Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Intimate Partner Violence : BWS Battered Woman’s Syndrome

Health and Wellness Associates

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batteredwomen

 

Intimate Partner Violence

Battered Woman’s Syndrome

 

Women who are victims of intimate-partner violence have been identified by the mental health field for more than 30 years now.  It is understood that domestic violence is part of gender violence, and that many more women than men are the victims of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

 

Even when women strike back or engage in mutual violence, it is usually the woman who is most likely to be hurt—both physically and emotionally. Women who strike back in self-defense are often arrested along with the batterer.

 

It is further understood that gender violence is fostered by the socialization of men to be more powerful than women. In some men, this process creates the need to abuse power and to control women. While the term “victim” is not always considered politically correct, in fact, until battered women take back some control over their lives, they may not truly be considered survivors.

 

Psychological symptoms, called battered woman syndrome (BWS), develop in some women and make it difficult for them to regain control. Mental health professionals have been able to assist these battered women with empowerment techniques and with accurate diagnosis and proper treatment, as described here.

 

If you are a woman who has suffered from gender abuse by your partner and you’ve lived through at least two cycles of being battered, physically or emotionally,  you might have what’s known as battered woman syndrome. It may not seem like it now, but you can get help and break the cycle.

 

Phases of Gender Abuse

 

In the first phase, tension builds between the two people.

 

The second phase is an explosion or encounter when the woman is the victim of emotional or physical battering and could be seriously injured physically and psychologically.

The third is when her abuser strikes back!   Does something to take control of the other person.  This can be in a physical method, even taking something away, or destroying a cell phone, or keeping the other person isolated.  The abuser will not usually leave the other person alone.

 

Some experts see the battering cycle as a circle.

“I draw it as a graph because it repeats itself and keeps getting worse and worse.”

 

( BWS) battered woman syndrome is a subcategory of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychological disorder that is the result of facing or witnessing a terrifying event.  The battered woman is so traumatized by her partner’s abuse that she may believe she is in danger even when she’s safe.  It also shows itself as the one being abused can not tell that anything is wrong, and they keep it to themselves.

 

Why Women Take It

 

Many battered women stay in abusive relationships. There are a number of reasons why they don’t leave, says Deb Hirschhorn, PhD, a marriage and family therapist in Woodmere, New York, and author of The Healing Is Mutual. They include:

 

She worries she would have no way to support herself or her children if she left.

She may come from a background of abuse and “is conditioned to look for the good in her partner just as she had to see the good in her parents,” Hirschhorn says.

She truly believes her spouse or partner wants to help and protect her. “It’s a ‘rescue syndrome,’” Hirschhorn says. The battered woman remembers why she fell in love with her partner and believes they can get back to where they began, Walker says.

She’s likely to have low self-esteem. She believes she’s only getting what she deserves.

She also might fear that if her partner learns she wants to leave, it will only heighten the abuse, says Rena Pollak, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Encino, California.

 

Getting Out of the Abuse Cycle

Talk with your doctor. Discussing your battered woman syndrome symptoms with your doctor is a good idea because your doctor or nurse can give you resources if you don’t know where else to turn, Pollak says.

 

Seek shelter.  Realize that you are not alone and that there are people who can help you, Pollak says. She recommends starting with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which has advocates who can speak on the phone or online.

 

Have a safety plan. Most women can sense danger and when their partner is likely to hurt them. The National Domestic Violence Hotline says that whether you are living in an abusive relationship or planning to leave one, you should have a plan that identifies safe areas of your home where you can go if you need to. If you can’t avoid violence, make yourself small – curl up in a ball and protect your face with your arms.

 

Work with a counselor. When you are being emotionally abused, a  marriage counselor or therapist can help you see your strengths and help you realize it’s not your fault – despite what you’ve heard over and over again from your abuser.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr M Williams

312-972-9311 ( Well)

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

What to do when Anger tries to Get the Best of You?

Health and Wellness Associates

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What to do when Anger tries to Get the Best of You?

anger

 

What to do when Anger tries to Get the Best of You.

 

A brass chandelier looms over my kitchen table.

It waits for me to finish my work, stand up, and meet it with my cranium. It’s a jarring blow.

 

First comes pain. Then comes anger.

 

That’s right. I get angry at a lamp.

 

I’ve had plenty of contact with that fixture over the years, so when I bashed my head for the third time one day, I thought little of it. Upon later reflection, however, I realized there was something special about that particular incident. Let me explain.

 

You see, my head-bashing routine is like a controlled experiment for my temper. My reaction is more or less the only variable. And my reaction is not typically one I’m proud of.

 

In my defense, I never hit back. Instead I clench and stew with my blood boiling until I realize that I am, in fact, angry at a light fixture. But this realization doesn’t come until anger successfully infests my mind and leaves my composure in tatters. Not ideal.

 

“The other vices drive the mind on,” wrote the Stoic philosopher Seneca. “Anger hurls it headlong. […] Other vices revolt from good sense, this one from sanity. […] And it makes no difference how great the source is from which [anger] springs; for from the most trivial origins it reaches massive proportions.”

 

Anger hurls the mind headlong. Under its spell, we become senseless beasts.

 

And it doesn’t take much to set us off. A stubbed toe. A barking dog. A paper jam. In the movie “Office Space,” Peter and the gang steal the company copier—infamous for getting jammed—and demolish it with baseball bats. When angry, this is our level of mental maturity.

 

Can anger be willed away? Seneca thought so. He wrote that anger should be “driven” and advised us to “do battle” with this destructive emotion.

 

But here’s where I part ways with the great Stoic. This struggle to suppress emotion—though it could avert some embarrassing displays—only creates more internal strife. We get angry and then feel guilty about getting angry.

 

But the truth is, we all get angry—even the Dalai Lama.

 

When asked if he ever gets angry, the Dalai Lama responded in typical fashion: “Oh, yes, of course,” he said, “I’m a human being. Generally speaking, if a human being never shows anger, then I think something’s wrong. He’s not right in the brain.”(2)

 

If that doesn’t give you permission to accept your anger, I’m not sure what will. But that doesn’t mean anger should be ignored. There’s a world of difference between noticed anger and unnoticed anger. The first can spoil a few moments. The second, a few days.

 

There’s an art to noticing anger. Everyone has their own warning signs: a flushed face, a contracted abdomen, a clenched jaw. These physical symptoms carry the implicit message, “Ah, I’m getting angry.” Try it out. It’s actually hard to stay angry when you’re fully aware of this process.

 

“The best way of dealing with these hindrances is to be aware of them, to be mindful,” recommends the meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein. “Sit back and notice ‘anger, anger.’ Not identifying with it, not condemning oneself for being angry. Simply watch.” (3)

 

The method described by Goldstein is mindfulness in a nutshell: a non-judgmental watching of phenomena arising in the mind. When this attitude is cultivated, we are less likely to be swirled away by a torrent of thoughts and emotions. The chain is broken, and we can settle back to a relaxed state.

 

Yet this goes beyond mere theory. Neuroscientists have, in fact, examined this phenomenon.

 

According to their research, a regular mindfulness practice rewires the brain for increased emotional stability. In brain regions that govern emotional regulation—the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex—experienced meditators had more gray matter than controls. And the amygdala, the stress center of our brains, actually shrinks through meditation. (4)

 

So through mindfulness practice, the brain gets rewired for less emotional reactivity. Very cool.

 

This leads back to my last encounter with the chandelier. As I suggested, this encounter was different than the others. When I blundered into the lamp, I felt the blunt sensation of pressure radiating through my skull. I watched it closely. The pain, of course, didn’t last for long.

 

And that was that. No destructive impulse arose. Not even one fantasy of tearing it out, Hulk style, from the ceiling.

 

The results of this experiment have left me convinced. I’m not a long-term meditator, yet it seems I’ve already rewired my brain. And thankfully, some of my temper has gone extinct.

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

The 4 Words holding us back from Happiness.

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The 4 Words holding us back from Happiness.

 

Embracing the Freedom that comes when we Stop Asking, “Are we there Yet?”

 

 rwethereyet

 

Last night, I had the pleasure of enjoying dinner and a “few” cocktails with a very dear old friend of mine.

Because of life and its happenings, this person and I had not seen each other or really been in touch for a little over six years, but our connection was still fierce.

 

When we knew each other way back when, this was someone who I viewed with great admiration—a man with truly staggering ambition as well as genuine insight into the sensitivities of the world. Our conversations in the past have been filled with lighthearted laughter and deep soul searching. I was excited to see him again and relight the fire that our friendship possessed so many years ago.

 

Lately, my run-ins with old friends have inspired me and stirred up the pot in my mind with fresh ideas; I knew this interaction would do exactly the same. I pulled up to the restaurant and walked inside. Immediately, I was greeted with the warmest embrace and the sound of a familiar voice in my ear. He found me.

 

Right off the bat, we started catching up: How is so-and-so? What is so-and-so up to? It was exhilarating to hear about all of these people I once lived with and to see friends of mine thriving in their lives as travelers, doctors, writers, and up-and-coming celebrities.

 

Slowly, our conversation delved deeper and deeper into our latest thoughts. As a writer—a published writer I might add—my friend has a way with words that draws a conversation out smoothly and with great ease. These are my favorite kinds of friends. It did not take long for our talk to approach a point that has been circling in my consciousness for quite some time now.

 

There’s a message that the universe, or something like it, has been sending me—by any means necessary. Finding it in books, street art, social media posts, and conversations with old and new friends, I have felt so bombarded by this message over the last several weeks that it has finally hit me that it’s probably time I listen.

 

Sitting across the table from my friend in this dimly lit booth of a train car-themed cocktail bar, we locked eyes as he said to me, “The key is to be present.” I couldn’t believe it. I wondered how long this point had been trying to get my attention. I looked back at him and said, “I can’t believe you just said that,” and from there, our conversation took off.

 

So many profound thoughts came to us in this discussion. Through the weaving and twisting conversation, I walked away with one important message. You see, my friend and I are both at very different stages in our lives. A lifelong goal of his has recently come to fruition; he is a published author and has the opportunity to travel and live his dream. I, on the other hand, am at a starting point. I have realized that my personal passion is to travel, and although I know my career will one day require my full attention, that day is not today. My direction is changing, while he is reaching his next highest peak.

 

But regardless of those differences, we are both completely aware that none of that really matters. Why? Because we are not our careers. He is not a published author, and I am not a waitress. Those are roles that we play, and they are important and necessary, but they do not make us who we are. At any given moment, our jobs, our careers, or our passions can change in the blink of an eye…and what then?

 

All we will have is this moment, all we will know is the person we are in the present. But what if we do not know them? What if we become so engrossed in the roles that we play that we become doctors or lawyers or CEOs, and we are successful and well-established and rich and powerful, but one day we don’t want to do that anymore? And what if one day we realize this but because we haven’t paid attention to the person inside of us that isn’t just a doctor, but is also a writer or a yogi or a traveler or an artist, we don’t know how to be anything else?

 

By completely identifying ourselves with the roles that we play, by considering myself inferior because I’m a waitress or by seeing himself superior because he’s an author, we are losing ourselves to our roles. We are not being present with our true selves because we are seeing these roles as who we are. But I’m not a waitress—I’m Erin.

 

And, when I look at it that way and take a look at what that provides me in the current moment, it’s actually perfectly aligned with who I want to be—someone who loves travel, who has the freedom to explore California, and the freedom to explore myself. I want to be on my feet and constantly meeting new and interesting people. Those are the things that I want at this moment, and I have all of them. For that, I am grateful.

 

When we stop asking, “Are we there yet?” with every decision we make, when we stop imagining that there is some finish line out there somewhere in the distance that we will reach, when we stop looking forward to our happiness as something that hasn’t even happened yet, we can take a moment like this—a moment with a dear friend in a train car bar with a margarita—and we can say:

 

“Yes, we are here now.”

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr M Williams

312-972-9311 ( Well)

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Healthwellnessassociates@gmail.com