Counseling for Survivors of Domestic Violence
One of the first things I noticed when I worked at a domestic violence shelter was just how powerful and far reaching the stretch of an abusive partner could extend. I would work with a woman for several hours, listening to details of her story and we would come up with a plan to keep her safe. She would begin to gain some hope and we could even plan for what her future would look like.
The next day I’d come to work and she’d be gone.
He was able to get to her somehow and he was able to find the sliver of doubt she was experiencing about her ability to do this without him. He probably made promises about how he would change and reminded her how much she needed him.
The survivors in the shelter taught me some of things they needed
1 – Safety – they needed to know that the people working and living in the shelter would not harm them or trick them in any way. They needed to know that we meant what we said. Our communication had to be clear and direct.
2 – Non-Judgement – the women needed to feel that things would be different for them here than they had experienced anywhere else. They needed us to accept all parts of their story, especially the part where they stayed after they got hurt.
3 – Open Hearted Listening – lots of these survivors had never told their story before and their courage and vulnerability were palpable. Their bodies asked that we listen, and we did, with all the wholeness of our heart.
I have kept these women in mind as I attended graduate school, interned and trained to be a trauma counselor. I want to be ready for each of them when they come in my door so I can be part of the solution.
Most women that come to see me have found their way out of the relationship. Life outside of a traumatic scenario such as this one is confusing. You may still love him and some of the memories may seem so unreal and you need some help sorting out what’s real and what’s not.
You may also still be connected to him by finances or family and so all the old feelings come up every time he texts or calls. How do you protect your children from someone you’ve realized may be a monster?
If you have left a controlling or abusive relationship and you’re ready to live life on your terms, please call for a free 20 minute phone or video consultation.
Lydia Kickliter, LPC | Asheville Therapist for Women Survivors
“When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them The First Time.”
Me and my son at the Asheville Women's March on January 21, 2017
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