“Honestly, a lot of the things he did seemed reasonable, because they sort of built up over time. Like, in the beginning he didn’t care if I went out, but then he would start calling my cell phone over and over. If I didn’t answer, he would leave me angry, irrational messages, yelling, asking why I even had a phone if I wasn’t going to use it. We were living together, so it seemed logical that he would be concerned about me, but when this kind of behavior became common place it made me not want to go out with friends much. 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. I got out, thankfully.”
Understand the Different Ways You May Be Suffering
Domestic abuse comes in many forms. It’s important to understand that domestic abuse doesn’t have to include physical abuse. It can be emotional or sexual abuse. The effects of domestic abuse are complex and can include long-lasting consequences such as posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Other consequences can include fear of intimacy, trouble sleeping, and a belief on the victim’s part that they must keep an emotional distance from others to prevent future abuse. Sexual issues can also be a common symptom. Physical issues can include central nervous system issues, headaches, and digestive issues.
If you’re experiencing any of the above signs of suffering, or even if your struggle looks different, Thriveworks Grand Rapids domestic abuse counselors want to hear from you. We know domestic abuse is difficult and painful, and we want to help you take the steps to create a healthier situation. With some effort and a little help from a counselor, many others have been able to move beyond domestic abuse and into a happier, healthier life. You, too, are capable of living your best life in a safe environment. We can help.
How to Spot Domestic Abuse
In the beginning, domestic abuse is often subtle, but it usually escalates over time (Mayo Clinic). You may be experiencing domestic abuse if your partner:
- Calls you names or otherwise puts you down
- Discourages you from working or going to school
- Discourages you from seeing friends or family
- Tries to take away agency, or your ability to make decisions about your own life—such as how you spend money, where you go, what you wear
- Threatens you
- Hurts you, your children, or your pets
- Forces you to engage in sex or sexual acts against your will
- Blames you for their behavior
None of these things are normal in a healthy relationship. If you’ve experienced even one of these, take it as a serious warning sign and consider seeking the help of a qualified counselor.
If you’re not personally experiencing domestic abuse, you may wonder how to spot it in friends or family. Well, the noticeable signs are much the same. If your loved one suddenly stops socializing or seems easily startled or withdrawn, they may be experiencing abuse. Though we often imagine we would want to escape such a situation as quickly as possible, the person experiencing the abuse may not yet have acknowledged it. They may be making excuses for the abuser, or ignoring the severity of the situation. Similar to getting help with addictive substances, the victim of domestic abuse will not leave the situation until they are ready to do so. With encouragement and support from their loved ones, and possibly help from a Thriveworks Grand Rapids counselor, the potential for making change becomes more tangible.
Break the Domestic Abuse Cycle
Every client is different, but it’s common for our clients to have dealt with the typical domestic abuse cycle. It generally begins with the abuser being tense and angry. They may pick an argument or go straight to threatening. Then the abuse happens. Generally, the abuse will get worse as the months and years of abuse go on. For example, someone with a bad temper who occasionally throws things or hits walls may eventually escalate to being violent toward their partner.
The final part of the cycle is what’s known as the “honeymoon” period. The abuser will express remorse, apologize, and promise they’ll never do it again. They may mean it at the time but inevitably the abuse cycle starts over again from the beginning.
During the honeymoon period, it’s easy to imagine that things will stay calm and safe. Unfortunately, domestic abuse rarely stops permanently, especially without some outside help. Thriveworks Grand Rapids counselors are passionate about helping you live a safe, happy life. If you’re experiencing any of the ramifications of domestic abuse, no matter what type, how often, or how severe, please contact us. We are waiting to help.
Get Help from a Domestic Abuse Counselor
When you work with a counselor or coach they can help you make sense of your situation. They can help you walk through a series of complicated emotions. Many victims of abuse blame themselves or feel guilty for still loving their abuser. A qualified Thriveworks Grand Rapids counselor can help with these emotions and help you find a safe place to learn to heal.
When you’re ready for help, contact Thriveworks Grand Rapids, Forest Hills Counseling & Coaching. We are here to help you. We are here to work toward your safety. We won’t judge you. We won’t push you. We will take the time to listen and understand you and your unique situation. We don’t use a waiting list, so we can usually see new clients within 24 hours.
Mayo Clinic. “Domestic violence against women: Recognize patterns, seek help.” Mayoclinic.org.