This post may be a bit controversial.

My thoughts on counseling couples where there is domestic violence.

Standard thinking over the years (more prevalent back in the 80’s than now) was that if you are presented with a couple presenting with issues of domestic violence, then you should drop everything and tell the couple to separate, preferably sending the wife to a domestic abuse program.

Well, yes, and no.

In my own counseling, I have seen that it depends on the situation.  If the violence is severe, i.e. beyond pushing, then it may seriously be considered to calm things down.  Still, there may be some hope for the relationship.

It all depends on the level of insight the batterer has.  I have counseled couples where the batterer was able to take responsibility for his behavior and stop the battering.  By this, I’m not talking about the platitudes which follow after an abusive episode (that is called the “honeymoon” effect and is part of the cycle of violence).  I’m talking about deep down, consistent insight–knowing it is wrong and more importantly, being willing and able to begin to deal with it.  Without this insight, I would say that the relationship has NO CHANCE and that the best thing to happen is for the couple to separate.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, whether verbal, physical, sexual, or emotional, it is best to talk about it with someone, preferably a professional.  God don’t make junk, and you don’t need to be treated like junk.  There is help available, either for you as a couple, or, if that insight I discussed isn’t there, for you (and your children, if applicable).

In any case, if domestic violence is happening, the time to get help is now.

A decent post about domestic abuse which describes the “Cycle of Abuse” is here.

About Nate Prentice, MSW, LCSW, CAS-PC

Nate Prentice, MSW, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Pastoral Counselor who maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Drexel Hill, PA.
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