Resiliency: The Key to Overcoming Domestic Violence with Dr Michele Finneran
In this episode of the Heal Your Roots podcast, host Kira Yakubov, LMFT sits down with Dr. Michele Finneran to discuss the complex issue of domestic abuse. Dr. Finneran delves into the psychology behind this pervasive problem, discussing the different types of domestic abuse and the common theme of powerlessness that victims often feel.
She also explores the connection between Stockholm Syndrome and domestic violence, and offers insights into the importance of nurturing mother-daughter relationships as a key factor in healing from trauma.
Dr. Finneran shares her expertise on how to break the cycle of trauma bonding, and explains the three-step approach to therapy for domestic violence survivors. She offers advice on setting boundaries for self-care and emphasizes the importance of seeking help and emotional support. This episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking to understand domestic abuse and its effects, and offers valuable insights and resources for those looking to heal and move forward.
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Why did you decide to become a therapist? | 0:00
Psychological abuse starts to take place first.
Dr michelle finneran, introduction.
Starting in the mental health field.
Choosing conflict resolution for her phd.
How did you become interested in mental health? 3:29
About her practice in Florida and her phd program.
The three major rises during the pandemic.
Interviewing survivors of domestic abuse in a qualitative study.
Research on the pandemic.
The lack of support for domestic abuse survivors.
The definition of domestic abuse.
The different types of domestic abuse | 9:21
The three most common types of domestic abuse.
Financial abuse, religious abuse and child abuse.
The gradual systemic building block of things happening over time.
Social media and psychological abuse.
The common theme of powerlessness | 12:57
The feeling of powerlessness and not being able to trust yourself.
The common theme in the book.
Breaking the cycle of trauma bonding.
Stockholm syndrome and its connection to domestic violence.
What is Stockholm Syndrome? | 18:11
The Stockholm Syndrome and domestic violence victims.
How the nervous system works in hostage situations.
Bonding with the perpetrator as a survival mechanism.
The importance of mother-daughter relationships.
The problem with putting your partner down | 23:23
Putting a partner down as an attack on their character.
The importance of therapy.
Meeting clients where they are, not where they’re at.
Three-step approach to therapy.
Empathy and unconditional positive regard.
How friends and family can support the victim.
Setting boundaries and setting boundaries | 31:11
Being there to hear and support.
Setting boundaries for self-care.
The mother-daughter relationship in the mother-daughter relationship.
The importance of emotional support.
The importance of a nurturing mother-daughter relationship | 34:06
The importance of a mother-daughter relationship.
The generational trauma of domestic violence.
The generational cycle of violence and traumatization.
The power and responsibility of children.
The importance of taking a step back | 38:09
The one character trait of resiliency.
The biggest beauty of the overall.
National domestic violence resources.
Michelle shares what’s coming up for her and her practice.
Expand for Podcast Transcript
Michele Finneran 0:00
psychological abuse starts to take place first, and then it gradually systemically builds on top of each other, ridiculing, threatening, put downs, name calling. All these things are conducive to what verbal abuses and mental abuses
Kira Yakubov 0:25
Hi, I’m Kira Yakubov, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of Heal Your Roots Wellness practice. Every episode, we talk with a professional from the mental health field to learn more about their approaches and specialties, and also their journey of becoming a therapist. In this podcast, we’ll uncover a deeper look at the world of therapy from new perspectives. You’ll meet the therapist of Heal Your Roots Wellness practice, and trusted colleagues from the community tackling mental well being. We’re your go to Network for practical and professional insight in mental health. Subscribe for new episode releases every other Wednesday.
Kira Yakubov 1:07
Hello, I’d like to welcome today’s guest, Dr. Michele Finneran, a licensed professional counselor, and private practice owner of Beck and Associates located in Florida. Michelle is also the author of Surviving Domestic Abuse, Formal and Informal Supports and Services. And I have the phenomenal book right here. Michele, thank you so much for being a guest today.
Michele Finneran 1:27
Thank you so much for having me Kira. I really appreciate being here. Thank you so much for having me again.
Kira Yakubov 1:33
Absolutely. So we always start these episodes with really learning more about our guests and their background. So if you can kind of share a little bit about your story and your journey of becoming a therapist and why you got into the mental health field, that would be phenomenal.
Michele Finneran 1:48
Sure, sure. I started in the mental health field relatively early on in my life, I was about 18 19 years old, where I started working as a mental health tech in the field. And what I realized early on, particularly when I went to my undergraduate work at Setson University in DeLand, Florida, is I learned that I became really, really good with the classes and also with the people. When I worked for internship, at crisis stabilization unit. And it was really, really significant for me to understand that this is where I fit in, and how I was able to help people. Now, I knew really early on in my childhood, unconsciously, I think, when my dad kind of opened up to me very early on at a young age, it really disclosed a lot of his family traumas on to me early on in my life. So It always never was a huge mistake or misunderstanding as to why I went in mental health field, or why I chose conflict resolution for my PhD.
Kira Yakubov 2:57
Okay, so a lot of great experience. But also I feel like a lot of therapists, there’s something within our families, our own personal experiences that kind of informed that decision down the line.
Michele Finneran 3:07
Absolutely. And you know, it was a very unconscious decision. And I just, I felt so bad for my father, when he was going through this as he was processing this with me, and at too early of an age, but I also felt like, I wanted to have empathy for him and help him but I just was too young and wish to do so therapeutically. So
How did you become interested in mental health?
Kira Yakubov 3:30
Sure. And if you could share a little bit about your practice in Florida and you know your Ph. D program and everything because I know you have a lot of expertise and experience in the field so that the listeners can kind of get more background that way before we dive into the book you wrote.
Michele Finneran 3:46
Sure, sure. So the PhD is actually in conflict resolution, and dispute analysis from Nova Southeastern University. I also have a license to treat at the state of Florida. I have a master’s, and I’m a licensed mental health counselor. And I have a practice located in Coral Springs, Florida, called Vecc & Associates. And basically it’s I’m dealing with a lot of people that are first responders, I deal with a lot of nurses, I deal with a lot of law enforcement, I deal with a lot of firefighters. And I deal with a lot of marriages and families as well. So, post pandemic, what I’ve been noticing is a lot of marriages and families really needed some support, and some help. So I’ve been spearheading kind of that along the way.
Kira Yakubov 4:31
That’s been a lot coming through, especially with relationships during the pandemic, everyone kind of being home and stuck together, right and all these other dynamics that might have been, you know, hidden or not as notice really coming to the forefront and you work with a lot of people who are constantly dealing with traumatic experiences and the crises.
Michele Finneran 4:51
Absolutely. And one of the one of the rises during the pandemic was there’s three major rises I don’t know if you recognize this Kira as a licensed Professional, there was a rise as a suicide, there was a rise in substance abuse. And there was a rise in domestic abuse and domestic abuse book that I wrote, talks a little bit about how to help professionals and non professionals, family members and friends, help survivors of domestic abuse really come forward and helping them in the most effective ways.
Kira Yakubov 5:25
Yeah, that’s really powerful work. I mean, I commend you for this book, it’s, it’s very comprehensive, it covered a lot of information that I was surprised to see in so many different ways, it was very valuable.
Michele Finneran 5:35
Thank you, thank you so much. It was it was a very interesting research, it was actually an honor to do research like this. And to interview what I did is I interviewed several survivors of domestic abuse. And I interviewed them in a way that was a qualitative study. So I was able to ask open ended questions and sub questions to ask. So I can better get an understanding. And then what I would do with the data is I analyze the data. And then when there’s a saturation in data, meaning you’re seeing the same things over and over again, that becomes the theme.
Kira Yakubov 6:15
Sure. Is this kind of the reason why you wrote the book is that you were starting to see it through the pandemic and that was a big thing that was coming up for your clients? or was there kind of a different reason, if you feel comfortable sharing why that was something you went into, specifically to research?
Michele Finneran 6:30
Absolutely. So the reason why I actually chose this research topic is when I was in my Ph. D. program, I was working for a local jail. And I realized that the system was, has been, has been and is extremely flawed. And what I was noticing when I was doing my group sessions with my, with female incarcerated inmates, is a lot of these inmates that were incarcerated were incarcerated for domestic abuse, for defending themselves in a domestic abuse situation. And so I thought this was kind of twisted. And I was kind of baffled and didn’t really understand what was happening until I talked to my PhD chair. And she’s like, Well, absolutely, I’m like, Is this is this a real thing? Like, is this a real thing that people that try to stand up for themselves? They actually get arrested? And they try to, like, defend themselves. And she’s like, Yeah, that actually does happen. So what I started doing is I got this research study. And I started, she said, look at the data, look at the research and see if there’s holes and gaps in the data. And what I realized in the data, when I researched the research that was not been done in this field is there wasn’t a whole lot of information about what kind of supports to help survivors or victims of domestic abuse. So that’s why I decided to interview survivors that had been through the system that had been through a year out of a domestic violence relationship, what that would have been like, where they use formal and informal supports, and how effective they were, were not.
Kira Yakubov 8:11
Wow, so you’re doing really powerful, significant work to help so many people. And I know in this book, specifically, you focus on women. So just being able to help so many women find these supports and help their family members, but also like legal advice, the law enforcement, like I really love that you took a very, like holistic look of everything, like the whole system of how can they be helped, in what ways and kind of demystifying some of these myths that people might think are like will come up? What comes up for domestic abuse victims and everything?
Michele Finneran 8:47
Correct. Correct. Thank you. Thank you.
Kira Yakubov 8:49
Michele Finneran 8:50
I just find his spot, I found that the women that I interviewed, the survivors I interviewed had a comprehensive array of formal and informal supports that they use, that I was able to capitalize on.
Kira Yakubov 9:04
Kira Yakubov 9:05
And so for the listeners, can you share a little bit of maybe the definition of domestic abuse and what that looks like, because I know in your book, you even share how it’s a lot of people or a lot of women don’t seek help, because they don’t even recognize that they’re in an abusive relationship.
The different types of domestic abuse.
Michele Finneran 9:21
Right. They don’t, they don’t realize that they’re, they realize that something is wrong, they do realize that something is wrong, but they don’t understand or can wrap their head around that it’s actually defined as domestic abuse. And so what they realize is something is wrong. And the only ways that they realize that what it really is, is they do their own type of research or they talk to other people, which is hard to do when a perpetrator isolates you, from your family and friends. Do that, but that’s typically what happens. So,
Michele Finneran 9:59
Domestic abuse is an array of different types of abuses, it can stem from mental and emotional and psychological abuse. It can range from physical abuse and physical violence. And then there’s sexual abuse. So it’s the three most common types of abuse. But there’s also other types of abuse that people don’t get into. And on my platforms this month, I talk a little bit about financial abuse, that and what that looks like in domestic violence relationship. And so that financial abuse keeps the victim and perpetrator stapled in the relationship as well as a couple of psychological, traumatic emotional bonding that takes place between the perpetrator and the victim, that keeps people stapled in their dynamic. So those those things, and then there’s the there could be religious abuse, there could be different different different spheres, using children as a tool, type of abuse, you know, then with that there could be child abuse, all kinds of things kind of morphing into each other, when it comes to domestic abuse. It’s not just one broad definition.
Kira Yakubov 11:12
Sure, and I think maybe the common one, or maybe that we see in movies is physical abuse that’s like you can see it, it’s very tangible. There’s marks and everything. But I don’t think it’s as commonly talked about, about the mental or psychological, emotional, or the financial abuse that goes that people don’t really see from the outside, but the victim is experiencing and feeling it. And it’s kind of like a slow drip, right? It’s not just boom, it’s in your face, because I think that would be easier to identify versus this is gradually happening over time to somebody
Michele Finneran 11:46
exactly my dissertation chair you know, as she said, you know, domestic abuse doesn’t happen when one day you wake up and you’re your partner punches you. that did that does not happen like that. It’s a gradual, systemic, gradual building block of things that happen over time, over things that happened to get you to a place where one day you’re waking up, and it’s at a place that you never thought would be. And so what social media portrays is something that’s really not equivalent to what really goes on in the home. social media portrays that there has to be some sort of bloodshed, or some sort of punching or some sort of visible strangulation of some sort. And that’s not always ends up that way. But it’s starts what starts up happening is psychological abuse starts to take place first. And then it gradually systemically builds on top of each other, ridiculing, threatening, put downs, name calling, all these things are conducive to what verbal abuses and mental abuses, making the victim feel less in examples like that.
The common theme of powerlessness.
Kira Yakubov 12:57
And so it sounds like as I was reading through this book, is that the common theme is that this feeling of powerlessness, and not being able to trust ourselves, and being able to kind of recognize these things. Because whether it’s we’ve experienced it in the past, or some of these beliefs and narratives we’ve had about ourselves, and then meeting this person who was kind of reinforcing these beliefs or, like you’re saying, ridiculing and making us believe a certain way about ourselves,
Michele Finneran 13:23
right. A lot of these a lot of them are perpetrators actually tried to make the victim feel like they’re crazy. Like there’s something severely wrong with them. When they’re not crazy. They’re they women have an instinctual gut feeling. It’s particularly women that are mothers, they have a gut feeling an instinctual feeling that they know that that something is not right. And so what they do is they do their own kind of research. And that’s what the survivors that I researched, they started reaching out to podcasts, they started reaching out to support groups online. And they started reaching out to different different places where they heard similar stories, and they were like, Oh, my gosh, this sounds so much. So similar to what I’m going through, and they began to realize that this is a this is an actually bigger thing than what I anticipated.
Kira Yakubov 14:16
Yeah. And so it sounds like even that process is pretty long, right? Like first just kind of recognizing and coming to terms with this is not healthy. This is not a safe place for me. But then I know reading through the book, it was saying, you know, there’s like a level of embarrassment or humiliation, being able to share this with our family or friends and feeling misunderstood. Or if there’s law enforcement called like, a lot of these interactions, make them feel even less safe to express what’s going on for them
Michele Finneran 14:48
more isolated, more isolated, more alienated, more alone. And the message if any message that I bring out forward in this podcast is that you’re not alone. You’re never alone. There’s , there’s somebody that has. You have. That’s why it’s so important to like, be careful when you’re in small circles about what you talk about. Because why don’t you just leave? Is a common kind of question that we ask victims, which is a very unfair, unjustified question to ask a victim who’s going through a domestic violence situation. If it was that easy, then you you’d leave. But it’s very complex. It’s very complex on so many different, so many spheres in so many levels, that it makes it hard to make that break. And it takes about nine times in which to do so.
Kira Yakubov 15:44
Wow, nine times.
Michele Finneran 15:46
Nine times statistically, yeah.
Kira Yakubov 15:48
That’s Wow, that’s crazy.
Kira Yakubov 15:50
And so would you be able to share a little because I know that you explain Stockholm Syndrome, and how that comes up in that trauma bonding, that might look strange from the outside looking in to someone who is experiencing domestic abuse to feel so close or connected or almost defend their abuser in that way.
Michele Finneran 16:09
So one of the things that I’ve learned is going for law enforcement going through a domestic violence call is probably one of the dangerous most dangerous calls to go on. Because they don’t know the unpredictability of what they’re going to end up seeing at this at the scene. So what usually ends up happening is sometimes in these situations is the victim calls for help and intervention. A cop, a police officer comes out and interviews both the victim and the perpetrator and go to arrest a perpetrator for either marks, it’s hard, you can’t arrest a law enforcement officer can arrest based on psychological abuse or mental a mental abuse.
Michele Finneran 16:54
So that’s why physical marks or markings on the body will equate to some sort of arrest. And so the what happens as law enforcement will end up arresting the perpetrator and then the victim gets upset. There’s their their their perpetrators getting arrested, and then they jump, they try to like jump on the back of the police officer, and start to like, get physical with the police officers. So there’s this [garbled].
Michele Finneran 17:23
And this is this kind of like the vicious kind of cycle that goes on when you talk about trauma bonding. Yeah, this is the big the biggest the biggest traumatic situation when it comes to trauma bonding is when the victim feels traumatized by the trauma that they’ve experienced, and so much traumatized, but also protective of their perpetrator where they lash out at someone who they call to defend them.
What is the stockholm Syndrome?
Kira Yakubov 17:54
Yeah. And so can you explain a little bit this phenomena of Stockholm Syndrome for listeners who may not understand or may have only seen it on movies where like hostage situations how this really is a good analogy, or what’s happening for a victim during those times?
Michele Finneran 18:11
Absolutely. The Stockholm Syndrome is usually a typically coined termed, used to discuss a hostage situation a hosty and a hostage situation. What I did is I parallel that with perpetrators and domestic domestic violence victims. And what I did was I because it’s very similar in terms of behavior, character traits that a perpetrator or hostage does over their victim. And so what I what I began realizing is, there become something called trauma bonding, which makes it so difficult for the victim to actually leave because it’s like they they have this kind of connection, emotional connection with their perpetrator that they can’t, they cannot break away from as much as the he is hurt as much as he trespass as much as he’s tried to put down or emotionally and physically beat up. There’s still this connectivity that the victim and perpetrator have.
Michele Finneran 19:17
And we call we see the cycle of violence where there’s abuse that happens. And then there’s a honeymoon phase. And then there’s the escalation that builds in this vicious cycle, kind of goes round, and round and round. And that’s what keeps them kind of stapled in the situation. So the Stockholm Syndrome was a term coin, based out of Stockholm, Sweden, where a hostage and a hostage hosty situation took place at a bank where the bank robber took over three hostages. And so what happened is they began to form a bond and the hostage people that were hostages began to feel sorry and felt bad and started protecting their the person that their perpetrator. And so that we see that in this parallel to domestic violence victims and their perpetrators.
Kira Yakubov 20:12
So interesting. Do you think that has anything to do with so I know there’s Fight, fight freeze fawn? Do you think that’s maybe part of the fun like our nervous system is trying to protect ourselves and the best way we know is kind of to please or to rationalize what’s going on to make it feel safer and make it feel like we have some sense of control?
Michele Finneran 20:34
Absolutely, it does. Because a victim feels so out of control. They want to feel like they control something.
Kira Yakubov 20:42
Michele Finneran 20:42
And so they they use this they use this the scenario where they hold on to anything that they can feel like there’s a sense of control, like ownership power, that they that they’ve been really identifiably stripped of
Kira Yakubov 21:02
Yeah. So it almost sounds in a counterintuitive way as a survival mechanism for them to be able to move through this experience if they can’t physically leave it. How can I move through it in the ways that I can in this moment internally? And so that is bonding with the perpetrator
Michele Finneran 21:21
Kira Yakubov 21:21
Michele Finneran 21:22
yes, it is a survival. You’re absolutely, Kira. It is a survival mechanism. this is a crisis.
Kira Yakubov 21:28
Michele Finneran 21:29
Baseline survival mechanism. Yes.
Kira Yakubov 21:32
And so can you share a little bit some of the ways that at least some of the women that you have interviewed how they have tried to reach out to their family or friends or how some of their family and friends have attempted to support them in the ways that they know that may have not been effective or detrimental?
Michele Finneran 21:49
Yes. So when reached out to their per se parent, their parents, the women, victims, a lot of parents, what they ended up doing is they ended up bashing or berating the perpetrator, which in itself is not helpful at all for the victim, because what it does is just makes them feel like they, they stapled their decision, they’re wrong decision in the finding a person that was not the right fit for them. So they would think that a parent, would you think that would be helpful for a victim to hear a parent bash and put down their perpetrator, which actually is counteractive, it’s counterintuitive, it does not actually does the opposite of that. So it’s definitely not helpful. So if your daughter comes to you, and you’re a parent, last thing you want to do is try to berate, put down the perpetrator, and just try to be as emotionally available and open and non judgmental as possible for the victim slash daughter. What happens is that mother daughter relationship, especially when the daughter comes to the mother, and we’ll talk more a little bit about that relationship, how important that mother daughter relationship is, and being emotionally available. And that attachment there is indicative to why sometimes women that women that don’t have that kind of relationship, seek out domestic about unconsciously seek out perpetrators.
The problems with putting your partner down.
Kira Yakubov 23:23
So it sounds like, while the parents or friends may feel like putting their partner down as a way to show that they don’t approve, or they don’t condone this behavior, and that they don’t like this person, it does the opposite of make the woman feel like she made a wrong decision. There’s something wrong with her. And there’s this level of shame. I’m assuming that’s really exacerbated. So it’s like, Oh, I’m gonna double down on my decision or just pull away. Because this feels more of an attack on my judge of character who I’m picking or the decisions I’m making, versus what it has to say about my partner.
Kira Yakubov 23:58
That’s exactly what that is. You nailed that.
Kira Yakubov 24:02
And I feel like that’s really important for people to hear that, because it does feel counterintuitive to say that, right? They’re not going to want to be like, oh, yeah, sure, this is a fine decision. Like they want to protect them. And it’s kind of going into that their own survival mode of wanting to do anything they can to protect their loved one, but it does the opposite. It sounds like
Michele Finneran 24:20
exactly, it does the opposite. And you would think that it wouldn’t, but it actually does. So, and with friends, you know, a lot of times you know the friends end up hearing the same stories over and over again and they get super frustrated and upset. Now, one of the best things that a friend can do if they can no longer help their friend slash victim is such a be suggestive and having them have real supports and go into therapy. That’s one of the things that I’ve noticed that a lot of survivors experience when they having their friends help them is that their friends would suggests them going into therapy and they did. They listen to their friends. So they would go into therapy because the friends not being able to help them as much as they wanted to or could based on not having the professional background that they needed.
Kira Yakubov 25:15
So that’s pretty significant for people to know is that even just, it’s out of our scope where like a lot of people don’t know, even a lot of therapists, mental health professionals don’t necessarily know the best way to help a victim. But it sounds like getting them the professional help. And the expertise is the best way or is one of the most effective ways,
Michele Finneran 25:35
right. And people that are specialized in treating survivors or victims they have a specific type of way where they talk treat, you know, assess,
Kira Yakubov 25:46
Michele Finneran 25:46
therapeutically. We had talked about this in my book, that’s about how mental health therapists sometimes we want our clients to be where we want them to be, you know, not notice that’s not necessarily meeting them where they’re at.
Kira Yakubov 26:02
Michele Finneran 26:02
you know. And so, a lot of times when a survivor or victim comes to the therapeutic session, the counselor immediately wants to go right into exit exit strategy. How do we how do we exit from this relationship where that might not be where the victim is. Maybe this for this is the for the first time the victim is sharing this and processing it where the first time and they’re ready to really so it’s meeting the it’s the therapist meeting the client slash victim, where they’re at in a moment?
Kira Yakubov 26:34
Yeah, because I can see that also pushing them away, like telling them what to do, or deciding for them that this is the best thing right now again, takes away their power and autonomy to figure it out, or to make a decision on their own. It sounds like a lot of the advice that victims get is we know better. And so you should do this now, which it sounds like almost retraumatizes are kind of confirmed, I’m powerless. I don’t know what to do. I can’t trust myself and making decisions.
Michele Finneran 27:02
Right, it would definitely re-victimizes the victim.
Kira Yakubov 27:06
And so reading through the book, I saw that some of the effective ways for therapists or mental health professionals to help is not going straight, like you mentioned into problem solving, or making them leave immediately and not being too passive. Because I saw that it’s kind of challenging their thinking and letting them process their story first, and then being able to help them find different supports or create a plan when they’re ready on their time, because that’s going to be the most successful outcome.
Michele Finneran 27:33
Exactly, exactly. And processing the story is it may take not just maybe just more than one session in which to do and may take several sessions,
Kira Yakubov 27:43
Michele Finneran 27:44
depending on the severity of them of the abuse. So having the therapists allow the the victim slash client to do that is so imperative and important for the therapeutic process.
Michele Finneran 27:56
Because when you when you’re in therapy and you actually open up and process you’re actually hearing yourself talk. And that’s very important for a victim to actually listen to themselves talk and hear themselves talk, possibly for the first time. So that’s pretty significant. And for therapists to gauge emotionally and also challenge, not. Yea, also they have to have a little bit of like, a little bit of challenge along with empathetic response, led along along with unconditional positive regard. Yeah. Regardless of where the victim slash client might be therapeutically or psychologically.
Kira Yakubov 28:35
Yeah, so it’s really finding a finesse between and every person is different, right? So really, there’s not going to be a Formula or One fits all, you really have to figure out where they’re at, meet them there. And then do that dance with them until you get to a place where they’re safe. And they’re more empowered to it sounds like leave the situation that they’re in.
Michele Finneran 28:55
Exactly. And you know, we talked about, I talked about in the book that the the theme, and the stories may sound similar, but it’s still very different. There’s no cookie cutter solution now to these given testimonies. And so every every each one, each one is kind of individualized, according to the reporting to the victim.
Kira Yakubov 29:16
Yeah. And so I want to go back a little bit to the family dynamics and the friends, right, we kind of talked about what’s not effective, would you be able to share, because I know we mentioned pushing them to, you know, seek professional help.
Kira Yakubov 29:30
Is there certain ways that friends and family can be supportive and empathetic with you know, with their words, how they spend their time with them, and the support that they give that would be helpful for the victim to not feel like they’re going to be embarrassed or shamed or they have to isolate?
Michele Finneran 29:45
Yeah, just have having more of an open understanding. Obviously, it’s painful for a friend or family member to watch their loved one go through this over and over again. And one of the things that is I would recommend a firm friend or family member not do is ghost, your victim slash family slash friend. However, with that being said, the victim’s family and friend can also very much lead to burnout and stress by watching their their loved one go through this historically and openly and over and over again, it’s just really important for the friend and family member to take a step back. And to kind of regroup and replenish themselves in order to be able to be there for their friend who’s a victim ghosting them is, again, another form of abandonment, which victim does not need, but also the victim may not understand what the friend is actually going through or the family member might be going through watching her go through all this at the same time over and over again. So it’s that friend, and that family taking a step back and just like regaining their own grounding
Kira Yakubov 30:57
Michele Finneran 30:58
and their own type of replenishment if you will, in order to fill their cup again. So they can be more they can be more or less still effective for their friend slash victim.
Setting boundaries for self-care
Kira Yakubov 31:11
Yeah. So it sounds like kind of just being there to hear them to support them empathetically, and to understand what they’re going through it without necessarily telling them to leave bashing them, you know, pointing him in the direction of support, but also making sure that they take care of themselves and not get burned out to a point where they no longer want to interact with them. And it sounds like kind of setting those boundaries to like, listen, like after all these conversations, it feels repetitive, I feel frustrated, I feel hurt watching you go through this. I have to take a break from talking about this sometimes. So I can continue showing up for you when you need me.
Michele Finneran 31:45
Kira Yakubov 31:47
That can be tough too
Michele Finneran 31:48
That’s a really good encap. absolutely it’s very tough to set those boundaries. Because you you don’t really want to but you kind of have to for your own mental health.
Kira Yakubov 31:58
Michele Finneran 31:58
you know, they’re really good. So that’s Kira, that’s a really good encapsulation of what exactly a solid a summarized statement. That’s exactly what’s happening there.
Kira Yakubov 32:09
And so I did while I was reading your book, it actually kind of surprised me a little bit to learn more about the mother daughter relationship, to see how that might influence or impact a victim being victimized later on in life or like how you mentioned sometimes like subconsciously being attracted to an abusive partner, can you share a little bit more about what that looks like in that important dynamic between a mother and daughter.
Michele Finneran 32:34
So the same sex parent is always probably a very important parent to identify with and relate to. And what I what I realized, going through the interviews with a lot of these survivors is met most of them all of them. I would think I thought going in I had my own biases, obviously, we you do when you do research, you would think that there would be issue with the mother with I’m sorry, with the daughter, Father relationship,
Kira Yakubov 33:03
that’s what I thought,
The importance of a nurturing mother-daughter relationship.
Michele Finneran 33:04
but it’s not. it was always the mother daughter relationship. That was always impaired, every single woman that I interviewed, had a disruptive relationship with their mother. And what I found was in the mother, the mother relationship with the daughter, the mother was physically viable for the daughter, tangibly babysits can give money, places place to live, transportation, childcare, whatever the case may be, what was significant that was not there is the emotional support that the victim actually needed from their mother. And that that emotional unavailability and almost narcissistic mother made it prevalent for the daughter to seek out a different type of intimate partner that they weren’t finding that they found that that that was voided out in their mother daughter relationship.
Kira Yakubov 34:06
That’s so fascinating to think about, because I thought the same as you started thinking might be the relationship with the Father or having a controlling, you know, father figure that way. But it sounds like not having that nurturing, emotional connection and security, as a daughter with your mother is so significant in how you view yourself, how you view other relationships and what you’re looking for when you’re dating somebody. So it almost sounds like
Kira Yakubov 34:33
if they didn’t receive the love and security and self esteem through that parent, they’re going to search and work hard to find someone who can provide that. And if we’re on the opposite end, if this is a partner who is controlling or manipulative can easily take advantage of someone who may feel that way about themselves or who may be lacking that security and love from their parents or their mother specifically.
Michele Finneran 35:01
Michele Finneran 35:03
And so that mother daughter relationship is so very important to establish. And, you know, a lot of a lot of my survivors that I interviewed just did not have that emotional availability available to them in rearing. And they also, many of the victims that were raising up in their households saw their mom, as victims as well,
Kira Yakubov 35:26
Michele Finneran 35:27
that learned helplessness that they’ve learned from their, from their mother, in their own domestic violence situation. And abusive relationship was also a learned kind of behavior that was transgressed into the daughter.
Kira Yakubov 35:42
And that’s really unfortunate, because it kind of goes into this generational trauma and abuse is that what we see and experience in our home is normalized, right? Like, even if we go out into the world and recognize that it might not be that way, everywhere, it feels normal, and it feels acceptable to some degree, for us to repeat, and to have those beliefs about ourselves, or who we align with kind of inner identity within our home.
Michele Finneran 36:07
Exactly We are, we are creatures of habit. And we are creatures of familiarity. And even though it may be dysfunctional, we gravitate to what is familiar, even though it may be unhealthy, dysfunctional and wrong. We gravitate to one that’s familiar. And so that’s that you will see that generational cycle of violence, and traumatization happen from passed down from generation from woman to woman in the family.
Kira Yakubov 36:35
And so it’s tough, because, you know, the mother was abused, right? Like this is also a victim, who this is now being passed on to their daughter, have you any of the women that you interview, like what that was like if they had children are what that felt like for them to recognize that how much power and responsibility is also on them for their children by seeing them vicariously living through that as well,
Michele Finneran 36:59
exactly. And so what the what the daughter had to do with their own children, is they had to recognize consciously a conscious recognition that what they saw in their own family of origin they did not like, and they weren’t going to perpetrate it over and over again. So they made a staple and a decision early on in their year raising up that they were not going to do this to their children. And they made it when they make the call, we made a conscious choice is something that you disliked, for so long in your past, you then make a conscious choice to break that cycle.
Kira Yakubov 37:39
And that’s pretty powerful. So even even if victims who have children leave at a certain point, while the kids are still smaller, at some point, they’re able to recognize and see that their mom was powerful and strong enough to exit this situation. So that in itself is also empowering for the children to recognize that you don’t have to be a victim, right? You can move through this with the proper support and help and it has to be a very conscious effort on your part.
Michele Finneran 38:05
The importance of taking a step back.
Kira Yakubov 38:06
This book was so informative, thank you for writing this. I mean reading this was so helpful for me to recognize as a professional, but personally to like, wow, there was some relationships that I went through that were kind of questionable that I would have never thought about because it didn’t look the way it looked on TV or there wasn’t violence involved.
Michele Finneran 38:25
That’s why women, not to discredit victims, and not to discredit their experiences or their narratives, sometimes don’t realize that they’re in when they’re in it, you know, it’s when you step out of the situation or out of the relationship, then you begin to realize what a toxic situation this might have been for you.
Kira Yakubov 38:46
It’s getting space away from that to kind of be more objective, like take a step back. Because when we’re in it, right, like, that’s why therapists can’t be a therapist to someone they know, or like their family or friends. Because we’re too involved, we’re too invested. It’s not objective anymore. But when you take a step back and distance yourself from that experience, you can start to look at it a little bit more objectively and like gain a different perspective. And that whole process sounds like grieving within itself to recognize that you’ve been in this relationship that you didn’t even realize was abusive. And now you are and now you’re getting out of it. Like that takes a lot of strength to be able to do that.
Michele Finneran 39:22
Yes, and resiliency.
Kira Yakubov 39:24
Michele Finneran 39:25
I mean, these women, all these will women all have exhibited the same type of resiliency, that one character trait of resiliency and being able to stand up on their own eventually, through formal and informal supports. It was the key for these women getting out of their toxic abusive relationships
Kira Yakubov 39:44
that’s so powerful. That sounds like them being able to find their own strength and power and gain control of their own finances, their own situations, make decisions and trust themselves to make these decisions to is really powerful and how have that respect for themselves.
Michele Finneran 40:01
Absolutely. And when they begin to discover something, the biggest beauty of the overall is their own self. And their own self love. And that is the biggest love that they can give themselves that they discover for themselves. And that in itself is a gift and a journey with self that is embarking on a beautiful relationship on it’s own
Kira Yakubov 40:25
absolutely, and that stays with you forever, because that’s you and yourself, that’s, that never goes away,
Michele Finneran 40:31
never goes away, you’ll never you’ll never, you’re your own loyalty, you’re your own best friend, you have to shake your shake your self, shake your hands with yourself as as being a friend and a purse of self compassion, love for your own self.
Kira Yakubov 40:47
are there any for listeners, whether they are recognizing that they might be in an abusive relationship? Or no, or for, you know, informal supports? Are there some resources or things that you’d be able to share for people that they could reach out to whether it’s online or in shelters or anything like that, to help people kind of find this?
Michele Finneran 41:07
Absolutely. What I can do Kira is I have a list of National Domestic Violence resources is a, it’s like a page long, I can email it to you and send it to you. So you can put it all within your podcast.
Kira Yakubov 41:19
Thank you, that will be really helpful. And I can add that in the show notes for everybody.
Michele Finneran 41:23
Kira Yakubov 41:24
So Michele, can you share what’s coming up new for you and your practice?
Michele Finneran 41:27
Well, with the research that I’m doing, I do what I do with the research, which was with what the PhD is typically for, is I take the research and I use it to use application into my clinical practice. So not only am I a clinician, and a practice practitioner, that I practice, mental health and skills and techniques to help decrease mental health symptoms, but also researcher to kind of research statistics topics that need to be more like that need to be more researched out. And that’s why I decided to just work on my next writing project is when I realized what some of the things that were going on for first responders though, that what they were dealing with, with compassion fatigue during COVID-19. And so that the research along with the application is what I like to do best
Kira Yakubov 42:24
awesome. And where can follower or the audience members find you if they want to reach out to you to work with you.
Michele Finneran 42:31
They can reach me on my website, it’s www.veccandassociates.com. And there’s a tab there that you can join that says Contact Us, and you contact me directly on there it goes right to my email.
Kira Yakubov 42:47
Perfect. Michele, thank you so much for being a guest today. This was valuable and very insightful information and I appreciate you sharing your expertise with us.
Michele Finneran 42:55
Thank you, Kira, for inviting me on your wonderful podcast. I really appreciate you. Thank you so much for having me.