It is relatively easy to find support for survivors of abuse, whether emotional, verbal, physical, or all of the above. A quick Google search reveals hundreds of thousands of resources, ranging from online forums, informative videos, and survivor mentoring to in-person support groups, one-on-one counseling, and practical assistance to help survivors start over safely.
Those who have recognized their own abusive tendencies or behavior, however, have to dig a little deeper to get help. That's why we've rounded up a couple of promising avenues for people who want to stop hurting their partners.
Address the Underlying Issues
Intimate partner violence doesn't occur in a vacuum, of course. In many situations, the abuser is themselves a survivor of (or were once a witness to) domestic violence or dysfunctional relationships, including parent-child ones. What's more, plenty of people who exhibit abusive propensities struggle with poor mental health, addiction to drugs or alcohol, or both.
Although it may be daunting, the first step toward working through your aggressive, harmful behavior is to address the root causes. For some, this may mean going to rehab or embarking on a 12-Step program; for others, it could be intensive one-on-one counseling augmented by group therapy. A number of therapeutic modalities are successful in addressing childhood trauma or addiction issues, which means that although there's hard work ahead, there's also every reason to believe you'll find an effective approach.
The Duluth Model
The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, aka the Duluth Model, works from the assumption that domestic violence has cultural and psychosocial roots rather than being a byproduct of mental illness. It uses visual tools—a “Power and Control Wheel” and an “Equality Wheel”—to view patterns of abusive behavior arising from a patriarchal social system in which men hold power over women.
One advantage of the Duluth Model is its collaborative approach that looks to the community—law enforcement, lawmakers, courts, support organizations, and educational media—for solutions to the problem.
A distinct disadvantage, however, is its specificity to heterosexual relationships in which male partners are the abusers and women the victims. It's very premise falls apart when it's applied to couples that don't fit traditional roles of gender or sexual identity.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One of the most effective therapeutic models in use today for a variety of people and their problems is CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. It asks the individual to identify learned behaviors and thought processes. When CBT is applied to IPV offenders, it focuses on the violent, controlling behaviors surrounding acts of abuse. It equips them with the practical tools and cognitive skills needed to regulate their anger, rethink abusive acts before they occur, and reimagine the relationship dynamics.
CBT's main disadvantage is that it's not a quick or easy process; it relies on the patient's commitment to change and willingness to make the often-difficult effort. On the plus side, it can be extremely effective and will likely help you transform not just your relationships but other areas of your life as well.
Have you begun to notice that some of your actions and attitudes toward your partner aren't as healthy as they could be? Do you want to address those before your behavior escalates into violence, or does so much emotional damage that the relationship is doomed? Maybe you've already crossed the line and are dealing with the repercussions, such as a Protection from Abuse order filed by your partner.
If the latter has already occurred, don't give up on yourself. People can and do change. You can use your mistake as a catalyst for change and build up your relationship to be stronger than ever before. Although you can't change your past actions, you can acquire the tools to rewrite your future.
The Lento Law Firm can help. Of course, we can't provide you with therapy, but we can take the weight of your legal troubles off your shoulders—so that you can concentrate on making a fresh start. Give us a call at 888-535-3686 or contact us here to discuss your case and learn how we can assist you.