Are you a professional working with victims of domestic violence? Often professionals work with victims of domestic violence and can often end up victimizing them without even being aware of it. Some professionals may have victim-blaming attitudes and actually be a part of the social problem of revictimization that victims of domestic violence go through when they turn to professionals and support agencies for help.
When some victims of domestic violence turn to professionals for support, they may be blamed for the abuse or even mistreated. This revictimization can cause victims of domestic violence to become depressed, hopeless and even give up looking for help to get out of an abusive relationship.
Professionals working with victims of domestic violence need to be aware of how they treat domestic abuse victims when they are approached for support. Victims of domestic violence need a non-judgemental attitude, empathy, understanding and emotional support.
Some victims of domestic violence have reported in various research studies that they get treated badly when they go to support agencies for help. Domestic abuse victims may turn to the police, doctors, counselors, victim support workers, and social workers for help. However, the drawback is that the support that they were looking for is not often what they receive.
As a professional do you understand the type of support victims of domestic violence want? Many professionals go through training on how to work with domestic abuse victims and may read many books on how to support victims of abuse. Unfortunately, many domestic abuse victims do not feel supported and they also feel that some workers need more training on how to give the correct support to abuse victims.
Do victims of domestic violence feel that they should be treated better? What do you think? If a domestic abuse victim goes to a professional for support and ends up being victimized then they may feel that there is no point in reaching out for help. This may cause some domestic abuse victims not to get the help and support they desperately need.
A recent qualitative research study of the experiences of victims of domestic violence and their experiences of social work intervention showed that many victims of domestic violence have negative experiences with social workers. This study presented the viewpoint of victims of domestic violence about their social workers. The participants in the research presented both positive and negative views of social workers. They described their encounters with social workers and how they felt social workers could improve their intervention in order for it to be more beneficial.
Professionals need to improve their practice with victims of domestic violence in order to meet their needs and help them feel empowered enough to leave abusive relationships.
No More Second Guessing: If It Feels Like Abuse, It Is
Is it really abuse? Is what I am experiencing really that bad because other people have it much worse? Should I forgive him/her when he/she apologizes, even though I know it’ll happen again? Is there anything truly better than this? At least this is a known evil.
Those thoughts and so many more run through our minds whether we’re currently in an abusive relationship or after leaving a relationship where we were hurt, betrayed, humiliated, controlled, neglected, but, strangely, still felt loved. The answers to those questions don’t come easy but they do come in time. We will go through many iterations of self-doubt and self-talk but ultimately, if we’re asking ourselves those questions – the answer is unequivocally…yes.
There are five different kinds of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual) according to Pia Mellody in her book, Facing Codependence, and not all are really that obvious. Domestic violence doesn’t always mean bruises and name-calling. We were abused when we felt “less than”, controlled, spoken down upon, threatened, scared for our safety or for the safety of our children or pets, to name just a few.
Abuse takes many forms and, for those who don’t know any different, they become the norm. But living with any of these behaviors or emotions is not the norm and can and should not be tolerated. Know that you’re not alone, there are others of us who have been where you are or where you were.
If you’re reading this post, there are others who have experienced the worst. They did not survive. But that does not diminish your experience. You feel what you feel. You cried your tears. You felt your pain. You begged for something better. What you lived through was real and genuinely hurtful and awful. You are here, now. You survived. Now you can thrive and keep in mind that it doesn’t only happen in straight households! In the gay community, we also see lots of domestic violence!
You DO deserve better. You deserve to be free. To have your opinions. To be your true, silly self! You deserve rainbows and butterflies and you deserve to know that that life does indeed exist. It’s within you. You have the freedom and the potential to be you. It’s not an easy journey – not by any means – but you do not have to begin it alone.
You can set small goals that will take you through one day at a time. You can get there. You will get there. Stay strong and stay focused on your accomplishments. Give yourself the credit you deserve. You’re here now, seeking to set yourself free!
If you or someone you know is living with or recovering from domestic abuse, please reach out for help!