Domestic Violence and Abuse

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Domestic violence includes abuse of a physical, emotional, sexual, financial, verbal, and social nature.  Domestic violence/abuse occurs in heterosexual as well as same-sex relationships, and is experienced by both men and women, with the greater proportion of abuse being perpetrated by males towards women.  Many people do not class themselves as being in a domestic violence relationship because they have not been hit or physically assaulted.  However, domestic violence/abuse can be subtle or strong in the form that it takes, and the extensive range of behaviours deemed as violent/abusive include:

Physical violence:  behaviour where physical force is used, such as hitting, pushing, shoving, shaking, punching, kicking, slapping, choking, the use of weapons, sexual abuse (being forced into sexual activity against your will), or damaging objects (punching holes in walls or doors, or breaking furniture).

Emotional and verbal abuse:  behaviour aimed at eroding your self confidence and self esteem and making you fearful – can include threats, intimidation, manipulation, control, put downs, yelling and screaming, blaming, fault-finding, belittling, humiliating, and name calling.

Financial abuse:  where your partner or family member controls the finances and keeps you financially dependent – you are constantly having to account for what you have spent, the money you are given is insufficient to make ends meet, or the money you have earned is taken from you.

Social abuse:  behaviours which include:  being kept isolated and not permitted to have your own friends or contact with family;  your social interactions and movements are monitored and controlled;  your partner is jealous and controls who you talk to and where you go;  your partner constantly criticises your family members and friends, or does not make them feel welcome;  your partner makes verbal attacks on you when you are socialising or in public;  or, your partner smothers you (always wanting to be together), and you are not permitted to have a life of your own.

The above outline of the various forms of domestic violence/abuse can assist you in determining the relevance of the following questions to your specific situation.

  • Have you experienced domestic violence/abuse (past or present), from a partner (male or female), a boyfriend or girlfriend, a family member or an adult child?
  • Do you feel that you are being controlled by a partner or family member, that you are not permitted to make your own decisions, or live your own life?
  • Has your partner or a family member been physically violent towards you, which has left you fearing for your safety, and/or the safety of your children?
  • Did you grow up in a family where you were subjected to, or witnessed, domestic violence/ abuse?
  • Have you experienced repeated episodes of violent or abusive behaviour, with the person who perpetrated the domestic violence/abuse promising each time that they would never do it again, only to be let down each time?
  • Have you been blaming yourself for the violence/abuse and taking responsibility for the violent and/or abusive behaviour of a partner or family member, and trying hard to please them so that it does not happen again?
  • Have you left an abusive relationship and found yourself struggling to rebuild your life due to all the effects of the abuse you suffered?

As a consequence of past or present domestic violence/abuse, do you feel any of the following?

  • emotional pain, hurt and inner turmoil
  • confused that someone who is supposed to love you is causing you so much suffering
  • overwhelmed by distressing feelings and/or intrusive memories of the abuse
  • numb and detached
  • traumatised
  • powerless or trapped
  • fearful, angry, depressed
  • anxious or panicky
  • insecure and unsafe
  • guilt or shame
  • low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • worthless, or think that you are a bad person
  • suicidal

As a consequence of past or present domestic violence/abuse, do you experience any of the following?

  • Are your reactions to the domestic abuse impacting negatively on your relationships and your work?
  • Do you use alcohol or drugs, or throw yourself into work, to keep distressing memories and feelings of abuse at bay?
  • Have you had a pattern of becoming involved with abusive and controlling boyfriends, girlfriends, or partners?
  • Do you remain in an abusive relationship because of a strong desire to keep the family unit together?
  • Are you constantly excusing abusive behaviour because it is perpetrated by a ‘loved’ one?
  • Do you stay in an abusive relationship due to a fear of being alone, believing that you could not cope on your own, or thinking you would never meet anyone else with whom to have a loving relationship?
  • Are you are terrified that if you leave the abusive relationship you or your children will be harmed, or that wherever you go, your abuser will find you?
  • Do you avoid committing to a new relationship due to a lack of trust and a fear of being controlled and abused again?

Psychological Treatment for Domestic Violence and Abuse

If you believe that you are in an abusive and/or violent domestic relationship and want to work through the issues, or have left an abusive relationship and want to process the grief and trauma, assistance is available.  As a Clinical Psychologist with extensive experience in working with domestic violence and abuse, I can assist you in reducing or overcoming the effects of the abuse or violence which you have endured, and strengthen you coping skills.  I provide Psychological Therapy (a talking therapy also referred to as Psychotherapy) in a safe, supportive and caring environment, utilising a range of evidence-based therapeutic interventions tailored to suit your specific needs.  I use an integrative approach and draw on interventions from therapy models such as Cognitive-Behavioural, Trauma Focussed, Emotion Focussed, Interpersonal, Person-Centered, Humanistic, Psychodynamic, and Mindfulness (amongst others). 

Benefits of Treatment for Domestic Violence and Abuse

I can help you in the following ways:

  • Provide a safe environment where you can talk about what you have been experiencing and feeling, understand your reactions to the abuse, and provide you with emotional support and understanding.
  • Provide psycho-education about domestic violence and abuse, learn about the strategies that abusers use to exercise and maintain control, and the long term effects of living through domestic violence and abuse.  This can enable you to make a well informed decision as to whether to stay or leave a relationship based on knowledge about the cycle of domestic violence and the behaviour of abusers.
  • Strengthen your coping skills, self esteem and confidence, which have been eroded by the violence and/or abuse.
  • Learn how to keep yourself safe and strengthen your personal boundaries if you are not wanting to leave the relationship.
  • Learn how to extricate yourself from the situation in a safe and supported manner if you are wanting to leave a violent and/or abusive relationship.
  • Change faulty thinking and negative feelings about yourself, which might include:  that you are to blame for the violence and abuse, that you are a bad person, that he or she (the abuser) is so nice to everyone else that it must be your fault, that you can change the person who is abusing you, that they are not all bad and are really loving (except for the abusive episodes), that if they have promised to change that they will, or excusing the abuse because he or she was under stress or had a terrible childhood.
  • Process the trauma of the abuse – reduce or eliminate the distressing symptoms you have been experiencing so that the memories are no longer as traumatic or overwhelming.
  • Work through the grief around the losses you have experienced due to being in, or having lived through, an abusive relationship.
  • Learn what constitutes healthy relationships based on mutuality and equality, as opposed to abusive relationships characterised by domination, power and control, and overcome patterns of becoming involved with abusive partners.
  • Improve your mood and learn strategies for managing anxiety.
  • Rebuild your trust, restore your sense of safety in the world, and improve your overall wellbeing.

How we can help

Psychological Treatment

  • become empowered and improve your overall wellbeing
  • enhance self-esteem and feelings of self-worth (affected by the abuse)
  • learn how abusers exercise and maintain control and about the cycle of domestic violence
  • process the trauma of being abused and reduce distressing symptoms
  • overcome feelings of shame and self-blame
  • change faulty thinking and negative feelings
  • regain a sense of safety, control, and trust

Call 0409 415 323

PENNY  JANIS  –  PSYCHOLOGIST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Contact me to commence the journey of freeing yourself from the effects of domestic violence and abuse.

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