Therapy’s benefits are undeniable when questioning the healing process and whether it is actually beneficial for trauma and abuse victims long-term. Therapy is a tool, just like medication but instead of getting instant relief, you receive the guidance needed to gain strength, confidence and learn preventative information over time so you never have to see yourself in this situation ever again. Therapy has many benefits for victims of trauma including a better understanding of one’s feelings and validating them, learning signs for preventative measures and rebuilding confidence so you can move on with life. There are many forms of therapy such as group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (which I currently am trying out) and mindfulness-based therapy. Whichever you choose is up to you and your preferences as long as you take a leap of faith and try it out. Therapy is an ongoing process and you will not see many of its benefits right away. If abuse victims seek healing, they have to put in the work! You have to be focused, participate in communication and self-help “homework” that is assigned and allow yourself to be vulnerable in order to seek healing.
I have gone to therapy a few times and it has helped me so far to understand more of myself and why I react the way I do in situations, dependent on factors/situations that I’ve encountered in my past. It also helps me to analyze the shame I still feel to this day regarding the abusive situations I’ve had to deal with in my past. Walking around with shame can cause anxiety and depression and make you move through life like you are a shell of a person. It is not a fun time! You no longer feel like yourself but you so badly yearn to go back to the way life was before the abuse. That is not possible and this is why it is important to learn to cope with your symptoms and get help as soon as possible after experiencing trauma.
One reason therapy or counseling is important to a trauma victim is to understand their feelings and emotions so they can take the next step in the healing process. Also, validating these feelings and emotions can help promote self-confidence in oneself and the decision they chose to make to leave the situation behind. Abuse victims usually think that their feelings don’t make sense and tend to doubt them. This is why it is important to feel that validation from an unbiased outsider that isn’t involved in their everyday life.
Another reason therapy is required after experiencing trauma is to learn signs of abuse so the victim can diagnose their surroundings in the future and leave if necessary. In order to move on in life, you need to learn what is right and what is wrong. Being in an abusive relationship can muddy these interpretations and induce self-doubt. Therapy can teach you the behaviors to look out for in a relationship that exhibit signs of domestic violence. Some of these signs are: discouraging you from seeing family and friends, they insult, demean and shame you with put-downs and also control you to see where you go, what you do and who you see (“What is Domestic Violence” n.d.).
Another reason therapy is required after being in an abusive relationship is to rebuild your self-confidence and remind you of who you once were. Abuse survivors tend to try to please their partner and avoid the abuse by catering to their wants and needs and conforming to who they want you to be. Doing this, can make you lose yourself in the process of making the other person happy. Therapy can help you remember who you are and who you want to be after having experienced the abuse. It offers you a safe space to be who you want to be, say what you want to say and most importantly express your emotions and feelings without repercussions.
These are just some of the reasons why some form of therapy is important for an abuse survivor. Remember, therapy is not a magic pill, you will still have the emotions and feelings pertaining to the trauma you experienced but it will give you tips on how to rewire your brain and think differently about your situation so it no longer negatively affect you or hold you back in life.
**If you feel you are in an abusive relationship or experiencing some form of violence in the home, please contact the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)**
“What is Domestic Violence” (n.d). Retrieved on September 12, 2019 from https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/
*Originally written for Safe Harbor domestic violence non-profit blog: https://safeharborim.com/articles/