Help for abused women. What can be done?

Domestic violence is one of the most complex and controversial problem in modern society. Official statistics cannot objectively assess the magnitude of this phenomenon. Typically, the victims are reluctant to report the facts of abuse. Very often a fear, a shame or a sense of devotion to the family stops them.

There are two well-developed ways of help for abused women:

  • Emergency psychological help for acute injury of the violence and post-traumatic stress;
  • Long-term support in the process of individual counseling and group work.

The emergency help for abused women is conducted in the form of a “hotline” – telephone emergency service, individual counseling, group work (debriefing) and sheltering. The main task of the emergency short-term support for abused women is the safety assessing of the family members, taking measures to ensure their physical and psychological security, normalization of mental status of the victims. If necessary, it is recommended to get the patient referral to medical and law-enforcement authorities.

The long-term rehabilitation starts with individual counseling. In the process of individual counseling a psychologist should determine the degree of the shattering impact of violence on the victim’s identity. Depending upon the particular purpose, there are three types of counseling:

  • Informing and orienting,
  • Person-supportive,
  • Person-altering.

In working with the victims of domestic violence, psychologists use individual and group forms of rehabilitation. A work with patients begins with the psycho-diagnosis. All abused women, as a rule, exhibit low self-esteem; a feeling of guilt (often repressed); inability to constructively solve the conflicts and express aggression in socially acceptable form, a fear of another traumatic event in the future, the absence of perspectives in life.

Therefore, the main goal of the individual rehabilitation is to raise the self-esteem. In working with these patients professionals use following methods:

  • improving self-esteem;
  • allowing to get rid of the quarrels with the close ones;
  • allowing to respond to fears in proper way;
  • developing skills of the structural interaction with parents and peers.

In a group work, it is important to teach the patients to resolve conflicts constructively, to see their life situation as others see it, to hear and feel the conversation, to extract the experience from any life situation. For abused women, working in a group is an opportunity to:

  • Get outside the limits of the enclosed space;
  • To see that the same problem exists in other people;
  • Understand that many of the interpersonal problems between men and women are the result of cultural attitudes and false beliefs (and, hence, the incident is not her fault, but still it’s her problem);
  • To realize own potential in solving her problems and take responsibility for her life.

If someone in a group achieves the successful results, it encourages other women in solving their problems. Thus, the group works as a catalyst of changes.

The problem of domestic violence is relevant for most countries, so in the last decade there is a constant growth of various models of help for abused women. Models of psychological rehabilitation and therapeutic areas are plentiful, so each center has its own concept and assistance program to help for abused women.

Image by jenny downing (CC BY 2.0)