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Mon Apr 3, 2017, 06:49 AM

 

"Big Little Lies" and domestic violence counseling

In case you watched the HBO miniseries "Big Little Lies", my FaceBook friend who is an expert on domestic violence, was not happy with the counselor they showed in the show. These were her specific issues with the way she treated the wife (Nicole Kidman character):

"1. Do not pathologize her, 2. Do not do couples counseling with couples like them, 3. Refer her to a DV program so they can do some safety planning and a lethality assessment, 4. Never lay guilt on her about the kids, 5. Pay close attention when she starts to blame herself or say that she's "just as violent", 6. Give her the opportunity to see the power and control dynamics at work in her relationship, 7. LISTEN TO HER/DO NOT DIRECT HER, 8. Treat the abuse like the genuine threat it is. Those of us who do this work saw this train leave the station in Episode 1. If this is an example of how therapists talk with (not to) abused women (money or not), they need a primer on the complexities of domestic violence and how the empowerment/trauma-informed approach is the only way to create space for her to determine the best, safest way forward. Leaving an abuser in not an event, it's a process."

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply "Big Little Lies" and domestic violence counseling (Original post)
Fast Walker 52 Apr 2017 OP
shenmue Apr 2017 #1
stillsoleft Apr 2017 #2
tblue37 Apr 2017 #3
Orrex Apr 2017 #4
Fast Walker 52 Apr 2017 #8
Orrex Apr 2017 #11
Fast Walker 52 Apr 2017 #12
bettyellen Apr 2017 #16
Orrex Apr 2017 #17
bettyellen Apr 2017 #18
Blazesweetie Apr 2017 #5
Fast Walker 52 Apr 2017 #6
Fast Walker 52 Apr 2017 #7
B2G Apr 2017 #9
Fast Walker 52 Apr 2017 #13
mzteaze Apr 2017 #10
Fast Walker 52 Apr 2017 #14
mzteaze Apr 2017 #15

Response to Fast Walker 52 (Original post)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 07:31 AM

1. Very important

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Original post)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 07:41 AM

2. The book was very different

I haven't caught the series finale but in the book they don't see a couples counselor, she specifically sees an abuse counselor. Also the violence is not as sexualized

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Original post)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 07:56 AM

3. K&R for visibility! nt

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Original post)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 09:02 AM

4. k/r, with a question

What does #1 ("Do not pathologize her) mean?

I take domestic violence very seriously, and I don't want to fuck something up through my own ignorance.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 10:27 AM

8. I think it means don't explain the wife's behavior as a pathology

 

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 10:55 AM

11. I'm sorry--I promise I'm not being snarky here

What behavior, exactly? Being the victim of abuse?

Or do you mean that we shouldn't characterize the woman's story as "all in her head" or similarly dismissive bullshit? The way women's health concerns are often dismissed?

I honestly want to get this right, and I want to be sure that I have a handle on how "pathologize" is intended in this context.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #11)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 12:59 PM

12. honestly, I'm not exactly sure. I'm just copying her words.

 

In the show, the female character does hit back a little bit and so makes excuses for his behavior.

I guess in part the counselor didn't handle that issue properly.

"Or do you mean that we shouldn't characterize the woman's story as "all in her head" or similarly dismissive bullshit? The way women's health concerns are often dismissed? "

Certainly we shouldn't do that, but this wasn't really the situation in the show.

Btw, this friend is a nationally recognized advocate for survivors of domestic violence, so I think we may be hearing more about this in the future.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #11)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 01:19 PM

16. Don't focus on how she "is enabling" the abuse or causing it to escalate....

 

In the show the therapist told her she "is sick too". I'm guessing that's the wrong thing to focus on.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #16)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 01:21 PM

17. Ah, thank you!

Haven't seen the show, but I'm sure that this kind of blame-sharing goes on all the time in real life.

Not to mention "she must have done something to set him off..."

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Response to Orrex (Reply #17)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 01:49 PM

18. No worries. The actresses were all terrific, it's worth seeing.

 

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Original post)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 09:22 AM

5. I don't disagree about the therapist but -

I think they portrayed how DV relationships play out fairly well. I read the book but I don't remember it. Based on how it was depicted in the HBO series I thought it was pretty accurate. When it first started out, it was more just shoving and grabbing and more pseudo-erotic. Also, he cycled more between his stages of asking forgiveness and becoming controlling and physically aggressive. I thought it was interesting when she told the therapist that she saw this cycle as her having the power immediately after there was an episode until he took it back. It can sort of work that way although I'm not sure I would use the word "power." In any event, the cycles got shorter and the violent episodes escalated and became more dangerous. I think if he had not died she would have been in a life threatening situation, notwithstanding that she was attempting to leave; in fact, probably because she was attempting to leave.

I also thought it was kind of sad that Celeste didn't really allow herself to admit how dangerous things had become until she found out that her son was modeling her husband's behavior. Her character made me very sad.

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Response to Blazesweetie (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 10:26 AM

6. Yes, indeed. My wife found it extremely upsetting, despite the "happy" ending.

 

I didn't realize it was a book.... thanks

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Response to Blazesweetie (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 10:27 AM

7. also, welcome to DU!!!

 

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Original post)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 10:29 AM

9. Best series I've seen in quite some time

 

Comments notwithstanding. They all deserve awards...just as good as the book.

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Response to B2G (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 12:59 PM

13. oh yes-- terrific series overall! Very captivating. Great acting.

 

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Original post)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 10:34 AM

10. Uh

I read the book's summary before watching the finale & found I was disappointed with how it ended with explicitly explaining how it ended for each character.

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Response to mzteaze (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 01:00 PM

14. how similar was the book to the show?

 

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Reply #14)

Mon Apr 3, 2017, 01:18 PM

15. Close

They were pretty close although a few things were glossed over. I just wish they had done a better job of explaining the ending.

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