What Does a Frog and Domestic Violent Relationships Have in Common?

I’m sure you’re curious to know what the heck a frog has to do with a domestic violent relationship. As a therapist I struggled for years trying to comprehend and understand why someone would stay in a domestic violent relationship. I really didn’t get it.  I didn’t get or understand the full picture of how this occurred or why someone would stay.

frog-postAs a therapist we are taught to know and understand our biases as well as know which populations would be difficult for us to work with. For many years I shied away from anything to do with domestic violence. I knew I didn’t understand it, so I didn’t work with clients where there was domestic violence present. I didn’t want to do any harm because of my own lack of knowledge and skill.  A therapist’s rule, “first do no harm.”

It took me several trainings, a close friend sharing about a domestic violent relationship she was in, and a frog to understand how domestic violence occurs.  I might add that my friend I spoke to was almost murdered due to being in a domestic violent relationship.  I didn’t get why someone would stay in a relationship where they were beat up, put down, and physically injured.  That just made no sense to me.  My understanding of how domestic violent relationships evolve came from understanding the “Frog Syndrome.”

The Frog Syndrome asks, if you have a pot of boiling hot water and take a live frog and put it in the water what will the Frog do? Of course the answer is, is that it will jump out because the temperature of the water is so hot it burns the Frog. But, if you take a frog and place the frog in lukewarm water and slowly turn up the temperature what will happen to the Frog?  Well, the frog will actually cook itself to death.  Why you ask? Well when you put a frog in lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat the frog adjust its body temperature with the water. It’s a very slow process of adjusting its body temperature to the water temperature until the water gets just too hot and then it’s too late.

As I began to learn and understand more about domestic violence the metaphor of the Frog syndrome really resonated with me and helped me understand what actually occurs in domestic violence relationships.  For most people in a domestic violent relationship the violence doesn’t come in the beginning it comes at the end.  Things happen over time and are so subtle it’s really hard to pick up.

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