Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. There are various types of violence that can be involved in domestic abuse (see below). Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, relationship status or economic status can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence.
Nine Types of Abuse:
The first phase, “tension-building,” is when the abuser is sensitive, nitpicks, yells, withholds affection, destroys property, threatens, argues, and engages in other problematic behavior. The tension continues to build and the victim in this relationship typically feels like they are walking on eggshells or something bad is going to happen.
The second phase, “explosion,” follows the tension-building phase where the major acts of violence occur, including the types listed above. This is the phase that injury is most likely to occur and when the victim protects themselves in any capacity, tries to reason or calm the abuser, may or may not call the police, leaves, or fights back.
The abuser feels sorry for the violence they engaged in and acts apologetic and loving. The abuser might promise "it won’t happen again," justify their behavior, buy the victim gifts, promise to get help, threaten suicide, or blame their behavior on drugs or alcohol. The victim during this phase might help the abuser seek counseling, drop legal proceedings, forgive, feel hopeful, relieved or happy. However, this honeymoon phase doesn’t last, and the tension starts to build all over again, restarting the cycle.
Victims of domestic violence are at greater risk for mental health disorders, including but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse.
psychological distress following exposure, or repeated exposure, to a traumatic or stressful event; recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories or dreams of event(s); flashbacks to event(s); physiological reactions to reminders or resemblance of event(s); avoidance of stimuli associated with event(s); persistent negative thinking and mood following the event(s) (amnesia, negative beliefs about oneself, others or world, loss of interest, detachment or estrangement from others, inability to experience positive emotions, etc.); and/or increased arousal or reactivity with stimuli associated with event(s) (hyper vigilance, irritability, angry outbursts, reckless or self-destructive behavior, sleep disturbance, etc.).
frequent crying; loss of energy; fatigue; loss of interest or enjoyment; difficulty concentrating; suicidal ideation; insomnia or hypersomnia; change in diet; social withdrawal; and/or daily feelings of sadness, emptiness, irritability, hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness, or purposelessness.
excessive worrying; difficulty controlling worrying or concentrating; distractibility; difficulty falling or staying asleep; restlessness; and/or feeling on edge or tense.
using substances (alcohol, cannabis, hallucinogens, opioids, stimulants, etc.) excessively and experiencing intoxication, withdrawal, or substance-induced behaviors.
We understand that, even when victims of domestic violence experience symptoms such as these, walking away is not easy, and there are many other challenges victims face and feelings they experience. They may feel fear, shame, intimidation, or lack the support or resources they feel are necessary to leave an abusive situation.
Our therapists here at CSP are trained in recognizing, understanding, and treating survivors of domestic abuse. Below are some examples of treatment approaches we specialize in to help domestic violence survivors process and heal from past abusive relationships:
Key aspects of our treatment for domestic violence survivors includes assisting our clients in overcoming their trauma through psycho-education, self-empowerment, and developing healthy and appropriate coping skills for emotional and behavioral regulation. We provide education on the cycle of violence, identifying warning signs of abusive partners, and recognizing how domestic abuse may have impacted and distorted their perception of self and others.
Our ultimate goal for our clients who have endured domestic abuse involves finding self-empowerment, strength and stability to live the life they are seeking.