Domestic Violence, Domestic Abuse Counseling
Domestic Violence Counseling For Victim and Abuser
Domestic violence counseling and domestic violence therapy represent powerful tools for helping victims of domestic violence get to safety and heal. Abused adults and children both need domestic violence counseling in order to move past their traumatic experiences. Left untreated, physically and emotionally abused children carry the emotional and physical scars of the abuse into adulthood. When this type of trauma is left to itself, it may manifest in adulthood in the form of lost jobs, broken relationships, substance abuse, and other unhealthy behavior.
What Is Domestic Abuse Counseling?
Domestic abuse counseling frequently refers to multiservice community agencies that provide advocacy and intervention services for women and families. These services provide emergency shelter and safe homes (battered women shelters), support groups, legal counseling, and various advocacy services for victims of domestic abuse. The services they offer can mean the difference between despair and hope and even life or death in some cases. They are in place to provide emergency help and advocacy counseling in crisis situations, not as long-term solutions. While some community centers may have licensed therapists on-hand to provide therapy for adults and children, most do not.
Benefits of Domestic Violence Therapy
Both the victim and the perpetrator of domestic violence can benefit from domestic violence therapy. Victims of domestic abuse can visit a licensed therapist to learn how to cope with the emotional trauma that's often left behind even after they've left an abusive relationship. Abuse victims, still in the abusive environment, can get help with building up their self-esteem and recognizing abuse in their relationship through therapy. (Take the Domestic Violence Screening Test)
The idea is to help them become strong enough to leave the situation. Victim domestic abuse therapy addresses familial history and early childhood relationships that may have made them more likely to enter into and stay in an abusive intimate relationship. (Why Victims of Domestic Violence Stay in Abusive Relationships) For example, abused children may grow up to become abusers themselves or become victims of abuse.
Abusers may benefit from domestic abuse therapy by learning how to recognize triggers, manage anger, and stop blaming others for their failures and shortcomings. Certain types of therapy can help abusers investigate childhood events and situations that contributed to their violent behavior as adults.
Although some therapists offer joint programs for the abuser and victim, this practice is the subject of intense debate and controversy, as many believe it can put the victim in grave danger. The only type of treatment for abusers, currently supported by research, involves batterer intervention programs that address all types of domestic violence.
Abused children, or children who have witnessed abuse, will benefit greatly from domestic abuse counseling and therapy. A therapist who specializes in treating child victims of domestic violence will use play therapy, games, and trust building activities to help children rebuild their self-perceptions and their trust of adults.
Finding Domestic Violence Counseling and Therapy
People can find domestic violence counseling and therapy by calling their local women's shelter, by visiting a community mental health center, by calling their county psychological association or local United Way. These organizations will have domestic violence help resources to share with you, including phone numbers for nearby counselors and therapists specializing in domestic violence. There are also many online directories with listings of therapists by state. If you know a friend who sees a therapist or attends counseling for any reason (not necessarily domestic abuse therapy), have them ask their counselor to share the phone numbers of domestic violence counselors or licensed therapists in the area.
Last Updated: 26 May 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD