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June 2018 Connect with us Facebook Twitter Sign up  |  Archive  |  Advertise
Editor's e-Note
In the past year, the environment in which physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and violence against women and men has been transformed by the #MeToo movement. Victims’ allegations are being listened to and believed in ways they often were not prior to this collective cultural consciousness-raising. While this enhanced sensitivity to abuse is long overdue, change is still needed in recognizing the losses that victims experience when they are physically, sexually, and emotionally violated. It is a loss similar to those we typically recognize and to which we offer support and understanding.

In this month’s E-News Exclusive, a social work instructor discusses the disenfranchised grief experienced by abuse and violence survivors and how that grief must be acknowledged as real and in need of understanding and support like other losses.

We welcome your comments at Visit our website at, like our Facebook page; and follow us on Twitter.

— Marianne Mallon, editor
e-News Exclusive
Intimate Partner Violence and Disenfranchised Grief — Unrecognized Loss
By Lisa S. Zoll, MSW, LCSW

In 1989, Kenneth Doka introduced the concept of “disenfranchised grief,” which he defined as grief that either is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially validated, or publicly supported (Corr, 1998; Doka, 2002). Examples of disenfranchised grief include death and nondeath losses such as loss of a pet, perinatal losses, some elective abortions, loss of health, loss of stability, loss of innocence from abuse and neglect, infertility, grief experienced by children, suicide, murder, unintended drug overdoses, and loss of a relationship with a loved one who is not blood related (e.g., a boyfriend/girlfriend, extramarital lover, in-laws, or failed adoptions) (Gilbert, 2007).

As defined, disenfranchised grief can be closely linked to the losses related to intimate partner violence (IPV) that go largely unrecognized, unsupported, and unacknowledged. Victims’ grief is often kept invisible as they try to keep the abuse hidden. If we want to transform the social norms at the root of violence, we need to talk about it. According to Jennie Willoughby, “Society as a whole has a fear of addressing our worst secrets … Society as a whole doesn’t acknowledge the reality of abuse.” If the reality of IPV is not publicly supported, any losses created by the abuse are certainly not being acknowledged at the micro, mezzo, or macro levels of society (Hugstad, 2017).

Full Story »
Tech & Tools
Virtual Reality Brings Real-Life Relief

We’ve all enjoyed losing ourselves in a good book, but what if the story could change our lived experience? It may sound like science fiction, yet Andrea Stevenson Won uses a similar concept to study how virtual reality can treat real-life pain.

Virtual reality offers tantalizing hope as a way to relieve the anguish of physical and mental stress. For those dealing with acute pain, it can form a distraction for the mind. And for those suffering from trauma, it helps relive triggering situations in a supported way.

Won, an assistant professor of communication at Cornell University, directs the Virtual Embodiment Lab, exploring how physical and social interactions in mediated environments affect people’s perceptions. “I’m interested in the idea that you can transform your movements—see yourself doing something other than what you’re actually doing in real life—and this could help relieve chronic and acute pain,” Won says.

Read more »
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