1. Response to Diane
I have never personally experienced abuse and I thank God for that. Abuse comes in different forms: physical, emotional, or verbally. My sister was married to a man that we thought was wonderful and the best thing for her. After a few months, she shared an audio tape that she had made without his knowledge. Upon hearing the language and the way he talked to her, I was appalled, angry, and wanted to take him out. I could not believe what I had heard and felt my sister needed to leave him and divest herself from him. Several months later, she did divorce him and she blossomed.
We need to understand the type of violence that has been experienced and decide which way to go in the treatment process (Kopala & Keitel, 2017, p.108). I want to address two points that I would want to emphasize to a woman who may be a victim. If it is physical abuse, the thing to do would be to make sure she has a plan of safety. Clinton (2011) shares that a woman needs to work with a close friend or counselor to make a plan of escape when the spouse becomes abusive as well as having bags packed with necessary items to take with her (p. 212). This is so important as she makes her way from the abuser. This makes her feel like she has an alternative and can keep herself and/or the children safe.
Another point would be that abuse is not love. No man has the right to place his hands or fists on a woman. We have all seen it play out on television that the man accuses the woman of “making me do this to you” or “why do you make me hit you?” It is never, ever deserved and the woman needs to know that she did nothing to warrant this kind of physicality (Clinton & Langberg, 2011, p. 212). A woman, whether physically or emotionally abused, needs to remember that this action is wrong. I would let her know that God does not expect her to stay in this kind of volatile situation. Love is more than just saying the words.
Clinton, T., & Langberg, D. (2011). The quick referene guide to counseling women. Baker Books
Kopala, M., & Keitel, M. (2017). Handbook of counseling women (2nd. ed.). Sage Publications
2. Response to Georgia
As a woman myself, the talk of abuse amongst other women seems like normal conversation. I do not mean normal as in acceptable, but it is not usually shocking to hear about such abuse in my groups of girlfriends. However, just because so many women have dealt with some kind of abuse does not mean it can be accepted as normal. Some women face emotional abuse that mess with their mental state and emotional concentration. Other women struggle with vocal abuse, meaning other individuals use their words to manipulate and hurt their minds and thinking. Other women face physical abuse by partners, parents, and strangers that influence their bodies and minds. Some women face sexual abuse by relatives, friends, and strangers that mess with their private lives, physical bodies, and mental processing. No matter the style of abuse, no individual deserves any form of abuse, and it is detrimental that victims of abuse get the treatment they deserve, so they can heal and function properly to enjoy their lives as they wish.
When counseling a woman who has faced any form of abuse, it is important to be fragile with her. Keep in mind her feelings as valid. No matter if her story is extreme or if it seems insignificant, her feelings about the circumstance are valuable, and she desires to feel healing and hope when she leaves the session. Most women want to be strong, despite their abuse, and not all want to play the victim. However, they must replay through their abuse to process their feelings, and that processing may take some time and a great deal of emotions. During this process, it is important to validate her feelings as legitimate, but remind her of the strength and power within her. This balance will help her express her feelings as the victim but remind her of the value she has in her present and future, undefined by her past or her abuse. If she is currently in an abusive circumstance, of course, more intrusive measures need to be taken. However, for women who are no longer being abused, but are still facing the aftermath, her care needs to be sensitive to her feelings, supportive in her future goals, and proactive in reminding her of the value and strength that reside within her.
Clinton, T. E., & Langberg, D. (2011). The quick-reference guide to counseling women. Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Books.
Kopala, M., & Keitel, M. A. (2017). Handbook of counseling women. Los Angeles: SAGE.