Battery: Robert’s Seven-Stage Crisis Intervention Model

In an article written by Albert R. Roberts, a five-level classificatory typology specifying the duration and brutality of woman battering was studied by interviewing 501 battered women. Through the interviews, it was found that the length and severity of abuse ranged from short-term to chronic to homicidal levels. A number of differences were identified between short-term and long-term batterers. One of the major differences noted was that most of the chronic batterers and their victims consisted of mostly individuals with a low level of education as 40% of them were high school dropouts and the other 40% were high school graduates that did not pursue any tertiary education. Also, 39% of these individuals had low annual incomes or were receiving public assistance or unemployment compensation that was regarded as being at poverty level. Whereas, short-term batterers and their victims were either of the middle-class or upper middle –class that had either completed college courses or even graduated from college and had a decent annual income. The severity of abuse impacts the battered women negatively and often leads to high rates of medical issues as well as mental health problems that are of great risk (Roberts, 2006, 522).

The current study focused on the nature and extend of the battering relationships suffered by the abused women. “[C]hecking onset, duration, self-reported worst incident, and injuries” were the key interview points of this study; however, critical incidents and turning points such as lethal outcomes or times where the battered women tried to leave was also paid close attention to. The interviewers of this study were either seniors in college or graduate students that received 30 hours of training on interviewing skills and qualitative research specifically on woman battering. The study was split into four sub-samples that consisted of women that had murdered their batterers and were placed at large state women’s prison in the northeast region of the United States, suburban New Jersey police departments, battered women shelters in New Jersey and lastly, a sub-sample of 186 women that were formerly abused which were compiled by 30 college graduates in social work and 15 criminal justice honor students that they had known of personally. Results of the study showed that there was a significant correlation between low levels of education, chronic patters of battering, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), besides overt death threats and victims of abuse that had killed in self-defence (Roberts, 2006, p.522).

As previously mentioned, the extent and degree of the battering was split on a “five level classification schema” (Roberts, 2006, p.522). The first level was classified as short-term victims that had reported experiencing one to three abusive incidents by their partner; however, these women were said to have “resilience, protective factors such as high self-esteem and a zero tolerance for abuse” that ended the relationship soon after. It is important to note that a majority of these women did not live with the abuser (Roberts, 2006, p.523). The second level was categorised as being intermediate that reported three to fifteen incidents over a period of several months to two years. The women of this category were of the middle class range and was cohabiting with the abuser or were married to them but had no children. These women ended the relationship with the help of a third party and sustained severe injuries. (Roberts, 2006, p.524). The third level is known as the intermittent or long-term whereby the each incident were usually intense and severe apart from the abuse lasting five years to forty years. These women were either economically or socially dependent on their husbands and found themselves being trapped in their marriage as they valued the husband’s wealth, were caring for young children and wanted to keep the family together, or were religious and did not want to divorce for that reason. The abuse may have not happened very often but when it did it was most likely due to pressure that was being faced by the husband and was vented out by beating his wife. They were usually of middle or upper class and rarely went to hospitals to seek treatment as they were unwilling to tarnish their image or of their husbands due to their high profiles (Roberts, 2006, p.524). The fourth level is classified as chronic and severe with a regular pattern that usually occurs for a duration of five years to thirty five years with the intensity of the violence increasing as time went by; however, they were consistent, occurring once a week. A majority of these women’s batterers had drinking problems although most of them battered their partners while they were sober. The violence became more life-threatening and predictable the more they happened and these women often suffered extensive injuries that needed medical treatment (Roberts, 2006, p.524). The next level, known as level 4.5 is regarded as the “subset of chronic with a discernible pattern” otherwise also known as “mutual combat” (Roberts, 2006, p.524). The types of violence that occur in this particular level are normally extreme and last from 1 year to 25 years. In this study, two types of mutual combat were acknowledged. In the first type, the man is the one that initiates the fight by slapping or punching the women which leads to her retaliating by doing the same back and him then retaliating even more aggressively. In the second type, the women are the first to retaliate physically due to the emotional or physical abuse by her partner. These women usually have a history of substance abuse and violent aggressive acts in their teenage years. Commonly, either one or both parties suffer from severe injuries. They usually are from lower class and tend to separate after several years (Roberts, 2006, p.524). The last level is known as homicidal and generally lasts for 8 years or longer; however, the range is from two years to 35 years. These women usually cohabitate, are married or recently divorced. Most of them lack high school education and do not have the skills to earn a living on their own. Some of them had been on public assistance for years even while suffering the abuse by their partners. A majority of the women in this category suffer abuse that began from level 2 and over the years increased to level 4 or level 5 for years before the abuse became more harmful that put them in great danger. These women usually suffer from mental health problems due to the severity of their abuse. Some that have killed their batterer were said to be delusional or were hallucinating as they were under the influence of drugs when the homicide occurred. They all mostly received death threats by the batterer that indicated the technique, time, and place of their demise (Roberts, 2006, p.525).

There are several types of crisis intervention models available. However, one that is eminent and commonly used is Robert’s Seven-Stage Crisis Intervention Model.

The first stage of this model requires the assessment of lethality and safety issues of the battered women. As it is a case of domestic violence, it is necessary to find out if the client is at risk of danger and to develop future safety concerns when it comes to treatment planning and referral. Additionally, it is important to keep communication with the client during the initiation of emergency procedures, be it through the phone or in person. For an assessment to be conducted, several issues need to be evaluated, which includes “(1) the severity of the crisis, (2), the client’s current emotional state, (3) immediate psychological and safety needs, and (4) level of client’s current coping skills and resources” (Roberts, 2006, p.525). It is useful to obtain an assessment of the client’s pre-crisis level of function and coping skills; however, history of the client’s past is not the focus of assessment unless it has direct relation to the trauma. The main purpose of this stage is to recognize critical areas of intervention besides identifying the length and brutality of the violence and acknowledging what had occurred (Roberts, 2006, p.525).

Stage two involves establishing rapport and communication with the client as these individuals that have been battered and are experiencing acute crisis incidences and trauma may doubt their own security and susceptibility. Therefore, trust may be an issue for these clients at this stage. For this reason, active listening and empathic communication skills are necessary to get the client to engage and establish rapport. As most of these clients feel powerless due to the abuse they have suffered from, clients should be allowed to set the pace during intervention and not be forced into action until they are ready to. (Roberts, 2006, p.525).

The third stage involves helping the client identify and prioritize the major problems being faced in terms of how the client’s current status is affected by them. Getting the client to ventilate would help the client talk about the details of the abuse that occurred. By doing so, the client would consequently be able to figure out the sequence and context of the incident(s) that occurred which will help with “emotional ventilation” that would assist in assessing and identifying the key problems to be worked on (Roberts, 2006, p.525).

The fourth stage focuses on dealing with feelings and providing emotional support to the client as most tend to blame themselves for the abuse. Thus, it is important to get the message across that being a victim is not the fault of the individual. The survivors may experience confusion and conflicting feelings therefore catharsis and ventilation is encouraged as it helps with coping. It is essential to recognise and provide the client with support for their courage in handling the problems and feelings they’re facing (Roberts, 2006, p.525).

The fifth stage involves exploring possible alternatives such as situational supports from professionals in the field of crisis interventions that would assist the client in having their needs met and resolving the crisis faced. Secondly, coping skills would be helpful for the client as it would help the client establish a pre-crisis level of functioning. Lastly, positive and rational thinking patterns will help reduce the levels of concern, tension and crisis of the client (Roberts, 2006, p.526). Another possible alternative would include providing “an emergency shelter program, a host home or safe home, a protective order, traveller’s aid, or other emergency housing services (Roberts, 2006, p.526).

The second last stage stresses on formulating an action plan for the client; however, this stage depends on the client’s level of being involvement, participation and commitment towards making progress and achieving plans made. Both short-term and long-term plans should be explored and determined. Coming up with a plan that is workable and achievable would be best for the client instead of them being overwhelmed by a big goal that would involve having to jump a few obstacles before attaining. Besides that, it is important for the client to feel a sense of ownership in their action plan as their level of control and self-sufficiency need to be restored. Once the goals of the action plan are reached, termination would begin. Nevertheless, some clients may need longer-term therapeutic help and referrals, or another consideration would be group therapy at this point (Roberts, 2006, p.526).

The last stage comprises of follow-up measures which should be conducted two to six weeks after termination. This stage helps determine if the results of the client had been maintained or if additional works need to be done (Roberts, 2006, p.526). At this point, all four tasks of crisis intervention should have been reached, which consists of “1) physical safety and survival, (2) ventilation and expression of feelings, (3) cognitive mastery, and (4) interpersonal adjustments and adapting to a new environment” (Roberts, 2006, p.526). Clients should be well informed on the accessibility of booster treatment sessions if needed. (Roberts, 2006, p.526).

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