Liane Moriarty’s story, Big Little Lies, has people’s attention, constantly guessing which kindergarten parent is the victim and which is the murderer. This best-seller and HBO adaptation has people talking and not just about who-dun-it. Big Little Lies has also created a platform for a much-needed but difficult social dialogue about domestic violence.
(Big Little Lies spoilers ahead!)
One kindergarten mother is the envy of every other mom and dad. Celeste seems to have a dreamy life: money, beauty, comfort, education, children, and most of all—a perfect husband. Celeste’s husband, Perry, keeps a pristinely manicured Facebook page that details their perfect family with their perfect vacations and holidays. However, Perry keeps a big part of their family life a secret: he is violent with Celeste. Celeste loathes the violence, but she adores her husband. She struggles with these conflicting emotions, as many victims of domestic violence do. She often wonders, “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.”
Approximately 25 percent of women and 8 percent of men experience domestic violence. Physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence from an intimate partner is a common but hidden reality for far too many people. Escaping the violence is often more difficult than it appears. Victims regularly require support from a professional as they leave and recover from living in a violent home. If your partner has harmed you, know that it is not your fault and you are not alone. Help is available. Thriveworks CLexington, MA offers counseling for victims of domestic violence. We have helped many clients find safety and heal.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Domestic Violence
After leaving a violent home, one woman reflected upon her experience with domestic violence, 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 people who have lived with a violent partner understand the constant stress this woman describes. If violence occurs—even once—then the threat of violence is always present. When people feel a threat, their brains naturally go into the flight-or-fight mode and release stress hormones that allow their bodies to respond appropriately to the threat. Flight-or-fight mode saves people’s lives when it is triggered on rare occasions. However, when it is triggered constantly because the threat is constant, then people experience long-term adverse health effects.
People who live in violent homes, therefore, face the immediate threat of injuries from violence. But they also must live with long-term health effects from the stress of their toxic environment. Violent partners inflict severe and serious harm upon their victims.
The Harmful Cycle of Domestic Violence
While the details of the harm vary from relationship to relationship, almost without fail domestic abuse follows the same cycle. Each phase varies in length from moments to years, but the cycle is repeated without significant intervention. The cycle also escalates, with each iteration more caustic than the last.
- Honeymoon Phase: To a significant extent, domestic violence is so disorienting to victims because there are almost always times of peace and possibly even happiness. Like Celeste, many victims love their partner, just not the abusive phase. And violent partners take advantage of the peaceful time to convince the victim to stay. Violent partners may even promise to get help or promise that the abuse will never happen again. However, they rarely follow through on these words.
- The Tension Building Phase: Violent partners eventually bring tension into the relationship and require more and more mollification. Often, victims speak about walking in a minefield, as if any small action could set off the violent partner. Victims may attempt to prevent the violence through sheltering their partner from difficulty or giving into untenable demands.
- The Abusive Phase: While violent partners often blame their actions upon some flaw in their victim, violence is always choice, and victims are not to blame for their partner’s choice to harm. When the violent partner chooses to abuse, it may be emotional, physical, and/or sexual violence. Domestic abuse is also illegal.
Recover from Domestic Violence in Counseling at Thriveworks in Lexington, MA
When you read through the phases of domestic abuse, did you recognize the cycle in your own relationship? If so, Thriveworks in Lexington is ready to advocate for you. We understand that you are living in a minefield. We understand the risks of leaving. Our counselors and therapists have supported many clients as they found safety and health again.
Our office aims to give client-centered care to each individual who calls to make an appointment. A scheduling specialist will answer your call and help schedule your first session. We offer weekend and evening sessions, next-day appointments, and many first-time clients see their counselor the following day. We also work with many insurance companies.
We do not want anything to stand between you and the safety you deserve. If your partner hurts you, we are here to help. Call Thriveworks in Lexington, MA today.