Domestic or intimate partner violence is shockingly common and can happen to people of either gender. People don’t plan to enter into abusive relationships; the cycle of abuse often develops gradually over time, only after test has been established within the relationship.
Abuse within a relationship can include a broad spectrum of behaviours. While most people would agree that hitting a partner counts as abuse, behaviours such as exhibiting jealousy, monopolizing all one’s free time, or taking control of the finances can sometimes be more difficult to make sense of. Abuse does not exist as one behaviour, but rather as a series of interlocking behaviours that together create a climate of feeling trapped, unsafe, and uncertain.
Choosing whether to stay in or leave a relationship where abuse is occurring is a tremendous decision, and one that friends and family are not always equipped to help with. Having a therapist share your concerns and help you access the resources you need can make a significant difference.
And while couples’ counselling is not always a safe option when abuse is present (your therapist can help you decide), individual counselling may help someone make sense of their anger, frustration, and abusive behaviours in order to be able to maintain important relationships.
Resources for domestic violence: