The issue of domestic violence has been in the headlines and also an issue that affects every society in this world. Awareness to problems in our country is often highlighted when the media can create a story that will gain enough interest and attention. But, sadly, we know the issue of domestic violence is not a new issue by any stretch. 90-95% of domestic violence victims are women and in homes where women are being abused, their children are much more likely to be abused as well (Department of Justice Statistics). Abusers often believe in their heart that they love the ones they abuse, even if their way of loving hurts others considerably.
Domestic violence is not only physically damaging, but the effects on a person’s psychological wellbeing and also their social and spiritual health often takes a major toll. Witnesses to the abuse (often the children) are often left feeling psychologically shaken and both the victim and the witnesses to the abuse are prone to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or what is known as PTSD. PTSD can be a disorder that if untreated can affect a person for the remainder of their life.
The cycle of abuse typically involves three stages:
- Tension builds until the abuser loses control.
- Battering occurs. The abuser feels the victim deserves what happened to them and rationalization and minimization of these events occurs.
- Remorse and a form of repentance takes place. The abuser may feel in their heart that they are sorry and will make promises to not do it again. But the event is usually never talked about with anyone outside of the relationship and the abuser and victim never seeks help.
Without the proper help, this cycle almost always repeats itself because the root issue has not been worked on properly. If involved in a relationship that appears to be abusive (physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or mental), it is advised to follow these five steps:
- Seek and Assure your Safety – It may be necessary to separate from the abuser and seek the proper professional resources, family, friends, or church supports.
- Develop a Plan of Action – A plan needs to be developed in the event that abuse would ever occur again. The victim should have people to contact, places to stay, and resources available in the event of a repeat. Also, the person has to be empowered and taught how to leave/exit the situation in an assertive fashion.
- Follow Up – The victim needs to have the proper people supporting and regularly following up with them during the recovery period. Regular phone calls and meetings with family, friends, and a counselor. Ideally, the abuser may be attending his or her own set of counseling sessions as well.
- Reassurance – The victim needs plenty of reassurance and education about abuse to know that the abuse is never deserved and is always wrong to have taken place.
- Relationships – A person who has been abused will often become more secluded, isolated, and may begin to lack trust in many people in their lives (especially new people). The victim needs to surround themselves and foster relationships that are safe and will help them restore their psychological and spiritual wellbeing. Improving their dependence and trust in God becomes the most important relationship to trust in.
Michael Linn is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania and a Nationally Certified Counselor. He is the owner of Resolute Counseling, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He can be reached by calling 717-264-0450 or visiting www.resolutecounseling.com.