Being in an abusive domestic relationship or one of domestic violence is one of the most frightening experiences that a person can have. When a relationship shows signs of violence or the violence becomes dangerous, no matter how positively it began, then anyone on the receiving end of verbal abuse, emotional manipulation or “gaslighting,” or physical violence has the right to leave that relationship. If a partner has abused or is abusing you, it is not your fault, and resources such as counseling are available to give you help and hope.
Domestic Abuse & Violence Counseling
Experiencing this kind of violence, also called intimate partner violence, can leave a person feeling afraid, trapped, and hopeless. Domestic violence counseling is important for both people who currently remain in abusive relationships and for those who have been able to leave but find themselves struggling to heal and move forward. If you are searching for help or wondering, “Where can I find domestic violence counseling near me?” then you’ve come to the right place. This is not a path you have to walk alone.
Resources like the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Family Justice Centers are available to help victims and survivors of domestic violence by providing counseling services and referrals. When you contact a hotline, you’ll be connected with caring experts who will help you find resources for improving or escaping an abusive situation. A hotline can also help you with family justice-related needs like filing restraining orders and completing police reports.
What is Domestic Violence
Knowledge is power, so equipping yourself with as much information as possible about domestic violence can empower you to make decisions about your future. First, let’s review what domestic violence is. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline defines this kind of violence as a pattern of behaviors that are used by one partner of an intimate relationship to control the other. Intimate partner violence, emotional manipulation, financial abuse, verbal abuse, and threats of physical abuse are forms of controlling and violent behavior.
Many states have legal definitions of domestic violence, but some are narrower in scope. Some states only consider physical abuse to be “violence,” but this limited view can confuse individuals about whether they are being abused. To be clear, as stated above, it is not just acts of physical violence that leave visible marks or scars. Other forms of abuse that survivors may recognize include:
- Verbal abuse. Criticizing, humiliating, name calling, and playing mind games with a partner.
- Indirect abuse. Making a partner feel scared by giving bad looks, abusing family pets, yelling or making gestures that mimic violence.
- Creating fear. Using threats to keep a partner under control. Examples include threats of physical violence, suicide (“I’ll kill myself if you leave me”), abandonment, or blackmail.
- Using children. Threatening to take the kids away, playing mind games with the children.
- Gaslighting. Insisting that abuse didn’t happen, shifting blame, minimizing acts of violence.
- Control. Acting jealous when a partner leaves the house, trying to limit time with friends/outside activities.
- Financial abuse. Stopping a partner from getting a job, controlling money, and refusing to help out financially or provide for household needs.
All of the above are examples of tactics that abusers use to accomplish one goal: secure power and control. Survivors often gain a clearer picture of their abusers’ goals much later, while in therapy. Resources like the National Domestic Violence Hotline are essential to stopping and preventing abuse; this free and confidential hotline is available 24 hours a day.
Domestic Abuse or Violence Stereotypes
Even when experiencing the abuse listed above, some people might question if they’re experiencing abuse. They might even start to wonder if asking for help or domestic violence counseling was a mistake. This is often because of stereotypes and myths that prevent abused individuals from seeking help. Four common myths are listed below:
- Myth #1: Only Women Are Abused And Experience Domestic Violence. Roughly 80 percent of all domestic abuse victims are women, but statistics reported by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence find that one in every seven men has also been physically assaulted by a partner, and 40 percent of men have reported being stalked by a current or former intimate partner. Actual numbers may be even higher because men are less likely than women to report abuse—primarily because of the stigma or shame created by this myth. Resources like the National Domestic Violence Hotline and online counseling services are available for anyone to use without judgment.
- Myth #2: Domestic Violence Only Happens In Certain Homes. Many people might be surprised to learn of family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors being abused by a spouse or intimate partner. Because of stigma surrounding discussions of this kind of violence, people are often led to think of it as something that happens to people in other communities or socioeconomic classes. But abusers exist among all races, genders, ages, socioeconomic levels, education levels, and locations. No matter where you live or what social circle you inhabit, domestic abuse or intimate partner violence has probably happened to someone you know.
- Myth #3: They Don’t Leave, So They Must Be OK With It. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a woman experiencing domestic violence may try to leave her abuser an average of seven times before successfully escaping the relationship. Individuals may repeatedly return to situations of domestic abuse, not because they are “fine” with being abused, but because they do not see a viable or safe way out. People experiencing domestic abuse face numerous steep obstacles while trying to exit abusive relationships, including:
- The abuser isolates and blocks them from seeing a counselor, talking to friends and family, working, or saving money.
- Some parents think that staying is in their children’s best interest, or that they will lose custody of the kids if they try to exit the relationship.
- Some individuals are elderly, have mental health issues, or have disabilities they fear will prevent them from gaining employment or managing on their own financially.
- Many fear retaliation or further emotional/physical abuse.
- Others still have hope that the abuse will stop since the abuser always promises to do better as the cycle of violence continues
- Fear of homelessness, housing insecurity, or having “no place to go” also keeps many people experiencing abuse from leaving.
- Religious beliefs that do not support divorce make it difficult for some individuals to feel able to leave.
- Negative experiences with law enforcement or the legal system cause some people to believe that no one will believe or help them.
- Powerful emotions like shame, embarrassment, and fear can stop others from deciding to leave.
- Some people enduring domestic violence don’t know their options and aren’t sure where to get help.
- Myth #4: Time Heals All Wounds.Those who do find the strength to leave for good don’t always seek help. Well-meaning friends and family may tell them to “take their time” or that “time heals all wounds.” If this adage were true, though, older adults all over the world wouldn’t still be recovering from childhood traumas. Many who ask, “Where can I find domestic violence counseling near me?” realize that recovering from abuse required more than just getting distance from the situation. A mental health counselor specializing in overcoming abuse, trauma, and grief can be a great asset.
Where to Find Help for Domestic Violence & Domestic Violence & Abuse Counseling
If you’re searching for domestic violence counseling, “near me” is a relative term. Options may include:
- Chatting online with or calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
- Reaching out to local support groups.
- Finding a therapist office in your town or surrounding area.
- Calling a crisis counseling center or local women’s shelter.
Domestic violence shelters and counseling centers around the country offer therapy, sometimes free of charge or at discounted rates to those who are struggling to leave or recover from abusive relationships. Unfortunately, one of the obstacles discussed above (blocking and isolating) often stops targets of domestic violence from being able to leave their own homes to attend sessions.
Online Domestic Violence & Abuse Counseling
According to the National Institute of Health, one in four women and one in eight men experience domestic violence between the ages of 18 and 59. If you or someone you love is a target of domestic violence, remember that you are not alone, and there is hope. Especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has ramped up pressure in domestic situations, more individuals have begun to rely on online mental health support services like BetterHelp. If you think that counseling with a mental health professional could help you feel better supported and stronger, either within or outside of a relationship, then you can pursue help today.
Online therapy is confidential and flexible, so you can schedule sessions when you have privacy and quiet, without having to travel to an appointment or inform your partner. You can choose how to connect with a compassionate mental health professional: via video chat, phone call, or text messaging. If you are experiencing a living situation that feels unsafe or unsustainable, a supportive relationship with an online therapist through BetterHelp may provide you with the guidance and encouragement you need to make a positive change. You deserve to feel safe and heard, and speaking with someone, either on a hotline or through online therapy, can help. Here are reviews from BetterHelp users who survived domestic violence and found support from online counselors:
Larry was great at holding space for me to talk about the trauma I experienced from domestic violence and stalking. He was also sensitive to the fact that it was a LGBTQ relationship. I highly recommend Larry to anyone who needs to work through trauma or abusive relationships.
Sara has been so supportive and helpful for me. She’s helping me recognise my self worth and building my confidence after walking away from an abusive relationship. It’s so helpful knowing that she is on the other end of a message and believing in me every step of the way.
Conclusion - There Is Help If You're Experiencing Domestic Abuse
Regardless of the route you choose, you should be proud of yourself for finding the strength to take control of your life and seek the help you need to create the life you dream of. You can take the first step today.