Living With Domestic Violence
When you are on the outside looking in, it’s easy to suggest that someone should get out of a relationship that is obviously abusive. The problem for the person on the receiving end of that abuse is that they may see no way out, and they may not even be aware that they are victims of domestic violence. Most of us are caught up in believing that domestic violence is purely physical, but there are other sorts of abuses that fall under that all too large umbrella. One of the first steps in getting out is seeing the pattern and realizing that you are indeed a victim.
While there are many different types of domestic abuse, they all tend to follow something of a similar pattern. Your partner will hurl their specific form of abuse in your direction, and will later apologize for their behavior, claiming it will never happen again. It is here that you have to start thinking about making a decision. Was the abuse a one-time type of situation that was bought on by some extenuating circumstance, or is it something that you have seen and heard countless times before. If it’s the latter, then very little is likely going to change as you move forward with your relationship.
That is not to say that a one-time offense should be easily written off and forgiven. You have to make it known how that abuse made you feel, both emotionally and physically. If you don’t, you run the risk of making your partner believe that it is okay for them to continue to treat you this way. Making these feelings known is easier said than done for some people, as they fear that there will be retribution of some kind when they speak up. If you feel fear when thinking about talking to your partner, you are in an unhealthy position that needs to be addressed.
It is here that we should take a moment to discuss what domestic abuse looks and feels like. Physical violence is easy to detect, but what about other forms of abuse? Does your partner constantly berate you and call you names? Do they mock you for wanting to change careers or go back to school? Do they prevent you from doing those things? Do they essentially blackmail you into doing something you don’t want to by saying that they will expose some secret to your friends and family? Do they make it very difficult to have a relationship with your friends and/or family? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are living with domestic violence.
While it may not feel like it, there are plenty of great resources out there that are designed to help you change your life for the better. If you have no idea where to look or how to begin, I suggest talking to a therapist. This is something that you really should do on your own. A therapist can help you determine your level of safety in the relationship and whether or not your relationship is fixable. If your goal is to keep your relationship alive, then by all means seek out couple’s therapy with your partner, but know that if a therapist believes that there is danger in the relationship, they are ethically not allowed to see you as a couple. A therapist will, in these cases, recommend that each of you go to individual counseling first to work towards a place where couples counseling can be safe and effective (if possible). Either way, it will be a positive first step towards the relationship you want and deserve. If you are afraid that your spouse will find out that you are reaching out for support, I recommend going to a payphone, work phone, or using a friends phone to contact a therapist to make an appointment.
If you are looking for individual therapy or couples therapy in Long Beach, please give me a call to ask me a question or to set up an appointment.