Domestic Violence Answers

How do I talk to dad about how he hurt me as a kid, & how do I process why I am the way I am now.

Growing up in a dysfunctional home can lead to the members (esp. children) in the home suffering from mental health disorders or other self-defeating challenges. The word, "dysfunctional" can refer to any family lacking the homeostasis of two fully functioning parents (adults) in the home to provide a nurturing and healthy environment for proper development of the individuals in the home. The healthy homeostasis of the family can be disrupted when there is a family member requiring more attention and care than normal. This can occur when a parent (or child) suffers for a mental health, substance abuse, or medical condition, which inhibits the parents from performing their needed parental duties fully (due to a family member needing more care and attention than normal), which tends to disrupt the homeostasis and shift more responsibility on the fully functioning parent and also an older child or older children to attempt to maintain some healthy functioning of the family unit. This stress or tension due to this imbalance is distributed throughout the family unit, even to the children, who may have to grow up faster to function in certain roles placed upon them. This can, in turn, lead to anxiety, depression, or other cognitive challenges over time due the additional amount of tension or stress produced in the home. This added stress can condition the members in the family to be in fight-or-flight response as a result due to fear of the unknown or future due to the family members (usually children) taking on roles that they are not mentally and emotional capable of performing effectively. Emotional and psychological (manipulation) abuse can cause additional cognitive and other developmental challenges due to these being childhood scars that get overlooked, because they cannot be seen like the scars or wounds from physical abuse. As a result, boundaries in the family are very unhealthy (being to restraining and controlling allowing no room for growth and independence or lacking to the extent there is little or no supervision and too much independence and freedom). Without healthy boundaries in place, children lack a sense of security, guidance, and nurturing. This is why most children in dysfunctional homes grow up as codependent individuals with poor emotional, physical, and other boundaries. They have no idea where they end and other begin. They lose their identities in relationships due to fears of abandonment, rejection, or being alone, which results in intense people-pleasing behaviors (such as adopting the interests, likes, and desires of others, although they may feel uncomfortable or uninterested). They tend to feel responsible for and tending to others, while neglecting their own needs or wants. Emotional abuse damages feelings of confidence and self-worth causing a person to never feel good enough, like a failure, and leading them to try too hard to prove their self-worth by overachieving aimlessly to be affirmed by others. Manipulation and other forms of psychological abuse can leave those affected feeling confused about what they want, feel, or think; indecisive in their decision-making abilities; and more dependent upon others. Emotional management can be a challenge due to not being taught how to properly identify and express your emotions. Sometimes in dysfunctional homes, expressing one's emotions were viewed as weak or not encouraged. This usually encourages the suppressing of emotions or unhealthy coping to deal with emotions (such as eating disorders, self-harm, codependency, fighting, bullying, substance abuse, or other types of addictive or self-defeating behaviors).    Unforgiveness with family members is common when growing up in a dysfunctional home, due to frequent disappointments that lead to anger, which later festers into unresolved resentments. Resentments can be worked through effectively in counseling, whether the person you resent is still living or deceased. A licensed therapist can work with you by use of letter writing, roleplaying, the empty chair technique, or other therapeutic interventions and modalities to help you heal from these invisible wounds of your childhood. 
(M.Ed., LCMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I need help relationship

Thank you for reaching out and being so brave to get extra help and support.  My name is Sarah Cho and I am a licensed therapist and happy to give you some thoughts.  Sometimes, after being in a relationship for many years, it can be difficult to get the motivation to make a change.  Especially if your relationships has a history of abuse, whether physical or emotional.  It is important to remember not to blame yourself for anything that occurred.  You are not to blame for being mistreated or abused.  You are not to blame for the way that your partnered behaved.  You deserve to be safe and well.  You deserve to be happy and to move forward without fear or anxiety. When you decide that it is time to leave keep in mind when facing consequences, he might plead you for another chance, beg for forgiveness, and promise to change. He might mean it in the moment, but his true goal is to stay in control and keep you from leaving. He can at anytime engage in the past behavior which can be very scary and dangerous for you.   If you are ready to leave, I encourage you to reach out to me or someone here at BetterHelp or someone you know to help you outline a plan for leaving that ensures your safety and wellbeing.  Having a plan will make you feel more in control and will help increase your motivation to follow through with the plan.  A plan should include things like where you will go, what you will do for work (if there is a change), how and when you will leave, as well as planning logistics like changing any shared accounts, devices, etc.   You will also need to consider taking time to heal after you have made this change.  The hurts and scars from years of abuse can take their toll.  The actual trauma of what you have been through can stay with you after you have left.  You may struggle with negative emotions, flashbacks and other feelings that are common in individuals who have been in abusive relationships.  Getting therapy or support from friends will be critical during this time.   You are in a place to move forward and this is excited and scary at the same time.  I hope that this response has given you some reassurance that you can do this!  If you need more thoughts and/or support, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or anyone else here at BetterHelp for assistance. Warm regards, Sarah Cho, LCSW, BCBA   
(LCSW, BCBA)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Should I leave my partner?

Hello there, It is hard to advise you on what to do. On one hand, you are saying that you feel your partner would be better without you and on the other hand it does not seem as if you want this relationship to end. I would like to send some general information over on abuse within relationships. If you believe any of this applies to you, I strongly encourage you to seek out the support of a therapist. Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern of control. It Is Not Your Fault If your partner is abusing you, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You may also blame yourself for what is happening. But no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions. Relationship abuse is always a decision that a perpetrator makes to harm their partner. Relationship abuse is not caused by alcohol or drugs, stress, anger management, or provocation. It is the perpetrator’s choice to be abusive. Please see Get Help for assistance. Holding Abusers Accountable Holding abusers accountable sends a message to others that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated in our community. Unfortunately, there are still many barriers to justice in the criminal justice system, and when professionals do not understand the dynamics of domestic violence, it can make it difficult to adequately identify and prosecute abusers. In addition, many womxn cannot rely on the criminal justice system due to institutional barriers, including discrimination or homophobia. However, it is also important to recognize that many survivors do choose to involve law enforcement and depend on the criminal justice system; we cannot abandon these womxn. Due to all of these factors, it is important for us to hold abusers accountable on an individual level as well. Do not blame the survivor. Teach your children that violence is never the answer to a problem, and that controlling another person is wrong. The following are common economically abusive behaviors: Preventing you from having or keeping a job Interfering with your efforts to maintain a job by sabotaging childcare, transportation, or other arrangements Harassing you at work Refusing to work Not including you in family financial decisions Not allowing you access to the family finances Making you ask for money Taking your money Demanding an account of everything you buy Controlling your access to financial information Not allowing you to talk to others about money Not allowing your name to be on accounts, which would allow you to build credit Forcing you to put your name on accounts and then destroying your credit Making fun of your financial contribution and saying it is not worth anything Expecting you to behave in a certain way because you make less money or are not the “breadwinner” Destroying or interfering with homework Preventing you from learning English Forcing you to work “illegally” when you do not have a work permit Threatening to report you to INS or IRS if you work “under the table” Taking the money your family back home was depending on you to send to them Forcing you to sign papers in English that you do not understand i.e. court papers, IRS forms, immigration papers Harassing you at the only job you can work at legally in the U.S., so that you lose that job and are forced to work “illegally” The following are examples of sexual abuse: Unwanted touching Demanding sex Forcing sex Name-calling with sexual epithets Demanding sex after a violent incident Forcing you to engage in prostitution or pornography Forcing you to have sex with others besides your partner Insisting on anything sexual that frightens or hurts you Refusing to use safe sex practices Preventing you from using birth control Controlling your decisions about pregnancy and/or abortion Withholding sex as a form of control Videotaping or photographing sexual acts and posting it without your permission Alleging that you have a history of prostitution on legal papers Telling you that “as a matter of law” in the United States that you must continue to have sex with him whenever he wants until you are divorced. The following are common examples of physical abuse: Pushing Pinching or biting Slapping, beating, or kicking Choking Backing you into a corner Pinning you down Throwing objects Pulling your hair Holding you captive Breaking down a door to get to you Preventing you from eating or sleeping Locking you out of the house Forcing your car off the road Abandoning you in dangerous places Keeping you from getting medical care Spitting on you Using or threatening to use a weapon against you Driving at unsafe speeds to intimidate you Refusing to help you when you are sick, injured, or pregnant Withholding medications or medical treatment Animal cruelty towards pets Stalking *When we refer to physical abuse, we are not talking about self-defense. Self-defense, or reactive violence, is a response to violence being committed against a person. The result of reactive violence does not create a system of dominance or control in the relationship. *Sometimes people ask if a one time incident (i.e. throwing an object once) is always domestic violence. Contextualizing the incident in the relationship and looking at other forms of controlling behavior will help to determine if this is something that could escalate. However, a one-time incident can be a warning sign that future abuse could occur. In addition, a one-time incident may have the same effect of causing fear, limiting behavior, and long-term negative impact as continuing physical abuse. Contact a hotline if you have questions or concerns. The following are common examples of verbal abuse: Degrading you in front of friends and family Telling hurtful “jokes” despite your requests to stop Name calling Yelling Insulting Humiliation Criticizing Blaming Accusing Questioning your sanity Many survivors find that emotional abuse is difficult to name or even talk about. They often wonder if it is serious because you cannot see it, like bruises or broken bones. Emotionally abused survivors state that one of the biggest problems they face is that others seldom take it seriously. These questions will help you identify if you are being emotionally abused, and provide some ideas on available support and resources.   What is Your Relationship Like? Do you feel that something is wrong with your relationship, but you don’t know how to describe it? Do you feel that your partner controls your life? Do you feel that your partner does not value your thoughts or feelings? Will your partner do anything to win an argument, such as put you down, threaten or intimidate you? Does your partner get angry and jealous if you talk to someone else? Are you accused of having affairs? Do you feel that you cannot do anything right in your partner’s eyes? Are you told that no one else would want you, or that you are lucky your partner takes care of you? Do you have to account for every moment of your time? When you try to talk to your partner about problems, are you called names such as bitch or nag? Does your partner prevent you from going to work or school, or from learning English? If you wish to spend money, does your partner make you account for every penny, or say you don’t deserve anything? Does your partner threaten to withdraw your sponsorship or send you back to your country of origin? After an argument, does your partner insist that you have sex as a way to make up? Does your partner use the children against you in arguments? Does your partner threaten that you will never see the children again if you leave? Does your partner blame you for everything that goes wrong?   Things to Consider: Know that you are not to blame for your partner’s abusive behavior. Recognize that you have the right to make your own decisions, in your own time, and that dealing with any form of abuse may take time. Recognize that emotional abuse should be taken seriously. Know that emotional abuse can escalate to physical violence. Find people to talk to that can support you. Consider getting individual counseling from professionals who are trained about abusive relationships and will hold your partner responsible for the abuse you are experiencing. Do not give up if community professionals are not helpful. Keep looking for someone that will listen to you and take emotional abuse seriously. Trust yourself and your own experiences. Believe in your own strengths. Remember that you are your own best source of knowledge and strength.   What Resources Are Available? Call a help line: Toll FreePhone: 800-799-7233 / 800-799-SAFE Shelters do accept women who are emotionally abused and have not been physically abused. Go here for a list of resources, or ask the help line for shelters near you. If you are a person with a disability, ask where there is an accessible shelter in your area. If you have been threatened with harm or death, or are being stalked (followed and harassed) by your partner or ex-partner, you can call the police. Dial 911, or if you are in a rural area, find out the emergency number. Plan for your safety if you are considering leaving your relationship, because sometimes leaving can increase your risk of harm. You can find resources to help you create a safety plan here. If you have children, consider some of these Legal Resources. The following are examples of academic abuse: Preventing you from working on papers or studying for tests, Saying you don’t love your partner if you spend time on work instead of spending time together, Calling you at all hours, especially before tests and other important academic assignments, Blaming you for poor grades, Monitoring your behavior during class or taking all of the same classes as you, Belittling your academic focus/choice, Making fun of you for studying too much. The following are common examples tactics that, when used as part of a pattern of behavior, may constitute psychological abuse. Breaking promises, not following through on agreements, or not taking fair share of responsibility. Isolating you from family and friends. Controlling what you do, who you talk to, and where you go. Making threats against you. Attacking your vulnerabilities, such as your language abilities, educational level, skills as a parent, religious and cultural beliefs, or physical appearance. Playing mind games, such undercutting your sense of reality. Forcing you to do degrading things. Ignoring your feelings. Driving too fast. Withholding approval or affection as punishment. Regularly threatening to leave or telling you to leave. Harassing you about affairs your partner imagines you to be having. Always claiming to be right. Being unfaithful after committing to monogamy. The following are ways in which an abuser can use technology to abuse or harass a partner: Monitoring your e-mail communication Sending you repeated e-mail or instant messages Using your online identity to post false information or to send your demographic information and/or picture to sexually oriented or pornographic sites Using social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace, to get information about you and to monitor who sends you messages and who your friends are Sending you repeated text messages Using GPS devices to monitor your location Gender Based Violence Against Immigrant and Undocumented Women Immigrant women face many of the same barriers and hardships that non-immigrant survivors do, and men perpetrate violence against them at a similarly high rate. Immigrant women includes women who have visas, are legal residents, and/or are undocumented immigrants. Men who abuse immigrant women may use certain factors that are unique to a survivor’s citizenship status to create additional obstacles that prevent survivors from leaving. Immigrant women may feel isolated due to language barriers, or trapped in abusive relationships due to immigration laws, social isolation, and a possible dependency on their abuser because of these factors. Men who abuse immigrant women will often use control tactics that exacerbate these feelings, such as threatening to have a survivor deported if they report their abuse. Specifically, men will also threaten immigrant and undocumented women who have children with the possibility of separating them from their children. Additionally, you can learn more and find resources here: Futures Without Violence: Immigrant Women and Relationship Abuse  National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project Website Casa de Esperanza | En Español Arte Sana National Domestic Violence Hotline En Español   Power and Control Tactics Used Against Immigrant and Undocumented Women The following describes some of the ways in which men abuse immigrant women, although the experiences of individual survivors will vary from case to case. These tactics are in addition to the types of abuse listed here, which apply to both immigrant and non-immigrant women. Immigrant women include female-identifying individuals and genderqueer and nonbinary people who have visas, are legal residents, and/or are undocumented immigrants. Perpetrators often do the following: Emotional Abuse Economic Abuse Sexual Abuse Using Coercion and Threats Using Children Using Citizenship or Residency Privilege Intimidation Isolation Minimizing, Denying, Blaming Gender Based Violence Against Women With Disabilities   Women and gender-nonconforming individuals with disabilities encompass a wide spectrum that includes numerous unique types, degrees, and expressions of impairments; these can include physical, developmental, and psychological disabilities, and may not always be visible. According to a US Department of Justice report, in 2013, men perpetrated violence against women with disabilities at double the rate than against individuals without disabilities. Men who commit violence or abuse against individuals with disabilities are oftentimes spouses or partners; the perpetrators may feel empowered to harm the survivor due to the survivor’s reliance on the abuser, who may double as a caretaker. Abusers may utilize control tactics to coerce the survivor or to isolate the survivor, including withholding essential medical equipment or refusing to bathe them. This is abuse, and all gender-based violence resources and services must be fully accessible to people in the disability community. Learn more about abuse in disability communities and find resources here: Safety Planning for Domestic Violence Victims with Disabilities Advocate Guide to Safety Planning for Persons with Disabilities National Domestic Violence Hotline’s Abuse in Disability Community Webpage Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS)   Power and Control Tactics Used Against Women with Disabilities   Physical pushing a person out of their wheelchair hurting their service animal hitting, shaking, and burning the administration of poisonous substances or inappropriate drugs inappropriate handling of personal or medical care over-use of restraint or inappropriate behavior modification false information given to the medical/psychiatric community resulting in a wrongful diagnosis Emotional isolating a person from family and friends intensely criticizing a person that needs assistance with their daily activities withholding love and affection verbal attacks taunting, threats (of withdrawal of services or of institutionalization), insults and harassment Economic a caregiver or partner stealing money misusing financial resources lying about the state of a person’s finances the denial of access to, and control over, individuals’ own funds forcing a person to lie to or exploit governmental benefit systems Verbal telling an individual with a disability that they will be sent to a nursing home and lose their freedom if they reports the violence implying that physical violence will be committed (e.g., “I’m going to kick your butt.”) actively misgendering an individual or invalidating their gender identity Sexual Abuse forcing a person to perform sexual favors in exchange for assistance with essential services (bathing, eating) unwanted or forced sexual contact, touching, or displays of sexual parts threats of harm or coercion in connection with sexual activity denial of sexuality and of sexual education forced abortion, birth control or sterilization Spiritual refusing to allow a person that needs assistance to practice their chosen customs telling a person their disability is the result of sin spiritual isolation and spiritual embarrassment mocking, ridiculing, or even denying practice of someone’s spiritual beliefs unfairly using sacred practices to control a person: to justify abuse, or to prevent safety or healing    
(LPC, NCC, CEDS-S)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is it me?

Hello, thanks for reaching out. First, let me say that I am so sorry for what you have been through. Being raped is a traumatic experience and can be hard to talk about. The fact that you have been brave enough to ask this question is a huge first step. Your question "Is it me? Is it a communication problem?" is not an uncommon question that many victims of sexual assault and rape have felt. "Could I have done something different?" is a common response from those who have been sexually assaulted. The truth is, it is not your fault. I don't know the circumstances you are referring to with a previous and current boyfriend, but if you are saying that they raped you, then it means that you told them "no" and they still forced you to into sex. That means that it is not your fault. No matter what. If you were forced into any sexual act against your will, then it is not your fault. You are not to blame. I want to make sure that you hear that loud and clear. It is not your fault. That being said, these rapes have occured in the midst of what you have described as romantic relationships (aka boyfriend/girlfriend). When someone is hurting another person in a romantic relationship, there is a problem. However, just because there is a problem does NOT mean that you have done anything wrong and it does NOT mean that you caused this to happen. Let me say that loud and clear. What it does mean is that there is a problem. So what is the problem? I can't answer that for you without knowing more details. I do not want to speculate about your situation. Therefore, what I say next is in general terms. It might apply to you but it might not. In relationships where there is hurt occuring, there often may be poor communication in the relationship. Any relationship where any kind of abuse or assault happens indicates that something in the relationship is unhealthy. In relationships that are unhealthy, it is not uncommon for there to be a communication issue. But communication is not the only issue that might be present. Power dynamics are also another issue that is common in unhealthy and abusive relationships. This could mean it is just be one person who is unstable or unhealthy and holding power over the other, or it might be a co-dependent dynamic that involves manipulation on both sides where both parties have ways of taking advantage of the other. And while communication problems are common in an unhealthy relationship, just because communication problems exist does not mean that the couple will escalate to abusing one another in any way. The truth is that many healthy marriages have communication issues from time to time. So communication issues do not mean that someone will get hurt at the level we would consider abuse or assault. But when someone is abused or assaulted, there is also likely evidence that other areas of the relationship were/are unhealthy. In the end, when we do have situations like yours that do end up in assault/rape, the responsibility and blame lies with the aggressor/perpertrator alone. No one has a right to force themselves on another person. Nothing you do "asks for it." It is not the fault of the victim. Again, I can't speak to your specific situation without knowing more. If you want to explore more, I would highly encourage you to begin working with a counselor. First, it would help you process the hurt and pain you have experienced. You should not have to go through that alone. Being a victim of rape is very traumatic and I imagine you have been impacted by it in ways you can't even explain. Second, it will help you investigate what is happening in your relationships so that you can identify what is healthy and what is unhealthy. Sometimes it takes the eyes of an outside person to help someone see when they are being taken advantage of in unhealthy ways. Finally, working with a counselor will help you learn more about yourself, including your strengths. This allows you to pursue the life you desire and dream of. Counselors like myself are here for people like you who are ready to deal with hurt and pain and move forward towards healing. Our job is to join you on the journey and provide encouragement, hope and truth as you face the road ahead. Reach out anytime to start the process towards healing.
(M.S., LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to not let your insecurities from trauma control your thoughts and emotions ?

A lot of times people who have been in abusive relationships and who have experienced a lot of trauma experience difficulty with emotional regulation and interpersonal relationships. When people are in abusive relationships or undergoing traumatic experiences, the brain goes on high alert  looking for any sign of danger. Enough time spent in "red alert" mode can cause you to become stuck. Your brain does not trust that you are safe and your mind is going a million miles an hour.  The first thing people who have a lot of anxiety related to trauma is learn self regulation. Fear and anxiety are physiological in nature, meaning they have a lot of physical components to the symptom. You will not be able to change your mindset if you are still experiencing a physiologically aroused state. Your heart beats fast, directing more oxygen throughout the body and raising your blood pressure. Breath can become more constricted and muscles become tense.  Once we slow down physically, we can slow down the thought process enough to start doing some work on it. First, find a space to sit down. Allow your body to be supported by your spine take a few deep breaths. 4 second inhale through the nose, 4 second hold, and 4 second exhale through the mouth. Next, imagine your arms and legs and the rest of your body melting onto the floor like ice cream on a hot day. You will feel things start to loosen up and slow down. Remind yourself that you ARE safe in this moment, even if it doesnt feel that way. Nothing bad is happening RIGHT NOW. You are safe.  Next, ask yourself what is going on. What feelings came up for you, and why do you think they were coming up? A lot of times, when we experience emotions we deem unpleasant, we shut them out by engaging in behaviors that create distance from the emotions, but in doing so it can create distance in relationships between ourselves and others.  So the opposite of that is getting really curious about what is going on. Instead of leaning away, lean into it. Sometimes it helps to imagine the fear as a person--perhaps a younger version of yourself.  Sometimes those younger fearful parts are just afraid that they are going to end up in a similar situation as before. Their may be a lot of doubt in your decision making skills or ability to keep yourself safe. So that younger part grabs the keys to the bus and tries to take over.  Imagine sitting down at a table with that fear or younger self and ask them why are you showing up? What are you trying to tell me, what do you want me to know? And then...what do you need from me to feel safe? Gently have conversations with yourself and take back the keys. Things are hard and scary, but identify what is different about this scenario. What tools do you have to keep yourself safe? Maybe before you were not aware of the red flags, but now you are. Maybe we don't fully trust our new partner just yet and are waiting for the other shoe to drop. If that is the case, be honest with your partner or family members about what you are feeling. Let them know what you need to feel safe and secure. Let them know where you are struggling. It may help to write things down so you remember to talk about it.  It is also important to get professional help from a licensed therapist who is trained in trauma. They can work with you more closely to identify protective thought patterns and behaviors and help you rebuild a sense of safety and connection. 
(MS, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I treat myself beter after feeling I let me and the people I love down?

It sounds like you are experiencing domestic violence? If not, any form of abuse from your partner is not acceptable. Most of the time it is about power and control.  Yelling, screaming, belittling, raising fists, hitting, shoving, punching walls is all part of intimidation and just some of the subtle weapons an abuser might use to force you to do what they want.  Not only do you need to protect your children, you need to protect yourself. If victim support and social services are involved it has already gotten out of hand. You are not "deceiving" anybody except your children and yourself.  Do you notice that after an incident takes place they start "love bombng"? You mentioned your partner is trying "really hard", in what way? Just by being nice, until next time? Even verbal attacks are ways they gain power and control without you even realizing. By attacking verbally, the abuser can keep their hands clean but effectively degrades and intimates the victim (you or your children) until your sense of perception is unstable and your self-esteem is lowered so you start to believe what they say is true. They ususally need someone else to blame because their fragile ego cannot handle it, turning things around instead and blaming YOU for what THEY did. "YOU made me yell, hit, etc. because , x, y z". You can fill in the blank.  Do you come from an abusive household where you witnessed such things? Just the fact that you feel you are being "deceitful" tells me you somehow feel like this is still your fault. If social services or victim services offfers you help, please accept it. It is not going to get better and will only get worse until you/your partner and your children recieve the correct help.  Seeking help can be scray and takes courage, but you can do it. That sick feeling you have in your stomach tells me that you already know what you need to do. The process for getting help can be overwhelming, and it can feel frustrating and lonely. It takes courage to seek for a more fulfilling and happier life and to take the first step towards change. Is there anybody outside of your family that you confide in? There are support groups as well that can offer you help to deal with your current situation. I hope you can find the courage to seek the help that you and your children deserve.  
(MS, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to handle mental abuse from my wife?

Hello Ishmam,   Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your question: How to handle mental abuse from my wife? An unhealthy relationship negatively impacts those (or more likely just one person) in the relationship and can take a toll on one’s mood, confidence, behavior, other relationships, and body.   A common misconception is that abuse only happens to women, not men. Just like any kind of abuse - sexual, physical, emotional, or mental - it can happen to any gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on. No one is immune to abuse, and it is never your fault. It's important to note that abuse doesn't always occur in romantic relationships; it can also occur within a familial relationship or friendship. When bad behavior is repeated amongst kids, acquaintances, or co-workers, we quickly call it bullying. There isn’t a lot of debate about what to call threats to injure or actual bodily harm.   However, when bad behavior (that isn’t physically violent) repeatedly happens in our intimate (romantic or familial).   What is emotional abuse?   Emotional or psychological abuse can be hard to describe and even harder to recognize. Often this behavior occurs behind closed doors and is subtle, passive-aggressive, covert, or even plausibly deniable.   Verbal aggression, insults, threats, intimidation, coercion, manipulation, or isolation that affect the targets sense of safety (physical or emotional), self-esteem, and even perception of reality ARE emotional or psychological abuse.   Most people are unlikely to identify themselves as victims of abuse, even if the behaviors they have experienced are classic signs of emotional abuse. Victims of abuse frequently have difficulty identifying the emotional severity and impact of the abuse they have experienced.   Understanding the behaviors, feelings, and impact of unhealthy relationships is an essential part of moving towards a healthier and happier self, regardless of what happens with that relationship.   Recipients of abuse often blame themselves for not doing enough when they are taking on too much.   Emotional abuse in relationships erodes confidence and self-worth, leading to self-doubt, anxiety, depression, isolation, and increased dependence on the abuser. Recipients of abuse often blame themselves for not doing enough when taking on too much.   Recipients coping with emotional abuse often feel responsible for accommodating the abuser, responsible for others’ feelings or actions, or feeling obligated to keep the peace or go with the flow to avoid outbursts, moods, or tantrums.   People experiencing emotional abuse tend to isolate themselves from supportive friends or family. They might feel disconnected, or if the abuser is critical or expresses negative views of the friends, they may find themselves less likely to risk conflict or judgment by seeing those people.   Introverts may be at an additional risk of isolation if they don’t have a strong social or support network.   The more isolated one becomes, the easier it is for inappropriate behavior and emotional abuse to become normalized, excused, or overlooked. Isolation prevents us from feeling connected to others, getting perspective, or seeing and experiencing other, healthy relationships.  Isolation contributes to people staying in abusive relationships.   Emotionally abusive relationships are not a two-way street. The psychologically abusive relationship benefits one person- the abuser. You are not stuck with having to accept this as usual. You deserve the kindness and compassion you give so freely to others.   Finding a therapist helps you in overcoming emotional abuse and manage the complicated feelings that may arise from being in and leaving an emotionally abusive situation.   If the thought of professional counseling is overwhelming, talk to a pastor or a good friend — or ask a neighbor to go with you to a community center where people know how to handle domestic abuse issues. That said, we strongly urge you to reach out to a professional licensed therapist. Choose one who understands the dynamics of abuse, power, and control — one who is well trained in the highly specialized field of marital conflict. A good counselor can help you know if your spouse’s behavior has led you into silent acceptance of the situation. Should your wife go with you?  That is something you and your theapist can discuss.  It might or might not be good if your wife would do the counseling with you.  Your therapist may not recommend that the two of you do this jointly, at least not in the beginning. Consider the CREATE strategy as a tool to help you deal with emotional abuse and create a path forward:   1. Connect   Connect with friends and family. Reach out to meaningful connections, even if it has been some time since you last spoke. Let people care about you, build a support system, and feel less isolated.   2. Recognize   Recognize behavioral patterns of abuse.  Knowing and anticipating behaviors will help you gain clarity about your situation.   Do you want to continue the habits and roles you’re observing, or do you want something different?   Being able to anticipate abusive tactics can make it feel less personal and empower you a bit more. Even though you may be targeted, this isn’t about you. It is about the abuser.   3. Establish   Establish your boundaries and decide how you want to be treated and what you no longer wish to tolerate.   What do you want? What do you need?   It can help to think about how you would treat others and remember that you should expect the same for yourself.   4. Assert   Assert your needs. If you need help, speak up. If your feelings were hurt, say so. Don’t put your needs aside to accommodate someone else’s feelings or wants.   A healthy partner wouldn’t want you to suppress your feelings to accommodate their own. A healthy relationship will account for everyone’s needs, feelings, and desires equally. If they don’t consider your feelings when you express them, maybe that invalidation is the only answer you need for stopping emotional abuse.   I wish you the best of luck with your next in figuring out your relationship in your marriage.  You do not need to do this alone.  A professional mental health therapist can help guide and support you with your concerns and help you with some effective interventions.    
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Trauma bonds

Thank you for your question, Princess. I can imagine you have been through quite a bit of challenges with your boyfriend as you have identified there being a trauma bond present in your relationship. Trauma bonds are symptomatic of an abusive relationship. Trauma bonds represent an unhealthy emotional attachment where the victim is caught betwixt and between the cycle of abuse and positive reinforcement. It is no wonder why trauma bonds are hard to break free from as there is a duality that can be difficult to discern. It would seem sensible to completely disengage from the relationship if the abusive behaviors were the constant or the norm, but because they are punctuated with positive reinforcement, it can be nearly impossible to escape. Nevertheless, victims do often make attempts to leave abusive relationships, but they inevitably return because of the incredibly strong trauma bonds. If your boyfriend were constantly devaluing you on a regular basis, it would be much easier to just end the relationship without giving it much thought at all. However, the trauma bond develops because there are moments where you do experience brief positive moments in your relationship that you may magnify to such an extent that you may even minimize or deny the abusive behaviors. Trauma bonds can be very difficult to even acknowledge, so I think it is rather impressive that you have identified that there is a trauma bond in existence. This just goes to show how powerful they are because you can even have the awareness of the trauma bond, yet still want the relationship to persist. It can be very confusing as you are caught between acts of abusiveness (physical, emotional, and/or sexual) and acts of kindness, affection, or intimacy. This is why it makes it difficult to just sever the ties completely.  You are wondering if it is possible to form a healthy relationship with your boyfriend without having to leave him or cut him off. Unfortunately, it is not possible to form a healthy relationship when a trauma bond is present. Abuse is never acceptable and it is not your fault. There is nothing you will be able to do to "fix" the trauma bond.  In order to form a healthy relationship, you will need to ultimately eliminate all contact with your abuser and work on your own healing process. Alas, it will likely not be so easy to "cut him off," but starting therapy can be a big step to encourage your healing from the trauma you have survived. 
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Do the therapist have knowledge of narcissistic abuse?

Hello!  Thank you for asking this question!  It can be real scary to seek help.  I actually consider it courageous,  rather than thinking you must be crazy!  Narcissist actually do gaslighting which means that they blame you and confuse your feelings making you feel "crazy." That is how they avoid facing their own responsibility for their actions and in their minds it also helps build their self-esteem which is missing in their personalities.  They often appear wonderful to other people.  So when you try to talk to family and friends they can't understand or see their behaviors. So, this reinforces and makes you question your sanity.  Narcissus love to be adored. So they present a wonderful and false picture of themselves to other people.There are support groups on. Qoura for victims of narcissistic abuse.  People can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the abuse they have received.  There is treatment for the PTSD here in BetterHelp.   There is also treatment for increasing your self-esteem which usually occurs due to the constant verbal abuse.  Relationships of this nature fall into the category of domestic abuse.  Information and worksheets on domestic abuse also occurs in treatment.  We want you to be able to recognize what you have suffered through.  Sometimes the abuser has led you to believe your behaviors brought on their abuse.  There is no excuse for domestic abuse, It is not due to you , but is a reflection of their own control and power issues.    You may also be suffering from anxiety and depression which we have assessment tools to evaluate and treat.  The anxiety can occur due to the emotional conflict you feel.  You often love the person and feel committed to the relationship so conflict occurs as you think about leaving the relationship.  Believe me , leaving the relationship may be the best thing you can do for yourself.  Most important is that you recognize that you need help.  That is a big step in getting over your narcissistic abuse.  Some people bury their feelings in order to avoid the emotional pain resulting from the abuse.  You have recognized your feelings and are seeking help.  Therapists in BetterHelp offer you a professional,empathetic and safe place for seeking  help. Hope this answer helps you sort out your concerns regarding seeking treatment  and  assures you can be in good hands. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

Husband coked me during fight in front of family should I leave?

Good evening! Thank you for reaching out! I hope you find this helpful.  I believe you are saying your husband choked you in front of family during an argument? This sounds like this was a volatile and ultimately dangerous situation. I am wondering if this has happened before in your relationship? First and foremost, your safety is priority. If you feel like you are not safe with him, do you have somewhere you can stay in the immediate time? By him showing no remorse, there is concern this is something that could happen again in the future. Choking is a serious act of domestic violence and can be extremely dangerous. Did your family intervene?  Before really processing what to do in the future in terms of your relationship, the first issue at hand is your safety and to not be in a position where he can hurt you again. Can you find resources to help you, if you do not have them yourself? Would he agree to stay somewhere else? It's very important that you are safe. This can be such an overwhelming time, and it might be best to take it one step at a time. Safety issues and has this happened before, which lends itself to a pattern of abusive behavior towards you that will most likely be repeated.  After that, you should maybe consider the longevity of your relationship and if you feel like you can rebuild trust and safety in your relationship. It would take both people being willing to look honestly at what happened and take responsibility for the issues in the relationship. I would have some concerns that this would escalate if you do not have professional intervention as soon as possible.  Starting over can feel so scary and overwhelming. It can feel like you are all alone. When someone is abusive, they will work to make you feel like you couldn't make it without that person-that you need him. It can also feel just sad to think about your life without this person. If you love this person, you want them in your life and that's understandable. However, violence cannot exist in a healthy relationship and you may have to make the excruciatingly hard decision to end the relationship.  While I cannot tell you if you should leave or stay, I can tell you that your safety is absolutely the most important issue here. Please stay safe!
Answered on 01/21/2022

I was in an abusive relationship after the death of previous boyfriend, dating again...

Hi Nikki,  Thank you for your question. I'm so sorry that this happened to you, and I congratulate you on making it to this point/ recognizing the need to reach out for help. What you're describing is a common result of trauma and interpersonal violence. Triggers, painful memories, shutting down, and generalized anxiety are all often a result of being subjected to ongoing abuse.  Therapy is a powerful tool in guiding your healing but the financial considerations are real and can be challenging to navigate. BetterHelp does offer financial aid and I would encourage you to reach out to the Support Team (contact@betterhelp.com) for more information about that. What you're going through is difficult and you shouldn't have to make this journey alone. I'm glad to hear you've found a partner that treats you well, you deserve that, and a healthy relationship can help to decondition some of those trauma responses. That being said, returning to baseline and engaging your relationship as your best self after trauma can be tricky.  Living with an abusive partner, in fear and anxiety, can cause you to feel insecure and even question the reality or likelihood of true partnership. The fact that you've put yourself out there and are dating again says to me that you've been able to regain a sense of optimism and hope around the possibility of a healthy relationship. You've acknowledged the abuse and are ready to do the work of recovery. You know that you're worthy of being treated as an equal and that what happened is not your fault. You are not to blame for your abuser's actions. If you're still struggling with truly believing any of those statements then the work begins with self-compassion.  The first and most important step is forgiving yourself. You might feel anger, shame, and guilt for staying with your abuser for longer than you should have. Self-blame and criticism don't help heal these wounds. Explore what attracted you to your husband and understand the techniques he used to keep you in the relationship. Where do you still feel responsible? Where are you still holding on to shame? These are the areas that need work and self-empathy.  (Re)build your support network. Abusers often intentionally isolate their partners and disrupt the relationships that have sustained the person throughout the rest of their life. Consider the health and depth of your support network. Do you have other people you can turn to and rely on? Are there connections that are dependent on this person? Make a habit of checking in with yourself about how you are expending your social and emotional energy and make sure the people on the receiving end are worth the effort. It’s easy to assume our friends will always be there, but close relationships require maintenance. This involves having very real conversations, and regularly checking in with each other in a meaningful way. Take time for yourself outside the relationship as well, the more you are a whole person with a full life- the less dependent on your partner you are in terms of fulfillment. Embrace the things that make you who you are so you're able to hold on to them in that new environment. And remember that no matter what happens, you will get through it. Take care of yourself physically. It’s always important to eat right, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep—but even more so when you’re healing from trauma. Exercise in particular can soothe your traumatized nervous system, relieve stress, and help you feel more powerful and in control of your body. The most important thing here is that none of this is insurmountable. You can take these challenges on in ways that make it feel like you will be able to make it through and thrive. There are skills and strategies to help with all of this, and having outside eyes on a problem can help gain perspective. You are capable of healing and when you build those skills at the same time that you process the past- you are setting yourself up for success. You've got this, just keeping taking steps and leaning into those coping skills. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

My roommate has been sexually harassing me and I can’t move/leave. How do I cope?

First of all, thank you so much for asking such a hard question. I can't even imagine the emotional turmoil that you must be going through on a daily basis in your current environment. It takes a lot of strength and courage to disclose and open up about such trauma. It sounds to me like you're feeling completely stuck and trapped in your current situation. That feeling is NEVER easy to sit with for long, let alone years. It seems you have already taken some steps to try to keep yourself safe. Unfortunately, when dealing with predatory people, boundaries alone often do no work. People who abuse, assualt, manipulate, and harm others do not care about the words or actions you place in front of them. They are out to use others for their own personal gain. This is especially true when there is physical abuse. Predators thrive on being in control and powerful. It sounds as if the person you're living with has done all of those things, including isolating you from others. It can feel maddening and totally hopeless when the other people around you abandon you and side with the abuser. I'm relieved you at least have your husband on your side. I wish I had an easy answer on how to best cope with this situation. I understand you're not in a position to be able to make it on your own to find independent housing. However, my gut and knowledge of abuse tells me you HAVE to get out of that environment. I would suggest looking into local shelters or any other family or friends you have around you. Even looking into government assistance if possible. I realize a shelter isn't ideal, but it's better than being in danger and surrounded by abuse. Not only are you enduring the abuse acutely, you're also reminded of all the other instances in which it happened. I fear there may be no rest or peace until you're out of the situation. In the meantime, I would encourage you to NEVER be alone with this person. I imagine that's difficult to do in the same house, but try your best. You're in an impossible situation, no wonder you're feeling overwhelmed. Your safety (both physical and emotion) are the most important thing here. You deserve to be in a safe environment devoid from abuse and toxicity. I hope this answer has helped in some way. Remember how strong you are to have come this far. You can do hard things. Take good care.
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do you get out of an abusive relationship that involves financial abuse?

Hello!I can appreciate how difficult it was to reach out with this, and I am extremely glad you did. It is hard to admit that someone is hurting you. You are not alone in this process, and I am hopeful to offer insights that you can then explore as you are ready or able to do so. These are not prescriptive, only descriptive - so that you might have support in this process. Down the road, once you are safe and stabilized, you can approach the emotional and mental effects via individual and group counseling, as well as extra-therapeutic change and self-care. For now, let us start with the main/plain things!The fact that are you are wondering how to address something as complex as this tells us that you are contemplating change, that you are hopeful, that you are envisioning a positive outcome and even getting ready to initiate movement. Yet, understandably, you are not sure where and how to prepare - and quite literally not sure where to go! As in, you are thinking about change, but not able to make that change just yet. It makes sense! There are many layers and a variety of scenarios, which do not feel safe just yet (because abusers are skilled at making people stay - via the manipulation, emotional warfare and isolation attempts you mentioned). Not to mention the forces and influences regarding the emotional weight of this dynamic, and, further, the many barriers (financial, means to communicate or contact the outside world, etc.) and risk factors to overcome to "get out" - at least physically out. So, where do we start?An exit plan: Quite literally, where can you go? Family, friends? Other shelters that you may be able to call for aid? Do you have a physician or a counselor or other "helping" entity that can offer resources and support? How do we identify a safe space? How will you get there? When? Do we need to consider children, also, that may be with you? Would two plans be helpful? As in, one for if you have a quick-exit window of opportunity and another that can be planned if you are to have time when he leaves the house for any reason? Consider that you may have to leaving things behind if you see a window to get out fast, or if you are in danger. We can figure out the rest later!Money: I know you cited this as an issue. Is there a way to stockpile any kind of money, even small amounts? Is there a stash somewhere? Oftentimes, a shelter can help with funding for things - but we must get you safely to that point! I realize that finances are a very large sticking point...but we can figure this out down the road.What Should I Take if I Can Leave?: Pack lightly - a few changes of clothes, an heirloom or two like jewelry, medications, etc. Consider essential documents, namely those that verify your identity. Hide any of these things if you pack ahead of time based on your exit plan. How Do I Stay Safe Until I CAN Leave?: Can you get to a safe place somehow, even in the home, if you sense your abuser is getting upset? How can you diffuse a situation so you can give yourself some space or even an opportunity to leave - even if we need to make an "excuse" to do so? Do you have access to any technology at all so that you may be able to communicate with others, research resources (the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at (800) 799-SAFE), etc.? Are you able to get to a library? It is possible you are being tracked or that there are recording devices, yes - so what makes the most sense?___________________________ It is normal to be fearful in trying to get into a position to move out of an unsafe space. There are places to go once you find the best opportunity to get out. Once we get you to a safer space, then we can begin to "pick up the pieces." What you are going through can be traumatizing and can have a profound effect on you mentally, emotionally, and even physically. You can eventually look for a therapist - or even a specialized treatment program - in your area who has experience working with abuse victims. This is not your fault - and you can learn to identify and form healthy relationships in the future!
(LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I heal from a trauma bond?

Hi there.  Good question.  I would first ask yourself what is your goal by seeing him "one last time." Is he incarcerated due to an incident of Domestic Violence with you? I know you say you want to see him to gain closure and move on, but what are you hoping to achieve or get from him?  I'm not sure if you've seen the cycle of abuse, but while there is a honeymoon stage after each incident, typically, there is also another incident that follows. Sometimes worse than the last one.  If we hope to receive a genuine apology and offer for change, that just won't happen.  If we are hoping for him to take blame.  That just won't happen.  Not in any genuine way. It's confusing because sometimes he's great and sometimes he's not.  More times he's not.  We would not stay if it were all bad.  We may also have kids that we want to be able to continue to protect and be the buffer between them. We may have financial concerns because we don't work, we took care of him, the kids, the home, we weren't allowed to work.  Does that make sense? There's value is sometimes not seeking that validation.  There's value in acceptance and commitment.  That is to recognize that what has happened between you both and to you happened.  It's horrific and terrifying.  At the same time, deciding that it's time to move on.  Time to stop allowing this abuse to be what your kids learn is normal. Time to stop the cycle of abuse.  My guess is, he experienced this growing up as well. This is no way an excuse for his behavior.  He makes choices.  He makes choices to isolate you or demean you or hit you.  But, he makes those decisions because he may have been programmed to rely on this behavior to get what he wants- to gain control over you.  Mostly, they want to gain control because the smaller you are the bigger they are.  They seek to confuse you with the "good" times so that you will seek out the good times and stay.  They do what I call "crazymaking" which has also been known as gaslighting.  This makes us stop trusting in our own thoughts and beliefs so that we are so dependent on them for those things. This is all part of the cycle of abuse/control.  I'm so sorry you're going through this.  No one should have to.  There are resources out there to support you and your kids (if you have them and if you don't). 
(MSW, LISW-S)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I get over my sexual assault?

It is normal to have the thoughts and feelings similar to what you express after something like this happens.  What is happening is that you are grieving the loss of having your life without this part of it.  Grief is a process of adjustment until one finally accepts what happened at the end.  Even thought it is something that takes and occurs in stages, it never follows through from stage one to stage five neatly but rather it jumps all over the place and goes back and forth sort of like two steps forward and three backwards in some cases.  The problem here is that I don't know what happened to you and when it happened.  Since you mention that this was/is a sexual assault it is important that you know that you will be able to protect yourself and heal from the pain and emotional upheaval of such an event with appropriate counseling from a trained counselor.  While many clinicians use different methods, any of the best evidence practices for sexual assault can produce positive results/outcomes.   I have some important questions I would want to know if we are to enter treatment so you will benefit thinking about the following questions.  What was the age and gender of the person who assaulted you?  What was the relationship of the person who assaulted you i.e., neighbor, co-worker, family member, someone from your community?  Is this the first time that you have ever been sexually assaulted?  Have you ever been assaulted other than by sexual assault?  Have you ever experienced a different trauma?  I ask this for many trauma related reasons as there is a lot to be learned and to be addressed with trauma.   Each trauma is not a separate incident all wrapped up by itself but an integral part of your body and mind.  As a composite, the traumas need to be addressed.  There are many good methods of treatment and I would recommend you find yourself someone who really gets trauma and is a specialist recognized by other providers in your home community or online but licensed in your state.
(Psy.D., LISW-CP/S, CACII)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I do in fact need help! yours and everyone's prices are prohibitive 4 me.

Hi Teri.  Welcome to Better Help, I'm Maya.  The situation you describe is so far beyond "concerning" that I'm struggling for the words to describe my reaction to it.  What a harrowing experience you have been through.  I want to preface my reply by clarifying that I am not a specialist in domestic violence or homicidal behavior.  So I'm just going to give you some common-sense advice to SEE such a specialist, preferably in person, without delay. Read the rest of my reply, for advice on how to do that on a budget, and for some safety advice that I hope you'll take to heart.     You don't say whether or not you are currently living with this man who tried three times to kill you.  If you are, then you are obviously putting yourself in harm's way, unless your husband has somehow been "cured" of his murderous intentions, such as by having had an intensive course of therapy with a professional who specializes in domestic violence and/or antisocial personality types.  If that is not the case, if there is no evidence that your husband's mentality and homicidal behavior has undergone a dramatic change, and yet you are still residing with him, then evidently your life is in danger...  If that is the case, I'd have to recommend getting to a place of safety, without delay.  If going to a friend's house or a relative's home is not possible, or if the act of physically leaving your home would put you or others in danger of retaliation by your husband, you can consider the idea of going to a women's shelter.  You can call for a policy escort if need be.    Most communities have free or low-cost options for legal counsel.  I suggest you reach out to an attorney to discuss any legal aspects of your situation, and to discuss legal topics that may be relevant to your current or future situation, such as restraining orders.   You are smart to have realized that healing often requires HELP, and therapy can be a powerful form of help. I understand your financial dilemma.  If you cannot afford the Better Help subscription fee, you can reach out to Better Help to ask for a fee reduction.  Better Help does offer, in many cases, a reduced fee for those who are low income or facing a financial crisis.  If you are not able to join Better Help at a fee rate that would work with your budget, there are other ways to secure low-cost (or even free) therapy services.  Most communities have free or low-cost counseling options available. These services are sometimes offered on a sliding fee scale, based on your income. You can ask your doctor for a referral to a counseling agency that serves low-income individuals and families.  Or you can reach out to the office of a governmental official in your area, to find out where the free or low-cost help is located, and how to reach out for it. Be persistent in your quest!  Ask about teletherapy (long-distance phone or video) options too, for low-income residents in your area.  You can also reach out to universities and colleges in your area... they often provide free or low-cost counseling to the general public, delivered by supervised students.    If you are for some reason unable to find free or low-cost counseling, then I'd suggest seeking pastoral care (counseling from a religious or spiritual advisor) or self-help (learning how to create positive change in yourself and your life, through books, courses, online support groups, ect).  If you do manage to find low-cost or free therapy, hopefully, you will have some choices regarding who you sign up with.  If you do, know that ideally, you would see a therapist who specializes in treating survivors of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Look for someone who is fully licensed.  Interns may offer cheaper rates, but I generally recommend avoiding interns for serious problems like domestic violence.     If you intend to stay partnered with your husband, obviously it would be beneficial to you and your marriage if he were to get into treatment, to put it mildly!  Indeed, for safety reasons, I cannot advise that anyone remain partnered with a violent individual unless that individual IS willing to submit to treatment. Physical safey comes first, it's a basic human need.    If you remain partnered with your husband, couple therapy would of course be a very wise course of acton for the two of you, if and when your husband becomes stable.  To the best of my knowledge, in cases of domestic violence, couple therapy is not advised until the perpetrator of the violence is no longer abusive, let alone homicidal.  For this reason and others, seek couple therapy only from a domestic violence specialist.    I hope this was helpful, Teri.  Be safe.  And take care!  Maya   
(MS, LMFT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I even begin to cope or mange to deal with all these issues?

Hey there. Thank you for your question. There are so many components to this question, I am going to break the answer down into categories. Your initial statement begins by addressing feelings you have about your mother. From what I've read, it sounds like your mother had somewhat of a dependent relationship on you. It sounds like your mother (intentions unknown) relied on you to help her and support her through her own issues. It also sounds like you felt compelled to care for her perhaps because she is your mother and/or you may have felt obligated to care for her by force. Her sense of dependence has unfortunately bled into your adulthood. My suggestion as it relates to your mother is to begin setting healthier boundaries with her. You may be asking what does "healthy boundaries look like"? Boundaries can be set in various ways (based on your level of comfort). It can be simply saying "no" when she makes a request or helping your mother obtain resources to get her needs met without rely on you. An example of helping your mother find resources could be through obtaining an in home service/worker (Mental health skill builder) who would be able to help her with paying her bills, etc. As it relates to your first marriage, my suggestion to help you cope with these unforunate events is to begin the process of forgiving yourself. Your first marriage was one that sounds like you were stripped from all power and control. I must add that I am happy to hear you survived that marriage although I imagine mental scars of what you experienced are forever in your mind. In order to move forward from the trauma that you incurred during your first marriage, I would encourage you to talk to someone. Coming to Better help and even asking for help is a great first step. Talking to a therapist and processing your feelings directly will help you muster the strength to begin forgiving yourself for what happened to you and your children. As you learn to forgive yourself, you will begin to heal from this trauma. As it relates to your second husband, I think you are already taking the steps to communicate your feelings to him. Perhaps seeking a neutral couple's therapist may be beneficial for having a safe space to communicate your feelings in a manner that would be heard. You have had a host of unfortunate things that have happened to you and above and beyond anything else, I believe individual therapy may help you to begin the process of getting a emotional release. I imagine you have had to hold the weight of these emotions for a whike. I hear you when you say you have pretty much isolated yourself from your family. It's so important you find a safe space to share your innermost feelings so you can begin to heal and reclaim your life. 
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

froze and did better for my daughter than what was done for me, still feel guilty, what to do?

First and foremost, I'm sorry that you went through that experience and your support system failed you. Your feelings of guilt are completely normal and they may be a reflection of multiple feelings. Having been a victim myself, one of the hardest things to do is to actually open up and tell somebody. This is also normal for a victim because we don't think anyone will believe us. The perpetrator will also put fear in us as if we are the one that is doing the crime. Rest assured you did the right thing. It's never too late to notify the authorities that your child was violated and a crime was committed against your child. It's never too late to  disclose any perpetrator because if you don't there's a risk that that person will continue to violate other people. That, in my opinion,  is worse than reporting it. Doing the right thing speaks volumes to your daughter and demonstrates to her that you are a support system for her. I don't know about you, but I would not be able to live every day knowing that perpetrator  could still be out there hurting others. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to your child that you are looking out for her and caring for her and disregarding any other excuses except putting your child first. This also may be an opportunity for you to heal and sort out the feelings that you have experienced from your abuse as well. It's never too late otherwise If we continue through life blaming our self for what happened, or thinking that we're not good enough for what happened, or not being able to trust or feel safe because of what happened, then we continue to give the perpetrator power. When that happens the perpetrator still has control even though it's been years and people say "you should be over it. " Unless you have the resources from the beginning that is some thing that's hard to get over by yourself without professional help. Leading your daughter in the right direction is setting a good example for her in advocating and speaking up about what she deserves which is security and safety. Also as it relates to your own experience, sometimes we don't know what we don't know.  our parents have been through stuff too so we can't blame them all together. We don't know what we don't know but once we do we can get help.
(NCC, LPC, NPI, 1649394073)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I find it hard to build genuine relationships with people. I was asked by someone, do u love people?

I would like to ask Pablo more about his family growing up. How many family members did you have? Did you live with both parents? Were there any extended family members that you lived with? Did both of your parents work and where you left alone a lot or had to watch younger children? What is your relationship like with your family now? When did you start your journey? What other types of therapy have your been involved with. I like to use the strenths prespective during my sessions. I have a Master's degree in Social work and minor in psych.  Do you have any current or past issues with drug or alcohol? You mentioned that your ego was getting in the way when meeting people and trying to establish relationships. I would like to talk about this to see how your past relationships have ended. Do you usually end the relationship or your parnter does? How long had you been with your x wife and how long had you been married prior to the devorce.  I would also like to speak about your feeling of self esteem. Do you feel that you have any anxiety around your self esteem?  I know I ask a lot of questions but like to get to know all of my clients. I would also like to offer some worksheets later in our therapy sessions to better help with the sessions. If you don't feel comfortable with the worksheets, then we can continue with talking. I do like to use the phone video but if you prefer to just use the text then I am also fine with that. I look forward to meeting you. I would also like to ask about any trauma in his childhood or young adult life.  Any history of abuse or witnessing any trauma such as domestic violence. What type of job do you have? Are there any issues with authoritarian figures such as women who have asked for sexual favors from you? Do you also have issues with men or just women. What type of relationship do you have with other men.  What issues would you like to address first in therapy?
(MSW, LCSW, CCM)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I get my abusive family out of my thoughts and dreams?

Hello, Frequently, the inability to block something from our conscious thoughts has to do with having memories triggered, either through our senses or, through some sort of association, say, like recognizing it's Mother's or Father's Day or someone's birthday which causes associated memories. Since memories are typically connected with emotional content of some sort, reinforcing or aversive, we can feel happy, sad, angry etc when the memories are experienced and we get into a sort of loop, replaying the scenes over and over in our heads, both while awake and while asleep or, trying to sleep.  If you haven't done so already, I'd wonder if you might want to see a therapist and get involved in some sort of trauma therapy. Two of the most effective include EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing) and TF-CBT or trauma focused therapy. While two very different therapies conducted in very different ways, the goal of both is to assimilate the experiences into the whole of your conscious mind through mitigating negative emotions such as anger and fear that maintain our emotional states and responses to the trauma. Both therapies seek to replace invalidating and untrue thoughts with more rational and honest thinking allowing emotions such as guilt, shame and anger to be displaced and replaced by understanding. Both therapies tend to use journaling or narrative interventions to assist in processing, but practitioners of EMDR will also add sound or touch during a narrative to weaken and possibly break sensory connections made during the trauma experience and reactivated during the narration. It's well-known as an effective, evidence based treatment, as is TF-CBT. The unfortunate consideration to trauma therapy is that, during the course of treatment, memories might become more frequent or intense for a period of time, but you can speak to the practitioner if you begin to experience those effects and they can adjust their approach appropriately.  I applaud your goal of moving onward and forgetting as opposed to allowing yourself to be "stuck", but I think realizing your goal is going to be easier with a little appropriate help. Take the time to find yourself a reputable practitioner for either EMDR or TF-CBT, either on here or in your local community and request an intake. A little guidance can make your journey much easier and more successful. 
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022