Unselfish Self-Care as an Engagement Strategy and an Accountability Process at Emerge Ted German, Ph.D. Emerge Director of Training Definition of Unselfish Self-Care Abusers take specific steps to improve their life: so that they can be more respectful partners. so that they can be responsible ex-partners. so that they can improve their parenting skills. so that they can have a more meaningful, productive and happy lives in terms of their relationships and self-development. Examples of Selfish Self-Care “I need to go to the gym every night regardless of whether or not this is unfair to my partner.” “I am not willing to negotiate about when and how often I go to AA meetings.” “When we have conflict I need to ‘take space’ by leaving the situation despite the fact that I am being controlling and abusive.” Effects of Selfish Self-Care Abusers may deliberately exaggerate their poor mental or physical condition as a manipulation tactic to convince the victim/survivor to take them back. Abusers may make emotional or physical demands on partners that have a negative impacts on their lives. Talking About Unselfish Self-Care at Emerge We routinely ask clients questions about health status: last doctor visit, dental visit, and we solicit group feedback. We ask clients about their employment status and solicit group support and advice about concrete steps the client can take to improve their situation i.e. job training, choosing a trade, getting more education. Group leaders notice clients who appear to be particularly stressed, depressed, anxious, and/or troubled, and invite group members to offer concrete support to those clients. We include unselfish self-care as part of our formal long-term goal setting process that occurs roughly half way through the program. Unselfish Self-Care and Engagement We’re not just talking about abuse. We’re showing that we care about the client as a whole person. Group members giving each other support and advice on self-care creates positive bonds. ◦ Feedback relating to accountability for abuse becomes easier to take. How Is Unselfish Self-Care Part of an Accountability Process to Families When the abuser takes realistic steps to take care of himself, he is less likely to pressure his partner to take care of him. When an abuser takes immediate realistic steps to improve his life, he is in a better position to respond to the needs of his partner, ex-partner and children. Self-Care Improves Accountability Abusers who have substance abuse or mental health problems need treatment for these issues in order to constructively participate in the abuser program. Change is difficult. When abusers take better care of themselves, they are more likely to have a positive, constructive attitude towards dealing with the consequences of their abusive behavior.