Print Posted By Blog Admin on 05/13/2017 in Category 1

Domestic violence in a relationship.

Domestic violence in a relationship.

DivorcePros interviewed Nancy Lewis, a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Francisco about what to do if you are getting out of an abusive relationship and how to recover afterwards. Take a read of the great information Nancy provided us.

Q:  I want to file for a divorce but my partner is physically violent with me. What should I do?

A: It’s important to have support, and it’s important to have a plan. First of all, if your partner is physically violent, you should contact the police, as well as your local battered women’s shelter. If possible, you will want to leave in a way that is safe, so that you don’t get hurt. Many victims of violence are isolated, as a part of the abuse. Because of the isolation, they believe there is no place to go. Shelters will have temporary housing, as well as resources for help with restraining orders and court appearances. Shelters often have resources for group and individual therapy, which are important in addressing the feelings of blame and shame that go along with victimization. If you have a job, confide in your supervisor, or someone in HR. If you have children, let their school or daycare know. This is especially important if the police are involved


Q:  I want to file for a divorce but my partner keeps threatening to take the children away from me, what can I do?

A: Statements such as that are threats of intimidation. The truth is that your partner can say whatever s/he wants, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Although it’s difficult, you need to learn not to react to incendiary statements. It’s probably better not to respond at all.

Q: How can I recover from a physically abusive marriage?

A: It takes time. And therapy. There are so many negative emotions and beliefs that come up around physical abuse, as well as so much emotional pain. It takes time to undo the damage. Victims of abuse need to learn to love and believe in themselves again. Depending on the pattern of abuse, a victim could be diagnosed with PTSD, which can involve more than just talk therapy.

Q: How can I recover from an emotionally abusive marriage?

A: Again, counseling is important. Emotional abuse can be more difficult to recover from than physical abuse, because it’s more pervasive. Bruises fade – words can scar deeply. Learning to listen for the words and to be aware of physical cues such as tightening of the jaw or neck can help with awareness. Learning to love and forgive oneself is a part of the healing process.

Q: What suggestions can I give for help to an abusive partner? Will they even be open to help and support?

A: Partners often have their own sense of shame about anger and lack of control. However, they still may blame the other partner for doing or saying something that will trigger the abuse. Physical, emotional and verbal abuse can all be exacerbated by substance use and/or abuse. Initiating a discussion about what happens when alcohol is in the picture can often be the place to start. If a partner is open to talking about their behavior, it means the relationship may be savable. But if the abusive partner is in denial, the best thing that you can do is to get therapy and support for yourself. Work on strengthening your ego, so that you’re better able to respond, rather than react to the abuse.

Q: I am abusive in the relationship and want to change. How can I go about this?

A: Seek therapy now. Most people can get therapy at little to no cost, through their health insurance. Community health agencies often provide free therapy, as does the Veterans Administration and Medicare. Read books. Learn to understand your triggers. People are often abusive because that’s how they were treated growing up; it’s what they learned. You can learn to be different. 

Q: How did our relationship become so abusive?

A: Many reasons – you fought back, you didn’t back down, what started out as “play” turned angry or hurtful, it was a dynamic you saw in your parents. 

Q: What is considered physical abuse? Emotional abuse? Financial abuse?

A: Physical abuse is unpermitted, unwelcome touch by another person. It can be once or it can be continual. Emotional abuse is the use of language and tone to demean or dismiss another. Emotional abuse is generally a pattern. Financial abuse would be the manipulation or embezzlement of funds by subterfuge.

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