Domestic Violence

How Can Therapy Help a Victim of Domestic Violence?

No one deserves to suffer abuse, especially at the hands of an intimate partner or another trusted member of the household. Each of us is worthy of loving and fulfilling relationships that are free from violence.

And yet, it can be extremely difficult for victims of domestic violence to find freedom from their abuser. Fear of further violence, feelings of embarrassment, lack of financial resources, and hope that the abuser might change are all common reasons abuse victims do not seek help.

If you are in an abusive relationship, therapy can serve as a safe space to talk about your experience, find support through difficulties, and rediscover your own strength. It can also allow you to identify the many ways domestic violence affects your life and provide you with the tools needed to break the cycle.  

At NPS, our experienced domestic violence counselors is here to ensure that you feel cared for and remind you that you are not alone. He understands that safety is always the primary concern for victims of domestic violence and that nobody knows the situation better than the client themself. At our clinic, you will never be told what to do or pressured to leave your abuser. But if you do decide to leave, we can help you create a safety plan for doing so.

Our domestic abuse counselors is professionally certified by the ICVDP (Illinois Certified Domestic Violence Professionals). This means that he has undergone 60 hours of training in working with survivors of domestic violence. His goals are to help you see your value and worth, to offer clinical and emotional support, and to walk alongside you. 

Above all, our counselor (and all of us at Neal Psychological Specialties) wants you to feel safe and supported. We are here to help you stay connected to friends and family and build healthy relationships in other settings as well. Whether you prefer support groups, social clubs, or a trusted religious group, there are many resources we can help you connect with. Please know that you are not alone and that there is hope.

What Qualifies As Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical, emotional, financial, mental, and sexual abuse. It can also include stalking, isolation, intimidation, and a host of other unhealthy behaviors. The experience is unfortunately common—with more than 10 million people falling victim to physical abuse each year. 

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior, not an isolated event. And for both perpetrators and victims, it involves a cycle of abusive behaviors. Often, after an incident of verbal or physical abuse, there is a “honeymoon” phase in which the relationship begins to feel good again and the abuser may try their best to improve their behavior.

If you are trying to determine whether you are in an abusive relationship, there are certain warning signs to watch out for. The “Power and Control Wheel” is a frequently used diagram that illustrates the subtle and continuous behaviors of abusive individuals. According to this diagram, some of the hallmarks of domestic violence include:

  • Threatening to do something to hurt the victim (like threatening to leave, cause harm, or report the victim to welfare).
  • Intimidating the victim by smashing belongings, displaying a weapon, or hurting a pet.
  • Emotionally abusing the victim by embarrassing them, calling them names, or gaslighting them.
  • Using isolation tactics such as limiting what the victim reads, who they talk to, and where they go.
  • Making light of the abuse and/or shifting responsibility for the abusive behavior.
  • Threatening to take away children or making the victim feel guilty about the children.
  • Treating the victim like a servant and/or not allowing the victim to make important decisions. 
  • Taking the victim’s money, giving them an allowance, and/or not allowing them to have access to family funds.

Of course, abusive relationships are complex and unique to the individuals within them. But if these warning signs sound familiar to you, it could be time to seek additional support. Our counselor is here to discuss these controlling behaviors and help you find healthy ways to break the cycle.

How Do I Avoid an Abusive Relationship?

It’s not always possible to avoid an abusive relationship because abusers often hide the toxic parts of their personalities until it is too late. But there are certain indicators that you can watch out for. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does this person have an unhealthy standard of perfectionism for themself and/or you?
  • Do they become irrationally angry over small issues?
  • Do they say things like, “you are the only person I need,” or otherwise hold you to unfair expectations?
  • Does the person experience extreme mood swings that have you walking on eggshells?
  • Do they refuse to take responsibility for their unhealthy habits or behaviors?
  • Does the person exhibit jealous behaviors?

These indicators do not always signify that a person is or will become abusive. Sometimes, a person who exhibits these warning signs is struggling with a mental or emotional health disorder that could require treatment. But if you believe abusive behaviors are possible or already feel hurt, humiliated, or insecure around your partner, it may not be a healthy relationship. 

No matter where you are in your intimate or family relationships, a domestic violence counselor can be a big help to you. Our therapist is here to help you identify unhealthy behaviors and transition to a more positive and happy way of life.

What Should I Do If I Become a Victim of Domestic Violence?

Our counselors never pressure victims of domestic violence to leave their abusers or act in ways that they believe to be unsafe. Whether you choose to remain in the relationship or leave, our goal is to help you find safety and security in that choice. 

We are also here to help you make sense of the traumatizing events you have experienced. We know that the emotional scars of domestic violence often last far longer than the physical ones. As a victim, you could also suffer from PTSD, substance abuse, anxiety, or other mental health concerns. Our counselors can help you identify coping mechanisms that work for you. 

At each abusive relationship counseling session, you’ll discover a safe and confidential space to talk about your experiences and how they’ve made you feel. We want you to find a counselor who allows you to feel comfortable and secure. That’s why we offer free 15-minute meet & greets for new clients to get to know a potential counselor. Find out more about our domestic violence support groups and group therapy strategies by calling today.

How Can I Reestablish My Sense of Worth and Value?

Domestic abusers often start by attacking the self-esteem and value of their victims. They do this through name-calling, shaming, and gaslighting the victim repeatedly for weeks, months, and even years. If you are looking to recover your sense of self-worth, counseling for abusive relationships can help you see progress one day at a time. 

First, we will help you talk through and overcome any feelings of guilt or shame you might have. Please understand that the abuse is not your fault! Abusers often take advantage of the empathy, love, and compassion of their victims, making it even more difficult for victims to find freedom.

We can also help you connect with support groups so that you can build relationships with other people who have experienced abuse. These groups provide you the opportunity to speak honestly about your experience and receive positive reinforcement from people who understand. 

Ultimately, we want to help you reframe the way you think about and talk to yourself. Being patient and kind to yourself takes work, but we are here to help you make progress.

How Neal Psychological Specialties Can Help

You deserve to find relief from your abusive relationships, whether you are ready to leave your abuser or not. Our counselor is here to walk the path with you for as long as necessary. Allow us to lend our care and support at this difficult time. We know that there is hope and help to be had and that things can and will get better.

Are you ready to take the next step?

Contact us and schedule your first appointment today. 

Contact Us