Therapy for Domestic Violence Survivors

Therapy for Domestic Violence Survivors


According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience physical violence in their personal relationship at some point during their lifetime. Yet only around 1% of incidents are ever actually reported to the police. Because while domestic violence is both unacceptable and illegal, many victims endure their situation for years through fear of repercussions or because they feel that they are in some way to blame for the way that they are being treated. 


Signs of Domestic Violence


For some people, actually recognizing that they are in a violent relationship is one of the biggest hurdles that they face. This is because not all violence is obvious, and there is much more to it than simply being hit. Domestic violence takes many forms and the following are all signs of a physically abusive relationship:

  • Being slapped, punched, or hit

  • Being pushed or shoved

  • Being pinched, poked, or grabbed aggressively

  • Being kicked or bitten

  • Having a weapon, even if an everyday object is used as a weapon, against you

  • Burning a part of your body

  • Burning your clothing or possessions

  • Hold you around the neck to control or hurt you

  • Breaking or destroying objects

  • Throwing objects at you

  • Restraining you with force

  • Obstructing your escape

  • Locking you in 

  • Directing violent actions that aren’t necessarily at you, but are in your presence to frighten and intimidate you


There are also lots of other types of abuse that can happen within personal relationships. If you are concerned that you may be in a violent relationship but aren’t sure, talking to a specialist trauma counselor can help. 


The Psychological Effects of Domestic Violence


Often, the psychological effects of domestic violence are just as significant, if not more so. Even after the abuse has stopped, survivors can still experience distress. They are also at greater risk of developing mental health issues as they come to terms with what has happened to them. Some of the most prevalent psychological effects of domestic violence include:

  • Anxiety, which may manifest as symptoms such as insomnia, panic attacks, isolating yourself, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

  • Anger, either aimed at the abuser or at themselves for allowing the situation to occur.

  • Depression.

  • Mood swings, with some patients developing bipolar type traits. 

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • Embarrassment or shame. 

  • Trust issues, which can occur even in platonic relationships.

  • Intimacy problems. 

  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as drinking excessive alcohol, self-medicating using drugs, and self-harm.  


How Therapy Can Help Domestic Violence Survivors


When you access counseling or therapy as a domestic violence survivor, the aim is to help you break the cycle of being in abusive relationships. It does this by helping you to accept that you were not responsible for the decisions of your partner, supporting you in accepting that you were not to blame for the behavior of your partner and that there is no justification for it, and helping you to come to terms what has happened and find a healthy way of moving forwards. 


By working through what has happened, and letting you talk about the issues in a safe and controlled environment, your therapist can support you in establishing ways of making healthier choices in the future so that you don’t find yourself in similar situations. Often, a large element of the therapy focuses on building your self-esteem and confidence, so that you have an improved view of your self-worth. This alone can be instrumental in ensuring that you enter any future relationships feeling strong, confident, and in control of your destiny. 


Isolation is one of the most common and significant effects of domestic abuse, including domestic violence. Many therapists offer group sessions that help survivors to build relationships, particularly with those people who understand and can empathize with them by discussing their common experiences and subsequent issues. 




For more information about therapy for domestic violence survivors, contact our team in San Diego, CA today. 


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