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The widespread of hidden challenges living with violence has occurred in the case study. The Australia National Committee on Violence Against Women 1992, coin the term “domestic violence as a means to control women which can result in physical, sexual and or psychological harm, enforced social isolation, economic deprivation and or intimidation, and ultimately causes women to live in fear” ( Seeley & Plunkett, 2002, p.12). It is essential that I as a counsellor not only recognise domestic violence (DV). I need to understand DV in the context of everyday living, if I am to work with clients or this client. DV is considered to be one of the most common forms of assault, as crime data reveals that assault against the person is a significant offence category, and can happen to anyone however, the problem is often unnoticed, excused, or denied (Holmes et al., 2007). Meanwhile, DV traditionally has been viewed as a private matter and thus not defined as a criminal offence, it’s incidence has been difficult to quantify, as the occurrence is geographical in all areas of Australia plus all socioeconomically and cultural groups (Seeley & Plunkett, 2002). Subsequently the paper has four themes.
Social, legal and ethical issues raised.
Personally and professionally challenges.
An expressed plan for working with this client, in light of the challenges and best practice.
A discussion of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation Association (PACFA) code of ethics and related legislations including the usefulness of both in relation to the issues in the case study.
Social, Legal and Ethical Issues Raised
Domestic violence is a matter of considerable concern; it is difficult to predict the escalation of violence in this situation. Yet, the enduring negative effects of social, legal, and ethical issues of DV in this case study, is a serious problem that is affecting not only the mother, but her children. It would be comforting for her to think that her children are not affected by DV; perhaps she considers the children may be too young to perceive, or understand what is happening. This client is unable to respond appropriately to the children’s needs, because of the impact it is having on herself (Seeley & Plunkett, 2002). The statement made by the children, express that they are aware of the violence, and are not fooled by their mothers attempt to conceal it. However, the mother present unawareness in her situation, therefore, her marriage conflicts and fights will have a significant effect on how secure her children feel, in turn significantly affecting their future, and emotional adjustments where they may emulate the violence behaviour, and perceive it as been normal (Seeley & Plunkett, 2002).
Social issues. The social issue of violence in the family home, is one damaging position in family life that knows no boundaries, it addresses all socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, gender and age boundaries. Social learning theory is widely applied to understanding the impact of DV on children it holds that we learn to be aggressive by observing aggression in others, and individuals raised in a society with violent role models will learn aggressive responses (Bandura, 1973). Thus, this client’s modelling, along with her husband plays a distinctive role around their children future behaviour as been learned and reinforced in their childhood directly or indirectly and then carried onto their adulthood as a socialized means of coping with conflict resolution (Bandura, 1973).
The children’s social problems of feeling isolated, lacking confidence in their own abilities, developing an understanding of not actuality being able to fit in, have trouble trusting because of the violation of the primary keeping with their parents (Davies, Lyon, & Monti-Catania, 1998). Following this, the client as a battered women may include social and financial risk that are essential to her in making a decision to leave; perhaps her thoughts are how she will arrange for herself and her children, where will she find housing, money to feed her family (Davies et al., 1998). Society has the tendency to make judgement on female victims, and survivors of DV, regardless of them feeling utter shame about DV, where they are blaming themselves, understanding of society is that women choose to stay and for that reason it is her fault because she could leave if she wanted Geller, 1992 (as cited in Seeley & Plunkett, 2002).
Social isolation is another factor, which becomes a powerful factor in abuse, and neglect. Victims pull away physically and emotionally from other family member, friends, and communities in whom they live in order to hide the shame of their interactions, and silence themselves to survive (Kurst – Swanger & Petcosky 2003). This contribution may be a result of the abuser’s assertion of power and control, by restricting their victim’s movements and social contacts or by monitoring them carefully. Gelles, 1997 (as cited in Kurst- Swanger & Petcosky, 2003) found the difficulty lies in the fact that “where privacy is high, the degree of social control will be low” (p.10).
Legal issues. A legal response must be justified when victims are subjected to DV, I have a duty to protect, and warn, and willing to breach client- counsellor confidentiality with the inform consent of this client, especially when the safety of others are at risk. Educating this client with the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) (FVPA) will allow her to understand FVPA has aims, and objectives to include ” that non-violence is a fundamental social value, family violence is a fundamental violation of human rights, and that the justice system treat the views of victims of family violence with respect. “(Peirce, 2009, para.7). Thru acknowledging this kind of family violence, and the impact on children through the process beyond physical, sexual violence to emotional, psychological, economic abuse, it may extend beyond the overt of exploitation of power imbalances (Peirce, 2009).
FVPA state’s one must ” maximise safety for children and adults who have experienced family violence, prevent and reduce family violence to the greatest extent possible; and promote the accountability of perpetrators of family violence for their actions” (Violence Protection Act 2008 Vic, s.1).The client will then realise that the aim of the family act objective is to “provide an effective and accessible system of family violence intervention orders and family violence safety notices; and creating offences for contraventions of family violence intervention orders and family violence safety notices” (Violence Protection Act 2008 Vic, s.2).
The client does not seem to think that there is any potential danger, regardless of the black eye present Walker, 1987 (as cited in Seeley & Plunkett, 2002) suggest that unless safety is addressed then victims are at risk, and for this reason it would benefit the client to know that I am concerned, this client must also understand that Children and Young Person’s Act 1998 Vic, states “that a child is at risk if the child has been exposed to domestic violence and if the parent has behaved in such a way that the suffered (children) or is at risk of suffering(s.23). The children are aware, so reinforcing this knowledge will help her to stop concealing DV as an accident.
Furthermore the law of Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006(Vic) sets out our freedoms, rights and responsibilities, it has the potential to protect clients in DV situation from injustice which will benefit this client, she has the opportunity to participate in and contribute to society(Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 Vic). In doing so there is accountability for the abuser, protection for her, and the children according to their best interest without discrimination, safety needs must take precedence, as families are entitled to protection. This includes counsellors constraining their ethical duties by safeguarding the victims and reporting concerns.
Ethical issues. Counsellors have an ethical responsibility to their clients DV situations, because of the ethical dilemmas it presents and the risk in engaging in unethical practice. I must provide a session, and treatment that is ethically sound which takes into an account of acknowledging complete autonomy for the client best interest, and autonomy for her children, counsellors would benefit from the copious knowledge of, and competence that state laws, and ethical standards present in their relevant organization, and association, for me it would be (PACFA).
The ethical dilemma in this situation is one of protecting the client and children, thus having to make a decision to where I might have to break confidentiality. Another ethical concern is that I as the counsellor may not have enough experience to handle the complexity of this situation, regardless of my invaluable experience of the impact DV has had on me. Since supervision is an ongoing requirement for counsellors, I would act on supervision immediately to have my performance monitor in order to provide accountability for practice. Ethically if this was to be my first time in treating a DV victim, I would have difficulty in showing her a non- judgemental posture, as her experience may remind me of my own experience, which could possibly interfere.
An Analysis of the Challenges Personally and Professionally
Personally I would empathise with this client, showing understanding because I know exactly what the challenges of living with violence feels likes. I as a child grew up witnessing the physical and emotional abuse my parents laid on each other. Thus, those effects had a huge impact on my life which took place when I arrived in Australia, not knowing until now why my actions of been disobedient, and uncertain were virtually negative, to the point where I always felt the need to be rescued by power and authority. For that reason, choosing a man who is an expert at empowering total control of emotional and sexual abuse, allowing me to feel so sad, and not knowing what to do, because in the words of my mother’s I have made my bed, now I must (lie) in it, as oppose laying in the problem literally lying, the matter is private. I will personally feel the challenge of not being able to get upset and perhaps angry, the challenge of understanding her struggle, fear, doubt and not knowing which way to go, especially if she is still in love with her husband and most of all reliving the experience while she is expressing her shattering experience of living with violence.
Professionally I may encounter the challenge of getting my client to admit that she is a Battered woman, due to the fact that she seems to be in denial when she states that her “black eye” is just an accident. Thus fabricating and distorting her reality perhaps to cope, and protect her children from the overpowering reaction to the abuse that she is receiving. Another challenge is her belief about her children not being in any danger, as they are in bed when the fighting occurs. Nonetheless the most significant challenge is the disclosure from one of her children “like when you fight and throw things” well that tells me they are being exposed to DV in their own home.
A Plan for Working with This Client in Light Of the Challenges and Best Practice
In light of the challenges, the plan for this client is to provide a complete therapy which seeks wholly to resolve her fundamental challenges of living with violence, for which she is, seeking, help (McLeod, 2009). This must be done by providing a safe and supportive therapeutic relationship, so that she is able to restore her safety, reconnect too herself, reclaims her control and develops self-efficiency. Including metallise her feelings, and allow herself to experiment with new possibilities for understanding those feelings, thoughts and possible actions that she is struggling with. An approach would seek to find out all the details of her descriptions to DV experience, in the hopes of helping her reach a limit to her identity, experiences, and her known capacities of who she is and what she can do about the situation. Bringing forth awareness and consequently facilitating the potential for change out of the chaos.
The plan would benefit the client to be link to multiagency resources that are available in the community and would require myself as the counsellor to form links with both statutory and voluntary agencies, so that the client is provided with a supportive network for victims of DV (Saunders, 2008). Herman, 2001 (cited in Saunders, 2008) states “the cardinal principal when working with survivors of DA is safety, because no therapeutic work can proceed until internal and external safety is established” (p.85). Thus a meticulous risk assessment must be carried out in order to establish whether the client and her children are in any danger, regardless of the fact she states they are not, hence allowing for any potential danger (Saunders, 2008).
My desire for best practice is to improve my counselling skills, help myself before I can help others, and continue to recognise the importance of being empathetic and sincere in my behaviour. I intend to treat all clients with compassion and respect. If I am to work with DV victims, my goal is to help them with their personal, social, interpersonal, legal and practical issues that confront their reality.
A Discussion of (PACFA) Code of Ethics, The Relevant Legislations and The Usefulness of The Code in Relation To The issue’s In the Case Study.
PACFA has established a self-regulation and self- governing role for the profession as a whole, the code of ethics is a set of guidelines a framework to support and inform us, ultimately it remains the responsibility of the individual. It allows for belief that one has the right combination of attributes, and skills to help, recognise, and respond to any problem as promised (Schofield, Grant, Holmes, & Barletta 2006). The PACFA code does not have a DV code of ethics; however the usefulness of the code represents the official statement of the profession about what is expected of counsellors, as we are held accountable for our actions that breach the code (Bond, 1993). In analysing the case study, I found the framework of taking a systemic approach of the code to be useful, for it has a contribution to support the ethical dilemmas I faced; this was attended to by acknowledging the ethical principles, and ethical decision making to avoid ambiguity. I found that the ethical principles provided me enough information to explain what I had to do to develop an appropriate attempt to address the moral dilemma of DV, by the usefulness of understanding and respecting complete autonomy for the client, which includes expressing the concerns I have on the autonomy of her children. The usefulness of non-maleficence becomes the responsibilities of me to cause no harm to my client, by providing the appropriate, and explained intervention strategies that will avoid the adverse effects of DV (Bond, 1993). Thus, considering my responsibilities by applying beneficence, and justice, as the code expects us to act in a manner that is not discriminating, this client is entitled to a fair treatment, and if I am unable to help I must provide an option made available (PACFA, 2010). The complexity of the issues raised in the case study is a matter of concern, as the client is in denial towards the potential danger she and her children may be at risk. This was acknowledge by her minimizing the impact of her partners actions by which she falsified, and distorted the reality of the abuse indicating it is an “Accident”, perhaps because she is afraid of the abuser and the steps to recovery. Consequently the usefulness of fidelity establishes the client- counsellor relationship which is based on duty to help her feel empowered.
I found the information on legislations pertaining to this case study useful to help solve DV from a legal perspective, the government interventions and laws, statutes regulatory policy and governmental mandates. I have found that they serve to establish rules of conducts for individuals and organizations, regardless of the fact that counsellors are unable to mandate DV first hand for battered victims. The usefulness of the “orders of protection” in victoria is implemented to make civil-legal remedies for the victims and their spouses, as the term and conditions are personalized to suit the victims environment and includes a presumption in favour of a request to remove the perpetrator from the home (FVPA s 82). Abused women, for that reason, need counsellors, psychologist, social workers, nurses, physicians, and lawyers who can assist them to manage resources and who can explain the difficulties they will come across as they try to free themselves from violent relationships (Roberts, 2002).
In conclusion, I have understood that DV is an issue that is clearly seen as a destructive element to the victims and their families that are subjected to abuse. Thus, listening to those who ask for help, is understood by encompassing key professional values related to DV and resolving ethical dilemmas by providing safety, protection, being nonjudgmental, self-determined, confidential and most of all maintaining the client’s agenda.
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