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CHAPTER SEVEN: The coherence between shame and violence

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Martine Groen

Shame is an important emotion in couples who use violence during conflicts in their relationship. The abuser—in most cases the male—is ashamed of his deeds, the one who is abused—mostly the female—feels ashamed about what is happening to her. While the often unrecognized sense of shame in the male can lead to new violent eruptions after some time, the shame in the female causes her to retreat into herself and to humiliate herself. This dynamic strengthens the downward spiral of violence with couples (see Chapter Three) and maintains it. Shame is an issue that needs to be dealt with explicitly in therapies with couples who are seeking help regarding violence in the relationship, in order to breach the downward spiral of violence.

In this chapter, we deal with the question of in which manner there is coherence between shame and violence and how this coherence can be treated in therapeutic situations. After investigating the layers of shame and the coherence with shame as a regulating and debilitating emotion, further research is done to find feasible therapeutic interventions to breach the downward spiral of violence. At the end of this chapter, some pitfalls that the therapist may encounter while discussing shame-inducing and violent episodes during the course of relationship therapy are discussed briefly.

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CHAPTER ONE: Domestic violence: characteristics and size

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Justine van Lawick

Introduction

In this chapter we deal with some of the prime issues regarding domestic violence. How come the “safe haven” that the family unit is supposed to be is, in fact, often a hotbed of violence? What part does gender identity play in both the perpetrators’ and the victims’ case? Are the perpetrators mostly male and females mostly the victims? What is the influence of education and culture? In what way are psychopathology and violence connected?

From the second half of the past century, worldwide research has been carried out into violence within families, especially violence of men against women. Only in the last three or four decades has one come to realize that domestic violence is not an exception to the rule, but a serious social, medical, and psychological problem. People are more likely to be hit, kicked, humiliated, threatened, raped, seriously physically abused, hurt, or killed by family members in their own home, then anywhere else. This seems to be the case all over the world (Jasinski & Williams, 1998). It is hard to accept the image of the family unit as the most violent institution of society. One rather clings to the image of the warm, intimate, safe, and relaxing nest, the “haven in a heartless world” (Lasch, 1977).

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CHAPTER NINE: The reproduction of violence

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Martine Groen

Children as witnesses

“Mummy has been irritated all day long and is muttering about everything we do. At the end of the day Daddy comes home. He is in a bad mood too and starts talking about his work to Mummy. They get into an argument and he threatens to hit her. She runs away and almost trips over Rob. He starts to yell, she hoists him up and throws him away. Rob just lies there on the floor. At first we think he is dead, but luckily he snaps out of it when Mummy shakes him to and fro.”

Introduction

This chapter treats the subject of the abuse of children, characterized by extreme, escalating physical aggression between parents or by one of the parents, and of children who are witnessing the parental violence. Children between zero and seven years old are most at risk when confronted with the violent emotions of parents. The level of the divorce rate is very high in this phase of parenting.

Perhaps one of the factors contributing to the interactional escalation is a poor expectation of educating children, or a romantic expectation of bringing up children that is disappointed, or the pressures of managing children and work. Other reasons for the escalation of negative interactions between parents are poverty, debts, and transgenerational repetitive behaviour. Recently acquired knowledge about the influence of violent behaviour of parents or care-givers on the development of children shows how destructive this is and what the consequences could be.

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CHAPTER FIVE: Escalation and de-escalation

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Justine van Lawick

Introduction

In Chapters Three and Four, we discussed violent escalations which can take place between partners. We can always link these escalations to certain frustrations within human relationships, which are the same all over the world. In this chapter, we explore where these frustrations come from and how they can lead to escalations. We find that clients profit from a schematic description of this process. In this chapter, we also address escalating and de-escalating language and behaviour.

Frustration as an instigator of violence

When asked what kind of frustration can provoke violent behaviour, all over the world four clusters of “instigators” of violence emerge. Cluster A relates to iniquity: injustice, betrayal (such as cheating), or a vulnerable person (child) or animal being maltreated. Cluster B concerns disrespect: violent behaviour, attacks, name-calling, bullying, humiliation, disqualifying, unwanted physical contact, and, in traffic, tailgating, being cut up by other drivers. Cluster C relates to neglect: not getting attention, being misjudged, ignored, not being seen, heard, understood; being abandoned. Cluster D concerns powerlessness: resistance, opposition, not being able to do what you want to do, being wrongly accused, bureaucracy, victim behaviour, authoritarian behaviour.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: The therapist as a person

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Martine Groen

Processes of transference and countertransference

At the beginning of the 1980s I worked in an all woman team. We all worked with clients who had suffered the serious consequences of violence. At the time, we did not truly grasp the impact this had on our team, but, in hindsight, certain patterns emerged. Each and every one of us got stuck in repetitions of unaccepted events in our own lives.

We argued, could not say “no”, became overstressed in turn, repeated patterns of torment, chased each other in anger or, on the contrary, with powerlessness or victimized behaviour which belonged somewhere else but which was now projected on to colleagues. The dynamics which come with working in a team came under great pressure. The powerless anger enhanced the border-crossing behaviour of team members, which, in turn, was fed by the high demands of the subsidiary. The concept of co-traumatization has been the subject of discussion before, but only briefly. More often than not, the extreme stress was dealt with on an individual basis; it was not regarded as a structural theme which was recurring. Furthermore, we did not recognize that contamination had taken place within the team and that it was possible to drag each other into a powerless downward spiral.

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