Interpersonal violence: EMDR intervention with victims, survivors and perpetrators


Interpersonal violence, in particular chronic victimization of women and children, is an underestimated population health risk factor. Traumatic events such as violence, violate the autonomy of the person at the level of basic body integrity. The body is invaded, injured, defiled. Traumatic events have primary effects not only on the psychological structures of the self, but also on the system of attachment and meaning making, that link individual and the family. Through the process of dissociation, voluntary thought suppression, minimization, victims learn to alter an unbearable reality, leading to doublethink: the ability to hold simultaneously two mutually contradictory beliefs (Herman 1992).

The aim of this presentation is to provide useful information concerning intervention approaches for both victims and perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence, including guidelines on preventing emotional impact on clinicians, when working with trauma and vicarious traumatization.

During this workshop, we will describe the effects of ongoing trauma on personality organization and the effects of child abuse and neglect, pinpointing the traumatic impact of prolonged victimization on the development of personality traits, including alterations in empathy and identity. Specific approaches addressing victims of domestic and sexual violence will be explored, including risk assessment for domestic violence. We will also illustrate specific interventions with sex offenders, in particular the use of EMDR with both victims and perpetrators during the treatment phases. Specificity of approach and intervention with victims and perpetrator will be described, with a focus on court‐prescribed treatment and risk assessment. An outline of treatment for sex offenders (classical relapse prevention model, Good Lives Model, CIPM model) will also be provided. Relevant issues related to vicarious trauma will be discussed, in order to understand traumatic countertransference and the importance of the therapist’s support system.






S. T. Bruno
Carla M. Xella

Original Work Citation

Bruno, S. T., & Xella, C. M. (2015, July).  Interpersonal violence: EMDR intervention with victims, survivors and perpetrators.  Presentation at the 16th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Milan, Italy



“Interpersonal violence: EMDR intervention with victims, survivors and perpetrators,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 27, 2021,

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