The Shark Cage®: A practical framework for addressing vulnerability and re-victimisation in women who are victims of sexual and domestic violence .
Developed by Ursula Benstead, Shark Cage gives clients the knowledge and tools to feel empowered and actively decrease the likelihood of further victimisation.
All too often women who present with symptoms of depression and anxiety have a history of abuse. Many of these people have had multiple experiences of abuse often beginning in childhood. In fact it has been found that childhood experiences of physical or sexual abuse render women almost twice as likely to experience domestic violence in adulthood (Mouzos & Makkai, 2004). Unfortunately women often believe that they must be to blame for abuse in their lives if it keeps happening. The Shark Cage® framework assists clients to understand re-victimisation in a way that does not blame the victim.
According to the developer of the framework: "The framework is instantly relatable across the board for women despite any difference between class, education and ability. I think it's the imagery, the archetype of the shark that makes it easy to understand."
The concept is that we all develop a shark cage – something that helps protect us to a degree from predatory sharks. The cage can be built through a happy childhood, seeing respectful behaviour in the family home and avoiding abuse. Children can be taught at a very young age to build shark cages and this will help them identify as well as keep off predators in life. Some develop strong, impenetrable cages that allow them to live healthy, happy lives. Others are not so fortunate. These unfortunate ones may never build up enough bars to keep them safe from “sharks” or along the way, may lose bars when danger has presented itself.
Building a shark cage after we have grown up allowing sharks to bite us, or thinking that it’s okay, makes it very hard.
Some of our shark cages have missing bars because our teaching was incomplete or we have been in a feeding frenzy and faced some damage. Thats okay. We just need help repairing and re-building our cage.
For further information on Shark Cage group sessions or counselling, please contact us.