Have you ever suspected that one of your friends is in an abusive relationship? Have you personally been involved in such an entanglement? Domestic violence is a relevant issue for women to discuss. The reason being, it is more common than many think and too harmful to manage alone. Being in an abusive relationship causes negative psychological conditioning; for healing to take place, a victim must open up and talk to someone, ideally a professional, about the impact of being abused. Unfortunately, some women have trouble recognizing the signs and symptoms of abuse which allow these incidents and relationships to continue controlling their lives.

Recently, PlumbTalk Women spoke with Dr. Michael Levittan, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist who specializes in relationship issues and domestic violence. Dr. Michael’s twenty-year career was sparked by his desire to step into conflict situations between his father and step-mother as a young boy.

The Telltale Signs of Domestic Violence

Dr. Michael’s passion was fully realized during a graduate school internship where he had the opportunity to connect with victims of domestic violence. During our interview with him, Dr. Michael shed light on the particulars of violent and abusive relationships.

Domestic violence, or abuse, is abusive and/or harmful behavior between individuals in an “intimate relationship.” Dr. Michael cites several components that can contribute to domestic violence:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse

Speaking of women specifically, Dr. Michael says, “Women who are victims of abusive behaviors seem intimidated by their partners.”

A Mayo Clinic article titled, “Domestic Violence Against Women: Recognize Patterns, Seek Help,” expounds on Dr. Michael’s words saying that prolonged abuse in any form can result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and helplessness. The victim may feel that they are to blame and experience self-doubt.

Communicating Effectively With A Victim

Dr. Michael adopts a method of understanding and communicating with a victim of domestic violence by meeting them where they are at emotionally. He offers three pieces of advice for engaging in conversation with an individual in a violent relationship.

  1. Empathize- There may be pros to an individual’s relationship as well as cons. To secure a sense of trust, focus on the pros and let the cons come up throughout many conversations.
  2. Empower- Encourage the individual to come up with their own solutions to the relationship issues.
  3. Emotional “Surgery”- Remember that the topic being discussed is a delicate one and conversations must be handled as carefully as surgery would be.

One tip Dr. Michael utilizes when addressing victims of domestic violence is to “hesitate before asking the person why he or she does not leave the relationship.”

It is always important to gauge a victim’s self-esteem and willingness to open up about personal challenges. The only exception to this is when an individual is in immediate danger and such incidents should be reported to the proper authorities. Dr. Michael recommends contacting authority personnel if you suspect any situation where the victim and his or her children are in immediate danger.

According to WebMD medical writer Carol Sorgen, “Most women don’t leave at the first warning signs of domestic violence… because they are afraid to rock the boat or don’t have the financial resources and social support to leave.”

To effectively communicate with a victim of abuse it is important to identify what type of support they need and how willing they are to receive it. Carol Sorgen’s article asks women to consider the following situations to discern if a relationship is violent or abusive:

  • Is your partner short-tempered? Does this anger get directed at other innocent individuals in the home?
  • Does your partner exhibit angry behavior that leads to slapping, kicking, or hitting?
  • Is jealousy an issue in your relationship? Does your partner constantly ask where you have been and who you have been with?

Finding Help

The Mayo Clinic advises victims of violent abuse to seek immediate help.

  • Talk to a trusted confidant about the abuse you are suffering
  • Form an escape plan

The medical research group closes its domestic violence article with these words of encouragement:

“It can be hard to recognize or admit that you are in an abusive relationship- but help is available. Remember, no one deserves to be abused.”

PlumbTalk Women realizes the fragile emotional situation women experience as victims of domestic abuse. It can be hard to discuss the emotional and self- esteem issues created by abusive relationships. We encourage all women involved in a harmful relationship to seek help.

For more information on domestic violence, please feel free to contact Dr. Michael Levittan. His website can be found at the following link: http://www.michaellevittan.com/20.html.

References

Phone interview with Dr. Michael Levittan: http://www.mediafire.com/?lcoogiddsyd6cak

Dr. Michael Levittan’s Website: http://www.michaellevittan.com/20.html

Sorgen, C. When Intimacy Turns Violent. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/when-intimacy-turns-violent

Mayo Clinic “Domestic Violence Against Women: Recognize Patterns, Seek Help”: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/domestic-violence/WOOOO44

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