Episode 13

Understanding Abuse in Intimate Relationships - Part 2: The Process of Leaving


March 22nd, 2019

29 mins 59 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Individuals working with women who are in abusive relationships will sometimes ask themselves why she does not leave. By asking the question in this manner, we are essentially blaming the woman which can negatively impact the support we intend to provide, therefore it is more helpful to reframe the question and ask what is preventing her from leaving. There are many barriers she faces and there are no easy answers. The process of leaving can be hampered by many factors such as have an emotional attachment to the perpetrator, being fearful of the perpetrator, depleted self-esteem, and financial dependency, to name a few. Developing the courage to disclose is often the first step to making change and perhaps making her day to day existence tolerable. In the second offering by Irene Gabinet, viewers will be presented with clues that a caller is disclosing abuse. Ms. Gabinet details possible conflicts the callers struggle with such as believing they are equal participants in the abuse or believing they are at fault. Additionally she provides insightful information regarding the cycle of violence, the varying stages in escalation in abuse. Crisis/distress line workers will benefit from the guiding principles of listening to disclosures as well as become familiar with helpful resources that can be shared with victims of domestic abuse. Questions for Further Consideration: 1. Consider your comfort level in hearing disclosures of domestic violence. In some cases the caller may test the waters by only giving small clues of her victimization. How prepared are you to hear that type of information? Everyone has their personal level of comfort when presented with situations or information that is foreign or too familiar to them. Reflect on your own personal life and explore your preparedness for this type of caller. You may need to spend time in discussion with your training coordinator reviewing your feelings and perhaps seek support in increasing your level of comfort. What would you do if you heard a partner yelling profanities and death threats while on a call with a woman? Does knowing that there are small children present in the home make a difference? It is important to always assess for immediate danger. If there is no immediate threat, you may offer a listening ear and names of community resources. If the caller denies assistance even though you feel she is in danger, you should refer to your centre’s policies and procedures. If the distress line worker hears death threats and the caller is verbalizing fear for her life at that moment, act according to your centre’s policies regarding intervention. However, keep in mind there is an ethical if not legal obligation to calling 911 and keeping the woman on the line for the address to be traced. If children are present in any situation, you need to refer to your centre’s policies and procedure but a call to Child Welfare to ask their advice would be recommended. How can you tell if you are meeting the needs of a caller who is disclosing domestic abuse? How can you tell if you are providing her with the supports she needs? Being a supportive and empathetic listener is the first step to developing trust and a positive rapport. It may help to just affirm what she is experiencing. If all else fails, ask her what you can do for her or what her intentions were when she called. Avoid pushing her to leave, share more than she is ready to share, and minimizing her fears. This is a very difficult situation and each caller will present with varying stories. Allow each caller to move at her own pace.