perception on abuse.

Clients may need to learn that the manipulation and power struggles they have experienced in their intimate relationships — such as an abusive spouse hasn’t allowed client to hold a job outside of the home or go shopping — aren’t normal or healthy.

A basic but useful technique that I have started using whit clients who do not recognize abuse or intimate partner violence in their relationship proved to be helpful. I learned from the workshop how to word my questions and talk to clients about what it would look like if there were a problem or ask the client how his or her personal definition of a healthy relationship is working out. So by this way I am not trying to change their mind or indicate there is a problem but rather get them to talk about what would signal or indicate there is a problem,” “It helps if it comes from their mouth. Once I establish what the client views as abuse, I can begin to challenge those beliefs. Asking How can we work together to change the way you see relationships?’ or Ask them to describe what they think a healthy relationship looks like type of questions also helped me encouraging clients and planting the seed that they can look at relationships differently.

Through the training I have become aware of the Duluth Model’s Power and Control Wheel which categorizes specific abuse behaviors, so I can talk through with clients, including using coercion and threats, using intimidation, using isolation, using economic abuse, using emotional abuse and minimizing, denying and blaming. So it helped enhancing my work with DV clients and with the help of the chart client being encouraged to reflect on their experience and to see that in intimate couple relationships, violence can create a sense of comfort and control, and can be used by the perpetrator as a way of regulating unbearable emotions.

As a result of this workshop, I pay further attention to enable client to move from impulsive action to thoughts and reflections by considering the transference and counter-transference processes within in the therapeutic relationship itself. When exploring my client’s situation, I always try to imagine and be curious about what is going on for this client.

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