Skip to the main content.

3 min read

Domestic Abuse Therapy: How It Can Help Survivors

Key Takeaways:

  • Domestic abuse is defined as any sort of violent or abusive behavior towards a member of one’s household, whether that behavior is physical, sexual, or emotional. 
  • Domestic violence can have long-lasting negative effects on survivors’ mental health.
  • Therapy can be a great way to start the healing process, when done by a licensed professional.

If you are currently in an abusive or violent home or living situation, please contact the police as soon as you are safely able to. You can also call or text the Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7: 800-799-7233. Help is available.

Domestic violence is an extremely tragic and upsetting idea, even for those who have been fortunate to have never experienced it.

For those who have, it can shake the very foundations of their lives and create permanent scars - mental and physical - that require the help of a professional to survive.

The following article discusses domestic violence at length, and may therefore be highly distressing for some readers.

Let's talk about how domestic violence affects its victims, and how therapy may be able to provide at least some relief for the survivors of this deplorable crime.

Domestic Violence Therapy Information On This Page:

What is considered domestic violence?

Psychological Effects of Domestic Violence: How Pain Can Continue Long After The Abuse

Therapy for Survivors of Domestic Violence: When To Seek It and What To Expect

Domestic Violence Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

What is considered domestic violence?

Domestic violence, otherwise known as domestic abuse, refers to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse that occurs within the household.

Usually, that means members of the same family unit - parents, spouses, children, and relatives - engage in harmful and abusive behaviors towards another member.

Most commonly, "domestic violence" refers to intimate partner violence. That is, when most people say "domestic violence," they mean one intimate partner (husband, girlfriend, partner, fiance, etc.) hurting another. While this is the most common form of domestic violence, it's certainly not the only one.

States vary on their actual legal definitions of domestic violence, but most agree that any behavior that is interpreted by both the victim and a jury as abusive is considered domestic violence.

Some examples of domestic violence include:

  • Physical violence - Punching, pulling hair, slapping, pushing, and grabbing can all be considered domestic violence.
  • Emotional violence - Controlling behavior, insults, and manipulation can all be considered domestic violence.
  • Sexual violence - Spousal rape is a traditionally under-addressed but very serious abusive behavior that is considered domestic violence.

If you are experiencing any of the above at the hands of your intimate partner, a parent, a sibling, or any other person in your household, you should report it to the police as soon as you are safely able to.

Psychological Effects of Domestic Violence: How Pain Can Continue Long After the Abuse

Home is supposed to be the one place in the world we can go to be safe and feel secure. The idea of home is central to so much of our day-to-day activity, but it also represents one of the most important pillars of our mental health.

A home can be a house, an apartment, or even just a group of people. Knowing that you will go home to a safe and non-traumatic space at the end of the day can mean all the difference during our already stressful and hectic days.

Everyone deserves a haven. Unfortunately, some don't have access to one.

One of the most detrimental psychological effects of domestic violence is that it ruins the idea of home for its victims. A victim of domestic violence does not have a haven; they only experience more pain when they arrive at the place that is supposed to be home.

Without the knowledge that home awaits, daily life can be far more distressing. This effect can linger for years and may be permanent, even if the abuse is over.

Domestic abuse, in many cases, also destroys a person's ability to trust.

Your family is supposed to be a source of reliability in your life, so when your family is actively hurting you, it can become very difficult to maintain a sense of trust with not only other people but with yourself and with the world at large.

Therapy for Survivors of Domestic Violence: When to Seek It and What to Expect

If you are currently being abused or in a situation of domestic violence, your first and most urgent goal is safety.

Once you are safely away from your abuser, you can begin the therapy process. It doesn't matter the severity or duration of the abuse; you need to speak with a professional.

You can also go to therapy if you have concerns that a member of your family is beginning to become abusive, or if you yourself are finding it difficult to control violent behavior.

Bottom line: As soon as you are no longer in danger, therapy can be a great way to start the healing process.

What to Expect from Domestic Violence Counseling

Your experience with domestic violence counseling depends on your specific needs.

In some cases, a therapist may recommend PTSD-specific therapy like prolonged exposure or EMDR.

In other cases, CBT may be the best course of treatment. Your therapist will be able to guide you toward the most beneficial treatment given your specific situation.

There are even some cases in which couples therapy is used to address abuse - though it's extremely rare and only done in cases where the safety of the victim can be guaranteed, and if the victim wants to do couples therapy.

The first step is to get in touch with a licensed therapist to talk about your options. Consider searching for therapists specializing in PTSD or domestic violence - they often have received special training to make treatment as effective as possible.

Domestic Violence Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you are a survivor of domestic violence, and you're ready to seek professional help, our team of licensed doctoral-level psychologists is here for you.

Schedule an appointment online for fast access to an industry-leading therapist in Austin. You can also call us to have our patient coordinator match you with the right therapist.

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

 a gay man

Exposing Mental Health Disparities for LGBTQ: Understanding the Gaps and Seeking Solutions

Understanding LGBTQ Mental Health Challenges When it comes to mental health challenges, individuals that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community...

Read More
A man dealing with some emotions

What Is Emotional Rational Therapy: Understanding the Science Behind Emotional Balance

An Introduction to Emotive Rational Therapy Developed by psychologist Albert Ellis in the 1950s as an alternative to psychotherapy, rational emotive...

Read More

How to Tell If Therapy Is Working: The Ultimate Guide

When it comes to therapy, it can be difficult to know if you're making progress...especially if you're new to the process. Changes happen gradually,...

Read More