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Women survivors’ accounts of seeing psychologists: harm or benefit?

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Many women who experience intimate partner violence are left with significant and long-lasting mental health effects resulting in survivors seeking help from psychologists. However, the voices of women who have sought such help are mostly absent in research. To address this gap, we interviewed 20 women survivors of intimate partner violence about their experiences when seeing psychologists. We analysed this data thematically and developed two main themes relating to women’s experiences of psychologists after intimate partner violence. These themes were: mirroring abuse or being supportive and it did me quite a bit of damage. Our research suggests that these women experienced suboptimal mental healthcare after intimate partner violence and that the effects of this were not neutral but were damaging. Positive experiences suggested that these women appreciated practices aligned with feminist and trauma and violence-informed approaches. This study fills in some details about women’s experiences, which can be used to further inform trauma and violence-informed approaches.
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Keywords: counselling; domestic violence; family violence; mental health; therapeutic interventions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The University of Melbourne, Australia 2: The University of Melbourne, Australia and The Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: February 2021

This article was made available online on December 11, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Women survivors’ accounts of seeing psychologists: harm or benefit?".

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Gender-Based Violence (JGBV), is the first international journal based in Europe to show case the work of scholars across disciplinary and topic boundaries, and from a range of methodologies.

    The journal acknowledges both the breadth of gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to gendered inequalities. It aims to continue to document the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of GBV, to publish work regarding those who perpetrate GBV and of the varied and complex social structures, inequalities and gender norms through which GBV is produced and sustained. The journal recognises the intersection of gender with other identities and power relations, such as ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, faith, disability and economic status.

    JGBV will publish high quality papers that contribute to understanding of GBV, policy, and/or activism, on sexual violence, domestic abuse, ‘honour’-based violence, prostitution, trafficking and/or reproductive violence and abuse in a wide range of intimate, familial, community and societal contexts.

    The editors invite interest from scholars working across the social sciences and related fields including social policy, sociology, politics, criminology, law, social psychology, development and economics, as well as disciplines allied to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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