Spousal Abuse

Spousal Abuse Recovery

Domestic violence—also known as intimate partner violence, spousal abuse, or domestic abuse—is the abusive behavior of one partner toward another in an effort to gain and maintain control. The behavior can vary in frequency and severity and may include physical or sexual violence, as well as emotional, psychological, or financial abuse. Intimate partner violence affects all manner of romantic relationships and can negatively impact family, friends, and others.

Domestic Violence’s Physical and Psychological Effects

Physical violence leaves visible wounds that are often temporary, but all forms of intimate partner violence leave lasting psychological effects, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Loss of trust
  • Problems with sleep
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Emotional distance

The chronic stress of being an abuse victim, along with repeated physical harm, can result in any of the following physical health concerns:

  • Chronic pain, including migraines
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Sexual problems, including sexually transmitted infections
  • Reproductive complications, including preterm births and perinatal deaths
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Bladder and kidney infections
  • Central nervous system problems

Domestic violence victims may also find they experience strain in their relationships with health professionals, employers, and social networks.

Can Counseling Help Cases of Domestic Abuse?

Relationship counseling is not always advisable or effective for relationships in which violence is present, and many therapists may be unwilling to see couples if violence has occurred. The safety of the therapy session encourages open communication, but such communication can be dangerous in a violent relationship and subject the recipient to more violence. Also, couples counseling is based on shared respect for one another and shared responsibility for the relationship outcome and process. Until a violent partner gets help to stop his or her abusive behavior, and until the recipient is able to discover why he or she tolerates such abuse, couples work is likely to harm more than it helps.

Individual counseling, however, can help a victim of domestic abuse see the pattern of violence in the relationship and develop a safety plan. Victims and survivors of domestic violence struggle with self-esteem, anxiety, fear, and posttraumatic stress that can impact every area of their lives, and any form of therapy can address these kinds of mental health issues. Therapy also helps people build upon their strengths and minimize negative beliefs about themselves. Group therapy, for example, may benefit domestic violence survivors through group members’ shared experiences that can help normalize survivors’ feelings and provide them with a network of support. Practices like art therapy and music therapy can provide survivors with a creative outlet for their feelings, and many people learn to trust again through animal-assisted therapies.


Therapy for Children Affected by Domestic Violence

Children who witness domestic abuse will benefit from addressing the trauma in a developmentally appropriate manner as soon as possible so that they do not develop mental health issues in childhood or carry scars of their trauma into adulthood. Child witnesses to domestic violence may have difficulty sleeping, perform poorly academically, behave in defiance toward parents and other adults, or develop somatic symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches. They may develop unhealthy behaviors to cope with the trauma, and in adulthood, these same children may end up in troubled relationships, as abuser or victim of abuse. There are many forms of therapy that are particularly well suited to work with children. Play therapy or sand tray therapy, for example, can be helpful for kids who might have difficulty verbalizing their feelings, and parent–child interaction therapy was specifically designed to help children with behavioral issues.


If you would like more information or to begin your own personalized Therapy, please call NewPath today.

(409) 200-2220

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