Abuse is the systematic misuse of power over another human being in order to exert and maintain control. Both the perpetrator and the victim are harmed by the shame, isolation, and damage to self-worth that abuse generates. Most commonly women and children suffer the brunt of the impact of domestic violence; physically and economically they are often more vulnerable, and North American men are socialized to be tough and use violence more readily. Children who witness a parent being abused by an intimate partner experience trauma and confusing messages about what love is supposed to look like.
I help abuse victims to recognize the danger signs of an unhealthy relationship, and to develop plans to manage their safety if they choose to remain with their partners. Even short-term abusive relationships can leave a victim with post-traumatic stress symptoms that severely compromise his or her ability to function effectively. Counseling can help to bring the autonomic nervous system back into balance, and to foster the skills for healthy relationships based on respect, love, and equality.
I also work with clients when there are challenges with co-parenting after separation. It is not uncommon to see abusive partners continue to exert control over their spouses after separation either through conflicts over custody, or through ongoing litigation abuse. It is important to know that you do not have to go through these challenges alone.