Reality Therapy, Domestic Violence Survivors, and Self-Forgiveness

Turnage, Barbara F.; Jacinto, George A.; Kirven, Joshua
May 2003
International Journal of Reality Therapy;Spring2003, Vol. 22 Issue 2, p24
Academic Journal
Domestic violence survivors often feel shame, and blame themselves for being battered years after the abusive relationship ends. The process of self-forgiveness can be used to assist survivors in abandoning their self-critical view, and to begin to unconditionally accept themselves as people worthy of love and respect. This article demonstrates how practitioners can use reality therapy to assist survivors through the self-forgiveness process to shift their definition of themselves. Although the study of forgiveness as a component of counseling has increased significantly in the past two decades (Durham, 2000; Enright, 2001; Enright & North, 1998; Hebl & Enright, 1993; Kurtz & Ketcham, 1992), there is limited literature that describes the process of self-forgiveness as a therapeutic approach when working with clients who have experienced situations that caused them harm (Enright, 2001; Freedman & Enright, 1996; Macaskill, Maltby, & Day, 2002; Worthington, Mazzeo, & Kliewer, 2002). Women who have experienced domestic violence are one group that could benefit from a therapeutic program that includes self-forgiveness (Bui, 2003; Farr, 2002; Ta'Shia, 2002; Weisz, 2002). Enright (1996) described self-forgiveness as "fostering compassion, generosity, and love toward oneself" (p. 116). Self-forgiveness, as a process, repairs domestic violence survivors' feelings about the self and prepares them for new healthy relationships. Helping domestic violence survivors' work toward self-forgiveness is important because, "individuals tend to make harsher judgments of themselves than of others" (Macaskill, Maltby, & Day, 2002, para. 6). These harsher judgments of the self (unforgiveness) may lead to negative emotional and physical consequences (Worthington, Mazzeo, & Kiewer, 2002). This certainly is the case with many domestic violence survivors (Bui, 2003; Farr, 2002; Weisz, 2002). Self-forgiveness interventions can be used to help survivors of...


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