Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Typologies of Violence & The Duluth Model

Domestic violence has traditionally been conceptualized as primarily one type of violence–a violence that involves power, control, and psychological manipulation in addition to physical acts of violence. Johnson (2008) presents four typologies of domestic violence: intimate terrorism, violent resistance, situational couple violence, and mutual violent control. Intimate terrorism falls in line with what most professionals and laypersons identify as domestic violence–the abuser is violent and coercively controlling. Intimate terrorism unlike most other violence happens over an extended period of time and in the context of a committed, ongoing relationship (Johnson, 2008, p. 37). If violent resistance is present, it is often in conjunction with intimate terrorism. The partner who is being abused by an intimate terrorist (violent & controlling) responds with violence but is not controlling like her partner. You may have seen this exhibited in movies like “The Burning Bed” or “Sleeping with the Enemy,” and this is also where the “battered woman defense” has become a viable option in a court of law. In situational couple violence, the violence is provoked by an emotionally escalated circumstance but does not involve a pattern of power and control. This is probably the most common type of violence and typically does not involve a motivation for control; however, this typology can still be life-threatening, especially if it becomes a chronic problem that continues to intensify over time. The last typology of violence is mutual violent control. This type is more rare and involves both partners engaging in violent and controlling behaviors. See the graphic below for more information about what power and control looks like in a domestic violence relationship.


If you’d like to read more about the effects of power and control and the typologies of violence, check out “A Typology of Domestic Violence: Intimate Terrorism, Violence Resistance, and Situational Couple Violence” by Michael P. Johnson (2008). Hopefully, knowing more about the different types of violence can help clinicians (and others) identify issues as soon as possible and create a safety plan to support clients as they are ready to move forward.


Domestic Violence Awareness Month Continues

See below for a new post from our featured blogger this month, Elizabeth Pratt. 

This is a poem about the insidious dynamics of power and control.  It relates how subtly what seems romantic and protective can become imprisonment.  Listen for stories like this, and minimizing, from our clients.

The Window – by Terry Q. Autrey

First he wanted me to stop working.  He was making plenty of money, and if I wasn’t working, we could travel.  This way we wouldn’t have to pay for two separate bank accounts, either.  He’d just give me any money I needed.

Then he just wished I’d stop inviting my mother over.  She always ended up criticizing me and getting me upset.  Besides, she never really liked him and he knew it.

Then he really didn’t approve of my best friend.  After all, she’s divorced and kind of wild.  It’s like she’s trying to make trouble for us.  Every time she visits, he says I have a bad attitude for a few days.

Then he decided he would sell my car.  After all, I wasn’t working or anything, so where would I be going that he couldn’t go with me?

And then, he began to unplug the phone and take it with him every day.  I don’t know why he didn’t trust me enough to leave me with a phone.  What if something happened to me?  But he said I was just being paranoid.

Finally, it got to where I never saw or spoke to anyone anymore.  But I can look out the window and see the house across the pasture.

The kids there wave at me sometimes.  But then this week he took a hammer and nails and boarded it up.  He said I was spending all my time just looking out that window.

Elizabeth Pratt received an Ed.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy from Converse College in 1999. She has been an adjunct professor for the Converse College M.MFT program since 2002. Currently, she is the  Clinical Director at SAFE Homes-Rape Crisis Coalition in Spartanburg, South Carolina where she has worked with domestic violence survivors for 14 years.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This month SCAMFT board member, Elizabeth Pratt, is taking over the blog to help us be better informed clinicians around the issue of domestic violence. We hope you’ll follow and share as we go along.

From Elizabeth:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I will post several items throughout the month. Some may be statistical, some socio-political, some clinical, and some literary. All, I hope, will help us think about one of the most serious issues in Marriage and Family Therapy. Our clients cannot afford for us to be ignorant of the dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence (Domestic Violence, Family Violence, Dating Violence).

Let me start by sharing some Myths and Facts about Domestic Violence:
Myth #1: The problem of domestic violence is greatly exaggerated.
Fact: More than 12 million Americans per year are victims of Intimate Partner Violence. Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men will experience IPV in their lifetime. ( In 2014, South Carolina had 43 women murdered by their male intimate partner, ranking South Carolina #5 in the US for domestic violence homicides. (Violence Policy Center, When men murder women, 2016)
Myth #2: Couples fight; it is natural.
Fact: All couples have conflict and disagreement. However, anger is a feeling, and violence is a behavior. Anger does not have to be expressed violently. Domestic violence is a crime of power and control.
Myth #3: Domestic violence only happens among the poor and uneducated.
Fact: Domestic violence occurs in families of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, of all socioeconomic levels, of all educational and religious backgrounds, and in urban, suburban, and rural settings.
Myth #4: If someone is really being abused, they will leave.
Fact: There are many reasons victims do not leave, including: love, economic dependence, isolation, low self-esteem, religious beliefs, fear of worse violence, and/or concerns about their children.
Myth #5: Domestic violence does not really affect children since they are not usually aware of the abuse.
Fact: 80-90% of children in homes where there is domestic violence can give detailed descriptions of the violence in their families. Children exposed to domestic violence have higher rates of developmental, cognitive, and language problems; asthma, allergies, headaches, digestive problems; shame, guilt, low self-esteem; depression, anxiety, etc. (

Elizabeth Pratt received an Ed.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy from Converse College in 1999. She has been an adjunct professor for the Converse College M.MFT program since 2002. Currently, she is the  Clinical Director at SAFE Homes-Rape Crisis Coalition in Spartanburg, South Carolina where she has worked with domestic violence survivors for 14 years.

AAMFT Leadership Symposium 2016

It was a fun and exciting trip to Santa Fe for the annual Leadership Symposium. Amanda Szarzinksi and I were happy to represent the South Carolina division.   Although preceded by Leadership Conferences in years past, the 2016 Symposium focused on professional development and leadership training for all interested MFTs.  Previous Leadership Conferences were geared towards Division Leaders. The 2015 Leadership Conference was a hybrid or transitional year, which had both Division and Emerging Leaders attending. The big topic in 2015 was restructuring. The focus this year was  more on the individual clinician – their goals and how they also might get more involved in the field or the association.

Attendees ranged from graduate students still pursuing their degrees to experienced division leaders.  There were several keynote speakers and breakout sessions.  This year also marked the first cohort of the Leadership Certificate program.  One notable difference this year was the increased time devoted to networking .  Networking had been a component in the past, but it seemed as though there were even more settings to meet with colleagues. Attendees were given a “bingo sheet” to help them track them networking interactions.  It was a fun way to encourage networking, while also recognizing the different personalities and networking styles.

If you are a MFT interested in developing your leadership skills or learning more about how to pursue your career path as a MFT this would be a great conference to attend.  The ability to network with colleagues from around the country while learning relevant skills may prove to be a great use of your resources.

Most Sincerely,


To learn more about the Leadership Certificate program please visit


My Santa Fe Story (by Kellie Buckner)

Sometimes we just have to do things.  Pick up in the midst of a busy season of life and go somewhere we’ve never been.  Encounter new people, places, and customs.  To be honest, I wasn’t as prepared or excited to attend this year’s Leadership Symposium.  A busy schedule at work had worn me down and sleep seemed preferable to travel and socializing.  I knew that I would have a great time when I arrived, but I didn’t feel the nervous anticipation I had in the past.

This year’s experience in Santa Fe was different and in a good way.  It was probably just what I needed.  Rather than jumping into the hustle and bustle of DC with its Metro, winter weather, and abundance of people and places I was allowed the opportunity to stroll through the streets of Santa Fe soaking in the different landscapes, architecture, and vibe of those around me.  The people were different – the buildings were different – it was quiet. My eyes feasted on the differences.  Johnathan, an MFT from Alabama, remarked on how all the color in New Mexico is on the inside.  Outside the buildings melt into the landscape, the colors mimicking the surrounding nature, but inside are bright pops of color and art that depicted birds, animals, people, landscapes in the brightest possible ways.  While I didn’t get to visit the many galleries and museums I was surrounded by, I think that in a lot of ways I got to enjoy Santa Fe as if the entire city was a museum.

I’ve felt a calm here that was hard to put my finger on.  I didn’t get the bursts of adrenaline or nervousness here like I have at past conferences – even when we witnessed a mugging (but that is a different story!).  Perhaps that is because I relied on my awesome, extroverted traveling companion to initiate connections and represent our state.  In the past, I ‘d pushed myself to overcome my shy and introverted ways in order to “get the most” out of the trip.  (It may have also been due to the 7,000+ ft elevation of Santa Fe that caused my body to work harder for that precious oxygen). This trip I found myself taking less notes and different notes.  I slowed my pace and often arrived at sessions on time instead of super early.  I enjoyed good food and great company.  Rather than focusing on quantity of people met, I felt content to have repeated conversations with some new people. I reflected on what I wanted next and realized that I didn’t really know.  A great conversation with Amanda during one of the breakouts helped me to acknowledge that I am achieving the goals that I had set for myself a long time ago.

When I complete my term as president of SCAMFT, life may take a different turn for me. I may stop achieving the next big goal just to enjoy where I am.  Time goes by so quickly. As a kid the time between Halloween and Christmas was forever, and now those months fly by in the blink of an eye.  My hope is that I will take this experience in Santa Fe to slow things down and enjoy what is around me. I will take comfort in knowing that I don’t have to do more or be more, I can just be.  Sometimes that is leadership – taking control of your own life, setting your pace, and allowing people to come along on that journey if they want to.

Here’s wishing you the opportunity to find your Santa Fe moment!



Welcome to the new SCAMFT blog.  This site will be a way for our members to share their thoughts with other members.  Please keep in mind this is a blog – not a private forum or professional journal.  It will be a casual way for us to share the thoughts that we as professionals have about our field and profession.  It will also be a way for SCAMFT board members to keep you updated on the things that we are doing for you.

You, as an SCAMFT member, may submit articles for posting.  Please do so by sending your piece to .  Submissions will be reviewed to ensure that they are appropriate and you will be notified when they are posted.

If you have any questions, please contact Kellie Buckner at or our Marketing Chair, Susan Tankersley.

We hope that you enjoy this new feature!