Seeking to end violence and distress in their relationship is the goal of women abused by intimate partners. The theoretical framework guiding development of the domestic violence survivor assessment (DVSA) was Landenburger's theory of entrapment and recovery. Social context and need to balance care for others and herself influence women's decision-making about abuse. The DVSA was developed collaboratively between researchers and counselors to gain a deeper understanding of battered women's cognitive states in order to assist them during counseling to effectively resolve the dilemma of their abusive relationships while experiencing personal growth. Five states are identified which a woman may experience on 11 issues concurrently at the personal, relationship or social context levels. Research to validate the DVSA and suggestions on use with women desiring to preserve their relationship or preserve their self or preserve the resolution of change is described. Using the DVSA for assessment, intervention and measuring intermediate outcomes is delineated.