Domestic abuse and domestic violence counseling can provide powerful tools to victims of domestic violence in terms of helping them to both get to a safe environment as well as heal. Counseling can be beneficial for abused adults as well as children to help them move beyond their past. If left untreated, emotional and physical abuse can result in serious issues that can manifest in the form of broken relationships, lost jobs, and substance abuse.

What Is Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence Counseling?

Domestic abuse and domestic violence counseling can help individuals who are or who have been the victims of domestic violence in a number of ways. In some cases, therapy can help individuals locate emergency shelter to escape a dangerous situation. In other instances, therapy can help victims cope with the emotional impact of an abusive situation.

Therapy can provide benefits for the victim as well as the perpetrator of domestic abuse and violence. Victims can learn how to cope with the emotional trauma that often results from abusive situation. While still in an abusive environment, victims can obtain help with building their self-esteem and even learning how to recognize the presence of abuse. The goal is to help victims become strong enough to actually leave the abusive situation.

Domestic abuse and violence therapy can help by addressing familial history as well as relationships in early childhood that might have made a victim more likely to both enter into as well as stay in an abuse relationship. For instance, abused children are more likely to grow up to become victims of abuse or abusers themselves.

Domestic violence abusers may also benefit from therapy by learning how to manage anger, recognize triggers, and stop blaming others for their own failures. Specific types of therapy can assist with analyzing events and situations in childhood that may have contributed to violent behavior.

Children of domestic violence and abuse can also benefit significantly from therapy. Specifically, a therapist who specializes in working with child victims of domestic violence and abuse may utilize such forms of therapy as games, play therapy, and trust building activities.

Signs of Abusive Relationships

Abusive relationships can have a significant impact, both emotionally and psychologically. Despite domestic violence not being considered a mental health condition on its own, victims of domestic abuse and violence may still experience mental health symptoms.

Some victims of domestic abuse and violence may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. The longer an individual remains in an abusive environment, the more likely he or she is to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder due to the negative effects of the abuse.

Domestic abuse and violence may produce the following emotional and behavioral symptoms:

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Being on a constant state or alert
  • A sense of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Being afraid that you cannot protect yourself or your children
  • Feeling as though you deserve the abuse
  • Being unable to make decisions
  • Thinking you are responsible for the abuse
  • Nightmares and flashbacks of abuse and violence

In some cases, victims of domestic violence may also exhibit physical symptoms. These symptoms may or may not be directly related to the physical abuse itself. Instead, they may be the result of continual tension and stress associated with living in an abusive relationship or violent situation. These include:

  • Asthma
  • Headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Pelvic pain
  • Inability to sleep
  • Back pain

Types of Domestic Abuse and Violence

There can be many types of domestic abuse and violence, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse.

Physical Abuse and Domestic Violence

Physical abuse refers to the use of physical force against someone that results in that person being injured or endangered. Sexual abuse is considered a form of physical abuse and involves any situation in which you are forced to participate in a sexual activity that is unsafe, unwanted, or degrading. Even when sex is forced with an intimate partner or spouse, it is abuse. Examples of physical abuse:

  • Throwing
  • Kicking
  • Pushing
  • Pinching
  • Biting
  • Slapping
  • Tripping
  • Choking
  • Shaking
  • Holding
  • Restraining
  • Confining
  • Burning

Emotional Abuse

Not all abuse is physical in nature. Just because you are not physically abused does not mean that you are not being abused. Many people suffer from emotional abuse, which can be just as destructive as physical abuse. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often overlooked. The goal of an emotional abuse perpetrator is to chip away at your feelings of independence and self-worth so that you feel as though there is no way you can escape the relationship. Emotional abuse includes name-calling, yelling, shaming, and blaming. Individuals who are emotionally abused may be the victims of controlling behavior, intimidation, and isolation. While physical abuse can result in scars and bodily image, emotional abuse can be just as damaging.

Economic and Financial Abuse

Economic and financial abuse is simply a subtler form of emotional abuse. The ultimate goal is for the abuser to be able to control you. Toward that end, he or she may use money in order to exercise that control. This could include:

  • Rigid control of your finances
  • Withholding credit cards or money
  • Making you account for the money you spend
  • Restricting you to an allowance
  • Withholding basic necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, or medication
  • Preventing you from working
  • Taking away your money
  • Sabotaging your employment

Getting Help with Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence

It should be understood that domestic abuse and violence can occur to anyone. Regardless of how long you have been involved in an abuse relationship, you should understand that you are not to blame and you do not deserve it. Observing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive or violent relationship is the first step toward gaining your freedom and securing safety. If you recognize the signs of an abusive relationship in your life or the life of someone you know, do not be afraid to reach out. Help is available.

If you find you relate to the information in this article and would like some help, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at (605) 610-9228.