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Meeting program
Domestic Violence, Kelly Andrews, Therapist
Kelly Andrews is a therapist in private practice in Evergreen, specializing in women’s issues, including domestic violence, eating disorders, and social anxieties.
Kelly: One in three women will experience domestic violence. It affects the nervous system, like flight or fight. It makes a person need to be on the lookout for threats; it affects mental health. It damages relationships because the person who is supposed to love us and care for us is putting us in danger. This can affect relationships lifelong.
Once violence has been introduced into a relationship, it’s always there even if it is not actively happening. A person ends up expecting violence and flinching even without anything new happening.
  1. Intimidation: throwing things, banging things, abusing pets.
  2. Emotional abuse: Name-calling, putting her down, wearing down over time.
  3. Isolation: Often people don’t realize it is happening. Like putting a frog in a pot of water and gradually increasing the heat, and the frog doesn’t notice until it’s damaging.
  4. Denial: The perpetrator denies that the incident happened and makes a person forget their own worth. It’s gaslighting, meant to make the woman feel that “My reality is not right, because so often I’m told I am wrong.” It feels like one is going crazy. Then police come and don’t believe the woman, because the man is confident and convincing, and the woman isn’t sure what really happened. This can take a long time to come back from. It takes years to rebuild the feeling that, “I am valid.”
  5. Using the children.
  6. Blaming: It’s your fault.
  7. Economic abuse: This is things like being forced to work and hand over the paycheck. Or not being allowed to work.
  8. Male privilege. This is based on history. Men legally owned their wives, had a duty to punish the wife. It’s the woman against these systems. Not all men are violent. A man can make changes and be a huge help to our society.
  9. Coercion and threats.
Put yourself in these shoes. Imagine constantly living in this, and the depression and PTSD that results.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
Self-actualization (creativity etc. Not reached by all.)
Safety needs
Physiological Needs
The woman may not be able to sleep due to being alert, afraid. Maybe she is not allowed to eat certain foods or forced to be on a certain diet.
People don’t understand: Why don’t people suffering this just leave? That may mean giving up housing, money for kids, basic needs. If there are ongoing concussions or oxygen deprivation from choking, that can cause disorientation, mental fog. This impedes people from getting help. Perpetrator can be calm, and victim is labeled as crazy or hysteric. Women used to get institutionalized for being hysterical. It may be the result of traumatic brain injury. It’s hard to get out.
Women are seven times more likely to die when they are leaving a relationship. My safety plans are three pages long.
If a woman hits back, she worries that she is escalating the abuse, or that she had a role. Women internalize this.
Be aware that this is going on in our society; and how hard it is to ask for help. Don’t say, “You should leave.” Because it has to be her choice.
Ask, “What do you need from me?” Do you want to leave a go-bag at my house?
Contact info: kelly@sunhearted.com
Dean: This is symptomatic of our society undervaluing women. Doctors telling women you are not having a heart attack, you’re just hysterical, go bowling. How much of this is part of undervaluing people?
Kelly: Yes, it’s absolutely tied together. Women may be stigmatized for having too many emotions, and men are being stigmatized for the opposite.
Q: I have a friend with a 2-year-old, and she is still parenting with this person, and expressed concern about what’s happening to the 2-year-old. What are the courts doing in this type of situation?
A: Mom may feel like the child is less safe because she is not there to protect the child. Courts sometimes make the wrong decision. This happens to a lot of women, and it is a huge problem.
Stan: There are also kids with both parents who are abusive. It seems like there is nothing in the system to help. It seems like the foster care system is a problem.  Do other societies do better?
A: Often there is a controlling abuser, and the other person lashes back. We live in a more individualistic society; others may have more services.
Ann: I had a friend who left an abuser before I met her. Her father had abused her, and she grew up thinking this was normal, and married an abuser.
A: If the nervous system is constantly feeling threatened, it can’t unwind. The nervous system is no longer able to distinguish that one is no longer under threat. That’s why a soldier with PTSD might be panicking in a supermarket.
Suzanne: We do now have an interim director for Peaceworks, the domestic violence shelter. Apparently, a lot of things have broken down since it was shut down.
Kelly: It’s great that they take pets. That’s often an obstacle to leaving.                  
Suzanne: We built the pens.
Diana: I have been in victim services.   A victim advocate can make all the difference, so victims do not focus on the danger.
Kelly: It’s important to have a victim’s advocate go out on those calls. Women can think they’re not worth anything. But there may be a small light of resistance to that idea. The perpetrator can be very charming. Three women a day die from domestic violence.