“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
The mystery, humor, and suspense of Big Little Lies have enthralled fans. This best-selling phenomenon and HBO miniseries have accomplished more than good drama. They have spotlighted a hidden but extensive social problem: domestic violence.
Big Little Lies follows the drama of kindergarten parents at a local public school, and of all the main characters, Celeste White is the envy of all. She has the perfect life: children, money, comfort, education, romance, and more. But not all is as it appears. Celeste’s life is not perfect—she suffers in a personal hell because her husband is violent with her.
Violence from an intimate partner is a private hell that is all too common. About 8 percent of men and 25 percent of women experience domestic violence. Like Celeste, many who have a violent partner know that how a relationship appears publicly does not always reflect the way the relationship functions privately.
In the novel, Celeste admits that domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of education, socio-economic status, ethnicity, or geographical region. Often, people need help leaving and recovering from domestic violence.
Thriveworks Woodbridge offers therapy and support for people facing domestic violence. Our professionals understand the challenges victims face and what it takes to find safety.
A Pattern for Domestic Violence
Violent partners may lead people to believe that their actions are somehow out of their control during the violence; however, the vast majority of domestic abuse follows a deliberate pattern. The details may vary, but the same pattern of domestic violence is almost always present.
The pattern may take moments to complete. It may take years. Each repetition is usually more caustic than the previous.
The Honeymoon Phase: Regardless of how extreme the violence is, almost every relationship has times of relative happiness and peace. These good times make difficult for victims to understand what is happening to them. Violent partners often use this time to convince the victim that the violence will never happen again… that it was the last time… that they are truly sorry. However, the pattern almost never ends without significant intervention.
The Tension Building Phase: Inevitably, the violent partner begins demanding more and more from the victim, and tensions rise. Victims often attempt to shield their partner from anything that may trigger violence. They may walk on egg shells, trying to appease their partner. Violent partners often lead their victims to believe that the violence is their fault—triggered by some flaw in them. However, violence is always a choice and never a victim’s fault.
The Abusive Phase: When a violent partner chooses to abuse, the harm may be emotional, physical, or sexual. In many circumstances, it incorporates all three.
One woman illustrated life in the pattern of domestic 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.”
Domestic Abuse: Warning Signs
The warning signs for domestic abuse focus upon control and domination. In a healthy relationship, each person’s autonomy is respected. In domestic abuse, one partner seeks to control or dominate the other—what they say, think, feel, wear, do, and on and on.
These signs may be the tip of an iceberg wherein a relationship is already violent but friends and family only see these controlling behaviors. These signs may also be red-flags that a relationship will grow violent.
The warning signs do not guarantee that a relationship is abusive, but the listed behaviors are serious. If you or a loved one is experiencing these behaviors from an intimate partner, it may be time to seek out professional help.
- Subtly or overtly denigrating you
- Scaring, threatening, or intimidating you
- Hurting you, your pets, or your kids
- Trying to take away your agency (i.e., your ability to make decisions for yourself—such as what to wear, how to spend money, where to go, and more)
- Dissuading you from working or going to school
- Using degrading names for you (even as a “joke”)
- Blaming you or others for their behavior
- Coercing you into sex or sexual acts that make you feel uncomfortable or that you have said, “no” to
- Being annoyed when you spend time with family or friends
Counseling for Domestic Abuse
Have you seen your partner behave in any way listed? If so, know that you are not alone. Counseling through Thriveworks Woodbridge has helped many people face the reality that their relationship is not healthy and take action to secure their safety.
Our counselors have appointments available for domestic violence victims. When you set up an appointment, a person will answer your call and help you. First-time clients often see their counselor within 24-hours. We offer weekend and evening sessions, and we work with most insurance companies.
We want you to have the support you need to escape the cycle of domestic abuse. Call Thriveworks Woodbridge today.