This topic contains 11 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Iwantmeback 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

  • Author
  • #87268

    Hi everyone

    I’ve recognised the signs of emotional abuse and gas lighting but I can’t just leave. We were best friends for (detail removed by moderator) years and then in a relationship for (detail removed by moderator). He’s happy to go to marriage/couple counselling to help us understand each other better.

    Has anyone experienced this? Has it worked or was it just the answers you expected?


    Thanks in advance

  • #87348
    Main Moderator

    Hi Orangesandchocolate

    If you have a good counsellor and they pick up that the relationship is abusive they will likely want to offer counselling separately to you and your partner. Unfortunately most abusive men use couples counselling to only further continue the emotional abuse by focusing on anything the counsellor says which works in their favour.

    Take care and keep posting


  • #87361

    I would really like to hear from anyone who has tried this and what their experience may have been like. My ex partner is asking me to go with him too. We had one violent incident which resulting in him receiving a criminal record. He is saying he would never do it again and is wanting to go to counselling to help us but I just don’t think I can forgive him.

  • #87370

    I went to years and years of couples counselling with my ex. I didn’t realise I was being abused. I didn’t understand it, and I thought it helped. I guess it was part of the cycle. My ex never opened up about anything very much, so round and round we went. I never spoke about sex. I never told anyone about that.

    Couples counselling is ideal for abusers. Unless the counsellor is specifically trained in domestic abuse and trauma, it is unlikely they will pick up on it so you will be trapped. Abusers don’t change and no amount of talking is going to change that. All that will happen is you could open your heart and your abuser will use the sessions to find your vulnerabilities and use them all against you.

    Don’t go.

  • #87375

    No, it doesn’t. We tried three times, at my request. He was furious that I mentioned his violence and the police involvement to the counsellor. Apparently I should not have ‘betrayed’ that.

    He tried to subvert the counsellor to his side, saying he felt unloved. I felt sick being asked to list the things I lived him for.

    When the subject of him snatching a huge knife from the knife block and brandishing it in the air came up, counsellor’s comment was, “That must have been very scary FOR YOU BOTH.”

    I walked.

    Couples counselling is for couples who love each other and need help to communicate that effectively. It is not for abusers and their victims.

    What did finally make a difference was him committing to a perpetrator programme and going every week for over a year.

  • #87376

    SS were going to refer my ex to a perp programme but decided he was too much in denial.

  • #87379

    It doesn’t work because the counsellor has to stay impartial plus they’re human too so can be sucked in by their charm
    We went to a sex therapist and initially they were going to do a programme where I was ‘worked on’ but during our separate sessions once I had talked about the stuff that goes on at home the counsellor was horrified that they had nearly perpetuated the abuse and the coercive sex.
    Also you have to be prepared to be completely honest and talk about things that would often be taboo otherwise the counselor won’t really understand the problem – it would be like saying it’s raining when really it’s a tropical typhoon!

  • #87445

    I have limited experience of couples counselling. I didn’t know at the time that I was being abused and thought our relationship could (and should) be ‘fixed’. I pushed for counselling as a way for us to manage his obsessive and controlling jealousy.

    We went to the first session which was designed to see what kind of counselling would be of benefit. The entire hour was taken up with him bringing up the same old stuff that he had issue with and me trying to show that his fears were groundless. (They really were groundless, though I had come to doubt myself.)

    Attack and defence – the same old pattern and all the while I was hoping the counsellor would chip in with some kind of support. Maybe she could have asked him how realistic his fears were. Or whether he was being reasonable expecting me not to talk to male colleagues. Sadly he was utterly convincing and, siding with him, she suggested that I might change this or that so as not to aggravate his jealousy.

    He refused to take up further sessions claiming he found it all ‘too upsetting’. It didn’t lead to better communication. We didn’t discuss anything that came up in the meeting, except for him to cling on to the counsellor’s view that it was all my fault. The jealousy got worse.

    In my view, where there is abuse, couples counselling isn’t just pointless, it’s dangerous.

  • #87503

    I went to couples counselling twice with my ex, the first time we only had a few sessions and the counsellor suggested separate sessions. At this stage my partner refused to go and dumped me for the millionth time. After he’d assaulted me a few times he then insisted we went again.. this time because he was apparently scared to lose me but I believe now it was because he was scared I’d report him. We never ever spoke about any of the abuse in counselling because I was scared the social services would be involved as hey had when I’d previously reported him for assault. Anyway, he just ended up using the counselling we’d finished our course, to convince me that he had changed and that I was the issue all along.
    I don’t think it works when you’re in an abusive relationship 😔

  • #87547

    Hi All

    Thank you for your replies

    I think i’ve decided that i’m going to try it with him, if nothing changes after say 3 months (is that reasonable?!) then I’ll consider my other options (not that there is any right now!)

    I think my OH is scared of being alone, rather than being scared of actually losing me.

    Equally if he plays victim and feels “he is being bullied” or the counsellor sides with him regarding jealousy etc i’ll also consider my options!

    Thank you again everyone!

  • #87849

    We tried it, I think he thought I would get told my past flirtation with another man was terrible behaviour and I should try to be a model wife. However, the counsellor was very good and saw through him. She pointed out his controlling ways and unachievable expectations. We went twice and I felt it helpful for me but he won’t go back saying the counsellor was ‘mad’! Typical of his behaviour.
    I would say try it, even if nothing changes you’ll have proof you’ve tried to address things if it ever gets to a you vs him situation.
    Good luck. X

  • #87881

    In a word NO. My oh went to a councellor off his own back, so credit where credits due, but he used every session to get at me, so much so I emailed the councellor who I’d seen on a few occasions, jointly. I saw his 2x on my own AND he actually phoned me as the content of the email worried him and his superior so much. Couples councelling may work for non abusive relationships but most definately not for abusive ones.
    IWMB 💞💞

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.


© 2015 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

Terms & conditionsPrivacy & cookie policySite mapProtect yourself onlineMedia │ Jobs

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account