Salon Series Recap: Cycle of Violence by: Stephanie Lincoln

By: Ashley Young

As part of the JL Boston Salon Series, I recently had the opportunity to spend an evening at the home of member Kaitlin Gastrock and hear Kellie Harvey lead a discussion around the cycle of domestic violence.

Kelly, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, works at The Door Is Open Counseling Center as a group facilitator at its Women’s Intensive Outpatient Center and as an individual counselor. She has extensive experience working with adults struggling with feelings of depression, anxiety, grief, alcohol/substance abuse, trauma, PTSD, and LGBTQ issues.

Kellie started the night by illustrating what the cycle of violence was. She explained that the term first originated from psychologist Lenore Walter, who found that many violent relationships follow a common pattern or cycle. The entire cycle may happen in weeks or months, and is different for every relationship. Kellie described the phases as calm, tension building, crisis, and honeymoon. She gave many examples of what each phase might look like, and shared stories she has seen in her work.

Discussion ensued on how this affects women and children in Boston, and how members can recognize and support persons they may come in contact with that may be victims of abuse. Kellie highlighted ways individuals can help support a domestic violence victim:

  • Listen to the victim
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Be non-judgmental
  • Be supportive, no matter their decision, and continue support
  • Encourage them to participate in activities outside of the relationship
  • Encourage or help them with a safety plan if asked

Kellie also highlighted ways individuals and families might get into a shelter or find housing assistance, and possible obstacles they might face depending on if they had an infant versus older children, or if they were single.