“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.” The HBO sensational series and best-selling murder mystery, Big Little Lies, has kept fans on the edge of their seats and earned rave reviews. Laine Moriarty’s story has thrilled audiences while highlighting an ever-present but often-hidden reality: domestic violence. (Spoilers ahead!)
One of the main characters, Celeste White, is the envy of every other kindergarten mother. She seems to have it all: friends, romance, money, children, beauty, comfort, and more. Celeste’s real life, however, is a world apart from the public life people see. Celeste guards a deep, dark secret: her husband hits her. Most victims of domestic violence know what it is like to have a private home life that is drastically different than its public perception. Things are not always as they seem. Escaping from an abusive relationship is harder than it seems too. Leaving often requires support from family, friends, and a skilled therapist.
Thriveworks Kennesaw offer therapy to victims of domestic violence. Our counselors and psychologists understand the dynamics of abuse and know what it takes to help people find safety. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, consider working with one of our therapists or counselors.
Domestic Abuse and the Cycle of Violence
The particular details of the abuse will be unique to each victim, but in general, domestic abuse has a recurring and escalating cycle:
- Honeymoon Phase: A large part of what makes domestic abuse so confusing is that there are often times of peace and seemingly progress in the relationship. During the honeymoon phase, the violent partner is usually on their best behavior, but if it feels too good to be true, it is.
- The Tension Building Phase: Soon, tension will seep into daily interactions. Victims will begin to walk on egg shells, trying to appease the violent partner and hoping that this time, it will be enough. The violent partner may begin to demand more and more unreasonable things from the victim.
- The Abusive Phase: At some point, the violent partner will choose to act. The violent may be physical, sexual, verbal, or some combination of the three. Violent partners almost always blame their victims for the abuse, but harming another person is always a choice. The fault lies solely with the violent partner.
Each phase of the cycle can be a short as a few minutes or as long as a few years. Most often, the cycle escalates, and each reiteration is more violent than the previous. Violent partners may promise, “that was the last time,” during the honeymoon phase, but the cycle rarely ends without substantial intervention.
One victim illustrated the extreme challenge of living in the cycle of violence: “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.”
Is This Relationship Violent?
The warning signs for domestic abuse may be easy to dismiss or minimize, but remember that the cycle of violence almost always escalates. Seemingly harmless but controlling behaviors will likely grow worse over time. The following behaviors are red flags for a violent or potentially violent relationship. They almost all center around the idea of control: one partner dominates and manipulates the other. Think about your current relationship. Does your partner do any of the following?
- Use derogatory names for you
- Discourage you from being with family or friends
- Subtly or overtly belittle you
- Threaten, intimidate, or scare you
- Try to take away your agency (i.e., your ability to make decisions—such as how to spend money, where to go, what to wear, and more)
- Hurt you, your kids, or your pets
- Discourage you from working or going to school
- Blame you or others for their behavior
- Forcing you into sexual acts after you have said, “no” or where you feel uncomfortable
- 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.
Schedule Therapy for Domestic Abuse at Thriveworks Kennesaw
The counselors and psychologists at Thriveworks Kennesaw have helped many victims of domestic violence who are facing a wide range of dangers and pitfalls. We know what it takes to find safety, and we are ready to give the guidance and support our clients need.
We hope that you feel cared for from the first time you call our office. When you schedule an appointment, a person will answer your call and help find a time that works for you, possibly even for the following day. We offer evening and weekend appointments. We also accept many different types of insurance.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, going to counseling may be the first step toward the safety that you deserve. Call Thriveworks Kennesaw today.