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Cautions In Working With Battered Women

  1. Don’t tell her to leave or stay.  She is confused and in need of support.  She will not trust you if she feels the only way to get your support is to leave the relationship or to stay in the relationship.  She does not need your advice.

  2. Don’t blame her for what has happened to her.  It’s easy to do when a counselor is feeling hopeless or inadequate.

  3. Don’t take over for her.  She needs to act on her own behalf to rebuild her self-esteem.  When you take responsibility for her feelings to try to meet her needs for her, you reinforce her low self-esteem and her victimization.

  4. Don’t belittle or condemn the batterer.  When you agree with her negative sentiments toward the batterer, she will not be able to talk with you if she changes her mind or when she has strong feelings of love and attachment for him.  Usually underneath her negative sentiments are some feelings of love, concern and tenderness.

  5. Don’t pressure her into making decisions.  She needs time to sort out her feelings and make reasoned decisions.  She may lack skills in decision-making and expressing feelings.

  6. Don’t minimize her feelings or experiences.  She may lose confidence in your ability to understand her situation or to help her.

  7. Don’t divert the focus to other problems.  Don’t let your discomfort keep the focus off battering.  Her safety is the first concern to deal with.

  8. Don’t attack her as a parent.  She may have difficulty acting for her children’s safety as well as her own.  She needs support to change.

  9. Don’t tell her how to change her behavior in the relationship to stop his violence.  She does not control the violence nor can she cure it.

  10. Don’t think assertiveness skills will stop the violence.  Being assertive may increase the danger for her.  Trust her ‘gut’ feelings about what she can do or say and be safe.
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