Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Counseling for Women Preparing to Leave Abusive Relationships: A Social Cognitive Career Theory Approach

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Counseling for Women Preparing to Leave Abusive Relationships: A Social Cognitive Career Theory Approach

Article excerpt

Career counselors work with people from varied segments of society. For battered women, some of the challenges they face from intimate partner violence may significantly influence their career exploration and decision making. Social cognitive career theory (SCCT; R. W. Lent, S. D. Brown, & G. Hackett, 1994) is a framework that has important implications for working with these women. In this article, the authors present the unique career needs of battered women terminating abusive relationships, the relevance of SCCT to this population, strategies for using SCCT when working with these women, and a case study illustrating effective use of SCCT.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) encompasses violent crimes committed against a person by "current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends, including same sex relationships" (Catalano, 2007, p. 1). According to Catalano, IPV affects women at almost 7 times the rate it affects men, and 20% of all nonfatal violence (rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault) against women is perpetuated by an mtimate. This percentage translates into an annual average of 746,580 households reporting acts of IPV against women from 1993 to 2004 (Catalano, 2007). Although these statistics are high, researchers have suggested that up to 76.9% of physical and sexual assaults go unreported in the general population and that approximately one in five women report their IPV victimization (Felson & Paré, 2005). In addition, physical violence rarely occurs without psychological abuse, increasing the likelihood of a woman's interest in terminating an abusive relationship (Henning & Klesges, 2003). Battered women are women who are survivors of domestic violence, encompassing not only IPV (physical and sexual violence) but also psychological and economic violence (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.).

Early adulthood, the time when emerging career choices are often explored and established (e.g., Super, 1957), has the highest incidence of IPV, with women who are 20 to 24 years old reporting the highest incidence rates, followed by women who are 25 to 34 years old (Catalano, 2007). Together, these statistics suggest that a high proportion of women have faced IPV and that many of these women are in early career development stages because of their age and are in potential arrested development because of IPV and other forms of domestic violence. Therefore, a high likelihood exists that career counselors will work with women who are survivors of physical, sexual, emotional, or economic domestic violence (Chronister & McWhirter, 2003, 2004, 2006), including those who are terminating abusive relationships (C. Brown et al., 2005).

Although the physical harm inflicted on battered women can have severe consequences, the psychological effects of battering are also devastating. Feelings of depression, low self-esteem, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behaviors occur at a rate higher in battered women than in the general population (C. Brown, Reedy, Fountain, Johnson, & Dichiser, 2000; Stephens & McDonald, 2000). Isolation is a common consequence of IPV for battered women, with more than half of participants in one study reporting no supportive or recreational experiences in the previous month (Forte, Franks, Forte, & Rigsby, 1996). Continued isolation results in less support and fewer occasions to be away from the scene of battering or to engage in situations that may lead to more positive mental health (Michaiski, 2004). Battered women may also become more dependent and therefore less likely to make decisions or longrange plans independently (Browne, 1993). Battered women preparing to leave their abusive relationships may also have more immediate and realistic concerns about their physical and economic safety. Statistics suggest that women separated from their abusive spouses face a higher level of violence at the hands of their former partners than do females who are divorced from, dating, or married to their partners (Catalano, 2007). …

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.