Recovery from domestic abuse
Building Your Case: How to Document Abuse
Leave this site safely
You can quickly leave this website by clicking the “X” in the top right or by pressing the Escape key twice.
To browse this site safely, be sure to regularly clear your browser history.
Internet usage can be monitored and is impossible to erase completely. If you’re concerned your internet usage might be monitored, call us at 800.799.SAFE (7233). Learn more about digital security and remember to clear your browser history after visiting this website.
Click the red “X” in the upper-right corner or “Escape” button on your keyboard twice at any time to leave TheHotline.org immediately.
If you are in an abusive relationship and are in the process of taking (or deciding to take) legal action against your abusive partner, documenting the abusive behaviors of your partner can be an important component of building your case.
It’s worth noting that each state has different laws about what evidence and documentation can be used in court. Speaking with a legal advocate in your state might better prepare you for your unique situation (our advocates at the Hotline can help locate a legal advocate near you). According to WomensLaw, in most states evidence can include (but is not limited to) the following:
- Verbal testimony from you or your witnesses
- Medical reports of injuries from the abuse
- Pictures (dated) of any injuries
- Police reports of when you or a witness called the police
- Household objects torn or broken by the abuser
- Pictures of your household in disarray after a violent episode
- Pictures of weapons used by the abuser against you
- A personal diary or calendar in which you documented the abuse as it happened
Below are a few actions you can take to create documentation, if you are able to or feel safe doing so:
- Visit the doctor.
More and more, doctors and gynecologists are trained to recognize signs of abuse. Your health care provider could also be a safe resource for disclosing the abuse. If you’re visiting a doctor for an injury, ask them about safe ways they can make notes about the abuse — ex. Some can write “cause of an injury” without it having to go to the police.
- Consider outside documentation.
Do you have a trusted friend, coworker or family member who knows what’s going on and would be willing to help? There are many ways they can help document the abuse — whether that’s a coworker making note of times your partner calls you at the office, or a friend holding your journal at her house.
- Create a stalking log.
If your partner is stalking you, creating a stalking log can be very helpful to your case. The National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center has examples of stalking logs (in PDF and Word formats) as well as additional information on stalking.
- Learn more about police reports.
ex. Like filing about a lost bike. Ask, “Hypothetically, if there was something that was happening that I would want to report…”
Always ask questions. Call your local police department’s non-emergency number and find out about the protocols and procedures of filing a police report.
This can help you prepare for filing a police report if you need to, which creates a paper trail of the abuse.
- Take pictures.
A digital camera or your phone camera may not always be safe. Consider getting a disposable camera. Another option is for someone else to take the pictures and keep them for you.
- Let it go to voicemail.
Is your partner calling over and over? Let it go to voicemail once and save the voicemail.
- Save digital evidence.
Do you have a smartphone? Most have the “take a screenshot” option. Thirty missed calls from your abusive partner? Take a screenshot of that. Threatening texts? Instead of responding to them, take a screenshot of them. These screen shots get saved in your images folder, so remember to send them on to a friend and delete them. If your partner sends threatening emails, don’t respond to them, but consider saving them in a folder in your inbox.
If you’re not sure if documenting your abuse would be safe, always go with your gut. It’s very important to keep in mind that you are the expert on your situation, and what works for one person may not be a safe idea for another person.
We are not legal advocates at the Hotline, but we are able to offer support and refer you to the local or state resources that might be helpful to you.
Answers shouldn’t be hard to find.
We're here to help!
- Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
- Chat live now
- Text "START" to 88788
7 Steps of Healing from Domestic Violence7 Steps of Healing from Domestic Violence
- Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Adjustment Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Childhood ADHD
- Dissociative Identity Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Panic Attack
- Postpartum Depression
- Schizoaffective Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Sex Addiction
- Specific Phobias
- Teenage Depression
- Wellness Topics
- Black Mental Health
- Emotional Health
- Sex & Relationships
- Understanding Therapy
- Workplace Mental Health
- Original Series
- My Life with OCD
- Caregivers Chronicles
- Empathy at Work
- Sex, Love & All of the Above
- Parent Central
- Mindful Moment
- News & Events
- Mental Health News
- Live Town Hall: Mental Health in Focus
- Inside Mental Health
- Inside Schizophrenia
- Inside Bipolar
- Wellness Topics
- ADHD Symptoms Quiz
- Anxiety Symptoms Quiz
- Autism Quiz: Family & Friends
- Autism Symptoms Quiz
- Bipolar Disorder Quiz
- Borderline Personality Test
- Childhood ADHD Quiz
- Depression Symptoms Quiz
- Eating Disorder Quiz
- Narcissim Symptoms Test
- OCD Symptoms Quiz
- Psychopathy Test
- PTSD Symptoms Quiz
- Schizophrenia Quiz
- Attachment Style Quiz
- Career Test
- Do I Need Therapy Quiz?
- Domestic Violence Screening Quiz
- Emotional Type Quiz
- Loneliness Quiz
- Parenting Style Quiz
- Personality Test
- Relationship Quiz
- Stress Test
- What's Your Sleep Like?
- Treatment & Support
- Find Support
- Suicide Prevention
- Drugs & Medications
- Find a Therapist
- Treatment & Support
Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on November 17, 2017
The first time Nancy came into counseling she had a hard time looking at her therapist. Embarrassed and ashamed of the bruises on her body, the mental torture from her spouse, and sexual acts he coerced her into doing, she struggled to talk. She believed that she deserved to be treated this way and her actions were causing his rage. Nancy minimized his acts by making excuses for his abusive behavior and blaming herself.
It took a while for Nancy to summon the courage leave her husband. Once she did, she thought that all of her problems would be over and she would be healed. However, what she thought was the finish of a race, was really just the beginning. It took her over a year to recover from her trauma and get to a place of feeling at peace. Heres how she did it.
- Safety first. The healing process begins when the victim of abuse is finally away from their abuser. Unfortunately this step can take months or even years of planning and preparation before it can become a reality. Safety means the victim is physically away from their attacker and can sleep without fear. After Nancy left, she had a hard time believing she was safe and needed the reassurance of others literally saying, You are safe, over and over until it began to feel real.
- Stabilize environment. The temptation of therapists is to dive into the healing process after a victim is deemed safe. But doing this before the stabilization of a new environment can re-traumatize. Rather, the victim needs a period of rest to adjust to a new normal before the therapeutic work begins. The length of this necessary step is dictated solely by the victim and the amount of abuse endured. It took several months before Nancy felt like she could breathe again as the confused fog of abuse lifted.
- Support unconditionally. Between her therapist and two close friends, Nancy felt loved unconditionally even when she talked about how much she missed her abusive husband. It was as if Nancy was forgetting the trauma and only remembering the good times they shared. One of her family members became so frustrated with Nancys sadness that they yelled at her and pulled away. This was so painful for Nancy but the continued support of her two friends more than made up for the lack of family support.
- Share experiences. One of the most helpful steps to recovery from abuse is to find a support group with other victims of abuse. This shared common experience allows a person to realize that they are not alone in their abusive encounters. Abuse is very isolating, personal, degrading, humiliating, and shameful. Knowing that other intelligent, beautiful, talented, and kind people have been abused is both saddening and relieving. Nancys support group gave her additional people that she could lean on who understood from their own experience what she was going through.
- Settle incidents. This is often the most difficult step from an awareness perspective. As the obvious abuse is recounted, new obscure abuse comes to light. Most victims dont even realize the extent of their abuse until they reach this step. When they do, it can be overwhelming and will likely restart the grieving process all over again. As Nancy examined each major traumatic incident, other types of abuse surfaced. She came to see that she was also mentally, verbally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, and sexually abused in addition to her physical abuse. Processing this information was hard at first, but it put a nail in the coffin of her abusive relationship for good. There was no turning back now for Nancy.
- Stitch wounds. In order to stich the wounds of Nancys abuse, she needed to rewrite her internal dialog of what happened. In the past, she would minimize his contribution to an incident and take excessive responsibility for his behavior. When she stopped doing this and instead held him responsible for his actions, things changed. Nancy no longer believed that she was worthless or deserving of his abusive treatment. As time progressed, she began to take pride in her scars as evidence of her strength, determination, fortitude, and perseverance.
- Set standards. The final step towards Nancys healing was to set new standards for how she expected to be treated. These became the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. Anytime a person would violate one of her limitations, she would confront them. If they demonstrated respect by their actions and not words, Nancy would remain in the relationship. If they did not, she ended things. These new standards helped to reduce her fear that she would reenter into another abusive relationship.
It is important to note that abuse can happen to anyone in any relationship. While this article highlights Nancys experience of abuse from her husband, a man can also be the victim of abuse from his wife. Partner relationships, parent/child relationships, and friendships can be abusive as well. It is not the nature of the relationship or the sensitivity of the victim that determines abusiveness; rather it is the actions of the abuser.
Last medically reviewed on November 17, 2017
Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on November 17, 2017
Read this next
What Are the Signs of Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can come in many forms and look different from situation to situation. But there are common signs to look out for.
What Causes Domestic Violence?
Medically reviewed by Jennifer Litner, LMFT, CST
Domestic abuse can take many forms and often begins subtly for those who experience it. Here's what we know about the causes of domestic violence.
The Physical & Emotional Injuries of Domestic Violence
All victims of domestic violence can be physically and emotionally injured. However, because of general streng
Five Types of Physical Abuse Narcissists Use on Spouses
Have your clients experienced a time when their narcissistic spouse lost control and became scary angry? Did t
Battered Woman Syndrome: Key Elements of a Diagnosis and Treatment Plan
Women who are victims of intimate-partner violence have been identified by the mental health field for more th
How to recover from partner violence?
According to one survey conducted in Russia*, physical violence in the family is tolerated by 39% of fellow citizens. It is hardly surprising that men predominate among them. Many believe that this problem does not need to be solved at the state level or even brought up for general discussion. The excuse “she brought it on her own” is also quite common, and not only in Russia.
The problem of domestic violence is worldwide, it is periodically trumpeted by European and American media. Psychologists from the United States note the need to work with victims - according to some reports, 25% of women found themselves in the position of a victim. nine0003
“We met in a common company, he was charming - he played the guitar, sang, complimented, escorted home, and messages with all sorts of “mimimi” immediately poured in. He was a master at this. We got together very quickly, love was just crazy - I rushed to him and eventually left my parents with a scandal - they were against us starting to live together so quickly.
I was 18 years old, he was 25. Apart from school hobbies, this was my first love. No, not like that - Love with a capital letter. But it quickly became clear that he did not tolerate when they contradicted him. I was assigned responsibilities - not only at home, but also in sex and in communication. nine0003
The first time he scared me was when he yelled at me in the morning because I wasn't lying like that and he was uncomfortable. Then he cooled down and even apologized. However, the cry became more and more, with or without reason. Sometimes I did not know what the reaction to a completely simple thing would be.
For example, he wanted guests to come and I would cook sushi. I replied that I did not know how, and offered to order (at my expense). He gave me a tantrum, practically convincing me that I was worthless as a woman and hostess. When visiting, he was nice to me - it even seemed to me that I had just gone crazy and this quarrel did not exist at all. But she was. And others too. nine0003
I guess I'm used to the fact that it can explode. I did not immediately notice that I live in constant fear. When at some point he punched me in the face, I began to collect things. He took away the phone and did not let me call his parents, locked him in the apartment and left with the key. Then he returned and, sobbing, began to shout to me that I was betraying him, that I did not really love him and never loved him, and so on. I should have felt guilty.
After a day of sorting out the relationship, I was in such an exhausted state that I reconciled. But she didn't forgive. It's just… like it didn't matter, as long as he stops. I left a month later, after he grabbed a knife in a quarrel. It was as if I had been overwhelmed. Thought he could kill me. And that it would be so ... stupid, or something. This is how to die. And something rose up in me, some kind of protest. nine0003
Tried to make up with him for show and waited for him to leave. She left things in her bag and quietly ran home. I never told my parents about everything - they think we just quarreled and broke up. I'm ashamed to say - after all, I myself got into such a dirty trick.
Love relationships, which should be based on trust and security, have turned into a battlefield for the victims
The story of Irina (name changed at the girl's request) is not unique. Unfortunately, breaking up with a rapist doesn't mean it's over. The problem is that these situations tend to be severely traumatic and the effects remain for many years, if not a lifetime. nine0003
Love relationships, which should be based on trust, good feelings and security, have turned into a battlefield for the victims, where strength is on the side of the enemy, and psychological and sometimes physical wounds remind of themselves for a long time. Difficult memories, nightmares, emotional outbursts, panic attacks - the experienced experience results in the symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Irina's subsequent relationships did not work out - even when she consciously chose safe men, she experienced fear every time the need arose to refuse or disagree with them. Certain words or situations became triggers and caused panic or aggressive reactions in her, to the surprise of new partners. nine0003
The fact is that in most of these cases, the adaptive mechanism of the psyche is avoidance. The brain tries to minimize the hard feelings and stress associated with traumatic events and gives the command to "run", metaphorically or literally. In the behavior of the former victim, this can manifest itself as withdrawal into oneself up to external “insensitivity” when there is a hint of a conflict or another variant of distancing.
In some cases, a person is incapable of trust and intimacy and runs away from a relationship, even if there is no violence or abuse in reality. For this reason, avoidance interferes with adaptation - it increases the social isolation of a person. It also does not contribute to healing from trauma, since the only way to “cure” from the consequences of domestic violence is by entering into a safe trusting relationship. nine0003
In the process of trauma therapy, they can line up with the psychotherapist, and quite often, as a result of long work, the victim is freed from the past, gaining the ability to build new relationships. And hard experience no longer interferes, but helps to be careful and not choose potentially dangerous partners.
Domestic abuse continues to be stigmatized on both sides of the ocean. Victims often do not dare to go anywhere. Like Irina, they feel shame, voluntarily sharing responsibility for the situation with the rapist. nine0003
Someone brought up with the idea that this is normal. Often the environment is such that there is nowhere or no one to run for help. Sometimes people just don't know where to turn to. As already mentioned, in response to a revelation, they can hear something in the spirit of “she brought it herself”, “do not take dirty linen out of the hut”, “we endured - and you will endure”, and so on.
“The topic is complex and needs to be developed,” says Gestalt therapist Anastasia Gurneva. - There should be legislation that would guarantee punishment for violence, especially in the family. nine0003
People's consciousness is gradually changing, many stories are brought up for discussion by the media and are no longer perceived as the norm. Encouraging changes can come into play when a person decides to leave an abusive relationship and go public with their story. Sometimes there is a personal meaning in this - stop hushing up, stop violence, return responsibility for what happened to the aggressor. After all, in order to make a statement, you need a lot of courage and readiness to meet with condemnation - “beats, then loves”, “she is to blame” and other shame. nine0003
It's good that now there are organizations that are ready to help — for example, the Violence.net Foundation can provide free legal advice, provide free psychological assistance, and support by participating in support groups. Programs of psychological work with the abusers themselves are being developed, but so far in few places.
It is important to look for new reasons for self-respect, faith in one's own strength - on the psychological level, housing and work - on the material level
As for psychological assistance to victims, it will be different at different stages. If a woman is still in a toxic relationship, it is important to help her recognize that she is in a "cycle of abuse." Show how and why these cycles repeat themselves. nine0003
For example, in Irina's story, the reconciliation phase is associated with exhaustion after the conflict and the abuser's promises that this will not happen again. Then comes the phase of rapprochement, which turns into a "honeymoon", then the tension grows again - and everything repeats.
It is important for the victim to understand at what stage of the cycle she is now. This understanding will help to see the relationship from the outside, to detect a clear repetition of situations and think about the choice: is it really worth it?
If the relationship has ended recently, comprehensive support is important. Often it turns out that during the relationship, ties with friends, relatives and other people who could help in word and deed were severed. The victim often loses a sense of his autonomy, it can be difficult for him to find the strength to learn to live anew, outside of the relationship - not for the sake of another, but for himself. nine0003
It is important to look for new reasons for self-respect, self-confidence on the psychological level, housing and work on the material level. If the old relationship has been broken off for a long time, but still “glows” with fears, preventing you from building happy new ones, then you can work with a psychologist. Explore what security is, how to recognize it in a relationship, whether it is possible to relax if there is no absolute trust. And it, obviously, does not happen one hundred percent in any relationship of two adults.
Also an important direction in working with a specialist is how to let go of memories associated with past relationships, forgive yourself, appropriate power for yourself. After all, in fact, the woman was saved long ago and is no longer there, so why do we need vigilance, distrust now, what function do they perform in the current relationship? How do they prevent intimacy relationships from arising? nine0003
It is extremely important to reflect on what experience was gained in those relationships. How is the world of the victim different now, is there enough support, self-confidence, closeness with other people in it? What does she want from the present, what kind of relationship? Do they exist now, is it possible to allow yourself to settle down in them, at home, without looking back at your partner all the time in anticipation of a repeat of the traumatic story?
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can contact support by calling the following numbers:
- Unified hotline of the Ministry of Emergency Situations +7 (495) 400-99-99;
- Moscow psychological assistance service +7 (499) 173-09-09.
- Violence. no Violence Center: 8 (495) 916-30-00;
- Independent Charitable Center for Helping Survivors of Sexual Violence "Sisters": 8 (499) 901-02-01;
- The first all-Russian free helpline for women who have experienced domestic violence: 8 (800) 700-06-00. nine0065
* The survey of 1792 people was conducted by phone by Mikhailov & Partners. Analytics" in March 2019. 2/3 of respondents believe that women provoke rapists themselves, 31% - that a solution is needed at the state level, 29% - for public discussion, 40% called domestic violence one of the most important social problems.
About the expert
Anastasia Gurneva — gestalt therapist. More details on her website.
Photo Source: Getty Images
New on the site
How video games help us become better: an analysis of 6 main genres
Value thinking: how to stop dividing into "good" and "bad"
"Gone from the abuser, but now I'm worried : what if it was a mistake?
“My mother poisons my life, but the feeling of guilt does not allow me to reduce communication to a minimum”
Think like a millionaire: what thoughts will help you get rich
Alfried Lenglet: “We are less and less aware of the true value of life”
How to enjoy challenges on the road to success: 4 practical steps - coach's opinion
Test: Do you tend to dramatize?
Psychological assistance to women victims of domestic violence //Psychological newspaper
Violence against women is one of the most widespread and hidden violations of human rights. According to official statistics, such violence is committed in every fourth Russian family, and the process of criminalization of the family is intensifying every year, acquiring scope and depth that threaten the security of society and the individual. It is generally recognized that domestic violence leads to its destruction, has a traumatic effect on its members, contributes to the development of personality disorders in children, and worsens the health of society as a whole. nine0003
There are certain features of psychological work with people who have suffered from domestic violence in their own family. First of all, it is very important for psychologists who intend to work with victims of violence to be aware of their ideas and beliefs regarding understanding the causes of violence and related problems, it is necessary to identify their own attitude to the problem of justification for the use of violence. An important topic for testing the personal views of the psychologist is the question of responsibility for violence. In today's society, there is a widespread belief that the victims are to some extent "themselves guilty" of the violence committed against them. Often, the public views domestic violence as a purely “personal” or “family matter” without regard to the severity of such offenses. At the same time, both relatives and the authorities often accuse the woman of having provoked the act of violence herself, in all forms of its manifestation. nine0003
The very phenomenon of victim (sacrificial) behavior is considered by scientists as “provocativeness”, “subordination”, “painful attachment”, “excessive preoccupation with the problems and opinions of others”, “disturbed relationships”, “dependence”, “a set of learned destructive norms of behavior”, “a way adaptation to acute intrapersonal conflict. Such different positions allow us to consider victimhood not only through the prism of deviant behavior as a manifestation of painful dependence, but also as a violation of family interaction, an example of a dysfunctional family model in which the personalities of its members are negatively affected, as a result of which their needs for self-realization are not satisfied and personal growth. nine0003
Domestic violence against women takes the form of physical, sexual, economic, as well as psychological humiliation, carried out through discrimination, threats and repression. Domestic violence is not an isolated case of violent behavior by an aggressive husband, nor is it just an outdated custom. In fact, domestic violence and the threat of violence are mechanisms of power and control that the aggressor systematically uses to deprive women of their freedom and opportunities for self-realization, and in the context of general discrimination against women in the world, they are one of the manifestations of general violence against women. nine0003
The beliefs and ideas of a psychologist regarding violence, its nature and generating causes, have a decisive influence on the psychological rehabilitation of victims of violence. A psychologist should be free from the myths and prejudices that exist in society, and provide not only emotional, but also moral and ethical support to his clients. The position of solidarity involves not so much a statement about the innocence of the victim, but a deep understanding of the injustice of what happened, acceptance and recognition of the severity of the violence experienced and helping the injured woman to understand the damage done. nine0003
Currently, there is a need for special training for both volunteers working on the helpline hotlines and professional psychologists on the issue of domestic violence. To effectively provide psychological assistance to women victims of domestic violence, a psychologist needs to take into account the socio-psychological, personal and behavioral characteristics of such clients.
Domestic violence has no cultural, economic, social or territorial boundaries. Women of various age, professional and social groups can become victims of domestic violence. nine0003
Women survivors of domestic violence can be divided into two categories:
- the first group - those who encountered this phenomenon only in their own family and did not know it in the family of their parents;
- the second group - those who grew up in families where there was violence of parents towards each other or towards children.
Women of any of these groups can either leave the offender after one or more acts of violence, or try to restore, maintain family relationships. The path of avoiding violence is most likely to be chosen by the women of the first group. However, there are many obstacles, among which we can single out a few of the most important. nine0003
The social factor determines the gender-role behavior and attitudes of a person. Society itself can impose the preservation of the status of "married woman", since the prestige of being married for a woman in public opinion is higher than being divorced from her husband. In connection with these stereotypes, a woman is forced more often to “not be, but to seem.” As a rule, a woman has a number of stereotyped attitudes that keep her in a situation of domestic violence: the idea that “divorce is a sign of defeat”; conviction of the need to preserve the family "for the sake of children"; belief in the possibility of changing the situation in the family “for the better”; pity for the rapist, the belief that “without her, he will completely disappear,” etc.
The economic factor limits the independence of one of the family members. Due to gender discrimination in the labor market, a woman's salary is usually lower than that of a man, the number of jobs for her is limited either completely or partially, and the presence of children exacerbates the problems of employment and the lack of stable work that brings the income necessary for life.
The housing factor is that in situations of domestic violence there are legal difficulties in evicting the offender from the apartment, and the acquisition of a new apartment by women suffering from domestic violence is almost impossible due to the high cost of housing. nine0003
The psychological factor is manifested in the fact that women who have been in a situation of domestic violence for a long time acquire a number of specific character traits and personality traits that make them emotionally dependent on offenders. It is especially difficult for women who experienced violence against themselves even in the parental family, as children, when violence was one of the factors in the formation of personality. They are more often involved in a stereotypically repetitive "game" with the aggressor himself, which is based on the dramatic triangle Stefan Karpman , or "the power triangle".
Developing the ideas of Eric Berne's , Stefan Karpman in 1968 showed that the whole variety of roles underlying the "games people play" can be reduced to three main ones - the Rescuer, the Persecutor and the Victim. The triangle in which these roles are combined symbolizes their connection, constant change. It is typical for a woman to identify herself with the position of the Victim, in this role it is easier not to take responsibility for her actions and decisions. The Persecutor believes that the Victim is to blame for everything, about which he informs either her or the Rescuer. The victim experiences fear of being abandoned, fear that the worst will happen, and so on. She blames the Persecutor for her problems, who "makes" her suffer and look for a Savior. If one can be found, as Karpman shows, then the Victim itself turns into the Persecutor of her tormentor. The presence of the Savior in the form of sympathetic persons or any institutions and organizations capable of listening and supporting the Victim confirms its special value and rightness in their own eyes. The persecutor, as Karpman notes, gets satisfaction from the awareness of the guilt of others and his rightness, as well as his power and superiority in exercising control over the victim. He is content with power over people (man). The Rescuer, on the other hand, receives satisfaction from the fact that he rises above the Victim, helping him to change his current state. You can solve the problem by breaking such relationships, going beyond the triangle. nine0003
As women fall into any of the three roles, victims of domestic violence tend to experience feelings of guilt and loneliness. They have low self-esteem, the structure of motivation is dominated by the conviction that their life, successes and failures depend primarily on external circumstances, they tend to ignore reality and minimize their role in the possibility of changes in their personal situation, while they never stay in one place for a long time. the role of the triangle. As a rule, they do not consider themselves capable of actively forming their own social circle and tend to view the established relationship as the result of the actions of their partners or chance. nine0003
The psychological portrait of women who have suffered from domestic violence contains a number of important qualities that support the “difficulty of getting out” of a situation of violence.
1. Low self-esteem, depreciation of their capabilities. The rapist inspires and maintains in the woman the conviction of her incompetence, inadequacy and responsibility for the violence committed against her.
2. Addiction. The woman is passive, inactive, does not believe in the possibility of getting away from the aggressor, and even sometimes shows masochistic tendencies in this sense. She often defines her identity through relationships with other people - mainly through relationships with her partner, while losing her self-worth. Addiction may also have an economic edge - the inability to financially provide for oneself and children. nine0003
3. Lack of communication skills. Women who are subjected to domestic violence do not have the skills of productive relationships in personal communication. They tend to ignore their unstable psychological state, they are characterized by an inability to recognize emotions and manage their behavior, a lack of understanding of their needs and ways to satisfy them, and ignorance of how to resolve conflicts. These women are deprived of a clear sense of their psychological, physical boundaries, either they begin to trust and open up to people too quickly, or they do not trust anyone and are completely closed. nine0003
4. Insulation. The female victim is very often isolated because the husband exercises strict control over her social contacts. Being isolated from society and having no new information about the outside world, a woman becomes dependent. After the beating, she continues to isolate herself emotionally and/or physically because of the shame and fear.
5. Helplessness. This can be caused by the dominance of the aggressor, his active control and desire to control the victim, isolation from the outside world. The feeling of helplessness is often so strong that a woman is unable to make decisions, take care of herself and make her plans for the future. All this, as a rule, leads to depression and suicidal mood. The victim woman does not hope to help herself, but she retains the hope that her partner will change. nine0003
6. The predominance of non-constructive psychological defense mechanisms - rationalization, denial, merger, substitution, etc. A woman who has experienced domestic violence even in the past finds it psychologically difficult and ashamed to admit the truth. In some situations, the psychological defense mechanism helps the victim to help survive the abuse. However, subsequently there is a desire to downplay, find an explanation or deny the facts of the use of violence. The fact of rejection of violence occurs unconsciously, but the process of rejection itself is accompanied by deprivation of the integrity of the personality, a violation of mental and physical health, as well as a weak differentiation of one's feelings and often a complete lack of rational reflection. Women who have become victims of domestic violence can unconsciously direct their irritability and dissatisfaction with their situation to a substitute aggressor, a safe figure for themselves - a son, daughter or other people, often “breaking down” and, thus, they experience again and again negative emotions and feelings. guilt. Not having clear ideas about the psychological boundaries of their personality, they replace responsibility for themselves with responsibility for others according to the neurotic mechanism of pathological fusion. nine0003
7. Increased anxiety. In victims of abuse, anxiety manifests itself as follows: hyperreactivity in relation to the perceived danger; increased need for control; misinterpreting objectively neutral or positive interpersonal stimuli as threatening or dangerous; somatic symptoms. Violence is inherently frightening, and therefore it is not surprising that victims of domestic violence tend to experience feelings of anxiety and fear, even long after it has stopped. Violence as an action poses a real physical threat, causes a natural fear for one's life. nine0003
Psychologists in the course of their work have to deal with victims of violence who have the deepest confidence in their own guilt for the violence. Such victims of violence are prone to self-abasement and self-flagellation. They find wrongdoings in their behavior for which they can be punished, and for which they are eventually punished. Women define them as some kind of immoral act that they really did, or imagined that they did, as a violation of an internal standard, or as a betrayal. They again and again feel guilty for not being able to “avoid” violence against themselves, for “destroying relationships with a partner” again. This feeling is often exacerbated by all the abuser's behavior that instills feelings of guilt and shame in the victim both during and after the act of violence against her. This feeling arises and haunts a woman for a long time and is often expressed in even greater self-isolation from others. It is important to note that the feelings of resentment, humiliation and fear experienced by the victim in a situation of constantly repeated violence are a compensatory mechanism of self-justification that allows the victim not to take responsibility for his own actions and shift the solution of the problems of violence to his tormentor. nine0003
How to help women overcome the crisis? Who will be able to support (inform) them when they leave the neurotic triangle of violence? In the practical work of a psychologist, three ways of providing psychological assistance to women victims of domestic violence are considered:
- "hot lines" - emergency psychological assistance, "helpline";
- face-to-face consultations with a psychologist;
- group work with a psychologist in a support group. nine0066
Experience shows that almost 80% of women who have received psychological assistance in a situation of domestic violence prefer to receive it through the “helpline”. In this regard, counseling psychologists should follow strict rules of work.
The main task of the consultant is to focus on the client's appeal, to establish the facts without any evaluation and interpretation. The main technique in counseling is listening, and feedback can be expressed by the “minimum reward” technique. Pauses are of great importance, contributing to the ordering of thoughts and feelings of the client. Psychologists are recommended to include reflection during counseling, listen to their inner state, track their feelings and thoughts, learn to accept and manage them. This ability to be aware of one's own emotions and feelings allows the counselor to calmly and carefully consider the situation in which the victim of violence finds herself, offer her informational support and help her make a decision herself, thereby gaining confidence and strength. These counseling techniques are called “crisis intervention”, the main goal of which is to help a woman effectively cope with the psychological trauma of violence. To do this, in the process of counseling, three tasks are set that are resolved by the client with the help of a psychologist:
1) an adequate and clear understanding of what happened;
2) awareness of one's true feelings, control of reactions, overcoming affect;
3) building the boundaries of the individual, clarifying attitudes towards oneself and others;
4) the formation of constructive behavioral models to cope with the consequences of psychotrauma.
Let's consider the following scheme of crisis intervention for women victims of domestic violence. The described scheme of the interview is also used as an introductory phase for short-term psychotherapy. nine0003
- Introduce yourself to the survivor and explain how you are involved with Women's Crisis Services. Explain your role and tasks. Tell about the help that you can provide to the victim.
- Recognize the severity of what happened; Encourage the woman to talk to you about what happened. Be patient, give her time to talk and answer your questions; help express feelings about the abuse; Explain that many victims of violence experience similar feelings and are subject to similar reactions. nine0066
- Find out the woman's perceptions of the traumatic impact of violence. Find out what she thinks about her actions before and during the abuse.
- Explain that many of the victims have a misunderstanding about the extent of their responsibility for what happened: in fact, a woman who experienced violence cannot be to blame for being a victim; summarize what was said and move on to the problem-solving phase.
- Help the client identify individual experiences and set priorities, note what worries her the most and what needs to be done first; work together to develop a plan of action to address the critical problems caused by violence. nine0066
- For each topic of discussion, guide the woman to find alternative solutions. Strengthen and support the woman's feeling that she is in control of the situation and takes responsibility for her life, emphasizing that she makes decisions and will implement them as she sees fit.