Domestic Violence Counseling and Therapy in Cambridge, MA

Big Little Lies, the best-seller turned HBO miniseries has become a phenomenon—capturing people’s attention with its witty one-liners, suspense-filled plot, and dynamic characters. But Liane Moriarty’s story has also provided a platform for social dialogue about domestic violence.

(Small spoilers ahead!)

Among all the kindergarten mothers, one stands above the rest and is the envy of all—Celeste White appears to have a dream life. She is rich, educated, and beautiful. She has adorable twin boys and a successful, doting husband. Celeste’s husband, Perry, advertises their perfect life on his manicured Facebook page, but there is an important aspect to their relationship he leaves out: he hurts Celeste.

Celeste truly is in love with Perry, but she hates when their relationship becomes a war zone. She experiences conflicting and tormenting emotions. Celeste often puzzles, “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.”

An estimated 25 percent of women and 8 percent of men experience physical, emotional, and/or sexual violence from their partner. They know, like Celeste, that the outward appearance of a relationship can differ drastically from the private reality. Escaping from the violence can be more difficult than it seems. Often, people need a professional’s guidance to find safety and heal.

Has your partner harmed you? If so, know that the counselors at Thriveworks Cambridge understand the challenges of leaving a violent relationship, and we are available to offer support to domestic violence victims.

The Severity of Domestic Abuse

After leaving a partner who hit her, one woman described what it was like to live in a violent home, 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.”

This woman verbalized an experience that victims of domestic violence understand all too well: ever-present stress. If violence has occurred, even once, then the possibility of it happening again always threatens. When people sense a threat, their brain automatically responds by going into a flight-or-fight mode and by releasing stress hormones that allow the body to respond to the threat.

The stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, can save people’s lives when released on rare occasions. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris clarifies that while the 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.”

When people live in a violent home, therefore, they face the short-term harm and bodily damage from the violence. However, they also must deal with health problems that inevitably arise because of long-term exposure to the toxic environment violence creates. Domestic violence is a serious threat to those exposed to it.

Domestic Violence: A Predictable Cycle

Domestic violence nearly always follows a repeating and escalating cycle. Each phase can take years, months, weeks, days, or just hours. Without significant intervention, the cycle may repeat and escalate—with each iteration more violent than the last.

The Honeymoon Phase: Even violent relationships have periods of calm and peace, and the violent partner may promise, “I will never do that again… that was the last time… I’ll get help.” However, these times are often just the calm before the storm.

The Tension Building Phase: Daily tensions rise as the violent partner often requires more and more appeasement to keep the peace. This phase, according to many victims, is like walking through a minefield. Victims often attempt to shield their partner from stress/responsibility or they may give into unreasonable demands—hoping that the violence will not come.

The Abusive Phase: The abuse may be physical, sexual, and/or emotional. Often, violent partners blame a flaw in their victim as the cause of the violence, but harming another person is always a choice. Violent people are responsible for their own choices. Violence is never deserved. It is also illegal.

Escaping and Recovering from Domestic Violence

Think through the phases of domestic violence and your own relationship. Have you experienced the cycle from your significant other? If you are living in a violent home, know that help is available. Thriveworks Cambridge has therapists who understand the minefield you have to walk, and we want to help.

Our goal is to provide client-centered care, so when you call our office, a person will answer. You may be able to see your therapist within 24-hours, and we have night and weekend appointments available. We do not keep waitlists, but we work with most insurance companies.

Do not wait to be safe. Call Thriveworks Cambridge, MA today.

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  • 872 Massachusetts Ave, Ste 2-2
    Cambridge , MA 02139

  • Mon-Fri:7:30AM-9PM
    Sat-Sun:8AM-5PM