Where Can I Find Domestic Violence Counseling Near Me?
Updated March 16, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kristen Hardin
Finding yourself in an abusive relationship is one of the most frightening experiences that a person can experience. Many women (and men as well) find that their once fairytale relationships have now reached a point where they are unhealthy and dangerous. Love and intimacy have been replaced with physical violence verbal abuse, or intimate partner violence.
Becoming a victim of intimate partner domestic violence can leave a person feeling afraid, trapped, and hopeless. This is especially true for victims who find themselves seeking safety in a domestic violence shelter. Domestic violence counseling is important for both people who are active in an abusive relationship as well as for those who have been able to leave but find themselves struggling to heal and move forward in a healthy way. If you are searching for help or wondering "Where can I find domestic violence counseling near me?" 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 domestic violence hotline, you'll be connected with caring experts who will help you find resources for improving or escaping an abusive situation. A domestic violence hotline can also help you with family justice-related needs like filing restraining orders and completing police reports.
Understanding Domestic Violence
Knowledge is power and arming yourself with as much information as possible about domestic violence can help you make informed decisions about your future. Survivors of domestic violence may not understand the effects of what has happened to them. Domestic violence awareness aids in the counseling process since going into therapy in denial, or uninformed can slow down the process of recovery.
First, let's review what domestic violence is.
The National Domestic Abuse Hotline defines domestic violence as a pattern of behaviors that are used by one partner of an intimate relationship to control the other. Intimate partner violence, domestic violence, verbal abuse, and physical abuse are forms of controlling and violent behavior.
Many states have their legal definitions of what domestic violence is, but many aren't all-encompassing. When you visit a domestic violence counseling center you may find some states only consider physical abuse to be 'violence,' but this limited view keeps many victims confused about whether or not they are being abused. To be clear, domestic violence isn't just a black eye or a hand around the neck. Other forms of family abuse violence 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 in control. Examples of threats include physical violence, suicide (I'll kill myself if you leave me), leaving, or blackmailing.
- 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 family needs.
All of the bullets above are examples of tactics that abusers use to accomplish one goal: secure power and control. Domestic violence survivors often learn this much later -- in therapy. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs support contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24-hours a day.
Domestic Abuse Stereotypes
Even when experiencing the abuse listed above, some people might question if they're suffering abuse. They might even start to wonder if asking "where can I find domestic violence near me?" was a mistake. This is often because of stereotypes and myths that stop abuse victims from seeking help. Four common myths are listed below:
- She Doesn't Leave, So She Likes It. Seven times. This is the number of chances a battered woman gives her abusive spouse on average before walking away from good. This statistic comes from the National Domestic Violence Hotline that did an intense study on why women go back and why they won't leave for good. The article written from the research lists over 50 obstacles that domestic abuse victims often face when trying to exit a toxic relationship. Common reasons why so many stays include:
- The batterer isolates and blocks the victim from seeing a counselor, talking to friends and family, working, or saving money.
- Many think that staying is in the children's best interest or that they will lose custody of the kids if they try to exit the relationship.
- Some are elderly, have mental health issues, or have disabilities they feel will stop them from being able to gain employment/survive on their own financially.
- Many fear retaliation or more 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
- Homelessness or having 'no place to go' also keeps many abuse victims in check.
- Religious beliefs that do not support divorce make it difficult for some to gain the courage to leave.
- Negative experiences with the police/court systems cause some victims to believe that no one is there to help them.
- Powerful emotions like shame, embarrassment, and fear stop others from making a plan to leave.
- Then there are those that simply don't know their options and aren't sure where to get help. This is where domestic violence counseling can be extremely beneficial.
- Time Heals All Wounds. Those who do find the strength to leave for good don't always seek help. Well-meaning friends and family will often tell them to 'take their time' and that 'time heals all wounds.' If this adage were true, adults all over the world wouldn't still be suffering from the trauma of their childhoods. Many of those who dare to ask the question "Where can I find domestic violence counseling near me?" realize that it takes much more to recover from abuse than just putting distance between the situation. In these situations, a counselor specializing in overcoming abuse, trauma, and grief can be a great asset.
Places to Find Help
If you're searching for domestic violence counseling, 'near me' is a relative term. Options 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.
Women's shelters and counseling centers around the country offer therapy, often free of charge, or at a discounted rate to those who are struggling to leave or recover from an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, one of the obstacles that we discussed above (blocking and isolating) often stops victims from being able to leave their own home to attend weekly sessions.
Thankfully, platforms like BetterHelp are now offering online domestic violence counseling. The fantastic thing about BetterHelp's matching is service is that it will connect you with a certified and experienced counselor who offers therapy sessions in the comfort of your own home using technology. The way that it works:
Once you sign up for services, an online therapist will communicate with you remotely through the internet; providing therapy services online through BetterHelp's platform. You will be able to talk with your counselor through a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
The benefits of alternative counseling options:
- Helps with transportation and location problems. If you don't have a way to therapy or are in an area where domestic abuse counselors are too far away, online options are a great solution.
- It can help those who are shy or have difficulty communicating. Maybe you're nervous about talking to someone about your problems at home or think you won't be able to express what you want to say. An online platform will ease this and help you open up to your therapist.
- Domestic violence counseling happens around your schedule. Some survivors only have time to attend sessions during days/hours when traditional clinics aren't open. With online options, you'll be able to set your schedule.
- Your sessions will be confidential. One of the worries of abuse victims seeking counseling is that someone they know might see them going to or leaving an appointment. With the BetterHelp platform, only you, your counselor, and those you trust to tell will know that you are getting help from a therapist.
- There are lots of options. Live chat, phone, and video sessions are available as well as exchanging messages on the platform, similar to email. If you choose to seek online domestic counseling, you will have many different ways of connecting with your counselor.
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. In the meantime, resources like the National Domestic Violence Helpline are available for online chat (and by phone) 24-hours a day for support.