Counseling for Domestic Violence in Beverly Hills, MI—Therapy
“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 from Big Little Lies
Laine Moriarty’s best-selling novel Big Little Lies and HBO’s TV adaptation have become a sensation, and the show has done more than bring fans suspense and mystery: it has highlighted the realities of domestic violence.
Celeste, one of the main characters (small spoiler alert!), appears to have everything she could ever want out of life: money, beauty, romance, children, friends. But she is actually living in a personal hell because of domestic violence.
Many victims of domestic violence can testify to the fact that life inside a home is not always as it appears on the outside of the home. Breaking free from an abusive relationship takes support, and many people need the help of their friends and family, but also the help of a professional who has experience with domestic violence.
The therapists at Thriveworks Beverly Hills understand and have helped many clients form a safety plan and break away from the violence.
The Cycle of Abuse
While the particular circumstances of the abuse may be unique to each person, domestic violence often follows a typical cycle of abuse:
The Honeymoon Phase: If relationships began with abuse, they would rarely continue. Part of what makes domestic violence so disorienting is that relationships often begin with an amazing romance and then occasionally experience times that feel too good to be true. Often, they feel too good to be true because they are. In domestic violence situations, the honeymoon phase often escalates into the tension building phase.
The Tension Building Phase: Everyday interactions will become filled with tension. The victim may begin to take responsibility for pleasing the abuser, shielding the abuser from stress, and/or give into unreasonable demands—all in hopes of avoiding the abuse.
The Abusive Phase: There are many forms of abuse that can happen during domestic violence, including but not limited to verbal, physical, and sexual violence. Men or women can be the perpetrators of the abuse. Men or women can be the victims of the abuse.
The phases of the cycle can last minutes, hours, days, or even years. Inevitably, after abuse, the cycle begins again at the honeymoon phase. During the honeymoon phase, many victims tell themselves that the cycle will not continue, that things will be different next time. However, domestic violence rarely stops without significant intervention.
Understanding the Seriousness of Domestic Violence
When a person’s home—what should be a place of safety—is turned into a place of physical, verbal, and/or sexual violence, there are long-term and significant effects. Domestic violence can rewire people’s brains just so they can survive. During the abuse, the body’s natural fight-or-flight response is engaged so it releases the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol.
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris explains how the body’s fight-or-flight system “is wonderful if you’re in a forest and there’s a bear. But the problem is what happens when the bear comes home every night, and this system is activated over and over and over again, and it goes from being adaptive, or life-saving, to maladaptive, or health-damaging.” Domestic violence victims face serious injuries from the violence, but they also face long-term health problems from the toxic environment where they live.
One victim explained, “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.”
Am I in a Violent Relationship?
Domestic abuse can begin with subtle actions that are then escalated. These actions tend to focus upon control—manipulating or dominating what a victim does, says, wears, feels, thinks, and on and on. Signs of domestic abuse include:
- Using derogatory names
- Subtly putting down
- Discouraging you from spending time with friends or family
- Threatening you
- Attempting to take away agency, the ability to make decisions—such as how to spend money, where to go, what to wear, and more
- Hurting you, your kids, or your pets
- Discouraging you from working or going to school
- Blaming you for their behavior
- Forcing you into sex or sexual acts where you feel uncomfortable or have said, “no.”
Has your partner said or done anything on this list? If so, know that nothing on this list is part of a healthy relationship. Quite the opposite, this list includes serious warning signs or toxic relationships. Know that the abuse is not your fault and that help is available.
Help for Domestic Violence Victims
Thriveworks Beverly Hills counselors have extensive experience assisting a wide range of domestic violence victims. We understand the danger and pitfalls that victims face and are ready to provide the support they need.
We want to advocate for you from the first time you call our office. We have done our best to make scheduling an appointment for counseling as easy as possible. When you call, a person will answer and be able to help you. You might even see your counselor within 24 hours. We also offer after-hour appointments and work with many insurance providers.
If you are in a violent relationship, reaching out for help may be the first step on your journey toward safety. Call Thriveworks Beverly Hills.