funnily enough after my post last night that touched on this, i met someone else today who was considering warning her ex's new dates about his abusive behaviour. she suggested this, then said "but i guess i've got to look after myself first" and kind of waited for my response (it's odd, working with people who have been controlled and who have come to you expecting help, you have so much power to influence them in the early stages before they rebuild their sense of self, and i am so often asked 'what should i do?' and have to find ways to try to minimise the power and turn the question back round..). i was in work-mode, despite my posting last night, and said something about her being responsible for herself first, once again offering individualism as my 'expert' solution to her situation.
goddamn! now i think the best response when a client wants to warn and help other women, would be to encourage her to focus on her own healing and rebuilding as a first step and allow herself to come back to the besmirching of his name (ha) later. i read this article recently about pathologising survivors of DV as "in the experience" and have been questioning how much i do this, and need to write a lot more about this but unfortunately i had to give the book back to the library too soon.
am i being condescending to survivors i work with by suggesting they are "too in the experience" within days of ending the relationship to be supportive to other women? perhaps. i don't know. i really tend to think there needs to be a couple of months at least of real serious focus on one's own healing before it's a good idea to try and heal your community. i have met women who are driven by fury to help other women who themselves can't get a night's sleep for terror as they've never healed.
having written about the extreme of individualism last night i guess i'm writing here about the other extreme of giving to your group over and above giving to yourself. i feel weird writing about all this as someone who hasn't experienced relationship abuse, but i really need to get my head round it as a supporter.