5th July 2021 at 3:11 pm #128271
What would you say is the best therapeutic approach for victims of abuse?
In my case, I’m still living with partner but realising it’s a trauma bonded relationship and that I need to get out so I was hoping therapy would help guide me to being able to leave.
I recognise different approaches will work for different people and I understand there is a fine line when it comes to victim blaming.
I’ve just started counselling with a therapist who specialises in domestic abuse. They’ve told me that it’s my partner’s responsibility to go to therapy himself and that I can’t change him. The counsellor has given me the impression that I can work on my own issues (eg. problems with creating boundaries etc) as in the purpose of the therapy is to work on me. I don’t feel like I’m the main problem though, it’s him. Does that make any sense? They’ve also explained to me about how I’ve lived with someone always defining my reality and gaslighting me.
I guess I was expecting to talk more about the abuse but then I don’t really know what I was expecting as I’ve never had therapy before. It’s difficult to explain. I think I’ve been so hellbent on finding someone who understands abuse and who won’t end up making me feel like I’m the problem. Now I’m worrying how quickly I feel like I should be making progress.
It’s difficult because there is a commitment with him approaching and I guess I’m hoping that the therapy will help me leave before that happens but you can’t rush being ready to leave right?
Apologies if this post sounds a bit muddled, my mind is racing a lot.
5th July 2021 at 3:24 pm #128274KIP.Participant
I agree with her that the purpose of this therapy is to definitely work on you. He is not your responsibility and that’s what is keeping you bonded. That feeling of wanting him to change and thinking that he will even though the evidence proves he won’t. Men like him don’t go to therapy because he doesn’t see he has a problem. In his mind it’s you that is his problem. You are the one making him behave abusively. He won’t change but you can. You can become stronger independently. You can realise why you’re so determined to stay with someone who doesn’t care about you and who hurts you. It’s something in you that won’t let you break free and it was so enlightening to discover more about myself and what causes us to stay. You’ve already experienced that trauma bonding and the panic that ensued when you left. But you left and nothing bad happened. It was your brainwashing and the trauma bond that made you panic. You’re not the problem here. He is. You will be fine and thrive without him. He will always abuse x stick in with the therapy x concentrate on you because he will never change and abuse always gets worse x ask yourself what’s the worse thing that will happen in you leave him. Talk it over with your therapist. Write down a list of what you’re scared of by leaving and go through it with her x
7th July 2021 at 9:47 pm #128442
He did go to therapy once years ago but he didn’t go into any details with me about it and only had negative things to say. He’s started going again which I don’t really understand. I expect he will paint me as a poor partner and him as a victim to the therapist. Or maybe he won’t even mention me. Either way I doubt the therapist will realise he’s narcissistic or an abusive partner.
I will write that list ready for the next session, thank you. Just worried as time is really ticking now and I’m getting nervous xx
5th July 2021 at 4:18 pm #128282HawthornParticipant
Therapy helped me by enabling me to unpick my thought patterns and undo the brainwashing my abuser had subjected me to. Where my compulsion to fix him came from, why I was so hard on and critical of myself while always excusing others behaviour, why I put other people’s needs and wants above my own, why I struggled to set boundaries with the people I love. He got hooks into those grooves, and wore them deeper, but they were there before him.
It can be painful to reflect on some of these things, but ultimately very healing. I didn’t experience it as victim blaming, it’s actually very empowering to have a deeper understanding of myself and why I behave and react the way I do. It’s enabled me to take control of my thought patterns and respond to situations, rather than reacting. I can’t control the things that life throws at me, but I can control how I respond to them. What others do is not my responsibility, but how I live my life is. And therapy has helped that responsibility feel like such a blessing.
Your time in therapy is not about your abuser, it’s about you. Focus on and learn to love yourself. It’s hard work but so so worth it xx
7th July 2021 at 9:44 pm #128441
Thank you Hawthorn xx
5th July 2021 at 4:56 pm #128283RunningfreeParticipant
This is really interesting as I’m trying to set up therapy to help me deal with my OH. He’s had therapy in the past but I don’t assume he talked about his behaviour, no doubt never mentioned it , he did say it didn’t help him, so I guess he wasn’t honest !
7th July 2021 at 9:41 pm #128440
Mine has had therapy once before too. He didn’t go into any details to me but has only ever had negative things to say about it and moaned about the therapist. He didn’t go back although he has started again. It won’t help him though and he’ll only be framing himself as the victim in life I’m sure. I doubt the therapist will recognise that he’s narcissistic. From what I’ve learnt, therapy doesn’t help abusers. If anything it can make them worse; more justified in their behaviour.
Good luck with finding a therapist, I’m sure it will help you xx
8th July 2021 at 12:50 pm #128463TryingtofindhopeParticipant
Hi gettingtired, i am in a similar situation as you where I am still living with my abuser and I understand that there is trauma bonding. My counsellor has encouraged me to work on myself and not to focus on him and its been such a game changer for me. Admittedly I have a long way to go, I’ve only had (detail removed by moderator) sessions so far but I have been strong enough to stand up and tell him (detail removed by moderator). Just the thought of saying those words before would give me such anxiety. I am not saying it is always appropriate to stand up to your abuser, but in my case I had to do it before I became even more isolated than I already am.
I’ve reconnected with a few friends over the last few weeks and they have all commented on how much stronger and brighter I appear to be. I can honestly say its down to counselling but its so important that your counsellor is right for you.
Good luck xx
11th July 2021 at 3:24 pm #128635
Hello, I’m so glad to hear that you’re making those positive steps towards freedom. I’m finding the counselling rather enlightening so far. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. Thank you for your comment xx
8th July 2021 at 3:31 pm #128470FreeforeverParticipant
I am also still living with my abuser and not strong to leave my home which we own, I myself are looking to try therapy to repair my sanity and learn tactics to over power him without reacting to his vile gib. I need to heal me before I am strong enough to set out a future plan.. I have also made plans with friends and get on with my own life doing things I would normally ask for his approval so I’m slowly taking back my life. Good luck
8th July 2021 at 4:42 pm #128481ISOPeaceParticipant
Hi Freeforever, I don’t know if I’ve misunderstood some of your post, so apologies if I have. Based on my own experience of therapy, a lot of research on abuse and having left an abusive relationship, I just wanted to say a couple of things. They might sound really negative at first, but it will help you to know them. I would strongly recommend reading something like “Why does he do that?” by Lundy Bancroft. The more you know about abuse, the easier it will be to get free of him.
Firstly, even with therapy you can’t really repair your sanity and heal yourself while you’re still with him unless you can get a lot of space from him, and even then it would be very difficult. You have to feel safe to heal, but the very point of abuse is to keep you feeling too scared to move. But don’t take this too negatively, you can heal yourself enough to find the strength to leave and then work on your full healing after you’ve left.
Secondly, you can’t over power him and please don’t try! His vile behaviour is all about maintaining control over you. If you try to over power him his abuse will escalate in order to maintain that control. He believes he is entitled to force you to do what he wants and to control you. He’s already shown he thinks violence is acceptable. If you threaten his feeling of control over you, he will almost certainly escalate the violence. There is nothing you can say to him to change what he thinks or get him to stop. If you read/hear any advice that says to stand up to him and set boundaries as you might in a healthy relationship, then it’s coming from someone who doesn’t understand abuse.
You can, however, find more subtle ways to take your power back that will make you feel stronger. For example, the best response to his attempts to start an argument is to not get sucked into it. I don’t mean retreat in fear, I mean just choose to not waste you emotional energy defending yourself, because it’s futile. He will always want the last word. He believes he’s always right. Be careful with this though. My ex would sometime get angry that I didn’t engage so sometimes it was safer to appear to say what he wanted to hear, while reminding myself I was doing it more my safety, not because he was right. You will find other subtle ways to stand up to him, ways that don’t antagonise him too much but help you feel stronger. Just try to choose when you do them carefully. Sometimes it’s just not safe to do it. It sounds like you’ve already started doing this by slowly taking back your life (yay!). Not asking for approval is a great one if you can do it safely. I got so used to it that I was finding myself wanting to do it when I was leaving! I didn’t, thank God. Sending love xxxx
8th July 2021 at 5:37 pm #128485FreeforeverParticipant
Hey, thank you for taking the time to reply. Your advice is so helpful.. I do agree you cannot change him I need to change my way on the approach.. or question how can he treat me like this if he loves me. We have been together for a very long time with 2 children one has already left because was sick of his demands, which really hurts .. he even once said (detail removed by moderator) .. how evil. Anyway I am definitely going to download the book you recommended a few has suggested it. Thanks again x
8th July 2021 at 6:23 pm #128486EmptybutfreeParticipant
I have had therapy and I am having a second course of trauma based therapy.
I feel as though I made a mistake in my first course, I based my therapy around my abuser, wanted to find ways on how I could be more tolerant to his abuse (really thinking that the issues were with me)
I believe that after abuse, our self esteem is hammered in to the ground.
Therapy is excellent and will give you a lot of useful tools, please don’t make the same mistake I did, in thinking I in some way needed to be fixed, this isn’t the case.
I hope the therapy is a positive experience for you.
Sending lots of hugs xx
11th July 2021 at 3:28 pm #128636
Thank you for your comment. I agree that the focus needs to be on yourself. Now I have an understanding of abuse and know it’s his problem and not mine, I know I need to work on myself. It’s so true that our self-esteem gets hammered into the ground, mine was very low before I met him as it was.
Sending a hug back, thank you xx
8th July 2021 at 7:44 pm #128487nbumblebeeParticipant
My therapist says you have to work on you b4 you can begin to work on the relationship.
Im still with my husband and am having help with an abusive past as well as the presant she tells me that with therapy there will come day when i will be strkng enough to leave. Keep going do this for you xx
11th July 2021 at 3:33 pm #128638
Thank you for your comment. I’ve no doubt you wil be strong enough to leave one day, you already are strong to have endured what you have.
Sending a virtual hug xx
11th July 2021 at 6:09 pm #128650littledoveParticipant
I honestly feel like mines didn’t help me at all 🙁
I had a mental health nurse, and she did CBT with me. And we briefly touched on self esteem. I felt it was so rushed.
I didn’t feel there was any real advice or getting to the root of my problems. Or any emotional support.
Just CBT techniques on how to train unhelpful thoughts. Just nothing to do with helping deal with trauma or anything.
I need to go back to my GP to go down a different route but I honestly don’t know what’s available.
13th July 2021 at 12:46 pm #128724LottieblueParticipant
I want, first, to apologise to you, because I deserted you. I didn’t communicate with you in the way that I promised I would. I am ashamed about that, but it’s because it always takes just a bit more digging than I anticipate, digging down inside me… what I would love to be able to do on a DM is to take my time, write in stages, come back to it, etc, but I think most of us know that it doesn’t work like that, and if you leave your message for any length of time, it disappears! I have, though, kept a close eye on you and have willed you along and sent you strength…
This is a really good thread. For me, therapy has saved my life. And it has come in all sorts of forms. While I was with my partner and struggling, strugglnig to keep going, I was speaking to Women’s Aid – that was therapy – and I started speaking to a psychologist who a lawyer recommended but she was really hard to get hold of and finding time/space to call her was an issue. She was just trying to keep me alive, I think. It was fire-fighting. She was telling me how to respond to situations that I was in, how to cope day to day. I only had a couple of sessions with her and then I managed to leave and then I knew the real work had to begin.
I started speaking to someone who basically ascertained in a couple of sessions that my husband had indeed been abusive, but it because I was a people-pleaser and didn’t want to rock the boat. She just wasn’t getting at all that he had destroyed me, crushed me, and left me completely unable to stand up for myself. I needed to heal. I needed to do all that untangling stuff – but you can’t that until you’re free. There’s so much you can’t do until you’re free because they go on and on doing your head in.
At the same time I signed up for a Freedom Programme and I can’t recommend this enough. It was very triggering at time but I felt safe and feeling safe is, I think, essential for therapy. That was 8 weeks, and then after a couple of weeks’ break it moved on to a Toolkit for Life, where we dealt with things like assertiveness and dealing with grief and all sorts of stuff. Again, this was a type of therapy.
At the same time as this, I realise that my therapist wasn’t doing me any good at all, so I ditched her and googled madly for someone who understood emotional abuse and I found the most wonderful, perfect person. Only now, months and months on, do I feel like I’ve got to the core of what I need to work on now, for me. I am out, yes, I am happy, yes, but it’s not over. We have three children together (all now adults) and will have, at some point, to face divorce. The prospect terrifies me so I have somehow to get over that. To get over the fact that even thinking about him gets my heart racing with anxiety.
AND at the same time again, my support from Women’s Aid continues. I get a phone call, for an hour, once a week. This is wonderful. This is about making me a person again. A lot of it is similar to the Toolkit stuff, and it’s just layering, reinfocing, making sure that I rebuild. Get over the trauma. Because it was trauma.
My husband, I think, still thinks that I’ll go back to him. But there is NO acknowledgement on his part that he was in any way to blame. Quite extraordinary. Your wife leaves you and you are happy just to assume she’s gone mad. Of course, he will never be able to work on changing if he can’t acknowledge that change is necessary. If he had been able to do these two things, who knows, maybe I would have tried to make my very, very long marriage work out after all. But that ain’t happening.
So my therapy is to make me better, make me strong, make me happy, and to give me the tools I need to move forwards in the life that I would like our family to have. It gives me a thrill that it’s working. It is SO important to find the right person.
I’m thinking that if someone decides to have therapy while still in their abusive relationship, what they’re trying to achieve is strength and clarity, the will and the power to leave, the confidence to know that they’re doing the right thing. Therapy isn’t going to make the relationship ok. It never is. For him to change you need to leave. If he’s going to change he can still do so. He’s unlikely to, though. Very unlikely. It’s been said so many times but I’m going to say it again – you MUST find a therapist who understands the dynamics of abuse. They have to understand the impact that his abuse has on you, what it has turned you into. How it incapacitates you. Because that’s the you they’re working with, not the old you, the normal you. They are dealing with the crushed you and that’s a long haul. Even with months of all the above behind me – and I am a new person, I have found a new me and I am essentially happy – I still need more. I need to be able to cope with what is still to come. And I don’t yet feel that I have that strength. Don’t underestimate the damage that these men do to us.
I’m so sorry, that has turned into serious verbal diarrheoa! I hope it makes some sense to someone!
In a nutshell – get help from as many different avenues as you can – you can recover, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do it alone. And get away.
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