I make reference throughout the site on how important it is to find a couples therapist who is familiar with abuse issues. Patricia Evans1 has been particularly vocal on this issue as well in her books, making reference to uneducated counselors blaming the victim, etc.
The American Psychological Association agrees! See the APA article here . They recognize that ordinary counseling is likely to harm the victim by not focusing on the abuse issues; that a traditional focus may in fact escalate the violence. They suggest that psychologists be trained in abuse and routinely conduct initial interviews that screen for family violence.
This is a huge step in the right direction. But, it still falls short. Violence is addressed, but, the invisible broken bones of emotional and verbal abuse are not addressed! While domestic violence begins with verbal and emotional abuse, verbal and emotional abuse do not always escalate to violence! Yet, the the psychological and interactional dynamics in violent abuse cases are exactly the same as those in non-violent abuse cases! Both violent and non-violent forms of abuse need to be treated with the same emphasis on stopping the abuse and in correcting the balance of power.
Case in Point: Recently I answered a private email from a woman in traditional couples counseling. She described numerous clear cut instances of emotional and verbal abuse. However:
The good news is that word is spreading. The rest of the good news is that with the advent of the internet, abuse issues are being addressed - and people who suspect abuse have somewhat of a forum to validate or refute their suspicions. I really hope the woman who wrote me got the point - and stopped blaming herself!
I want to read the posts.
Evans, Patricia1 . The Verbally Abusive Relationship .