Adult Transition

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A Woman’s Transition Out of an Abusive Relationship Schlossberg Transition Model

Part I: Approaching Transitions Type:

Chronic Hassle – moving out and moving in multiple times before success

Context: Involves all contextual settings of the self, friends, family, work, health, finances A series of transitions within this massive transition umbrella contributing to the chronic hassle Impact: On relationships, routines, assumptions about self and the world, roles Affects the whole person: emotional being, physical being, and mental functioning The intensity of stress experienced is a function of the degree to which the woman is required to make new adaptations (Goodman, Schlossberg, & Anderson, 2006) There is a strong correlation between the difference in pre-transition and post-transition environments and the success of an individual adapting to the new environment. The greater the difference, the lesser the chance of adaptation (Goodman et. al, 2006) Moving out – Moving through – Moving in (mourns loss of old life - disequilibrium) Tricky balance between opportunity for psychological growth and dangers of psychological decline

Part II: Taking Stock of Coping Resources – The 4 “S” System SITUATION Trigger: Abuse escalates, fear of death, children, suicide attempt Timing: Always a bad time – although children can serve as the impetus for change they can also make it harder for the woman to leave and adapt to a new life Control: Can be both internal and external – the woman decides that she has had enough or childwelfare/police become involved and make the woman leave Role Change: Several role gains and losses – becoming a single mother – no longer a wife or partner – becoming employed – Loss of abuser or relationship is not central, instead it is the loss of innocence, dreams, hopes, material possessions, and sense of self

– – Duration: Uncertainty of duration is connected with the greatest degree of stress Entire transition may take many years and each stage can take several years Cyclical Process of Leaving an Abusive Relationship and Reclaiming Self: COUNTERACTING ABUSE: Transition starts at the onset of a trigger or turning point, while still in the relationship Starts unconsciously and consciously distancing, creating space, creating a leaving plan, surviving crises BREAKING FREE: Woman needs to prepare herself to leave, this may take several months to years – chronic hassle – process is repetitive and tortuous Woman learns that leaving is potentially more dangerous than staying Energy is directed at minimizing stress, feelings are denied while attention is directed to practical matters Puts out feelers, takes risks, steps outside the relationship and pulls back, returning to familiar situation Usually goes to a shelter to deal with immediate crises, no home, no money, no safe place to go, can’t go to friend’s home because partner knows location, no friends or supports due to partner isolating woman in order to exert control Woman “gives up” due to difficulties in getting financial assistance, a safe place to live, and suitable counselling, NOT GOING BACK: Look for a new home, find a job and financial assistance, get children settled into new school or daycare, take care of legal matters and personal safety (EPO, PO, visitation), reclaiming belongings Create boundaries, gain control, and get situated Learning to live with risks of escalating abuse by partner – stalking, threatening suicide, begging, threatening to kill, threatening to abduct children Once she succeeds in leaving, she needs to work hard to stay committed in sustaining separation, defending decisions, setting the story straight, MOVING ON: Adapt and accept the new roles and work to increase self-efficacy Previous Experience: This may also be a reason for chronic hassle as the woman has no idea what the outcome of her decision will look like until she actually goes through with it Or the woman has previously attempted to leave and faced with extremely negative outcome and various barriers – becomes discouraged to try again Concurrent Stress: Assessment: Ambivalent nature – experiences both losses and gains – fears for her safety Initially sees herself as the problem, learned helplessness as a result of the abuse

SELF Woman relinquishes parts of self as part of a survival strategy in the face of relentless abuse that leaves her feeling fearful and ashamed This leaves her vulnerable to believe that she is worthless Personal Characteristics: SES, Gender, Age and Stage of Life, Health, Culture Injuries from physical abuse, PTSD and anxiety/depression from psychological abuse, trauma associated with sexual abuse Difficult to reclaim her life, looks bad to take charge of her life, breaking norms by leaving marriage, Psychological Resources Ego Development – low level focusing on survival Self-efficacy, Commitment, Spirituality, resilience SUPPORT Being labeled in order to get help from the system – behave as helpless victims, intensifying humiliation Families only help if woman promises not to go back STRATEGIES Implications for Counselling

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