The official definition of domestic violence is: “any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.” This is a broad description and covers a range of behaviour.
A common issue however is the element of control. In most cases, one person is using violent actions to control or manipulate another. Domestic violence can take many forms and can affect anyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or age.
Domestic violence can have an enormous effect on your mental health. It is now well accepted that abuse (both in childhood and in adult life) is often the main factor in the development of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders, and may lead to sleep disturbances, self-harm, suicide and attempted suicide, eating disorders and substance misuse.
Anyone who is experiencing or have experienced domestic violence will need emotional support of some kind, but their needs will vary. Each person will need to be listened too with respect and without being judged when they choose to talk about their experiences. They want to be believed – and to feel they have been understood. Mutual support from others who have had similarly abusive experiences can be very valuable it will help in enabling you to feel less isolated and to recognise that none of the abuse you experienced was your fault. You will get this kind of support if you go into a refuge, or if you use an outreach service, or join a support group.
The aim of counselling is to help you understand yourself better and come to terms with what has happened to you. Good counselling will help you to break away from past abusive relationships and work towards living in a way which is more satisfactory and fulfilling for you. It can also help you to build up your self-esteem and confidence which can help in enabling you to move forward with the rest of your life.
With domestic abuse I will discuss with you your needs around safety and contact, I can arrange for appointments to be at various times, at short notice and it will always be with your safety and welfare in mind.