Season 4 Episode 4: Being abused by a partner while advocating for others: An interview with Leah Vejzovic, the Safe & Together Institute North American Regional Manager
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Professionals working in domestic violence and related fields are not immune from being abused by their partner. In fact, their role as a domestic violence or related professional can create some unique vulnerabilities that perpetrators are willing and able to exploit as part of their efforts at control. In another episode in the series about practitioners who identify as survivors, Ruth and David interview one of their own colleagues at the Safe & Together Institute – Leah Vejzović the North American Safe & Together Regional Manager. In this intimate interview, Leah shares her journey of experiencing abuse & coercive control while working in the advocacy & the child welfare field. Leah speaks about the fear, shame & challenges professionals face when being harmed by a perpetrator & how it impacts disclosures to loved ones, family & to their own professional organizations.
In this interview, Leah shares about:
- How her perpetrator tried to manipulate her role as social worker to make her feel guilty and responsible for staying with him and “fixing” him
- How expressions of victim blaming by professional colleagues, when they were speaking about their cases, made her feel unsafe disclosing to peers
- How ‘expertise’ can be used by ourselves and others to victim blame those who are being abused by a partner by landing in a place of ‘I/you should have known better
Leah shares how she overcame her shame to disclose to a friend, and the responses which were helpful to her as she attempted to process and respond to the abuse she was enduring. She shares with Ruth and David about how the experience of being both professional and a survivor affirms for her the importance of partnering with survivors and focusing on perpetrators’ patterns of coercive control.
Together, David, Ruth and Leah analyze some of the unique vulnerabilities of domestic violence, child welfare and other professionals who are being actively abused including how perpetrators may be able to successfully target employment. They discuss how organizations can inadvertently collude with perpetrators through a lack of policies and unaddressed victim blaming culture. David, Leah & Ruth discuss how to better respond to professionals who are victims of domestic abuse as an ally & how to embed those behaviors in your organizational values and culture to guard against being manipulated by perpetrators and the revictimization of survivors who are also professionals.
Now available! Mapping the Perpetrator’s Pattern: A Practitioner’s Tool for Improving Assessment, Intervention, and Outcomes The web-based Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool is a virtual practice tool for improving assessment, intervention, and outcomes through a perpetrator pattern-based approach. The tool allows practitioners to apply the Model’s critical concepts and principles to their current case load in real