When helping professionals mirror controlling behaviour

Sometimes ‘helping professionals’ do harm to women. This is not their intention but it does happen. How is this possible? Well, let’s think about the dynamics of abuse. Men who are abusive are motivated by a desire to have power and control over their partner. They have a need to feel superior. Men who are abusive can feel superior by putting down their partners’ ideas, feelings or needs and by forcing their views on their partner. So what happens to a woman when she goes to a counselor, advocate or other professional who tries to tell the woman what the problem is. This “helping” professional may tell the woman how she needs to “fix” herself or “fix” the problem in her relationship. Do you see how the ‘helper’ is using the same approach as her partner – taking control of the situation and assuming he or she knows better than the woman? Women know their experiences best and service providers must listen carefully to women’s stories if they are to be helpful. We want to remember that each woman is the expert on her life, her partner and her children.


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