23 Benefits Of Domestic Violence Counseling & Why It Matters
Updated June 25, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Domestic violence counseling isn't a luxury for people who have been in an abusive and dangerous relationship. Whether you're in an abusive relationship, leaving it, or struggling to make it on your own, domestic violence counseling can be extremely beneficial.
Though domestic violence awareness has mostly been focused on heterosexual relationships, many LGBT people are victims of domestic violence - at equal or even higher rates to those in heterosexual relationships. Domestic violence awareness and LGBT relationships are not to be kept separate. Counseling is available for all victims of domestic violence and abuse, even if there is less awareness of the problem in society.
For domestic violence survivors, it is important to find counseling services so that you can talk through the impact of the violence or abuse, and to regain confidence in yourself. Most domestic violence can be prevented or stopped, and becoming aware of it is the first step in the journey.
There are laws to protect people who experience violence, such as the Violence Against Women Act. Women are not the only victims though - men can be victims too. It is also not the case that men are the only abusers. In any abusive relationship, the key is violence awareness.
Benefits Of Counseling For Domestic Violence Victims
Here are 23 benefits that make domestic violence counseling a true need that's vital to living through and recovering from abusive relationships.
1. Learn To Recognize Warning Signs
Sometimes an intimate partner can show only the subtlest signs that they're moving toward violence. In counseling, you can learn to recognize the red flags. You can become more observant of your partner's behavior and learn to identify the warning signs in the way he/she treats you. You need to realize what is happening and that it is not acceptable – it is domestic violence awareness.
2. Create A Safety Plan
A safety plan is a comprehensive plan for staying safe in a potentially violent relationship. You work out what you'll do if danger is near and decide at what point you'll leave. You develop plans for getting away when you need to, including where you will go and who can help you. It's also a list of contact information you can use if that time ever comes. A domestic violence counselor can help you create such a safety plan.
3. Express Your Feelings
Being in an abusive and violent relationship usually means you have to hide your feelings. If you are experiencing domestic violence, and you tell your partner how you feel, you might be in immediate danger. In counseling, you have a safe place to talk about all your feelings without fear of being judged or hurt because of them.
4. Get Your Feelings Validated
When you're in an abusive relationship, it is easy to doubt your feelings. You want to believe that your partner loves you and wants the best for you. Yet, you have strong feelings that something is not right. A domestic violence counselor acknowledges your pain, fear, and confusion as you express it, letting you know your feelings are real and valid.
5. Understand Your Emotions Better
It's common to think that your emotions are unreasonable when you're dealing with an abusive partner. You may believe that your emotions don't make sense. Yet, you're feeling the way you are for a reason. Your life has been impacted by violence. Your counselor can help you think about your feelings and learn to understand that they're a natural reaction to your situation.
6. Find The Causes
Domestic violence victims often blame themselves for the abuser's actions. In fact, abusers create this impression to protect themselves and get what they want. One of the most beneficial aspects of therapy is that you can discover that the causes of the violence lie with the abuser himself/herself.
7. Learn More Positive Self-Talk
Abusers are very good at teaching the people they abuse to feel bad about themselves. They encourage you to believe there's something so wrong with you that you deserve the abuse. Eventually, you pick up your partner's negative talk and start telling yourself the same things. Changing that self-talk isn't easy. Through counseling, though, you can learn to think of yourself in positive terms.
8. Improve Self-Esteem
As you learn positive self-talk you're already improving your self-esteem. Your counselor can help you feel better about yourself in other ways, too. Together, you can explore what makes you the amazing and valuable person that you are, which can help you become stronger and more self-confident.
9. Recognize Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a common technique that abusers use to make you doubt yourself. They tell you that you misheard them, that you are mistaken about their intentions, and perhaps even that you didn't see or hear what you thought you did.
Once they start making you question your sanity, it's very easy for them to control you. In therapy, you can learn to recognize the difference between being truly mistaken and being manipulated through gaslighting.
10. Know When You're Being Manipulated
Manipulation can take many forms. As much as you may want your partner to do things for your benefit, the truth is that violent partners are more interested in what they want. What they want is to control you. They want to get whatever they want from you, whether that's adoration or something more practical like another paycheck. Through domestic violence counseling, you can learn to recognize the hallmarks of manipulation. Talk to a Licensed Relationship Counselor Today.
11. Identify Patterns Of Abuse
Every abusive relationship shows patterns in the abuse. A pattern of abuse is a series of events that happens over and over in the relationship. Your abuser might start out treating you well. Then, they begin to change the way they interact with you. They're emotionally abusive. They become physically violent, and then they beg for forgiveness. By examining such cycles that happen in your relationship, you can stay safer while you see your abuser's actions for what they are.
12. Recognize Where Your Responsibility Starts And Ends
Most abusers lay the responsibility for the abuse on the person they're abusing. Because you love them, you accept the responsibility no matter how harsh it seems. One thing you'll learn in therapy is how to sort out what the abuser is responsible for and what is your place to handle.
13. Develop A Plan for Leaving
When you're ready to leave a violent or potentially violent relationship, you face both practical and emotional challenges. Not only do you have to remove yourself from the situation, but you also have to do it safely. You can talk over your ideas and get help developing a specific plan for leaving immediately. If you're not ready to go, you can work on a plan to get away and start a new life at some point in the future.
14. Understand Why You Stayed
As a domestic violence survivor, you're so used to blaming yourself for everything. So, you may blame yourself for staying in the relationship longer than you should have. Yet, you stayed for a reason, and it wasn't to be abused. Understanding why you stayed can help you feel better about who you are and the choices you made. Once you understand why you stayed, you can begin to realize why the relationship is no longer acceptable for you.
15. Deal With PTSD, Depression, Or Anxiety
Being in an abusive relationship can create many different mental health issues. If you've already lived through violent episodes, you may be suffering from PTSD. Depression can happen due to the negative self-talk and hopelessness of being in such a relationship. Anxiety often comes with the fear of living with a partner who can become violent at any moment.
16. Build Your Support System
Violent partners are very good at limiting their victims' outside support. If you're in an abusive relationship, you might feel all alone in the world. Your therapist offers support immediately when you begin therapy. They can also work with you to find ways to build a strong support system in your community.
17. Learn Healthy Relationship Skills
As you move away from the violent relationship, you can benefit from learning why the abusive relationship didn't work. You can find out what a healthy relationship looks like and how to create one. Then, you can apply that knowledge to any new relationships you have.
18. Accept You May Have To Leave
It isn't easy to accept leaving a relationship in which you've invested your time, effort, and emotional resources. You may feel you still love your partner, despite the pain they've put you through. You may also worry about making it on your own. Yet, accepting that the relationship can't go on as it is maybe your first step to freedom, peace, and emotional stability.
19. Develop Problem-Solving Skills
There are a lot of practical problems that come up when you're getting out of a violent relationship. You'll have to find a place to live, even if you have limited financial resources. If you've been a stay-at-home parent, you'll have to enter the job force, maybe for the first time. If you have children, you'll need to make a home for them while helping them understand why you had to leave.
Not only will you need to solve problems, but your partner likely hasn't shown any respect for the solutions you've come up with in the past. They maintained control of the relationship and every important decision that went with it. Therapy gives you many opportunities to practice problem-solving skills.
20. Learn Parenting Skills
When you're living in an abusive relationship, it's hard to parent the way you would choose otherwise. Even if you had good parenting skills before the abuse started, you probably need help regaining those skills. Also, once you leave, you'll be dealing with life as a single parent. You're in a unique position that requires you to make difficult decisions to protect your children. Getting help with parenting skills can make your life better in or out of the relationship.
21. Find Your Inner Strength
You may not believe it now, but you have inner strength, or you wouldn't have survived this long. Through counseling, you can learn to appreciate your ability to survive despite being in one of the most difficult situations possible. When you understand that you've had strength all along, you can get in touch with it now to get you through the next phase of your life.
22. Create Goals For A Future On Your Own
It's hard to think of the future when you're struggling to survive. Most domestic violence victims either concoct wild fantasies of success or fall into bleak hopelessness. With the help of a therapist, you can begin to chart a more realistic yet hopeful path for short-term and long-range goals for yourself.
23. Find Your Personal Power
You'll find your personal power in positive actions. Your counselor can help you learn to accept the power you have and use it to make your life and your children's lives better. You'll realize that you do have the power to change your life.
Why It Matters
It's important to get the help that you need. Why? One reason is that you've lived in a destructive relationship long enough to be damaged by it in some ways. Another is that your partner hasn't helped you gain the tools to think and act positively.
It's extremely difficult to get away from an abusive relationship with no support whatsoever. You're a valuable person, and you can have a life in which you can feel safe. Taking advantage of domestic violence services can give you what you need to move on and thrive in the future. For people impacted by violence, counseling can be the step required to prevent violence and promote self-confidence.
Is There Domestic Violence Counseling Near Me?
If you're wondering "Is there domestic violence counseling near me," the answer is yes. There may be a community mental health clinic or a counseling center near you that has therapists who specialize in domestic violence counseling. You can also get help at a domestic violence shelter while you are there if you go. You can call the national domestic violence hotline who will be able to give you help over the phone and find a counseling center or counseling services near you.
Another option is to talk to a counselor at ReGain.us. Licensed counselors are available for private online therapy through the Regain.us platform. We have counselors who specialize in domestic violence issues and can work with you on your schedule.
Getting out of an abusive relationship can seem impossible. Yet, you can do it with the right help. A better life is waiting for you. It will not be easy, but you can make it happen!