Healing from Domestic Violence can be an arduous task. Not long ago, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN made some insensitive, uninformed, and ignorant statements about domestic violence as it pertained to a story about Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice.  When another ESPN anchor, Michelle Beadle, challenged him, Smith fired back a Twitter apology, a “sorry not sorry” type apology, to Beadle.  Just days later, when Rice walked on the field during training, he received a standing ovation from Ravens fans.

Unfortunately, this type of reaction mirrors the same kinds of responses those who experience domestic violence receive every day. The type of support a victim of domestic violence receives is incredibly important, whether this is immediately following a physical or sexual attack, or during years of verbal, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse.  Given that approximately 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, it’s safe to assume each and every one of us knows at least one victim.

Because an abuser maintains power and control through any means, a victim will need much more than counseling.  He or she may need financial assistance, affordable housing (sometimes emergency safe house), vocational training and assistance, childcare, and legal assistance.  Many individuals fall through the cracks, and oftentimes lack the emotional and physical support needed from friends and family.  Those closest to a victim may become tired of the “back and forth”, not understanding that it can take a victim leaving their abuser anywhere from 7-13 times before she finally leaves for good.

There are many resources available in New Jersey, and in Bergen County, we have great programs to provide that immediate support before, during, and after someone has decided to take that brave step and leave an abusive relationship.  Alternatives to Domestic Violence provides non-residential group counseling, support, legal advocacy, and batterer intervention groups.  Shelter Our Sisters provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, a children’s program, and other services.  Whether it’s you or someone you love that needs help, remember that you are not alone.

One of the best things a victim of domestic violence can have is an informal support network.  Believe in a victim and educate yourself on this topic before making a judgment or turning your back on him or her.  Reinforce options, do not tell them what to do or impose your personal beliefs or choices on them.  Empowerment is key.  Ask if they have considered talking to a professional, and respect their decision if they choose not to.  Express your concern for them and their safety.  Do not coerce or manipulate them into taking action.  Be there.  Listen.  And when they are ready, guess what?  They’ll turn to YOU in their time of need.

Once out of an abusive relationship, individuals often need long-term support and counseling to deal with the impact of living with and experiencing abuse.  Speaking to someone in a safe, confidential environment who understands the dynamics of domestic violence without judgment or blame is key.  At Specialized Therapy Associates, we have several therapists on staff who have the experience needed to help you or your loved one heal from this trauma.  Contact us via the web or call us at 201-488-6678 to speak with an intake counselor to schedule an appointment. We can help you with Healing from Domestic Violence.