On average, two women a week in the UK are murdered by their partner or ex-partner. While much of the clinical literature focuses on physical violence in domestic abuse (DA), there is increasing evidence that power, control, coercion and emotional abuse is used to control partners in intimate relationships. This workshop, which would be especially relevant for psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists, aims to enhance our comprehension of DA, its impact and long term effects on survivors; while explaining how, as practitioners, we can work effectively using the principles of safe trauma therapy, psychoeducation and stabilization to restore control and to allow for the processing of the DA narrative. It will look at the spectrum of DA, including the dynamics of control and coercion in emotional abuse, and the role of shame and humiliation that silences those who are being domestically abused.
The workshop will consider the use of physical force, sexual violence, financial abuse, spiritual abuse and revenge porn, and identify those most at risk of interpersonal violence and DA. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the processes involved in DA such as grooming victims, the cycle of abuse, the role of dissociation and thought blindness that supports the trauma bond which binds the couple. The aim is to understand how victims may present in practice, to identify signs and symptoms of DA and how they can be understood and supported. the role of attachment and fear of abandonment that underpins much of DA and how this manifests relationally both for the couple and practitioners working with DA. We also look at the importance of the therapeutic relationship in restoring relational worth, mitigating the de-humanising effects of DA and restoring autonomy and self-agency.
Conceptualizing DA within the complex trauma framework, we consider the processing of the DA narrative and the facilitation of post traumatic growth. By identifying the challenges of working with DA and introducing a range of therapeutic skills, practitioners will feel more equipped when working with survivors of DA and enhance their comprehension of the transformative effects of post traumatic growth for both clients and practitioners.
Specifically, we will consider:
- The nature and dynamics of DA, such as the role of charm and enticement, the use of control and coercion, the cycle of abuse, the nature of thought blindness that facilitates the trauma bond
- The role of silence, secrecy and stigmatization
- The role of shame
- The role of dissociation
- The intergenerational transmission of DA through attachment and relational deficits
- The characteristics of male and female perpetrators DA as complex trauma and its neurobiological impact
- The psychological impact and long term effects of DA on partners, and children
- Obstacles to leaving an abusive relationship
- The importance of developing safety plans when leaving
- The need for safety and multi-agency collaboration
- The need for longer term therapy using a trauma informed practice model when working with survivors of DA
- The role of the therapeutic relationship in restoring autonomy and self-agency
- The impact of working with DA on practitioners and the role of self-care
Christiane Sanderson BSc, MSc. is a senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Roehampton, of London with over 30 years of experience working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence. She has delivered consultancy, continuous professional development and professional training for parents, teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists, counsellors, solicitors, the NSPCC, Towards Healing, Ireland. the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Committee, the Methodist Church, the Metropolitan Police Service, SOLACE, the Refugee Council, Birmingham City Council Youth Offending Team, and HMP Bronzefield. She is the author of Counselling Skills for Working with Shame, Counselling Skills for Working with Trauma: Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse, Counselling Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 3rd edition, Counselling Survivors of Domestic Abuse, The Seduction of Children: Empowering Parents and Teachers to Protect Children from Child Sexual Abuse, and Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma, all published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. She has also written The Warrior Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Sexual Violence; The Spirit Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Religious Sexual Abuse Across All Faiths and Responding to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: A pocket guide for professionals, partners, families and friends and Numbing the Pain: A pocket guide for professionals supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse and addiction for the charity One in Four for whom she is a trustee.