How a Counsellor Can Help an Assaulted Woman

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  1. Find a safe time and place to discuss the situation.
  2. Build trust by listening and supporting her in a non-judgemental manner.
  3. Provide resources for practical assistance: child care, transportation, financial assistance.
  4. Acknowledge the potential danger of her situation. She needs to know you are aware of the complexity of her situation in order to trust you.
  5. Respect her autonomy. You are not responsible for the abuse or for her decision to stay or leave, or whether she decides to trust you or not.
  6. Validate her experiences, feelings and fears.
  7. Be aware of the possibility of experiencing secondary trauma. Have  your own support network to help you cope with the therapeutic process and any trauma transference or vicarious trauma you may be experiencing.
  8. Discuss options and plans for safety, exploring the use of community resources.
  9. Respect her process, timetable and decisions. This will begin to give her the sense of control, empowerment, and effectiveness in making her life work that has been lost in the abusive situation.
  10. Be good to both of you. Support and admire the courage, strength, and wisdom it took for her to initiate action by asking for help. Acknowledge small successes along the way, one step at a time. Keep things in positive perspective, and draw on your sources of inspiration. Know she may recover as others have recovered in the transition from victim to survivor.