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Victims of Abuse: Recovery and Healing

Uploaded 3/30/2011, approx. 2 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

My name is Sam Vaknin, I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, The offender can force their disclosure in court of law, simply by filing a civil lawsuit against a survivor.


The first task is to legitimize and validate the victim's fears. This is done by making clear to her that she is not responsible for her abuse and not guilty for what has happened.

Victimization is the abuser's fault, it is not a victim choice.

Victims do not seek abuse, although admittedly some of them keep finding abusive partners and forming relationships of co-dependence.

Facing, reconstructing and reframing the traumatic experiences is a crucial and indispensable first phase on the way to healing and recovery.

The therapist should present the victim with her own ambivalence and the ambiguity of her messages, but this ought to be done gently, non-judgmentally, without condemnation.

The more willing and able the abused survivor is to confirm the reality of her mistreatment and the offender, the stronger she would feel and the less guilty.

Typically, the patient's helplessness decreases together with her self-denial, her self-esteem, as well as her sense of self-worth, stabilized.

The therapist should emphasize the survivor's strengths and demonstrate how these and other assets can save her from a recurrence of the abuse or help her cope with it and with her abuser.

Education is an important tool in this process of recovery.

The patient should be made aware of the prevalence and nature of violence against women and of stalking, of the emotional and physical effects of abuse, warning signs and red flags, legal redress, coping strategies and safety precautions.

The therapist or social worker should provide the victim with lists of contacts, help organizations, law enforcement agencies, other women in her condition, support groups, domestic violence shelters and online forums.

Knowledge empowers and reduces the victim's sense of isolation and worthlessness. Helping the survivor regain control of her life is the overriding goal of the entire therapeutic process.

The victim in mind should be encouraged to re-establish contact with family, friends, colleagues and the community at large.

The importance of a tightly knit social support network cannot be exaggerated. It is important for the victim to understand that she is not alone, not an exception, not a freak.

Finally, after a period of combined tutoring, talk therapy and anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications, the survivor will self-mobilize and emerge from the experience more resilient and assertive and less gullible and self-deprecating.

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