Dealing with Domestic Violence and Abuse
Domestic violence is a severe problem that affects millions of Americans every year. While it is necessary to identify and treat it, it is equally important to work to prevent it by promoting respectful and nonviolent relationships and communities that focus on equality.
Types of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is abusive behavior in any relationship by one partner to gain power and control over another. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial, psychological, technical actions, threats of action, or any other pattern of coercive behavior that affects another person in an intimate partnership. This includes any behavior that intimidates, manipulates, humiliates, isolates, coerces, threatens, blames, or harms another person.
Some examples of abusive behavior are:
Examples of physical abuse are hitting, slapping, pushing, scratching, pinching, biting, and pulling hair. Physical abuse also includes denying medical care to a partner or making them use alcohol or drugs.
Sexual abuse is attempting to force intimate contact or behavior without consent. This type of abuse includes, but is not limited to, spousal rape, sexual assault, forced sex following physical violence, or being sexually demeaning to another person.
Emotional abuse is destroying a person's self-esteem and undermining their self-worth. This includes, but is not limited to, ongoing criticism, devaluation of one's own abilities, verbal abuse, or harm to another person's relationship with their child.
Mental or psychological abuse is causing fear through intimidation; threats of physical harm to oneself, a partner, children, or a partner's family or friends; destruction of property; or forced isolation from family, friends, or school and work.
Technological abuse has become a more common form of abuse in recent years. Tech abuse is a pattern of conduct that can harm, threaten, control, stalk, harass, impersonate, exploit, blackmail, or monitor another person using technology. This includes smartphones and other web-enabled devices, online platforms, cameras and imaging programs, location tracking devices, or other emerging technologies.
Economic abuse controls or limits a person's ability to access, use or maintain economic resources. This includes coercion, fraud, or manipulation to restrict an individual's access to money, assets, credit, or financial information. It includes unfair use of an individual's financial resources, including cash, assets, and credit, or improper influence over an individual's financial and economic actions or decisions.
Recognizing Victims of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can impact anyone, whatever race, age, sexual preference, religion, gender, or gender identity. It affects people of all education levels and socioeconomic backgrounds. Domestic violence happens in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can occur with married couples, cohabiting, dating, or having kids.
Domestic violence involves the abused person, family members, friends, co-workers, and entire communities. Children growing up with domestic violence are among those most impacted. Frequent exposure to violence in the home makes children vulnerable to social and physical problems and teaches them that violence is "normal." Regrettably, it can lead to the next generation of social victims and perpetrators.
The Ins and Outs of Domestic Violence Counseling
Talking about domestic violence can help raise awareness and educate people about abuse in intimate relationships. An open discussion is an excellent way to help victims understand their experiences and allow victims' families and friends to identify signs of abuse in a relationship.
Counseling can help survivors of domestic violence. An agency with expertise in these issues can provide domestic violence counseling, a Domestic Violence Service Provider (DVSP), or a trained independent counselor.
Types of Domestic Violence Counseling
Therapy can help reduce depression and anxiety in those who have experienced intimate partner violence. Here are a few types of treatments available:
Independent counseling can help address personal needs. Individuals can speak one-on-one with their counselor about their feelings and experiences and work to develop goals. This approach recognizes that not everyone experiences abuse the same. The effects of abuse vary from person to person, and the individual prerequisites for moving forward differ widely.
Couples therapy was once contraindicated because of its potential risk to survivors, but it may be an appropriate therapy in some cases. It includes a separate safety assessment with survivors before starting.
Integrative therapies like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help cope with domestic violence. Art therapy has achieved great success using artistic expressions like music, visual arts, drama, dance, writing, poetry, and drama.
Support groups focus on shared experiences among members and help individuals see that they are not alone. The impact of participating in these groups can be enormous, especially since so many people keep the abuse to themselves and feel isolated and alone. A shared understanding and general awareness of a group of peers can promote a sense of well-being that, for some, cannot be achieved with one-on-one counseling.
When is Domestic Violence Counseling Appropriate?
Counseling is an excellent way to begin a discussion about domestic violence, but it can be a complex topic to broach. First, It is essential to ensure you feel safe participating in therapy and that you are not endangering yourself or your loved ones. If you or a loved one is in danger, it can help to create a safety plan and get out of an abusive situation as quickly as possible.
It is important to seek treatment from qualified professionals with training and experience in the field. While domestic violence service providers specialize in counseling survivors of abuse, the training of individual therapists is far less consistent, with some having extensive training. In contrast, others have no specific training in domestic violence. Seeing a therapist without training in domestic violence counseling can do more harm than good. Without proper training in standard counseling methods, the counselor could inadvertently make the survivor feel responsible for the abuse.
When to Get Help
If you are in an abusive relationship, help and support are available to get you out of your current situation. Call the national hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) if you need immediate assistance. Or text START to 88788. You can also visit thehotline.org, where live chat is available 24/7. Advocates are available to listen without judgment and help you begin to address what’s going on in your relationship. The services are always free and available any time of day or night.
Counseling and psychotherapy can be effective in supporting those struggling with domestic violence. A therapeutic approach can be beneficial when the client, couple, family or group is willing to deal with the feelings surrounding their concerns. At Mindful Living Group, our curriculum uses present-awareness practice, psychoeducation, evidence-based therapy, and other clinical techniques to find unique solutions for individuals, couples, families, and groups.
You are not alone. Therapy with Mindful Living Group is a safe, confidential place to meet these challenges, and we have a team ready to help. We accept many insurance plans and offer tiered/hardship rates for cash-paying customers on a case-by-case basis.