Individual intervention with women survivors of violent relationships

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Katsikeros, Tina
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Statistics indicate that the prevalence of intimate partner violence for women is a significant social problem. In the last thirty years, the legal and political systems have joined the women's movement to prevent the sexual, physical, and emotional violence against women by men. Even though there is a heightened social awareness, contempt, and intolerance for intimate partner violence against women in our social, political, and legal systems, society continues to condone its existence. The core experiences of violence are helplessness and isolation for women. These core experiences have profound emotional, physical, and psychological effects on the women survivors of intimate violent relationships. The focus of this practicum was to provide individual therapy for women who had experienced violence in intimate partner relationships. The practicum experience included working with eight women who experienced intimate partner violence. These women were seen weekly for periods of six months to one year. The literature analysis (a) defines intimate partner violence; (b) examines a broad scope of theories which consider the context of violent relationships, and the impact violence has on women; and (c) reviews the historical roots and statistics of violence against women. A review follows of intervention strategies, clinical objectives, and models of intervention. Two case examples are discussed in detail including an evaluation of the outcomes for women survivors of partner violence. The practicum examines the clinical themes relevant to individual therapy which emerge with women survivors of violent intimate relationships. The themes discussed include the therapeutic relationship, loyalty to the perpetrators, emotional expression of anger, anxiety and aggression, and systemic issues.