Considerations and Database for Considerations for Individual Counsellors / Therapists
- Understand that IPSV is one of the most common forms of sexual assault, and entails the highest levels of physical injury and repeated rape?
- Have relevant qualifications for working with sexual and domestic violence -related trauma?
- Can demonstrate real empathy with these issues?
- Are comfortable hearing about sexual assault and recognise that talking about it in a safe environment can be healing for a client?
- Do not believe that women often lie about sexual assault?
- Have adequate experience working with sexual assault, domestic violence and pursuant trauma/issues?
- Respect that the survivor's relationship may have been mutidimensional and understand that she may want to talk about the good parts of her partner, but can still affirm to her sexual assault is never okay?
- Understand that IPSV is as serious and traumatic as other forms of sexual assault?
- Do not minimize IPSV as, for example, a "misunderstanding"or the product of too much alcohol?
- Understand that survivors themselves often minimise, deny, rationalise or excuse IPSV, and that while you want to resepct where your client is at, it is ultimately harmful to join her in these survival tricks?
- Understand that IPSV happens in relationships not always characterized by other forms of abuse?
- Respect an abused client's right to control her own life?
- Believe that helping is about treating an person's responses to trauma BUT you can do this without discounting the trauma itself?
- Understand that IPSV may carry some different psychological and physical issues to other types of domestic and sexual violence and is important in itself?
- Understand that sexual assault may be other than very violent i.e. sex using verbal coercion is also sexual assault?
- Ask sensitive but articulate questions about IPSV when confronted with domestic violence?
- Believe that sexual assault is the responsibility of the perpetrator?
- Avoid blaming language such as "Why do you stay?"
- Can respect a woman's timing in terms of leaving an abuser, encouraging her to put her safety first but without pushing her?
- Understand that even if a woman still loves the perpetrator or is remaining with him, this does not mean the sexual assault has not harmed her?
- Do not engage in maternal blame toward mothers in violent situations i.e. "have you thought about what this is doing to your kids?"; rather, you can appropriately express concern for the impact of abuse on children, understanding that she loves her children and shares that concern, and that it most often isn't as simple as just taking the kids and getting out? You also understand that her partner may rubbish her as a mother and you should at all costs avoid replicating that?
- Are conversant with possibly concurrent survivor issues such as PTSD or substance abuse?
- Recognise the importance of clearly naming IPSV as sexual assault, yet understands this can be distressing and has support strategies in place?
- Have knowledge of networks of other community organisations useful for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse?
- Treat what cilents tell you as completely confidential (excepting if a client is a danger to herself or others, or minors are being harmed)?
- Understand that joint marriage or couples counselling can further endanger abused women?
- Understand that IPSV is something perpetrators often do to control and hurt their partners, rather than viewing it as a "relationship problem?"
- Do not accept at face-value or allow yourself to be manipulated by abusers who come into counselling with their partners and behave like saints?
Thank you for reading these considerations. If you are sure that your service is IPSV Survivor-Friendly, please click here to go to the Individual Counsellors database and enter your information.