DV Conference Report #17: Troubled Relationships

Sacramento, CA–Background: The historic, one-of-a-kind conference “From Ideology to Inclusion: Evidence-Based Policy and Intervention in Domestic Violence” was held in Sacramento, California February 15-16 and was a major success. The conference was sponsored by the California Alliance for Families and Children and featured leading domestic violence authorities from around the world.

Many of these researchers are part of the National Family Violence Legislative Resource Center, which is challenging the domestic violence establishment’s stranglehold on the issue. The NFVLRC promotes gender-natural, research-based DV policies.

I have been and will continue to detail the conference and some of the research that was presented there in this blog–to learn more, click here.

One of the presenters at the conference was Claudia Ann Dias, MSC, JD, who provides education and training in the fields of substance abuse, family violence, cultural awareness, sexual harassment and communications skills to both public and private sectors. She has been featured on 20/20 and Oprah for her work with male and female family violence perpetrators.

Dias spoke about what she described as the triangle of some troubled relationships. There are three parts to the triangle — the victim, the rescuer, and the persecutor.

Dias (pictured, photo by Kevin Graft)explained that everything people do, they do for a benefit. When a person in a relationship is a “victim,” she says, the person gets benefits from it. Among the benefits for the victim include attention, sympathy, freedom from accountability, lowered expectations, being cared for, and, Dias emphasized, great, great stories.

For the rescuer, Dias listed benefits such as self-esteem, purpose, recognition, and distraction from one’s own problems. She says that the rescuer “collects chips”– for everything they do, they put a chip in their pocket, so one day they can say, “For all I’ve done for you, you can do this for me.”

When the rescuer no longer wants to be the rescuer, or slips up, he becomes the persecutor. The persecutor is the rescuer who has failed the victim. The failed rescuer-turned-persecutor is the worst person in the world, and is treated accordingly. The failed rescuer begs to come back, to be given his job back, and the victim generously allows it. As a therapist, she says, things begin to change as soon as you hold the victim accountable for his or her behavior.

I thought what she said had a lot of truth to it. One light moment in the conference occurred when Dias had written a bunch of stuff on her white board, and had no more room and no way to erase it. I took a couple napkins out of my briefcase and went up and erased the white board. As I was doing it, someone in the audience said, “He is the rescuer,” and everybody laughed.

As soon as I finished erasing the board, I announced, “Now I’m going to cash in my chips,” and I walked over to Claudia and gave her a big hug. Everyone laughed. I suppose what I should have done was bend her back over my knee and give her a big, dramatic, movie-style kiss. The picture at the top was taken just before I made my move…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *