Learned Helplessness Vs Survivor Theory.pdf by handongqp


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               Adapted from Battered Women as Survivors by Edward W. Gondolf

       Learned Helplessness Theory                              Survivor Hypothesis Theory
Severe abuse fosters as sense of                     Severe abuse prompts innovative coping
helplessness in the victim. Abuse as a child         strategies from victims of domestic violence
and the neglect of help sources intensifies this     and efforts to seek help. Previous abuse and
helplessness. The victim of domestic violence        neglect by help sources lead victims to try
is consequently severely victimized.                 other help sources and strategies to lessen the
                                                     abuse. The victim of domestic violence, in this
                                                     light, is a survivor.

The victim experiences low self-esteem, self-        The survivor may experience anxiety or
blame, guilt and depression. The only way to         uncertainty over the prospects of leaving the
feel some sense of control over what is              batterer. The lack of options, know-how and
otherwise an unpredictable environment is to         finances raise fears about trying to escape the
think the "If I change my ways, things will get      batterer. The survivor may therefore attempt
better.” But the abuse continues.                    to change the batterer instead of attempting to

The victim eventually becomes psychologically        The survivor actively seeks help from a variety
paralyzed. They fail to seek help and may            of informal and formal help sources. There is
even appear passive before beatings. When            most often inadequate or peicemeal helpgiving
the victim does contact a help source, they are      that leaves the woman little alternative but to
very tentative about receiving help and are          return to the batterer. The helpseeking
likely to return to the batterer despite advice or   continues, however.
opportunity to leave.

The vulnerability and indecisiveness prolongs        The failure of help sources to intervene in a
the violence and may contribute to its               comprehensive and decisive fashion allows
intensification. Some observers argue that           abuse to continues and escalate. The
this tendency may reflect an underlying              inadequacy of help sources may be attributed
masochism in the victim of domestic violence.        to a kind of learned helplessness experienced
The victim may feel that they deserve to be          in many community services. Service
beaten and accepts it as a fulfillment of their      providers feel too overwhelmed and limited in
expectations.                                        their resources to be effective and therefore do
                                                     not try as hard as they might to assist the

Victims of domestic violence as victims need         Survivors of abuse need, most of all, access to
primarily psychological counseling to treat their    resources that would enable them to escape
low self-esteem, depression and masochism.           the batterer. Community services need to be
Cognitive therapy that addresses attributions        coordinated to assure the needed allocation of
of blame for the abuse may also be particularly      resources and integrated to assure long-term
effective in motivating the victim.                  comprehensive intervention.

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