Treating Abuse in Families: A Feminist and Community Approach
Reviewed by Suzana Rose, Ph.D.
from an article of the same title by: Elaine Leeder
Published: In Elaine Leeder, Treating Abuse in Families:
A Feminist and Community Approach. New York: Springer Publishing Co., 1994
To propose a unified treatment plan that might work in more common forms of partner abuse for male and female batterers. A subsection of the chapter focuses on lesbian battering.
Myths: Unfounded myths include: that stronger or more masculine “butch” member is batterer; that same-sex violence is probably mutual battering; that lesbians seek help as often as heterosexual women; that it is easier to treat lesbians than heterosexual couples.
Comparisons with Heterosexual Abuse: A unique element for lesbians pertains to the homophobic environment that surrounds them that contributes to internalized homophobia, fear of reprisals from the community, and isolation. Similarities with heterosexuals include the common experience of the cycle of violence.
Types of Lesbian Abuse and Treatment:
Situational Abuse: Occurs when a situational event throws the couple into a crisis. Treatment for the case example included crisis intervention with a therapist. The couple was seen individually and together. Goals of therapy were to provide an open environment for the victim to confront her abuser and teaching effective communication techniques.
Chronic Abuse: Defined as a relationship in which violence occurs two or more times with increasingly destructive behavior and may be life-threatening. In the case example, treatment required more time and individualized work than for situational abuse. In-depth individual work with the batter was required before couples’ treatment could begin. The last phase of treatment involved a community approach.
Emotional Abuse: Psychological and emotional abuse occurring when the batterer humiliates and degrades the victim and makes the victim feel inferior. Treatment for the case example involved individual and couples’ therapy.
Community Involvement: Community support for lesbians may be easier to elicit than for heterosexuals. A treatment recommendation was to have lesbians bring their best friends to therapy and for the therapist to involve the friends in developing a safety plan or to intervene if violence occurs.