Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Counselors' Attributions of Blame toward Female Survivors of Battering

Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Counselors' Attributions of Blame toward Female Survivors of Battering

Article excerpt

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a social problem that affects roughly 5.3 million women in the U.S. each year, accounts for 1,300 deaths, and often results in a number of physical and mental health consequences. Many women seek counseling as a way to find relief from the symptoms of the abuse they have endured. Previous research indicates that women seeking counseling after facing intimate partner violence victimization have reported experiencing counseling resources as inadequate or blaming. In the current study, counselors (N = 122) were surveyed regarding their gender role attitudes, ambivalent sexism, training in family violence, and attributions of blame toward women who have been battered. The regression analysis suggested that 16% of the variance in blame attributions was accounted for by gender role attitudes and ambivalent sexism. Study findings provide directions for future research and implications for practicing counselors.

**********

The ongoing high prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) recently was made clear through the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC, 2011) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. In this national sample, nearly 35% of women reported experiencing sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, while 1 in 4 women reported having experienced severe physical violence (CDC, 2011). The physical and mental health consequences of IPV are numerous and range from bruises, broken bones, and chronic pain to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and PTSD (Coker, Smith, McKeown, & King, 2000). Due to these consequences, many women who experience IPV present to counseling to seek help for alleviating mental health symptoms and enhancing their functioning in other areas of their lives (Leone, Johnson, & Cohan, 2007), as well as to help them obtain the resources necessary for leaving a violent relationship (Dienemann, Glass, Hanson, & Lunsford, 2007). Although men also may experience IPV victimization, research demonstrates that women disproportionally experience the most severe form of IPV--battering (Melton & Sillito, 2012; Smith, Smith, & Earp, 1999). Battering involves a chronic pattern of severe physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence deriving from the perpetrator's efforts to control and maintain power over his or her partner (Smith et al., 1999). Because women are most likely to be affected by battering, the current study focused on counselors' perceptions of battering as perpetrated by a male toward a female victim.

The need for this study is supported by reports from clients seeking counseling to address IPV. Many report having received poor or inadequate services (McLeod, Hays, & Chang, 2010). Although many women report having positive and helpful experiences, some seeking services have reported a number of barriers to obtaining adequate help, including victim-blaming, helpers siding with the abuser, inadequate or not useful community' resources (Davis, 1984), misdiagnosis and nonviolent revictimization (Mcleod et al., 2010), and a perception that counselors would not be helpful when abuse is disclosed (Krugman et al., 2004).

Although many counselors work with clients who are experiencing or have experienced IPV, there is often little training for counselors around issues of family violence (Mcleod et al., 2010). In fact, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP, 2016) standards do not require any specific training for any type of family or intimate partner violence for students outside of the Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling specially (CACREP, 2016 Section 5-F.i). Not only has training in this area been sparse, but traditional approaches to counseling in the past have tended to view women in terms of their symptoms, have held women to traditional gender roles, and blamed women for the trauma they experienced, based on the idea that they somehow provoked the violent acts (Choate, 2008). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.