Domestic violence is known by many names: domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and dating abuse. Domestic violence involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship (marriage, cohabitation, dating, or within the family) and canrange from subtle coercion to violent physical abuse that results in severe injury or even death. Sometimes what seems like a mild case of domestic violence, like a push or a slap, can escalate quickly, and in most cases the situation does not get better without direct action (like calling the police or leaving the relationship) being taken by the victim.
Domestic Violence Facts
- One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
- An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
- 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
- Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.
- Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.
- Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
- Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.
- Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.
- The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services.
- Victims of intimate partner violence lost almost eight million days of paid work because of the violence perpetrated against them by current or former husbands, boyfriends and dates. This loss is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of violence.
The Cycle of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence does not usually just occur suddenly; most of the time there are warning signs. Typically these warning signs appear in the context of a controlling, emotionally abusive relationship where one person is more aggressive and the other is more passive. Quite often, other issues in the relationship, which are not usually thought of as “abuse” occur, such as controlling finances, isolating the victim, making threats, and verbal abuse.
Domestic violence often has predictable cycles:
- Tension – During the tension phase, arguments escalate in the relationship and sometimes the aggressive partner makes various threats.
- Act of violence – The aggressive partner commits an act of violence against the passive partner; the violence often becomes more severe as time passes.
- Honeymoon – During the honeymoon phase the couple makes up and experiences a powerful “closeness”. Quite often the perpetrator of the violence apologizes extensively and vows that the violence will never happen again. At this point, the cycle usually repeats itself.
Domestic Violence and Couples’ Counseling
It is important to know that couples’ counseling may not be appropriate when violence is active and present in a relationship. Couples’ counseling places the responsibility for change on both partners; however, in a domestic violence situation, the sole responsibility is on the abuser. In addition, couples’ counseling is not indicated when one spouse is fearful of the other. It is extremely important that the person being abused has a safety plan in place.
Couples’ counseling works best when both people are honest and open. Individuals who are abusive to their partners typically minimize, deny and blame, and are therefore not honest or truthful in counseling. In addition, speaking openly about the abuse to the therapist can place the victim in danger, and the victim is more likely to suffer abuse again when the couple gets home.
Domestic violence is not a couple’s problem. It is an individual’s problem that needs to be resolved in a specialized program for abusers.
Therapy for Individuals Who Have Suffered from Domestic Violence
Individuals on the receiving end of domestic violence tend to struggle with low self-esteem, abandonment issues, and fear. They are at a high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, have a higher risk of substance abuse, and have an increased chance of experiencing stress-related mental health conditions. Learning to cope with residual emotional pain and fears is essential to healing of domestic violence survivors.
Susie compassionately works with victims of domestic violence. Your privacy is paramount, and personal information is kept strictly confidential.
Contact Susie for more information.