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Interpersonal Aggression in Intimate Partner Violence
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the last section, we discussed the four rationalized responses of Communication
Magic, Hiding Pain, He Doesn't Mean It, and I'm Too Sensitive.
this section, as I discuss five additional rationalized responses, think of a client
you are currently treating and assess if any of the accompanying interventions would be appropriate for your next session.
#5: The Good Outweighs the Bad
The fifth rationalization to stay in an abusive
relationship, in addition to Communication Magic, Hiding Pain, Jokes that Aren't
Funny and I Am Too Sensitive, is The Good Outweighs the Bad. As you know, your
clients may feel that if they express their true feelings to their Great Catch
they may feel they are "blaming him." Speaking out against the abuse
goes against a victim's natural instincts. Barbara, a 44-year-old retail manager,
told me about her husband Charles. Barbara stated, "He was on my case all
the time about my appearance or what I said. He'd yell at me that he didn't find
me attractive or that I was stupid, but I tried to look on the positive side.
Charles was a good, steady worker and brought home good money. He loved his job,
and he would take me out to dinner to celebrate his new accomplishments at work.
I saw that Charles could treat me well, he was capable of it. I thought I would
just have to smooth over the rough spots and concentrate on the good times and
everything would seem okay."
Barbara justified Charles's controlling-abusive
behavior by weighing the good against the bad and choosing not to say anything
to him. This is actually the basis or cornerstone of the "Great Catch"
concept. She claimed, "He provided me with a roof over my head, so I took
responsibility for everything else as a way to avoid seeing that Charles was constantly
criticizing my appearance to stay 'one up' in the relationship."
agreed to attend a psychodrama group held by a colleague. The group was attended
by three other women who had also experienced controlling-abusive relationships.
Group members performed the roles of Charles as well as taking the roles of "negative
self-talk" and "old messages from her parents." This gave Barbara
an opportunity to act out, as well as see her inner feelings acted out, and to
realize the positives in her relationship with Charles truly did not outweigh
the negatives. Even though Barbara is still with Charles, the frequency and intensity
of her rationalizations have decreased.
attending several sessions of the psychodrama group, Barbara felt she wanted to
hold Charles accountable for his behavior. The psychodrama group helped Barbara
to see the pain Charles caused and the effect of her own lack of assertiveness.
#6: Fighting Fire with Fire
The sixth rationalization to stay in an abusive
relationship in addition to The Good Outweighs the Bad is Fighting Fire with Fire.
Deborah, a 34-year-old physical trainer, rationalized Eric's anger by stating,
"I get just as angry at him, so I guess its tit for tat." Deborah finally
got so frustrated with her husband and stated that, "If Eric yelled, I yelled.
If he called me names, I called him names right back. Another time I gave his favorite clothes to Goodwill. But I started to feel bad about myself. Eric said
I had serious problems managing my temper. I realized for the first time, he said
something horrible about me that I felt was true."
several sessions I explored with Deborah the fact that, "All you can do is
set limits on your own behavior, not Eric's."
explained to Deborah that, although Eric's verbal abuse provokes her actions,
she decides how she acts. Deborah began to realize she is responsible for her
response. Here's a technique I used to drive home to Deborah the point that effective
confrontations require respect, tact, and patience, and no external motivation
can alter Eric's behavior.
♦ Transactional Analysis - 3 Communication Styles
seemed to be most receptive to transactional analysis. As you know, TA was developed
by Eric Berne. Here's how I introduced classic TA to Deborah. "One way to look
at communication is to look at it from the point of view of three styles: the
Parent, the Adult, and the Child.
Parent style of communication includes words and behaviors that are critical,
domineering, judgmental, demanding, and demeaning. The parent style of communication
can also be, caring, supportive, and compassionate.
Adult style of communication includes words and behaviors that are, specific,
factual, inquisitive, confident, and informative.
the Child style of communication, children often fight fire with fire. Children
have yet to develop the communication skills of an adult. The child style of communication
includes words and behaviors that are creative, impulsive, fun-loving, self-centered,
rebellious, and aggressive.
explained each of the three styles have a place in your relationship with Eric.
However, after some role playing, it became clear to Deborah that she had been
communicating with Eric in the Child style, being emotional, impulsive, rebellious,
you have a client you are currently treating that may benefit from the TA worksheets
to explore their Child style of communication in rationalizing,
"I am fighting fire with fire"?
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Figueredo, A. J., Jacobs, W. J., Gladden, P. R., Bianchi, J., Patch, E. A., Kavanagh, P. S., Beck, C. J. A., Sotomayor-Peterson, M., Jiang, Y., & Li, N. P. (2018). Intimate partner violence, interpersonal aggression, and life history strategy. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 12(1), 1–31.
Iverson, K. M., Gradus, J. L., Resick, P. A., Suvak, M. K., Smith, K. F., & Monson, C. M. (2011). Cognitive–behavioral therapy for PTSD and depression symptoms reduces risk for future intimate partner violence among interpersonal trauma survivors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79(2), 193–202.
Marshall, A. D., Jones, D. E., & Feinberg, M. E. (2011).
Enduring vulnerabilities, relationship attributions, and couple conflict: An integrative model of the occurrence and frequency of intimate partner violence. Journal of Family Psychology, 25
If your client is trying to fight fire with fire when communicating with his or her great catch, what style of communication are they using? To select and enter your answer go to .