Not to People like Us: Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages

By Susan Weitzman | Go to book overview

10
The Double-Edged Sword: How Family, Friends, and Professionals Can Make Matters Worse

UPSCALE ABUSED WIVES WHO SEEK LEGAL, medical, or mental health services often find themselves revictimized by the neglect, ignorance, and skepticism they encounter there. Even well-meaning helping professionals can unwittingly encourage these women to remain in their marriages. Similarly, well-intentioned friends, family, and clergy sometimes urge a women to "stay the course" for the sake of herself, her children, and God. When a trusted person witnesses emotional or physical abuse but stands by silently for fear of offending the woman, or doubts the woman's account of it, he or she inadvertently retraumatizes her. Many abused women told me they wished that others had named their husband's behavior earlier and had encouraged them to leave. The women's fears of reporting the abuse are legitimized when their help-seeking efforts are met with unresponsiveness; they feel they have nowhere to turn and must suffer alone.


REVICTIMIZATION IN THE CLINICAL AND SOCIAL SERVICE WORLD

Depending on a therapist's orientation, she or he may not be alert to the signs of violence within a marriage. In fact, a Freudian and a behaviorist interviewing the same new patient may, owing to their divergent points of view, perceive the causes of her problem quite differently and recommend different courses of treatment. Furthermore, if the psychological perspective does not

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