Pattern Changing for Abused Women: An Educational Program


Marilyn Shear Goodman & Beth Creager Fallon

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Interpersonal Violence: The Practice Series

    Jon R.Conte Series Editor

    Interpersonal Violence: The Practice Series is devoted to mental health, social service, and allied professionals who confront daily the problem of interpersonal violence. It is hoped that the knowledge, professional experience, and high standards of practice offered by the authors of these volumes may lead to the end of interpersonal violence.

    In this series…


    by John E. B. Myers

    CHILD ABUSE TRAUMA: Theory and Treatment of the Lasting Effects

    by John N. Briere


    by Jeffrey L. Edleson

    Richard M. Tolman


    by Patricia A. Resick

    Monica K. Schnicke


    by Mary Ann Donaldson

    Susan Cordes-Green


    by Donna Pence

    Charles Wilson

    HOW TO INTERVIEW SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIMS: Including the Use of Anatomical Dolls

    by Marcia Morgan, with contributions from Virginia Edwards

    ASSESSING DANGEROUSNESS: Violence by Sexual Offenders, Batterers, and Child Abusers

    Edited by Jacquelyn C. Campbell


    by Marilyn Shear Goodman and Beth Creager Fallon


    by Einat Peled and Diane Davis


    by William N. Friedrich

    CONFRONTING ABUSIVE BELIEFS: Group Treatment for Abusive Men

    by Mary Nōmme Russell


    by Cheryl L. Karp

    Traci L. Butler


    by Laura Pistone Webb and James Leehan


    by Vernon R. Wiehe


    by Esther Deblinger and Anne Hope Heflin

    HEARING THE INTERNAL TRAUMA: Working With Children and Adolescents Who Have Been Sexually Abused

    by Sandra Wieland


    View Copyright Page


    This book is dedicated to the many abused women over the years who have sought help at the Women's Resource Center of South County. They came expecting only to receive, but the courageous sharing of their painful stories became a gift to us: it was the inspiration for the Pattern Changing Program.

    Contact Information

    Please address questions regarding any section of Pattern Changing for Abused Women to Marilyn Goodman.

    Inquiries about available workshops should be addressed to Beth Fallon.

    P.O. Box 5646

    Wakefield, Rhode Island 02880


    The relationship between research and practice is difficult and often uneasy. Quite simply, the paradigm and rules of evidence for social research are not easily applied to clinical practice and are sometimes even irrelevant to it. Clinicians frequently require knowledge and insight that either have not yet been developed by researchers or are sometimes beyond the ability of researchers to generate. Research and clinical practice are not incompatible, but the application of research to clinical practice and the applicability of clinical cases to generalizable research conclusions are more difficult than commonly assumed.

    I learned this lesson more than 10 years ago, when I spent a year with the Family Development Clinic at Children's Hospital. At that time, my colleagues at Children's Hospital and I assumed that clinical practice could be improved if it was informed by state-of-the-art research on family violence. Of course, at times it was useful to summon up the latest empirical data that related to a specific case, and at other times a case was illuminated by applying a research-based theoretical perspective instead of only the clinical case perspective. But in general, during the one-year experience, at too many times the researcher's paradigm and the clinician's seemed less than fully compatible.

    In the years since that experiment, I have found that research and practice in the field of family violence have, on occasion, grown farther apart. For example, the First National Family Violence Research Conference, held at the University of New Hampshire in 1980, included a compatible and congenial group of researchers and practitioners. The compatibility and congeniality were much more frayed by the time of the Second National Family Violence Research Conference, in 1984. By the time of the Third Conference, in 1987, two separate conferences had to be held—one for researchers and a second for practitioners.

    During the 1960s and 1970s, researchers and practitioners worked hand-in-hand to help draw attention to the problems of child abuse, wife abuse, and elder abuse. They worked with a common purpose and tried to overcome a common obstacle: an indifferent public and indifferent policy makers. The separation of research and practice was the result of a number of forces. First, as I noted above, there is no automatic and easy fit between research and practice. Second, both groups were forced to compete for scarce funding in the 1980s. Third, the field of family violence research and practice became much more political in the 1980s. Research results that did not fit a particular point of view were often rejected, as were the researchers themselves.

    This brief social history of the field of family violence is an involved way of explaining why I, as a researcher, appear an unlikely person to write a foreword for this book. However, I am not a totally unlikely choice. I have known Marilyn Goodman since she began her work with the Women's Resource Center of South County. The agency has run a hot line, shelter, and educational program less than 5 miles from where I live and work. Yet although I know Marilyn, we work near one another, and share similar interests in the issue of battered women, we have not interacted professionally on more than a few occasions. I knew about the work Marilyn was doing and had met some women who had participated in the Pattern Changing Program, but my knowledge of the program was no more than my general knowledge of practice in the area of family violence.

    Thus, when I read this book for the first time, it was a new experience for me, as it will be for many of the readers of the volume. When I read the introduction of the book and then read about each session, I was impressed by the fact that the basic assumptions of the program and the specific goals of each session were laid out as if informed by the latest, state-of-the-art research on family violence. Pattern Changing, however, is based solely on Marilyn Goodman and Beth Fallon's cumulative experience in working with battered women and their acquired insights into what women need to do to move out of a violent relationship and live a violence-free life. Research, theory and practice have come together again in this volume.

    Pattern Changing is the hoped-for intersection between research and practice. The book and the program it describes are free from the ideological baggage of either practice or research. The politics of research and practice is absent. The focus of the program and the book is on the needs of battered women. Even though there are different ways of knowing about family violence—my way is through research; Goodman and Fallon's way is through experience—it is clear that both points of view can intersect and provide meaningful assistance for the victims of intimate violence.

    A reading of Pattern Changing for Abused Women suggests that my view of the relationship between research and practice has been too pessimistic. Goodman and Fallon's program clearly demonstrates that although the goals, emphasis, methods, and foci of research and practice may be different, research and practice can inform each other. Theory and method emerge from the kind of positivistic research I am involved in and from the concrete experiences of practitioners like Goodman and Fallon. When the understanding gained from both approaches is compatible, as it is in Pattern Changing for Abused Women, it makes for powerful and effective clinical practice.

    Richard J.GellesFamily Violence Research Program University of Rhode Island


    This book is the result of an arduous 10 years of work in developing the Pattern Changing Program. It could not have been achieved without the support and encouragement of others, whom we wish to acknowledge with gratitude.

    Our warm thanks go to Richard Gelles. His belief in Pattern Changing's concept and his patient guidance as we moved through the publication process were invaluable gifts. We are grateful for his patience and practical advice that cheered us on during periods of discouragement.

    Special recognition is due Jon Conte and the supportive staff at Sage Publications: Terry Hendrix, Dale Grenfell, Diana Axelsen, Gillian Dickens, Christina Hill, and Linda Poderski. Their insightful, patient guidance of first-time authors made this book possible.

    Marjorie Swann, Executive Director of the Women's Resource Center of South County from 1981 to 1986, gave not only encouragement but also trust and free rein for creativity in the early development of the program.

    Mary Deibler, Executive Director of the Women's Resource Center of South County from 1986 to 1990, continued this trusting support, adding her enthusiasm and humor. She encouraged publications about Pattern Changing and was the first to suggest our writing a book.

    We appreciate Mollie and Russell Smart and Alice and Dick Stratton, who read and believed in the manuscript and provided valuable criticism.

    And last, but scarcely least, our husbands and best friends, Leon Goodman and Brian Fallon, have given their love, encouragement, patience, and sustaining wit and good humor.

  • Appendix: Forms, Handouts, and Questionnaires

    Pattern Changing Ground Rules

    The Pattern Changing Program is designed to help a woman understand the problem of domestic abuse that has been a pattern in her life, recognize her power and choices, and learn techniques for achieving her goals. Pattern Changing is education, not therapy, and cannot solve crises.

    • CONFIDENTIALITY is primary. Because all women attending will be sharing personal information, it is a basic rule that no one disclose to anyone outside the group what is said or the identity of anyone in the group. Suspected child abuse is the only exception to the confidentiality rule, as we are mandated by law to report it to the Department of Children, Youth and Families.
    • CONSISTENT ATTENDANCE. Pattern Changing always has a waiting list, so we ask that you be seriously committed to attending all 15 sessions. Call the office if you have to be absent for any reason.
    • PROMPTNESS. Out of respect for the other women, be on time, as latecomers are disruptive. If you have a problem arriving on time because of your work or other schedule, speak with the leaders about it. We begin promptly at 6:30 p.m.
    • Particularly in the beginning sessions, many women find some of the information DEPRESSING OR UPSETTING. This is understandable because the subject matter may revive old issues. If this happens to you, do not just stop coming. Speak with one of the leaders immediately, and she will offer you help in moving through these rough and discouraging spots and will support you in deciding what you want to do. You are not alone in these feelings, but most women find that if they stick with it, the pain lessens and is replaced by positive understanding of one's own power and capacities.
    • SENSITIVITY TO OTHERS. We have only 2 hours for each session. Every woman needs her chance to be heard, and it is important to be sensitive to this. No one should monopolize the discussion.
    • If you are having a PROBLEM WITH ANOTHER WOMAN OR SITUATION IN THE GROUP, consult the coleaders after the session.
    • NOTE TAKING is discouraged, because it may interfere with feeling connected to the other women in the group. It is not necessary because the text is handed out at the end of each session.
    • If TRANSPORTATION is a problem, mention it in the group and try to arrange a car pool with other participants.
    • Do not drink ALCOHOL or use OTHER DRUGS prior to coming to the group. Pattern Changing is an educational program, and a clear head is needed. In addition, because of past experiences with alcoholics, many of the women are uncomfortable with the odor of alcohol.
    • SMOKING is not permitted in our building. A break may be arranged if you feel the need for it.
    Pattern Changing Registration Form

    Contract for Pattern Changing Participants

    The Pattern Changing Program is presented twice a year, in the fall and spring, with group enrollment limited to 15 women. Because Pattern Changing always has a waiting list, we ask that participants make a commitment to on-time attendance at the 15 sessions. Fees for attending are on a sliding scale from $30.00 to $1.00 each session. The registration fee is $15.00.

    Confidentiality is a particularly serious issue in the Pattern Changing groups. Group leaders, other staff, volunteers, and child care workers have signed confidentiality statements, and we ask that participants do so too. Breach of confidentiality will result in immediate expulsion from the group.

    Statement of Commitment and Confidentiality

    I agree to attend all 15 sessions of Pattern Changing and to be prompt. If I have a good reason for not attending or for arriving late, I shall notify the leaders.

    I understand the importance of confidentiality in the Pattern Changing Program. I promise never to disclose to anyone outside the group the identity of or information about the other participants.

    Pattern Changing Program Confidential Information

    Pattern Changing Progress Questionnaire

    Your Bill of Rights
    • You have the right to be you.
    • You have the right to put yourself first.
    • You have the right to be safe.
    • You have the right to love and be loved.
    • You have the right to be treated with respect.
    • You have the right to be human—NOT PERFECT.
    • You have the right to be angry and protest if you are treated unfairly or abusively by anyone.
    • You have the right to your own privacy.
    • You have the right to your own opinions, to express them, and to be taken seriously.
    • You have the right to earn and control your own money.
    • You have the right to ask questions about anything that affects your life.
    • You have the right to make decisions that affect you.
    • You have the right to grow and change (and that includes changing your mind).
    • You have the right to say NO.
    • You have the right to make mistakes.
    • You have the right NOT to be responsible for other adults' problems.
    • You have the right not to be liked by everyone.
    Outcome Goals for Pattern Changing Participants
    • To increase understanding of
      • basic rights
      • abuse
      • abusive family dynamics
      • dysfunctional family legacies
      • feelings, with emphasis on anger, fear and anxiety, guilt, and grief
      • healthy relationships
    • To gather information about and learn techniques for developing
      • boundary setting
      • assertiveness
      • realistic goal setting
      • decision making
    • To receive support and encouragement
      • while growing in self-knowledge and self-esteem
      • in recognizing and digesting painful, as well as freeing, realities
      • in struggling to develop the above techniques
      • in changing negative lifelong patterns to positive patterns of your own choosing as an adult woman
    How Serious was your Abuse?

    Circle the response that best describes your current or past relationship.

    Anger Gauge

    The purpose of this gauge is to help you recognize that you can be angry about minor things, identify the feeling, and begin to feel less threatened by it. In each situation described below, indicate by writing yes or no whether you felt at all angry.

    • ——You are already late for work and find that your car has a flat tire.
    • ——You have worked all summer planting vegetables and flowers, and you discover one morning that neighborhood dogs have trampled the entire garden.
    • ——Your roof has been leaking after a storm, and you call a repairman to fix it. He promises to arrive the next day but never shows up and doesn't call.
    • ——You call him again, assuming there may have been miscommunication. Another date is made, but again he doesn't show up or call.
    • ——You have been waiting to be served at the deli counter for 10 minutes. Just as your turn comes, another person pushes ahead of you.
    • ——When you give the checker in the grocery store your canvas bag to use instead of paper or plastic, she ignores it and begins loading your groceries into a plastic bag.
    • ——When you call this to her attention, she is unpleasant and acts annoyed.
    • ——You lend someone a book, and he or she does not return it.
    • ——You repeatedly make plans to go to dinner with a friend, and she is always a half hour late.
    • ——You are in a hurry to get to an appointment, but the car in front of you is traveling below the speed limit and will not speed up.
    • ——You are trying to discuss your feelings about a relationship issue with someone you love, but the other person clams up and will not talk.
    • ——You are chatting with two other people at a meeting. A third person joins the group and greets the other two but ignores you.
    • ——You send in an insurance claim, and the company tries not to pay.
    • ——You have bought expensive tickets for a concert, but when you get there, you find that you are seated almost behind a pillar.
    • ——A coworker never has a good word of appreciation or encouragement to say about your efforts.
    • ——A friend lies to you over a minor issue.
    • ——You have had to wait an hour and half for your doctor's appointment even though you called ahead and were told he was on time.
    • ——You have been waiting for a car to leave a crowded parking lot so that you can park in its space. Just as it leaves, another driver who has just arrived races in ahead of you.
    • ——Your brand new car is having serious engine trouble.
    • ——You spill indelible ink on your new dress.
    Evaluating Relationships: Healthy or Unhealthy?
    Susan and Larry

    Susan is an independent, quick-to-make-decisions kind of person. She has an exciting career as a marine biologist and makes an excellent salary. Larry has never been to college but is very happy in his career as a cabinet maker. He does beautiful work and is much in demand. He is a quiet man, contemplative and kind. His shop is in their home, so he often is more available to their three children, all in elementary school, than is Susan. Sometimes Susan feels impatient with him because he does not make decisions as quickly as she does. Susan's impatience hurts Larry's feelings now and then. At those times, he tells her how he feels, and Susan remembers to slow down. Susan had two alcoholic parents but has had many years in Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA), as well as individual therapy, and tries to be aware of the negative patterns in her life. Susan and Larry share a deep commitment to their church, where they met, and are enthusiastic hikers and campers with their children.

    Elizabeth and Joe

    Elizabeth and her husband, Joe, are having a terrible financial struggle. They are heavily in debt and have four children to raise, all of whom are in school. Elizabeth wants to take a job, both to help with finances and because she is eager to have a career in addition to her homemaking. Joe will not hear of it. “No wife of mine is going to work! I want you at home.” She is always home when her children get home from school.


    Jenny is a single working mother. She cannot always be home when Johnny, her 8-year-old son, gets home from school, so she has arranged with Mrs. Jones, an elderly widow next door, to keep Johnny until she gets home. Jenny is sometimes an hour or so late. Johnny knows exactly what to do when he arrives home and Jenny is not there. He likes Mrs. Jones. Jenny's mother and father think she and Johnny should move in with them so that someone will always be there for Johnny, but Jenny wants to keep her own place and independence. Sometimes, though, it is a financial struggle for her, and she wonders whether she is being fair to Johnny.

    Ellen and Ralph

    Ellen and Ralph have been together for a year and are still madly in love. She is a schoolteacher, and he is a football coach in the same school. He does not feel ready to get married, and neither of them is interested in having children in the near future, if ever. They fight a lot because Ralph is very jealous of Ellen and would like her to be less independent and more tuned in to him. His passion is sports, and they spend much of their free time going to games. He likes Ellen to watch when their school's basketball team plays or when the football team he coaches plays. Ellen loves to please him because he treats her “like a queen.”


    Paloma is a single mother with four children under 10. Her ex-husband was a severe abuser, and she is afraid of emotional involvement with another man. She is very committed to her children. Recently, she met Jorge at the restaurant where she cooks, and he has been calling her often. He says he is especially attracted to her marvelous qualities as a mother and the fact that she puts her children first. He says his mother was terribly abusive to him and his father when he was a child, and he wishes she had been like Paloma. Paloma has gone out with Jorge a few times, and it has been a pleasant time—movies, dinner, and so on. Jorge has never been married and does not talk about marriage at this point.

    Roger and Louise

    Roger is a fisherman; he is away for many days at a time. He is an alcoholic but has been in recovery for 6 years, thanks to AA and individual counseling. The fishing industry is not doing well these days, and he worries about the future. Louise comes from a farming community in Minnesota. She and Roger met while she was in Rhode Island visiting her sister. They have been married for 5 years and have 3-year-old twin boys. Roger does not want his wife to work, and Louise loves staying home with her children, just as her mother did when she was growing up. She has a small at-home business growing flowers and vegetables for several restaurants and is proud to see her own bank account growing. When Roger is home, they enjoy seeing their families and going square dancing.

    Jane and Alex

    Jane is a single mother with four children under 10. Her ex-husband was a severe abuser, and she is afraid of emotional involvement with another man. She is very committed to her children. She is on welfare and plans to go to school, if possible, when her baby starts kindergarten in a year. Alex lives next door. He is divorced from a woman he says was neurotic and impossible to live with. He loves to come by Jane's for dinner because he thinks her cooking is the best he has ever eaten. He is part owner of a bowling alley and likes his work. Jane is very lonely for adult companionship, and he is good company. They laugh a lot. He can never take her out, even though he always says he wants to, because she cannot afford to hire a baby-sitter. Lately, after the children are asleep, she has made love with him, but she is frightened because she is finding herself waiting more and more eagerly for his phone call or the sound of his footsteps at the door. She has told him she wants to get married again, and he has not said no.

    Rashida and Jamil

    Both Rashida and Jamil are in real estate and are hard-driving business persons. They are quite competitive and fight a lot, rather explosively, though never abusively, usually about minor things around the house. Once the anger is out, they both cool down immediately and kiss and make up. They love to go to the dog races with their circle of friends. They party a lot, though neither of them drinks much. They plan to buy a house and think they will get married eventually. They are not sure they want to have children because they both enjoy their work and independence.

    Julia and Norman

    Julia met Norman when he was a patient for minor surgery in the hospital where she works as an R.N. She is the supervisor of nurses on her floor and loves her job. She is very successful at it and feels well respected by her colleagues. Julia has never been married and has always been timid about involvements with men because she was sexually abused by her grandfather when she was a small child. She has had some therapy for this but knows she eventually will need more help. Norman had a small construction business that was thriving until the recession. They dated for 6 months, and he was extremely sensitive and thoughtful to her. She told him about her childhood, and he was very understanding. They got married, and he moved into Julia's house. Unfortunately, the recession has almost ruined Norman's business, and he is just barely hanging on. Julia has mortgaged her house to help keep his business going. Norman has hurt his back and now is collecting temporary disability. Julia works very hard at her job and is trying to take good care of Norman. His mother was a tyrant, and his first wife cheated on him and cleaned out his bank account when she finally took off, and Julia hates to see him so miserable now. He spends his time watching television and playing cards with a few friends because he is not well enough to do any work. He is very depressed.

    Recommended Reading for Participants

    Bass, Ellen and Davis, Laura. The Courage to Heal.

    Dyer, Wayne. Your Erroneous Zones.

    Engel, Beverly. The Emotionally Abused Woman.

    Evans, Patricia. The Verbally Abusive Relationship.

    Fracchia, Charles. How to Be Single Creatively.

    Frankel, Lois. Women, Anger, and Depression.

    Gravitz, Herbert L. and Bowden, Julie D. Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics.

    Humer, Judith Lewis. Trauma and Recovery.

    Jeffers, Susan. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

    Jordan, Judith; Kaplan, Alexandra; Miller, Jean Baker; and Surrey, Janet. Women's Growth in Connection.

    Krantzler, Mel. Creative Divorce—A New Opportunity for Personal Growth.

    Ledray, Linda. Recovering From Rape.

    Lerner, Harriet Goldhur. Dance of Anger.

    Lerner, Harriet Goldhur. Dance of Intimacy.

    Martin, Del. Battered Wives.

    McNulty, Faith. The Burning Bed.

    Nicarthy Ginny. Getting Free: A Handbook for Women in Abusive Relationships.

    Norwood, Robin. Women Who Love Too Much.

    Pizzey, Erin. Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear You.

    Priere, Lynette and Peacock, Richard. Learning to Leave.

    Robertson, John. Suddenly Single—Learning to Start Over.

    Schaeffer, Brenda. Is It Love or Is It Addiction?

    Schaeffer, Brenda. Signs of Healthy Love.

    Stearns, Ann Kaiser. Surviving Personal Crisis.

    Stinnett, Nick and De Frain, John. Secrets of Strong Families.

    Straus, Murray A., Gelles, Richard J., and Steinmetz, Suzanne. Behind Closed Doors.

    Walker, Lenore. The Battered Woman.

    Pattern Changing Program Evaluation

    Certificate of Completion of Pattern Changing

    About the Authors

    Marilyn Shear Goodman is Director of Group Programs at the Women's Resource Center of South County in Wakefield, Rhode Island, where she leads support groups and teaches Pattern Changing. She has worked extensively with victims of domestic violence since 1981 and in 1984 began to develop the Pattern Changing Program. She has published articles on Pattern Changing and domestic violence. Prior to her interest in this field, she worked with jail inmates for Friends Outside, in Santa Clara County, California, and in Rhode Island with health programs for low-income persons. She holds a B.A. in French from Stanford University.

    Beth Creager Fallon works in the area of family life education and training, and specializes in teaching assertiveness training. For the past 6 years, she has worked as Co-Leader of the Pattern Changing Program at the Women's Resource Center of South County in Wakefield, Rhode Island. She edited the manual Developing and Leading Family Life Education Programs for Family Service Association of America. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Hood College, Maryland, and an M.S. in child development and family relations from the University of Rhode Island.

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website