different ways to help an abusive person change

GROW is another worthwhile organisation where you can find support. It is a voluntary movement and does not have waiting lists. It, too, has branches all over Ireland, and, like AWARE, its main activity is the establishment of group meetings where any mental issues can be explored, and where the interaction of group members is geared towards supporting each member.
The HSE has excellent services to cater for mental health issues. Each HSE area in the country has anger management, anxiety reduction and stress reduction programmes. Your first port of call is your GP, who will assess possible treatment. The GP may refer you to the outpatient clinic that is headed by the local psychiatrist, who heads a multidisciplinary team under the aegis of the HSE. The multidisciplinary teams of these community mental health centres consist of psychiatric nurses, psychologists, social workers, cognitive behavioural therapists and occupational therapists. Some of these may engage other family members if necessary. You may also be referred to a day hospital, which means that you can live at home and be treated. The consultant psychiatrist who sees you at the outpatients’ clinic will also be responsible for you in the day hospital. There is also the option of attending a day centre, which is staffed by psychiatric nurses, and sometimes occupational therapists.
If you are feeling suicidal, the Samaritans provide a 24-hour listening service. Your GP will also assist you, and may refer you to the appropriate agency that deals with suicide. The National Office for Suicide Prevention provides a very good information service that will direct you to the appropriate place for help.
I believe that counselling is also an effective way, and possibly the most effective way, to confront abusive behaviour and tendencies. I am convinced that an emotional re-experiencing of the pain of abandonment can largely erase the abusive pathway that was laid down by an insecure attachment. Counselling, therefore, is a place where you can deal both with the mental health issues that plague abusive people, as well as directly confronting your abusive behaviours. But, I am convinced that unless you really want to change your abusive behaviours counselling will not work to any significant degree, no more than programmes to deal with abuse. The programmes mentioned above have the advantage of involving other family members, while counselling is largely a solitary affair. However, when the perpetrator has explored the abusive behaviour sufficiently well, other members can become involved in family therapy. I do not believe that couple counselling is effective. Research shows that the abuser becomes defensive when the question of violence is brought up, and generally leaves counselling. He may also try to control the session and use it as an opportunity to further blame the victim. Worse still, the victim’s assertions may arouse his anger, and leave her open to even more severe abuse at home, where she is unprotected.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press


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