Admissions & Aid
Being assaulted by a stranger is a traumatic experience for anyone, but being abused by someone in your own family is worse. In addition to the victimization itself, in a domestic violence and/or sexual abuse situation the victim must also deal with the emotional conflict that comes from being hurt by someone who claims to love them or who has promised or is obligated to care for them.
There are three general categories of domestic violence that often occur together:
In domestic violence situations, the abuser attempts to exert power and control over their victim. Possessiveness, sexual jealousy, intrusiveness, and attempts to isolate the victim are typical of people who batter and abuse. The victim tends to withdraw from others, so slowly that he or she doesn’t realize it, until he or she becomes even more dependent upon the batterer. Isolation and lack of social support makes the victim increasingly vulnerable to the abuser. This “power and control” pattern is the mortar that perpetuates the abusive relationship, as the victim feels more and more psychologically helpless.
Common reactions to living in a situation of domestic violence are a variety of intense fears: of retribution, of losing control, of being blamed, and of not being believed. In addition, anger, self-blame, shame, guilt, depression, denial, numbness, re-experiencing the violence in dreams, thoughts, flashbacks, avoiding situations that are similar to those in which violence has occurred, being hyper-vigilant, and startling easily are widespread responses. Abusing alcohol and drugs or behaving compulsively in terms of sex, gambling, and eating/starving are also frequent reactions.
If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, the first step is to acknowledge the abuse. The next step is to develop a plan to keep yourself safe. Help is available through free and confidential counseling by professionals at the Personal Counseling Program. There are many resources available, such as hotlines (800.942.6906), shelters, crisis centers, and legal assistance to which we can direct you. Stop by or call to make an appointment, if you or someone you know needs help.