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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Myth-Understandings About Domestic Abuse & Domestic Violence

Domestic abuse and domestic violence are rare. Not according to the department of Justice which claims 3 of every 100 American households is effected by domestic violence. According to the National Census Bureau, 3 of every 100 households adds up to approximately 37 million Americans, primarily women, who are experiencing domestic violence.

What is domestic abuse? Put simply, domestic abuse is WAR. It turns the home, which should be a sanctuary of peace and safety into a battlefield filled with destruction and misery--with the abuser waging psychological warfare, and sometimes physical warfare, against his or her victim(s).

Only women are victims of domestic abuse and/or violence. The Department of Justice figures show that males comprise 5% of domestic violence murder victims.

Studies prove that women violently abuse just as much or more than men do. Department of justice statistics do not back those studies up. As one supporter of those studies so succinctly put it, "With a U.S. population of 297 million, it's possible to cherry-pick a small, non-representative sample to prove nearly anything."

Substance abuse is a major cause of domestic violence. Although substance abuse is often used as an excuse for domestic violence, and can exacerbate and intensify incidences of abuse (and substance abusers certainly do need to address the issue), it is not the cause of domestic abuse or domestic violence. Abuse and domestic violence are inflicted on victims by those who have an excessive need for control. In the case of males against females, the root cause of abuse often stems from a deeply rooted sense of male privilege. Treatment for substance abuse will not cure domestic abuse or violence.

Anger management will prevent abusive behavior. Anger management will not cure abusive behavior, because anger is not the root cause of abuse or domestic violence. Although controlling anger is always helpful, it will not prevent recurrences of abuse if the core values of the abuser are not challenged and changed.

Submitting to the demands of an abuser will stop or prevent abuse from continuing. Not according to research. Studies have shown that the more submissive a victim is, the more likely the abuser is to continue and even increase the abuse. It is not recommended, however, to directly challenge a violent abuser.

Finding a good couple's counselor will help resolve abuse issues in a relationship. Couple's counseling will not prevent abuse. Abuse is a personal issue as well as a choice on the part of the abuser. Although abuse can cause problems in a relationship, abuse and/or domestic violence does not stem from problems in the relationship. When it comes to domestic abuse or domestic violence, the saying, “It Takes Two to Tango,” does not apply. One of the reasons couple's counseling is not recommended In the case of domestic violence, is that it increases the risk of physical violence and potential harm to the victim.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

12 Reasons Why Couples counseling is Not Recommended When Domestic Violence is Present

1. Focusing on the relationship assumes that each person contributes to the abusive behavior, when in truth the perpetrator is solely responsible for his abusive behavior.

2. Focusing on issues other than the abusive behavior allows the abusive behavior to continue.

3. Danger to the victim may increase due to the counselor’s involvement in the relationship. Because the batterer’s goal is to maintain control of the relationship, any interference on the counselor’s part may lead to an increase in his controlling behavior. The therapist may unwittingly elicit information or
initiate interventions that escalate abuse.

4. Blaming the victim. When abusive behavior is identified, the victim may be asked ”What was your part in this?” Alternatively the batterer may use comments and observations of the couples counselor to justify his abusive behavior (e.g., “Remember, he said how your refusal to answer my questions only makes things worse!”) many victims already tend to blame themselves; the counselor may
unwittingly encourage this.

5. Out of fear of further abuse, the victim may not be honest about the abuse or other issues in the couples session, giving the false impression that things are better than they really are.

6. On the other hand, the victim may have a false sense of security and safety in the couples session. This may lead her to disclose information she normally wouldn’t at home, believing that the therapist will keep her safe. Once they have left the safety of the counseling room, he may then retaliate with more abuse.

7. In couples counseling, if the therapist focuses extensively on the abuse, the batterer may feel shamed, scape-goated, and to blame for every problem in the relationship. In a batterer intervention group, while he is held accountable for his abuse, he is not blamed for every problem in the relationship. Couples counseling may discourage the level of disclosure that is possible in a group.

8. Before other issues in the relationship can be effectively addressed, the abusive behavior must end. Abusive behavior tends to distract attention away from other issues, like a smoke screen. This is akin to couples counseling where one or both parties are active alcoholics; until they are sober, such interventions have little effectiveness. Similarly, until the abuse has stopped, other interventions have
limited effectiveness.

9. It colludes with the batterer’s denial. It allows him to continue to blame her and/or the relationship for his abusive behavior. He can then take advantage of the couples sessions to further his agenda of control and power over her.

10. Often in couples counseling there is no assessment for violence. If an assessment is done with both people present, the potential for honest disclosure will be undermined.

11. A couples counselor who is focused on the relationship may be hesitant to strongly confront just one of the individuals, concerned this will be viewed as favoritism. Such failure to directly confront the abuse contributes to minimization and denial.

12. Couples counseling can keep a victim in the abusive relationship longer than she would otherwise stay, in the false hope that the counseling may make things better. Some forms of couples counseling require couples to make a time commitment (e.g. 3-6 months) of not separating while in the counseling, which may prolong an abusive relationship.

(By Chris Huffine. Used by permission)