Recovery from Domestic Violence

Counselling with Mignon
Putting the pieces together, a bit at a time
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Empowering

Raise self-awareness Healthy personal boundaries Self-Belief
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Inspiring

Positive thoughts Positive beliefs and attitudes Reduce post-traumatic stress
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Transforming

Relinquish control Emotional Self-regulation Taking responsibility for feelings and behaviour
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Onwards

Your New Outlook Resilient & Fulfilling relationships Self-control
Helping You Find Success With Personalized Counselling

Feel Like It’s Time to Make a Change in Your Life, But Can’t Seem to Find a Way?

  • Isolation of people who are victimised
  • Social exclusion
  • Social acceptance which normalises abuse and violence within communities
  • Lower expectations of self
  • Impact on victim mental health
  • Wider implications of abuse in the workplace
  • Unemployment or lower expectations in employment
  • Poor parenting
  • Unhealthy communities

Wider Implications of Domestic Violence

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Domestic Violence impacts mental health

Domestic abuse is a major cause of long term mental health.
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Domestic violence impacts relationships

Domestic abuse is more than physical violence. It includes repeated patterns of abusive behaviour to maintain power and control in a relationship.
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Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic abuse can be physical assault, sexual violence, verbal abuse, humiliation, emotional abuse, control of partners.
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Domestic violence is an issue for the medical profession

Domestic violence affects physical health and leads to gynaecological problems, problems with sexual health, and functional disorders with patients experiencing an increased risk of medical symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraine, chronic headache, problems sleeping, and extreme tiredness due to long term stress.
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Domestic violence is usually in the family

Domestic Violence can be in the family, and not necessarily perpetrated by intimate partners.
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Domestic violence is a violation of human rights

Domestic violence is a violation against the human rights of the victim.

Clearing up some ambiguities in the language

Domestic abuse is more than physical violence. It includes repeated patterns of abusive behaviour to maintain power and control in a relationship.

What is Domestic Abuse?
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The following types of abuse: Psychological, Physical, Sexual, Emotional, Economic, Preventing the survivor from accessing education or pursuing a career.
Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse?
Both terms are used interchangeably. The use of the term ‘violence’ indicates the overarching seriousness of the problem while others prefer to use the term ‘abuse’ as they feel it is a more accurate description of non-physical forms of control.
Gender specific or gender neutral?
While both men and women can and do experience domestic violence, it is overwhelmingly experienced by women, especially in terms of frequency and severity. Moreover, much of the research and practice evidence is based on women’s experiences which are not identical to men’s experiences. As such, in many instances, gender neutrality is dishonest and inaccurate. We refer to victims and survivors unless relying on single-gender evidence.
Victim or survivor?
The term survivor acknowledges the many varied and creative ways in which people cope with the abuse. The word victim has had a negative connotation of passivity and subservience which does not reflect the actual experience of women living with violence. However, the word victim does acknowledge that a wrong has been committed and establishes an entitlement to redress and justice.

SEXUAL ABUSE IS A FORM OF DOMESTIC ABUSE

The severity of the impact of violence and abuse may be greater depending on factors such as What happened? Who did it? Was it someone they previously trusted? How long and many times did they do it? Was the violence/abuse repeatedly perpetrated and/or suffered for long periods of time? Did the victim tell anyone? Were they believed? Were they blamed? Were they protected? Were the police involved? All victims/survivors will suffer to some degree, and all victims/survivors deserve safety, help and support.  

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SEXUAL ABUSE IS A FORM OF DOMESTIC ABUSE

Sexual abuse is often an attempt to gain power over others.
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SEXUAL ABUSE WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF DOMESTIC ABUSE

Sexual violence and abuse are often perpetrated inside the context of domestic violence – many victims of domestic abuse are also victims of sexual abuse.
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SEXUAL ABUSE - A COMPLEX FORM OF DOMESTIC ABUSE

In the majority of cases, sexual abuse is experienced alongside a number of abusive behaviours, and therefore both are vital to understanding as part of the same continuum of abuse.
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SEXUAL ABUSE WITHIN THE FAMILY

Perpetrators of domestic violence are partners or family members. Perpetrators of sexual violence can be anyone; partners, family members, ‘friends’, other people known to the victim or strangers.
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MOST SEXUAL ABUSERS ARE FAMILIAR

The vast majority of perpetrators of sexual abuse are already known to the victim.  
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SEXUAL ABUSE IS A CRIME

Specific forms of sexual violence and abuse are legally defined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.  

UNDERSTANDING TYPES OF ABUSE

Physical injuries can be very severe, even fatal. Don’t forget that 3 women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner. The most common ways women are murdered are by being strangled or being stabbed.

Psychological and emotional abuse
  • Calling partner names e,g, fat, ugly, stupid, mad, junkie
  • Humiliating a partner
  • Convincing a partner they are mad
  • Constantly denigrating, questioning or interrogating partner
  • Making a partner feel guilty
  • Undermining partner’s confidence
  • Threatening suicide
  • Threats to hurt a partner, children, family, friends, pets
  • Threats to have partner sectioned, report to the police or social services, particularly if the victim has substance use or mental health problems
  • Threats to report someone’s immigration status to the authorities
  • Threats that no one will believe them if they report the abuse
  • Threats of showing pornographic images of the victim to service providers, family, friends.
Financial abuse
  • Preventing partner from getting a job
  • Harassing a partner at work
  • Denying a partner access to money
  • Stealing a partner’s or children’s money
  • Gambling in a way that threatens a family’s standard of living
  • Conducting surveillance of a partner’s expenditure and activities
  • Making major financial decisions alone
  • Running up debts
  • Withholding money in order to enforce a course of action, dictating expenditure
  • Destroying their possessions
Coercive control
  • Locking partner in house of another place
  • Denying access to car or any transport
  • Preventing partner from receiving mail or using the telephone
  • Controlling who partner sees/ what partner does
  • Humiliating partner in front of friends, family or in public
  • Preventing partner from learning a language (particularly English)
  • Using immigration status to control partner
  • Timing a partner so that there is no opportunity to talk to others
  • A constant presence at appointments with services
  • Involving partner in criminal activity to ensure fear and secrecy
  • Making obstacles between someone and their friends and family
  • Making someone keep secrets from friends and family
  • Making partners believe that the abuse is their fault, that they provoked it, they like it or else they wouldn’t put up with it, it is for their benefit or in their interests, it’s because of love, it is normal.
  • Making partners believe they are worse than previous partners or other men/women or that they have no worth and no one else wants them
  • Preventing someone from getting treatment for injuries and infections
  • Keeping someone awake regularly
  • Multiple pregnancies/miscarriages
  • Over or under medication of prescription drugs
  • Demanding unreachably high standards in activities or tasks
  • Withholding food, ensuring constant undernourishment
  • Making a partner entirely responsible for managing daily life – looking after children, house, managing on no money
  • Removing/destroying any aids they may need in relation to disabilities
  • Causing someone to live in constant fear
  • Making someone repeat mundane chores or rituals over and over again
  • Making someone do things in particular, specific ways
  • Making someone dress in particular, specific ways
  • Demanding everything at specific and exact times e.g. meals, sex
  • Making someone clean things repeatedly
  • Insisting things are kept in particular, exact places
  • Insisting on particular standards around childcare and children’s behaviour
Physical abuse
  • Murder
  • Causing someone to miscarry
  • Pinching
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Pulling hair
  • Smothering
  • Drowning
  • Stabbing
  • Burning
  • Starving
  • Withholding medication
  • Throwing objects
Sexual Abuse
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Criticising sexual performance
  • Withholding sex or affection
  • Threatening to abuse the children
  • Imposing a ‘dress code’ either imposing sexualised clothing or clothing deemed to be modest
  • Constant accusations of having an affair
  • Making someone watch or engage in pornography
  • Pimping someone out i.e. forcing them to have sex with other people in exchange for money, drugs, etc
  • The use of technology to get the victim to post sexual images of themselves
  • Refusing to use or allow contraception which results in sexually transmitted infections and/or unwanted pregnancies
  • Forcing partner to have an abortion

Demystifying some myths about Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence manifests in societies where there is an unequal power imbalance between men and women in a relationship.
Domestic violence occurs across the socio-economic spectrum, it isn’t voluntary and victims are not responsible. It may seem as if domestic violence is a working-class phenomenon because women in families on lower incomes are more likely to seek help and in this way come to the notice of helping agencies. Women from more affluent and middle-class backgrounds may be less likely to seek assistance because they fear being noticed or disrupting the status quo due to personal embarrassment and the possible damage to their husband’s careers if the violence was disclosed. Access to personal financial resources makes it easier to leave an abusive relationship and sustain an independent life without resorting to charitable organizations and public support agencies.
Domestic violence is caused by alcohol and other drug use.
Contrary to common belief, AOD is not a cause of domestic violence. An increase in rates of alcohol and other drug use (AOD), is known to impair judgment, reduce inhibition, and increase aggression. Being ‘under the influence’ of alcohol and other drugs at the time of the assault provides the perpetrator ‘courage’ to assault their partners, however, drunkenness is not an excuse for violence. People who abuse their partners when they are intoxicated also abuse when they are sober, while many people who consume alcohol are not violent to their partners. It should be noted, however, that injuries to the victim are often more severe when alcohol is involved. Alcoholism and child abuse, including incest, seem also to be connected.
How often does domestic violence happen?
Domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime, occurring primarily at home. Women often don’t report or disclose domestic abuse to the police (HMIC, 2014) (Women’s Aid, 2021) Many victims of domestic abuse do not come to the attention of the police, which is why the estimated number of victims is much higher than the number of police-recorded incidents and crimes. Domestic and family violence at the hands of a partner is more common than we think. 1. Approximately one in four women (23% or 2.2 million) experienced violence by an intimate partner, compared to one in thirteen men (7.8% or 703,700).
Statistics based on Crime Survey for England and Wales 2016
Based on the statistical bulletin (March 2016) on domestic violence which brings together national and local domestic abuse statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), police recorded crime and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) data, 36% of victims of domestic abuse were males and 64% of victims of domestic abuse were females. This equates to approximately 1 male to every 2 female victims of domestic abuse.
Domestic violence can leave the victim with very low self-esteem.
It is a misconception that victims who are abused must have low self-esteem is harmful because it focuses blame on the victim. This confuses causes and adverse consequences for the victim because instead of interrogating into choices of the perpetrator’s abusive behaviour, the victim is often judged with personality deficiencies and blamed for staying in a violent relationship.
Victims of abuse tend to go from one abusive relationship to another.
Evidence suggests that perpetrators of abuse tend to go from one abusive relationship to another. Most people who have successfully managed to escape a violent relationship are hypervigilant about subsequent relationships and cautious about choosing a different type of relationship the next time. A lot of people choose to remain alone rather than risk another potentially violent relationship.
Men are perpetrators, Women are the victims of domestic abuse.
Whilst both men and women may experience domestic abuse, women are more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of abuse, including sexual violence. Men are physically stronger than women, so it is easier for men to use violence to control women. It is possible to achieve positive transformation and sustainable long-term social change by gradually working towards short-term strategies. Perpetrators of abuse can be taught strategies for positive change, to be willing to relinquish control, change their beliefs and attitudes about women, take responsibility for their acts of violence and learn to control their violent behaviour. Subtler forms of controlling behaviour are more difficult to detect and eradicate.
A few more notable facts that indicate a high degree of control
  • 85% of violent men are not abusive to anyone but their female partner
  • Most abusive behaviour takes place only in private
  • Abusers injure only those parts of the body that are usually covered by clothing.
  • If negative consequences follow the use of violence (e.g. arrest), the reoffending rate falls.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF ABUSE

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition caused by a traumatic experience. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include flashbacks, nightmares, feeling very anxious and difficulty sleeping.

It is very important that survivors of domestic violence are offered support to help them deal with the common and natural responses to the abuse they have experienced, to enable them to recover from the psychological distress.
Psychological and emotional abuse
In a review of 18 studies, on average 48% of abused women suffered from depression. The more or long-lasting the violence, the more severe the depression is likely to be (Golding, 1999) Up to three quarters of domestic abuse survivors struggle with anxiety
Sexual Abuse, Domestic Violence and PTSD
Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) average 64% in women who have experienced domestic violence, compared with 1-2% in non-abused women (Golding, 1999)
Other Mental Health Disorders
There is an association between domestic abuse and other mental health difficulties such as eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as domestic abuse exacerbating psychotic symptoms (Howard et al, 2010)
Self Harm
Most women who repeatedly self-harm have histories of multiple deprivation and violence as a child and/or an adult (Department of Health, 2003)
Toxic Emotions
Victims of domestic abuse and/or sexual violence often have feeling of guilt, shame and self-blame
Suicide
Abused women are at least 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than women who are not at risk (Golding 1999), and 1 third of all female suicide attempts can be attributed to current or past experiences of domestic abuse (Barron 2004)
Social Isolation
Abuse and violence can cause social isolation and distrust of people and relationships
Emotional Disturbance
Many victims will experience nightmares and flashbacks
Homelessness
Victims may become homeless as a result of the violence and abuse – domestic violence, for example, is the cause of 40% of women’s homelessness
Interruptions to Education and Work
Domestic abuse and sexual violence cause victims to find it difficult to concentrate -this can cause interruptions to education, training and work
Addiction
There is a complex relationship between violence and abuse, mental ill-health and problematic substance use. 25-75% of people who have survived abusive or violent traumatic experiences report problematic alcohol use. Substances may be used to self-medicate the trauma from experiences of violence and abuse. A US study reports that 60% of women accessing drug or alcohol services reported current or past domestic abuse.        

COERCIVE CONTROL AND CONTROLLING BEHAVIOUR

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Coercive Behaviour

COERCIVE BEHAVIOUR is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. Any actions of the abuser which literally (e.g. stopping the victim from seeing family and friends, or metaphorically (undermining their confidence) shrinks the victims world. Coercive control is a purposeful pattern of behaviours that takes place over time and enables someone to exert power over another person through fear and control. Coercive control can happen in any type of intimate relationship and includes behaviours such as insulting the other person, making threats, exerting financial control, and using sexual coercion.
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Controlling Behaviour

CONTROLLING BEHAVIOUR is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Types of abuse included under the term are isolating someone; depriving them of their basic needs; monitoring their actions; taking control of everyday life such as where they go, who they see, what they can wear, when they can sleep; repeatedly putting them down, economic abuse, threats to hurt or kill the person or their loved ones.
Justice

Coercive Behaviour is a Crime

Making coercive control a crime was a landmark moment. As a type of abuse it is hard for survivors to recognise and harder to bring perpetrators to justice. At the same time, it encompasses some of the most common forms of abuse – one study found that 95 out 100 domestic abuse survivors reported experiencing coercive control (Kelly et al, 2014). Under the Serious Crime Act 2015 (section 76), controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship is recognised as a criminal offence.

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