2. Preliminaries: Aspects to consider

  • The first objective of all work is the immediate cessation of violence.
  • The central focus of the work is on the use of violence.  
  • To be able to work with a client on the issue of violent behaviour, the client must possess some degree of insight into the misconduct. This insight is accompanied by the awareness of wrongdoing, i.e. the client is aware that her behaviour was wrong.
  • When working with the violent woman, it is essential to consider her lesbian relationships, i.e. consider her relationships within the context of the society and the sub-culture.
  • An anti-violence contract, which regulates how recidivism is to be dealt with, is concluded with the client, also in a therapeutic context.
  • Because in many cases, the use of violence is accompanied by addiction, it should be assured that the client comes to the session substance-free. In addition, it must be ascertained which role the addictive structure has in the violent relationship dynamic; the focus of the counselling/therapy is however the use of violence and not the addiction. In some instances, it may make sense to suggest parallel therapy to address the addiction.
  • Working with the violence is not limited to the individual’s behaviour but includes the analysis of structures that support the violence. Many lesbian couples move in an environment in which the use of violence has been normalised, for example where their circle of friends includes other couples who also use violence. These structures must also be considered in the counselling/therapy.
  • A further essential prerequisite for adequate counselling/therapy is that the counsellor/therapist who works with violent clients has confronted her own aggressive/violent aspects. The same applies to the confrontation of their own psychosexual identity. There is no innate connection between the lesbian way of life and the use of violence.
  • In our experience, particularly the perpetrators of violence exercise a great fascination over other women because they cross the established borders and rules that one does not cross oneself and so radiate a supposed audacity. Consequently, it is possible that the perpetrator also exercises a certain fascination over the counsellor. It is therefore essential that the counsellor/therapist reflects on her relationship to the client.
  • Supervision and evaluation of the work are necessary.
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Funded by:and
European Commission and the German Federal Ministry of Family, Seniors, Women and Youth.

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