Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 33 - Couples Counseling Not Recommended}

Keeping it relatively short tonight.  Will post again probably tomorrow.  Just some stuff I posted on Facebook in the past week (with some extra discussion below) that I want to post here.

I posted this a week ago with this link about how typical couples counseling isn't recommended when there is any type of abuse going on:
a friend sent me this link last night. unbelievable. i asked her if these people had been following me for the past few years...that's how spot on it is.
"Attempting to address abuse through couples therapy is like wrenching a nut the wrong way; it just gets even harder to undo than it was before. Couples therapy is designed to tackle issues that are mutual. It can be effective for overcoming barriers to communication, for untangling the childhood issues that each partner brings to a relationship, or for building intimacy. But you can’t accomplish any of these goals in the context of abuse. There can be no positive communication when one person doesn’t respect the other and strives to avoid equality. You can’t take the leaps of vulnerability involved in working through early emotional injuries while you are feeling emotionally unsafe — because you are emotionally unsafe. And if you succeed in achieving greater intimacy with your abusive partner, you will soon get hurt even worse than before because greater closeness means greater vulnerability for you."
 These are some small excerpts that particularly grabbed me from that link...

"...many Christians believe that its sole goal is the full restoration of the marriage. Instead, the rightful primary goal of therapy is the genuine safety and emotional well-being of those who have been victimized, and only secondarily the transformation and potential restoration of the abuser."

"Unless there has been deep heart change, any apparent outward "progress" will not likely be sustained. The behavior will sprout up again like a weed that has been lopped off at soil surface and not carefully extracted at the root level. This is part of the cycle of abuse. If the wife allows her husband to come back to the family home based on his promises to do better without lengthy and solid proof of inner change, it may be nearly impossible to get him to leave again if the abusive attitudes and behaviors come back."

"Even if the wife is not fooled, it is too easy for the husband to fake his maturity or progress in front of the counselor. Either he can persuade the counselor that he wasn't really the problem in the first place or that he has sufficiently changed."  In the link it gives a scenario where the husband might intimidate the wife beforehand and convince her not to speak out about what is really going on.  That has never happened with us...Joel doesn't engage in that kind of abuse.  But, he wouldn't need to anyway...because the counselors have all believed him at his word...and not believed me when I insisted that yes, he was (is) the problem and that no, there had not been any progress whatsoever.  They just didn't believe me, which goes back to the issues of male bias, gaslighting, the shared responsibility lie, and the just really scary complementarianism theology.  Also, another factor, as I shared with someone the other day...Joel started talking to others about all of this, and me, from day one (starting in January 2012).  But of course the things he was saying were things like ‘she’s depressed’ ‘she’s not herself...there’s something wrong with her,' etc.  So...many people had been hearing for over a year or 2 that I wasn’t ‘believable’ because of my ‘altered state.’  So many people doubted me by the time I actually started talking about it (August 2014).  I had already been discredited over and my very charming and very 'concerned' husband who 'only had my best interest at heart.'  I mean, with that being the case (smh), why wouldn't they believe him?  And why wouldn't I be discredited in their eyes?

"The counselor may attempt to establish rapport with empathy for the husband's concerns and complaints. If he accepts these as a contributing factor to the abuse, he may inadvertently tip the already unhealthy imbalance of power even further in the husband's direction. The counselor may also encourage a reinforcement of traditional gender roles so that the husband will "man up" and decide to protect his wife and children. In an abusive marriage, this can be wrongfully interpreted as a sanction to exert even more authoritarian control. That's like putting the fox in charge of the hen house."

"Then too, the abused wife is often pressured by the counselor to forgive and forget. She is warned to never consider divorce because that is supposedly a cardinal sin. It's all on her if this doesn't work out, because her husband is obviously "trying to do right" by coming to counseling. She must be just a bitter wife who isn't willing to work on her problems, right?"

"The wife may be accused of tempting her husband toward adultery if she refuses marital intimacy due to lack of trust. If she has insisted on him moving out, she may be criticized for "kicking him out." She may be grilled as to how she provoked the abuse through her inadequacies, and chided for being disrespectful of her husband's leadership in the family. The assumption is that if she would just show more respect, he would naturally love her more and not abuse her. Unfortunately, in these cases, an attempt to show "respect" to her husband may serve to validate his craving for power and enable more mistreatment. And, as her husband hears this inquisition of his wife by the counselor, he has that much more to hold against her and over her."

"The counselor may also sense that the wife is depressed and assume that this is either the cause of the marital problems or that her depression is twisting her perceptions about what has happened. Could it be that she is actually depressed because she's in a horrible marriage, rather than the other way around? Or it could be true that she is just *very tired and burned out* (emphasis mine) because she has exerted herculean emotional and physical effort to make tough choices about boundaries, whether he still lives in the home or not. This stress takes a huge toll on a woman's body and soul. On top of that, now she is made to feel guilty for not being "joyful in all circumstances." Instead of the relief and affirmation she so desperately needs, she gets piled on with more burdens and accusations. What is worse is that in a couples counseling session, the husband picks up on this theme and uses it as leverage to make his wife feel even more incapable of dealing with "her problems." One more bomb for his arsenal..."

"If the wife is savvy enough to catch onto and protest about anything inappropriate in the counseling session, the penalty for her resistance may be condescension from the counselor, who has a vested interest in protecting his professional reputation. If she shows visible distress or raises her voice, she may be seen as irrational or too emotional, and told to calm down. Her mental stability is then in question, which may make the counselor doubt what she shares. The husband can then smile and nod his head in agreement with the counselor. See what he has to put up with? No wonder he gets so frustrated at her! Never mind that he might have been subtly baiting her and pushing her secret emotional buttons so that she would lose it in front of the counselor."

Is this hitting home with anyone else?  There's so much more good stuff in the link...and lots of suggestions as to what to do and what counselors can be aware of to help these specific cases.

I couldn't believe these examples, of my reality, written write there for me to see...yet I wasn't even the one who wrote it.  Just. Spot. On.

Please...if these things have happened to you, know that we are obviously not alone.

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