Career Counseling for Women Preparing to Leave Abusive Relationships: A Social Cognitive Career Theory Approach.

Career counselors work with people from varied segments of society. For battered women, some of the challenges they face from intimate partner violence may significantly influence their career exploration and decision making. Social cognitive career theory (SCCT; R. W. Lent, S. D. Brown, & G. Hackett, 1994) is a framework that has important implications for working with these women. In this article, the authors present the unique career needs of battered women terminating abusive relationships, the relevance of SCCT to this population, strategies for using SCCT when working with these women, and a case study illustrating effective use of SCCT. Intimate partner violence (IPV) encompasses violent crimes committed against a person by “current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends, including same sex relationships” (Catalano, 2007, p. 1). According to Catalano, IPV affects women at almost 7 times the rate it affects men, and 20% of all nonfatal violence (rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault) against women is perpetuated by an intimate. This percentage translates into an annual average of 746,580 households reporting acts of IPV against women from 1993 to 2004 (Catalano, 2007). Although these statistics are high, researchers have suggested that up to 76.9% of physical and sexual assaults go unreported in the general population and that approximately one in five women report their IPV victimization (Felson & Pare, 2005). In addition, physical violence rarely occurs without psychological abuse, increasing the likelihood of a woman’s interest in terminating an abusive relationship (Henning & Klesges, 2003). Battered women are women who are survivors of domestic violence, encompassing not only IPV (physical and sexual violence) but also psychological and economic violence (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.).

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