Domestic Violence in Sterling, VA—Counseling, Therapy, and Support for Victims
The HBO sensation and best-seller, Big Little Lies, has caught people’s attention. The murder-mystery has kept people guessing which kindergarten parent might also be a murderer, but the Liane Moriarty’s storyline achieved more than keeping people on the edge of their seats. It also led a social discussion about domestic violence.
(Warning: A few, little spoilers are ahead!)
Celeste is the kindergarten mother that every other dad and mom envy. She seems to have the perfect, dream life: She is beautiful. Perry, her husband is a rich investment banker. She is well education, but she gave up her career as a lawyer to raise her rambunctious twin boys. Celeste and her family take wildly lavish vacations, and Perry posts pictures on his perfectly manicured social media. However, most people do not see past the shiny exterior of Celeste’s life. Most people do not see how Perry is violent with her.
Like most victims of domestic violence, Celeste is in a bind: she despises the way Perry treats her, but she loves him. The conflicting emotions tear at her. At one point she thinks, “I don’t know why I stay. I don’t know why I deserve this. I don’t know why you do this, why we do this, why this keeps happening.”
Celeste is not alone. If your partner has been violent toward you or threatened violence, then you are not alone either. About 8 percent of men and about 25 percent of women experience violence from their intimate partner. The violence may be physical, emotional, and/or sexual, and these are all too common but very hidden realities. Finding safety and escaping the relationship is far more complicated than it may at first appear. Victims often need support from their family, friends, and a mental health professional to escape and to heal.
If your spouse, partner, or significant other has been violent, know that it is not your fault. If you want support and help, know that Thriveworks Sterling has therapy for victims of domestic violence. Our professionals have helped many victims find mental and physical healing after a violent relationship.
Relational Violence: Short-Term and Long-Term Harm
Reflecting back upon her violent relationship, one woman described her experience with her former husband, saying, “He would be alternately kind and then fly off the handle for no reason. I always lived in fear of his temper. It was very stressful.” Many other victims of describe a similar type of stress—the constant threat of violence pervades every moment. If a partner or spouse harms their significant other even one time, then the possibility of violence is introduced.
The brain goes into a flight-or-fight mode whenever a person senses a threat. It prepares to respond to the threat by releasing a stress hormone that will fuel the fight or the flight. When people are in dire trouble—on rare occasions, flight-or-fight mode can save their lives. When people constantly feel a threat, flight-or-fight breaks down their health.
Violence homes, then, cause immediate harm in the form of injuries and violence. However, the hurt does not stop there. People who live with a violent partner also typically suffer from long-term health effects because of the stress their body has endured. Without question, domestic violence inflicts severe and serious hurt upon its victims.
The Cycle of Domestic Abuse
The specifics of domestic violence often vary, but the form it takes is almost always the same. Domestic abuse follows a similar cycle, regardless of the specific details. Each phase of the cycle may take a moment, a day, a month, a year, or even several years. Without intervention, the cycle will almost always repeat and escalate with each iteration.
The Honeymoon Phase: Perpetrators of abusive relationships often disorient their victims because they almost always cultivate times of peace. During the honeymoon phase, perpetrators may be perfect angels, and this creates the conflicting feelings that Celeste had in Big Little Lies. Victims may be convinced to stay. Perpetrators may swear that the harm will never happen again and that they will seek out help. Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase is usually short-lived and it is often just a distraction from their true intent: to cause harm.
The Tension Building Phase: At some point, perpetrators will drop the act of the honeymoon phase. Violent partners will escalate tension within the relationship—requiring more and more energy from their victims in order to keep the peace. Victims often describe this phase as walking on egg shells or walking through a minefield. Victims frequently try to appease their partners in an attempt to counteract the violence the sense is coming.
The Abusive Phase: Violence is always a choice, and perpetrators always have a choice not to harm another person. While many perpetrators blame the violence on some fault in their victim (for example, “if you were so clumsy…if you did not forget…”), the truth is that no one ever deserves abuse. The form the abuse can take may be physical, emotional, and/or sexual. Domestic violence is also often illegal.
Escaping and Recovering: Counseling at Thriveworks Sterling
As you read about the cycle of domestic abuse, did any phase sound familiar? If you are living in a violent relationship and if you are ready to reach out for help, know that Thriveworks Sterling is ready to advocate for you.
When you call our office, know that many new clients see their therapist within 24 hours. We also accept many forms of insurance and offer evening and weekend appointments.
Contact Thriveworks Sterling today.