Domestic Violence


    • Are you currently in a relationship with someone who subjects you to physical, emotional, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse? 
    • Do you live in an environment where you are exposed to domestic violence and are afraid that something may happen to you? 
    • Have you ever been threatened? Are you being stalked? Has anyone who you are in a relationship with or have been in a relationship with ever tried to stop your breathing by strangling you, which you may know as “choking”?
    • Did you know that the laws related to domestic violence and intimate partner violence related criminal and civil law vary state to state and even within the state?
    • Did you know that domestic violence is not just between a man and a woman who are in a romantic or intimate relationship?
    • Would you like to talk with someone about how to recover from domestic violence, intimate partner violence, treatment programs for offenders, and even expert witness testimony or consultation for victims, offenders, and people who accused of domestic violence? 


Greater than 95% of my clients have reported to me that they have experienced domestic violence or intimate partner violence at some point in their lives, which includes victims and offenders. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence publishes a National Statistics Domestic Violence Fact Sheet, while these numbers are alarming, the numbers may actually be low. 


Domestic violence, in general, means physical, emotional, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse between one person and another, which has a goal of power and control over the victim. In general, the victim may not even notice that they are in a relationship with an abuser at the beginning and the abuser may not even intend to start it that way, however that’s not always the case, particularly in cases related to Intimate Partner Violence. The term “domestic”, however implies that the person must be living with the other person, such as in the case of a boyfriend or girlfriend, which some state laws when it comes to criminal charges, in order for it to be considered a domestic violence related charge, that is the case because there is no family relationship or cohabitation. However, civil law, as it pertains to an order of protection may be viewed differently.

Trauma-informed psychotherapy, which focuses on the trauma that you have experienced as a result of the abuse, combined with learning about safety planning, power and control, and domestic violence will help protect you. Other methods may need to be used based on your unique and specific needs. 


Intimate Partner Violence is similar to domestic violence, but the main distinguishing feature, is that the language has changed to draw attention to the fact that this type of violence typically occurs between two people who are in a “romantic” or “intimate” relationship. These individuals refer to the other as boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse even if they are not living together or have never lived together, even if they may have plans to do so someday. Criminal law, civil law, and even common knowledge or common sense don’t always agree on what would constitute an “intimate partner”. 

Trauma-informed psychotherapy is generally used in the same manner, but because victims of domestic violence and even offenders are not always given social justice because of differences in the laws, other methods may be used to help them recover or learn due to a double-trauma. 


As a Catholic (Christian), I am afraid to leave my spouse because of the Sacrament of Marriage and I have even been told by my priest to do everything that I can to save this marriage. How do you work within the Catholic faith to help someone like me?

Christ and His Holy Catholic Church do not condone abuse in any way, shape, or form and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued statements on this topic, which have been updated several times to be even more clear. Therefore, any priest who tells you that it is your responsibility to do everything you can to “save the marriage” is just as guilty as your spouse for any abuse that you experience from now on. Many women who are in abusive relationships run a high risk being killed when they leave their abuser or seek help from the legal system.

My experience and my Catholic faith are what will help you because I have been through the worst of the worst with some of my clients. I will not do marriage counseling with you and your spouse, and I strongly advise against you seeking marriage counseling with your spouse. I also cannot serve as your therapist and an expert witness because it is unethical. 

I am a Catholic, but I am not active in the Church. I am an abuser. I have abused my wife for many years, and I continue to do so. Even our now adult children witnessed it. My wife recently left me for another man, filed for an order of protection, and has filed for divorce. What can I do?  

You make several contradictory statements, which I think would be a very good starting point for us in psychotherapy and as part of a batterer’s intervention program. For example, you say that you are a Catholic, but you are not active in the Church, which suggests that you are not actually a practicing Catholic. You also identify as an abuser because you have a history of having abused your wife who has now left you, yet you say that you continue to abuse her, which suggests that you don’t intend to stop or that you still see yourself as incapable of being different. Problems with “identity” can be one way that people resist change because they identify with the “worst” times in their lives.

You cannot control your wife, but you can decide to learn new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving and understanding how you got where you are today as part of participating in psychotherapy or spiritual counseling. Depending on your individual needs, forgiveness therapy and a batterer’s intervention program may also be used.   

My wife is the problem. She’s the one who provokes me to do all that I do. She doesn’t understand that other people like her mother and my father are getting in the way of our relationship. She wants to work and she’s getting in the way of me doing what I want to do for work. Please tell her to stop! 

I certainly understand what it feels like when someone is getting in the way of me doing what I want to do. The trouble is though, it would be faulty thinking on my part if I were to think that I could or even should tell them not to do it and to allow myself to be provoked into anger. It would never turn out well. Blaming another person for provoking you into doing all that you do suggests that either you are the offender or that your spouse is abusing you and the relationship is so unsafe, that you need to do something that doesn’t involve violence, to make it safer for both of you. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE.


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