"Why doesn't she just leave him?" Domestic Abuse and how counselling can help

Updated: May 29, 2018

“Why doesn’t she just leave him …….?” A simple question that so many people ask when the subject of domestic abuse is discussed. If only it was that easy. Domestic Abuse carries many complex feelings and emotions. Fear, financial control, coercive control, threatening behaviour, physical abuse, emotional abuse, but also love.

Abusive men aren’t abusive when they meet their partner. They are usually charming and caring and show plenty of signs that they want to care and protect their partner. Domestic Abuse often happens subtly and over time and isn’t always obvious that it is happening.

Slowly over time, things start to change and become more and more difficult to live with. The partner who wants to check your phone messages, calls you when you are out to check you are where you say you are, hides your car keys/ house keys so that you can’t go out, causes arguments when family or close friends are over so that its “easier” to just not invite them and so you start to lose your support network.

Pat Craven has written many good books and devised a course for women called The Freedom Programme. This refers to “The Dominator” and gives clear explanations to various dominator traits used to control women. Pat Cravens books are available through Amazon UK and The Freedom Programme run group workshops which are available by contacting either The DASH Charity on 01753 549865 or the national freephone number for Womens Aid on 0808 2000 247.

Asking for help or support is often the hardest thing to do. Counselling offers you the chance to have one hour a week to work through what is right for you. Where aren’t your needs being met? how can they be met? what support do you have or need, what options are open to you?

Often, in an abusive relationship, there isn’t any time in the day to consider what is right for you. Counselling will give you that time, that space and in a confidential environment. We can work together to strengthen your self-belief and to work out what is best for you. I have had many women say to me, “what’s the point of counselling? It can’t change what’s happened and there is no point going over and over old, painful stuff”. My answer to that is, you are right, we can’t change what has happened, and often talking through old traumas can re-traumatise and cause fresh anxiety. What we can do is work at your pace, work with what you want to bring but more importantly, allow you to have a voice, to be heard, to speak out and have clarity on what you want or need to help you move forwards.

In an abusive relationship, its easy to only focus on the negatives of what’s being told to you. Throw away comments like, “I never go out, I am scared of going out, I went to the shops briefly yesterday, but I’m rubbish and don’t go out.” My answer would be, “hang on, so you went out to the shops briefly yesterday? That’s huge, we need to look at that. You are telling yourself you are rubbish and don’t go out because you are scared. But you did it! You faced your fears and you went to the shops. What did it feel like? Did anything happen when you were at the shops?” We can look at things differently, with clarity, with hope and give you back what you feel you have lost. Confidence and yourself.