Population and Demographics of Group






Group Treatment Plan

Domestic-Violence Group

Victoria L. Alvira-Ocasio

Liberty University






Problem: Domestic Violence – Intimate Partner Violence

Secondary Problem: Rape Survivors

Adapted from The Group Therapy Treatment Planner 2nd Edition

By Kim Paleg and Arthur E. Jongsma, Jr.

Counselor: Victoria Alvira-Ocasio

Population and Demographics of Group

The domestic violence group consists of ten female adults, of heterogeneous ethnicity, ages 18- 35. The women in this group have recently experienced domestic violence in an intimate relationship or marriage; or have experienced it in the past and are suffering from the lingering effects. The women in this group struggle with fear, lack of trust, low self-esteem, emotional numbing and avoidance of interpersonal relationships. Three, of these women have survived a violent assault/rape, by hands of their spouse/partner and have not sought previous help out of fear, helplessness or shame, because they remain in the relationship. For some of the women, the domestic violence experienced has affected their ability to sleep, communicate, problem-solve and ensure the safety of their children and themselves. Others have been unable to move on to form healthy social relationships and adequately function in their careers.

Definition of Domestic Violence – Intimate Partner Violence

Domestic violence (DV), also known as Intimate partner violence (IPV) is one of the most common form of violence against women. It is the intentional infliction of physical, sexual, emotional abuse and controlling behaviors by an intimate partner. Domestic violence can occur in all settings, and among all socioeconomic, cultural and religious groups. This violence may lead women to negative health consequences, including physical injuries or conditions and mental health disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2019). Some behavioral definitions are that domestic violence can leave the person feeling worthless, hopeless and terrified. Some women lose their sense of self-sufficiency and stay in the relationship because they feel helpless and unable to provide a safe and adequate shelter for their children and themselves. Women in these situations feel responsible for or deserving of the abuse.

Definition of Secondary Problem: Rape Survivors

A rape survivor is someone who has suffered an act of sexual violence by force and against his or her will. Someone a rape survivor knows most often perpetrates the act of sexual violence. This includes intimate partner relationships. There are different terms to refer to acts of sexual violence that occur within intimate partnerships. These are intimate partner sexual violence, domestic violence, intimate partner rape, marital rape, and spousal rape. No matter what term is used or how we define the relationship, it is never okay to engage in sexual activity without a person’s consent (RAINN .org, 2019). The behaviors a rape survivor report are sensing a violation of trust and safety. They verbalize feelings of fear, shame, anxiety, depression, distrust and anger. The person can experience disturbance of sleep and social relationships. Some survivors have physical symptoms that result from the assault, like sexual dysfunction, headaches, and eating disorders among others.


The goals for the first four sessions of this group will focus on establishing a safety plan that ensures the safety of each woman and her children. A plan that includes cues for danger and steps to ensure safety. To focus on increasing feelings of autonomy and self-esteem in the women. The group counselor will assist the members of the group to develop a reliable support system for self-survival and form a toolbox of the behaviors needed to avoid the cycle of violence (Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p.130-131). In addition, the group will focus on reducing the sense of isolation, feelings of guilt, shame anger and powerlessness and increase the feelings of self-esteem, and the ability to trust (Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p.232).


Preceding to the initial session, each group member will meet with the group leader to share their contact information and provide the name and number of a reliable person to contact in case of an emergency. Members will sign the forms of consent and confidentiality at that meeting; the counselor will gather information about the abusive event that prompted the woman to join the domestic violence group.

Session One:

1. Each group member introduces herself and states the abusive incident that prompted her to join the group.


1. Ask each woman in the group to introduce herself and describe the abusive incident that led her to the group.

2. Facilitate the confrontation of the women’s denial, rationalization or minimization and taking the blame for her partner’s violence.

3. Encourage members to empathically support the woman who is sharing her painful story of domestic violence.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 131)

2. Establishing rules for the group and demonstrating understanding with verbal acknowledgement of the rules. 1. Require each group member to commit to following all the group’s established rules and maintain the confidentiality of the other women, their status and situation with the abuser.

2. Provide a handout that includes the group rules and ask each woman to sign it to demonstrate their commitment to follow the rules and to maintain confidentiality.

3. Each woman will tell her personal story of relationship violence 1. Facilitate the confrontation of the women’s denial, rationalization or minimization and taking the blame for her partner’s violence

2. Encourage members to empathically support the woman who is sharing her painful story of domestic violence.

3. Ask each woman to share their personal trauma including the triggers, the frequency, severity of the violent events, how many times law enforcement was involved, and any treatment offered to prevent continued abuse.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 131)

Session Two

1. Each member will describe their current situation with respect to issues of safety for themselves and their children.

1. Ask each woman to describe her actual living arrangements and help each woman to evaluate their safety and the safety of their children.

2. Provide information to the group about local shelters and emergency hotlines available for their protection and support.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 132)

2. Identify the signs of behaviors that will escalate violence. 1. Lead a group conversation with the women about the emotions that lead to anger and the reasoning associated with these emotions of anger.

2. Explore and identify with each woman her behaviors and the triggers of her partner that are an indication of the violence (loud voices, threats, breaking objects).

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 132)

3. Create a plan of escape in case of a violent attack occurs or becomes imminent. 1. Help the women create a step-by-step plan to put in place in case of an attack. The plan will include storage in a safe place outside the home of money, items of clothing, keys, important documents and necessities, as well as an escape route from the home. Make aware the woman’s support system where she will go, to avoid being found in the event of an attack.

2. Encourage the members of the group to identify within the community additional safe places to take shelter.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 132-133)

Session 3

1. List the common and personal emotional and physical symptoms associated to sexual assault.

1. Teach the group members the emotional and physical symptoms associated with sexual assault. Have them make a list of these symptoms identified

2. Encourage the women of the group to add their own emotional and physical symptoms and reactions to the list they have made.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 233)

2. Each member of the group will express the feelings and concerns related to the abusive relationship. 1. Promote a discussion among the members of the group about their feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem linked to the violence they experienced.

2. Facilitate a conversation about ways to cope with these feelings and ask members to support other group members.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 133)

3. Each woman will articulate the negative effects of the violence on her children and herself. 1. Implement a group discussion about the negative effects of the domestic violence on themselves and the children.

2. Ask the women to share the coping mechanisms they use to help themselves and their children

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 133)

4. Create a mutual support team by providing contact information for all group members to support each other outside the group. 1. Obtain permission from each member to distribute a list of contact information of all the group members.

2. Provide a consent for each member to sign indicating that the contact information will not be shared outside of the group.

3. Encourage the women to call each other between sessions.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 135)

Session Four

1. Make statements that place clear responsibility of the sexual assault/abuse on the perpetrator/abuser and not the victim.

1. Provide reassurance to each woman that she is not responsible for the sexual assault/ abuse that has happened to her.

2. Help the members identify negative thoughts or feelings about themselves because of the rape/abuse by using pointed questions and questioning the logic of their responses.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 234)

2. Identify childhood experiences that contributed to acceptance or tolerance of abusive behavior in any relationship. 1. Ask each woman to recall childhood and family experiences of violence or abuse.

2. Explore with the group the beliefs that resulted from those childhood experiences that led to tolerance or acceptance of abusive behavior in a relationship.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 137)

3. Each woman will acknowledge herself as a survivor, and no longer as a victim. 1. Describe to the members the two elements of surviving rape: surviving the rape itself and the aftermath of traumatic feelings; contrast the concept of survival with that of defeated victim.

2. Encourage the women to demonstrate support to fellow group members/ survivors and validate their styles, as they share survival strategies they have used to cope with the rape/abuse.

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 235)

4. Increase implementation of daily self-nurturing behaviors 1. Help the group develop a list of self-nurturing behaviors to implement. (Reading a book, music, painting, taking a warm bath, a facial etc.)

2. Share examples of how the members can address psychophysiological symptoms resulting from the rape/abuse (get more rest, practice self-care, journal your feelings, slow down, meditate, practice mindfulness)

(Paleg & Jongsma, 2015, p. 139, 238)




Intimate Partner Sexual Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2019, from


Paleg, K., & Jongsma, A. E. (2015). The group therapy treatment planner, with Dsm-5 updates.

Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Treating Women Who Have Experienced Intimate Partner Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved November

24, 2019, from https://www.psychiatry.org/File Library/Psychiatrists/Cultural-Competency/IPV-Guide/APA-Guide-to-IPV-Among-Women.pdf.

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