What is Domestic Abuse or Violence Therapy?
Domestic abuse or violence refers to patterns of behaviors within relationships that are used to gain or keep power over another member of the family. Typically, it is spouse against spouse or a parent against a child. In some situations involving the elderly, it may be child against parent.
Domestic abuse or violence can be physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological. Common behaviors include name calling, threat making, manipulation, humiliation, blaming, and similar violations. Other dangerous indicators of domestic abuse or violence involve the aggressor attempting to isolate the victim from others, monitoring the victim’s behavior, among other acts.
In many cases, individuals suffering through domestic abuse or violence are not inclined to report what is happening to the authorities. This stems from fear as well as the hope that the behavior will go away. Unfortunately, it rarely does, and in most cases, it worsens.
How to Handle Domestic Abuse
Domestic violence is a global problem that can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, race, socio-economic status, or gender. While the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one out of every five women will become a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime, it’s not just women who suffer.
According to the American Bar Association, “835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.” Clearly, then, this is an endemic problem with deep-seated societal ramifications, making it imperative that people know what to do when they find themselves in an abusive situation. Once victims are able to leave a violent relationship behind, the next step in the process is moving past the emotional damage.
Cut Off Contact
After you make the split, you might feel tempted to contact your ex again. Whether you want to show your abuser that you’re happy, or you want to offer your forgiveness, it’s actually better to sever all ties. Remember that domestic abuse is about control, and once you leave, your abuser has lost control over you. They could be looking for any opportunity to rekindle the relationship, and therefore, by contacting them, you’re opening the door to abuse again.
First, change your phone number. Next, delete the phone number of your ex to avoid temptation of reaching out. Instead, ask a close friend if he or she will be your call buddy. If you find yourself reaching for the phone to call your ex, dial the number of your call buddy and talk to them.
If that’s not possible, then put the phone in another room, walk away, and find another activity to keep yourself busy. Finally, if you maintain a friendship with your ex on any social media accounts, make sure to remove them and block them from being able to see your activity.
Domestic violence victims often bear emotional scars that can develop into depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. Counseling is the first step in the ongoing process to heal these scars. During individual counseling sessions, trained professionals can listen and offer advice on working through the healing process. Group counseling is another option available. During group therapy, survivors are able to connect with and support others who have been through similar situations.
If you were in an abusive relationship for an extended period, you may find that you have become isolated from your friends and family, and subsequently, your support network may no longer be there. If so, look into support groups in your area. If you’re looking to forge new friendships, consider volunteering for your favorite charity, joining a neighborhood book club, or taking a class at a local college.
Methods Typically Used in Therapy for Domestic Abuse
There are many different methods employed in therapy to deal with domestic abuse. The primary methods center around psychotherapy or talk therapy. Therapists are more inclined to just listen in the early stages to ensure that the victim is able to develop a trusting relationship with the therapist as well as to let the therapist assess the situation and determine the level of abuse.
While some form of counseling between family members is not unheard of, the primary methods for handling domestic abuse involve one on one therapy with the victim and the therapist. This may also be paired with group therapy so that the victim can see that others are struggling through the same issues and work to erase the perceptions of isolation and inferiority. Hypnosis is sometimes used to help develop positive responses. Medication may also be prescribed for anxiety attacks and similar related issues.
Reasons for Hiring a Therapist
Once a negative behavior has reached a level sufficient to be categorized as domestic abuse or violence, therapy will likely be needed. The processes involved in domestic abuse are dehumanizing. It’s not uncommon for the victims to be terrified of the repercussions and to ultimately blame themselves for the acts, assuming that had it not been for their own flaws or actions that the aggressors would have left them alone.
These negative behaviors and beliefs need to be addressed. They can lead to a number of other psychological issues ranging from dissociative disorders to eating disorders to anxiety attacks to even mental breakdowns. Through handling domestic abuse or violence as soon as possible after it occurs, it is more likely that the damage will not be permanent.
What to Look for in a Therapist
In most cases, it’s best to work with a domestic violence therapist. If you are unable to find one, then other options that may provide sufficient resources and have the necessary background may include family conflict psychologists, trauma and abuse therapists, and relational therapists.
If you connect with the therapist in an emergency situation, then you will likely use the first person who qualifies. For most individuals, the bond formed through sharing the trauma of the experience is sufficient to establish the trust needed. If you connect with the therapist in the absence of an emergency situation, you may struggle to find someone whom you trust. Fear and negative reinforcement behaviors and techniques such as isolation, verbal abuse, and the like may make it difficult to trust another individual in authority. A good therapist will spend most of the time listening to you than talking. Look for someone who calms you down or someone whom you can talk to eventually without feeling the need to self censor yourself. Don’t wait! Search TherapyTribe directory to find a qualified counselor today.
Prepare for Custody
Taking precaution to support children through this process is especially important. It’s believed that, around the world, almost 275 million children are exposed to domestic violence. Even worse, studies show child abuse occurs in 30-60 percent of family violence cases that involve families with children. Researchers also believe that children who face exposure to violence in their home are more likely to later become perpetrators of violence themselves.
If there’s a dispute involving child custody after separation, you may ask that your family go through a formal custody evaluation. There are evaluators available who have received training in domestic violence cases. They will interview both parents, as well as evaluating the relationship the child has with each parent.
In cases where the parents can’t agree on a parenting plan, the court may ask a mediator to intervene. These mediators are also trained to work with situations involving domestic violence. They will help put together a parenting plan on who will be responsible for making important decisions and where the children will live. Lawyers or domestic violence agencies can offer legal advice on any custody questions you may have.
Take Care of Your Health
While you go to domestic abuse and violence counseling to take care of your mental health, it’s also important to look after your physical health as well. Worry and fear can disturb sleep patterns, and lack of sleep can cause other physical and mental health issues. Yoga and meditation can reduce stress and help clear your mind so you can sleep better.
Additionally, foods that contain high amounts of omega-3, such as fish, flax, and nuts offer natural mood boosters. If you eat small but well-balanced meals throughout the day, you can keep your blood sugar raised and have more energy. Also, try to avoid any drugs or alcohol, as these can just worsen any feelings of depression.
Exercise is another important aspect of your physical health to keep up. When you exercise, you’re not only staying fit, your body also releases endorphins and serotonin. These natural chemicals trigger a positive and happy feeling in your body. To get the most out of your workout, strive for between 30 and 60 minutes of light to moderate exercise on most days of the week.
Address Your Fears
After some time has passed, you may find yourself ready to start dating again, yet feeling hesitant at the same time. It is possible to have a healthy and loving relationship with another person even if you’ve been the victim of domestic abuse in the past. Healthy relationships are ones based on honesty, mutual respect, and trust.
If you’re ready to start looking for a long-term relationship, you must first decide the qualities in a partner that are most important to you. Remember not to make the search for a new relationship your entire life. You still have friends, family, and other outside activities to focus on. Also, remember to take some time to get to know a person since you can’t always rely on first impressions. Finally, be alert for relationship red flags. If you ever have feelings of insecurity, you should always take a step back and reevaluate the relationship.
Once you leave an abusive relationship, it’s important to remember that healing from the situation takes time. The recovery process can also be difficult at times. However, with the right emotional and physical care, it is possible to move forward and live a happy and healthy life again.