Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979
CE for Psychologist, Social Worker, Counselor, & MFT!!
In the previous section, we talked
about the three control tactics: Can't-You-Take-a-Joke; Betrayal-of-a-Confidence;
Many clients experiencing controlling-abusive behavior suffer from symptoms of depression. As you know, the DSM symptoms include: Problems with eating and sleeping, guilt feelings, loss of energy, trouble concentrating, and thoughts about death.
Causes for Client Depression
A more subtle form of "killing the spirit" than that of the Cant-you-take-a-joke tactic is that of teasing. Here's how Shannon described the chipping away of her self-esteem process.
As you know, depression is self-hate turned inward. Her spiraling self-hate and depression were facilitated by lack of support of her family.
Shannon's family told her that Aaron's teasing was nothing to worry about, and that she was being too sensitive. They would then reinforce the myth of what a "abusive partner" he was by telling her how lucky she was to get anybody to marry her. As you can see, neither Shannon nor her family realized that this affectionate teasing wasnt affectionate at all. It was slowly chipping away her self-esteem. After a few sessions together, Shannon and I realized that she was walking on egg shells around Aaron in an attempt to avoid his teasing.
3 Factors of Verbal Abuse
a. Recognizable verbal abuse: Pause after reading each of these to give
yourself a chance to think of and apply them to a client you are treating or have treated:
belittling, smirking, mimicking, insulting, and ignoring.
b. In addition or instead of recognizable verbal abuse, the "abusive partner" may use eloquent-sounding words, or jargon, or academia, or trendy words to sound superior. I had a client whose significant other would yell things like, "Your profound ignorance is appalling!" "Your disgraceful neglect is not to be condoned." So think for a moment about this second form of verbal abuse of using words to sound superior; would it be appropriate to reframe a situation in your next session regarding the superior language form of verbal abuse.
c. Controlling behavior number three goes hand-in-hand with the superior language we have just discussed. Number three is treating a partner like he or she is a child, for example repeating statements as if the partner would not understand or over-explaining simple tasks. "This is how you correctly place the jelly lid on the jelly jar. You turn it until it is tight like this."
feel the main problem here is validation of Shannons feelings. Shannon dismissed
these as the small things that she should overlook because, after all, she was
lucky to have snagged such a "abusive partner," like Aaron, who had a stable
job. I found Shannon had to give herself permission to have negative feelings
about her "abusive partner Aaron.
The cold weather analogy helped Shannon to accept her feelings and give herself permission to have them. She began to feel she didnt have to have a doormat facade to keep Aaron.
In the next section, I will discuss what I say when a client asks, How could I have known my abusive partner would be so cruel? Are there any warning signs or patterns that I missed?
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Flanagan, J. C., Gordon, K. C., Moore, T. M., & Stuart, G. L. (2015).
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.
Gaman, A., McAfee, S., Homel, P., & Jacob, T. (Jun 2017). Understanding Patterns of Intimate Partner Abuse in Male-Male, Male-Female, and Female-Female Couples. Psychiatric Quarterly, 88(2), 335-347.
Spencer, C., Mallory, A. B., Cafferky, B. M., Kimmes, J. G., Beck, A. R., & Stith, S. M. (2019). Mental health factors and intimate partner violence perpetration and victimization: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Violence, 9(1), 1–17.