Trauma-Informed Approaches and Motivational Interviewing

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Key Domestic Violence Factors: Fear, Isolation and Control

By Robert Marshall Wells

When it comes to domestic violence, the statistics are sobering: About 20 people per minute in the U.S. are physically abused by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Nationwide, roughly one in four women – and one in nine men – experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, partner stalking with injury, and other types of assaults.

Meanwhile, the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that on average, nearly half of female homicide victims annually are killed as a result of intimate partner violence.

Fortunately, Pierce County has several organizations that rank among the state’s leaders in providing resources and refuge for domestic abuse survivors, two of which are the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center (CJFJC) and Our Sister’s House (OSH), both located in Tacoma.

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is celebrated each year in October, Abi McLane, Assistant Director of CJFJC and OSH Executive Director Kelli Robinson, recently sat down for a Community Care Conversation with Kim Bjorn, Elevate Health’s Clinical Director of Integration and Transformation.

Physical violence is often just the tip of the iceberg in abusive relationships, according to McLane and Robinson, who added that for many survivors, finding a “way out” is a process that can take time, patience and planning.

Every survivor’s journey looks different. But the one commonality is it takes time to do it. – Abi McLane, Assistant Director of CJFJC

While relationship violence is real, McLane noted that abuse can take many different forms and is rooted in fear, isolation and control.

“The vast majority of abuse is not physical in nature,” McLane said, explaining that mistreatment can also be emotional, financial and verbal.

In far too many instances, Robinson noted, domestic abuse is inter-generational, and can become accepted as normalized behavior.

But when abuse survivors decide to flee, they tend to need a range of services and resources, said Robinson, including legal advice, mental health counseling, cash, child care, gas, food and more.

“Our job is mainly to help get women to safety, stability and housing,” said Robinson.

Beverley Thomas, DV Advocate/Project Coordinator for Our Sister's House

As mentioned above, a key tactic employed by many abusers is isolation of their victims from friends and family. McLane and Robinson said the best thing loved ones can do for someone they suspect is being abused is to be there to provide support. Perhaps most importantly, friends and family should be prepared to do so repeatedly, if necessary.

“Let them know how you can show up,” said McLane, “and then do it.”

To learn more about domestic violence awareness, tune in to listen to the entire conversation between Abi McLane of the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, Kelli Robinson of Our Sister’s House and podcast host Kim Bjorn, Director of Clinical Integration and Transformation at Elevate Health.

Elevate Health Podcast, sponsored by Elevate Health and its subsidiary OnePierce Community Resiliency Fund, can be accessed at, or on Spotify, Google Music, Audible, Amazon Music, or other major listening platforms.

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