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Treating the Domestic Violence Victim: Crisis Intervention and Beyond

Jennifer Duque, LCPC

Private Practice

525 Cottonwood Circle

Bolingbrook, IL 60440

(630) 771-1731

Treating domestic violence victims requires specialized training. While many believe that short term counseling and advocacy are what is necessary to successfully treat domestic violence victims, many times a long term approach needs to be taken in an effort to work through the abuse and to help victims to not get into future relationships that are abusive.

Crisis intervention is essential in working with domestic violence clients. When a victim first comes to see you, she almost always needs information. It is important to discuss with the victims what their options are and help them to find a way to be safe. In beginning domestic violence sessions, an advocate or counselor should put safety of the victim first. Developing a safety plan with a client can mean the difference between her getting out of a dangerous situation and her being abused again. Additionally, beginning domestic violence sessions should focus on educating the client on the dynamics of abuse. Teaching clients the dynamics of abuse helps minimize the client's feelings of isolation and helps them to start to look at the abuse in the relationship as something that is not their fault.

While these factors are essential in beginning sessions, most all victims of abuse have experienced emotional trauma as a result of being in an abusive relationship. Dealing with these issues takes time, and can not be worked through in just a few sessions. After these issues have been addressed in beginning domestic violence sessions, effective counseling with victims of abuse may take longer than expected.

This workshop will also focus on two effective types of therapy in working with domestic violence victims. The first being group therapy. Research has indicated that group therapy had been highly effective with domestic violence victims. Group therapy allows clients to identify with others and decreases isolation. It can also help clients to see others in different stages as a means of progress and hope for a future without abuse. Many times group therapy alone is effective with victims of abuse, but other times, clients need that additional individual support. This workshop will focus on the principles of Survivor Therapy, which has also been found to be highly effective in working with victims. Survivor Therapy focuses on issues of safety, empowerment, validation, strengths, education, alternative, restoring clarity of judgement, understanding oppression, making decisions, and healing the effects of trauma. This workshop will discuss each of these steps in detail, while also discussing the importance of both advocacy and longer term counseling as an effective means of treating victims of abuse.

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