Domestic Violence Counseling – Breaking the Cycle of Abuse Is a Conscious Choice
That Abusers Can Make

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Some people will tell you that abusers are “mean” people. But, often they are hurt people without the awareness of their pain or the skills to deal with their feelings in a way that is personally satisfying and relationship-enhancing.

Striking another person doesn’t really feel good to batterers even though they may show a sense of pleasure in and over their assault. And the net result of their abusive behaviors destroys relationships.

Domestic Violence Counseling Reveals the Choice to Be Abusive or Not

What can your abusive partner do in the place of striking you physically, emotionally or verbally when that urge to do so overcomes him? This is a common question that abusers ask in domestic violence therapy.

Early on they may grasp that their hurtful actions arise out of their feeling vulnerable. The automatic and reflexive abusive innuendo, gesture, commentary or physical blow shifts the energy, keeping the abuser’s pain at bay.

Oftentimes he may not even realize he is doing it...until brought to his attention by his partner or the domestic abuse intervention therapist. Once he becomes aware of his hurtful actions, the question becomes: “How can I stop that?” “I don’t want to hurt her.”

Feelings and Needs Underneath the Abusive Behavior

When we walk an interaction backwards, we can find the feeling that preceded the abusive action. And this feeling has an accompanying unmet need.

Part of the work of domestic abuse therapy is to help the batterer identify and express these feelings and the unmet needs. From here, he can learn alternative behaviors that enhance the relationship instead of destroying it.

Non-abusive Actions that Express Unmet Needs Enhance Relationships

The goal is to find an action that helps him fulfill the unmet need without violating the other person. The net result of such an action makes him feel better and makes the relationship deeper, stronger and more satisfying for both people.

If you are in an abusive relationship, seek to find appropriate domestic violence counseling to help your partner acquire non-abusive interaction habits that enhance rather than destroy your relationship.

For moreinformation about domestic violence counseling, visit Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps couples nationwide recognize, end and heal from spousal emotional abuse. Copyright 2010 Jeanne King, Ph.D. - Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

This series of eInsights is presented to you by Partners in Prevention, a nonprofit organization. If you find this eInsight article useful, we invite you to contribute to the maintenance and growth of the Survivor Success Tips & eInsights. To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.