Domestic Violence: Breaking Free of the Cycle

All is quiet at the home front, or so it seems. The house is well-kept, the children are well-behaved and the couple looks happy. But like an iceberg, there is something more below the surface – there may be domestic violence.

A marriage is a partnership that ought to provide a place of safety, comfort and love to both partners. But sadly, this is not the case all the time. Domestic violence may not be easy to spot, especially if the ones being abused feel the need to cover it up. Also, one may not be even aware or recognize that he or she is in an abusive relationship. The abuse may start subtly and then get worse as the cycle of abuse goes on and on.

Domestic abuse is about the abuser aiming to exercise control and power over the partner. The abuse may come in different forms:

–          Emotional: The abuser heaps insults and criticisms, making the victim feel helpless and have a bad image about himself or herself. This is designed to undermine the victim’s self-confidence and sense of worth.

–          Control, including economic abuse: Here, the balance of power in the relationship is skewed in favor of the abuser. The victim is left out of the decision-making process – this includes decisions about the household, about friendships, down to little things such as what to get from the grocery. There is a bid to make the victim financially dependent on the abuser since the abuser holds control over the family’s finances, even the victim’s earned income.

–          Intimidation. This is instilling fear in the victim, not just for himself or herself, but also for the children. The intimidation may be through blackmail, damage to property, threats of physical harm or the display of weapons.

–          Physical abuse. This may be inflicting physical injury (such as slapping, kicking, biting and anything that causes physical pain). It may also come in the form of withholding access to food, medication, sleep and other resources needed for the victim to maintain health.

–          Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse comes with sexual contact where the other partner is unwilling. There are cases of marital rape, forcing the partner to commit acts that are against the victim’s will, forcing the partner to have sex with others, attempts to demoralize and damage the victim’s sexuality (such as criticizing sexual performance).

–          Isolation. This is cutting off the victim from family, friends, social and work ties.

–          Blaming and denial. The abuser turns the tables and accuses the victim of causing the abusive behavior or he or she may deny the abuse.

An abusive relationship may also be marked by constant accusations of unfaithfulness, intimidation, extreme jealousy and attempts to exert excessive control (of where you go, what you wear, who you see and how you spend your time).

You don’t have to be a victim

Domestic abuse is a vicious cycle. As the cycle turns and turns, the victim falls deeper and deeper into the cycle. With continued abuse, one may lose their self-esteem and sense of reality altogether and may even accept the abuse as natural and deserved. There may even be fear in that you feel you can’t get out of the situation.

However, you can break free from the cycle. You see, without any form of intervention, the cycle will most likely go on and on. Breaking free of the abusive relationship may be the only way to stop the abuse. The good thing is that there is a lot of help available for victims of domestic abuse. There are hotlines one can call; there are safe houses one can go to.

The Question of Marriage Counseling

There is still a debate on whether going to Provo marriage counseling is an effective way of breaking the cycle. It is believed that unless the therapist has extensive experience and training in domestic violence, couples therapy may do more harm than good.

Sometimes, the victim comes for couples counseling in Provo in the hopes of changing the abusive spouse. But that is not the aim of counseling. Counseling encourages open communication but in an abusive relationship, being open may just expose the victim to even more violence, where whatever he or she discloses during the sessions can be used as ammunition for the abuser to step up with the abusive behavior.

However, individual Utah counseling may help. This is usually more effective when the victim has decided to leave the situation and escape the violence. Through therapy, the victim can come to terms with the fact of abuse and be given tools to properly respond to this abuse and to make moves towards protecting oneself.

Therapy will be instrumental in repairing the emotional and psychological damage wreaked by the domestic violence. Counseling can provide tools to restore your self-esteem and heal the scars of the abuse. The therapy sessions can be times when anger, fear, guilt and resentment can be threshed out and released.

If you feel the need for therapy to help you break free of the cycle of domestic violence and you happen to be in Provo, Utah, feel free to set up an initial appointment with Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan is an experienced and licensed therapist who has helped individuals be equipped with the tools they need to cope and live victorious, satisfied lives.


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