Healing from Domestic Abuse
What’s Empathy Have to Do With Healing
from Domestic Violence?
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
What’s empathy got to do with healing domestic abuse injury? Everything. Domestic abuse healing is much like healing other social trauma and psychological injury.
It all starts with attention. When you are seen and heard by another, you open onto yourself and through that attention, healing begins.
All too often domestic abuse survivors endure years of frustration and bottled-up pain. Their experience falls on deaf ears with the person from whom they seek attention—their battering intimate partner. There can be repeated failed attempts to share their emotional wounds...leaving their loneliness and injury intact.
When another person steps into that pain with them, something shifts by the mere fact that it draws their attention to what they, too, have repressed. And with this, the shield covering the wound lifts...the false faces fade...and transformation begins.
We think of empathy as the capacity to experience another from their point of experience (simplistically stated). When another person listens to your pain and steps into the point of pain with you, the process deepens.
What domestic abuse survivors are more accustomed to is hearing that their pain is not real...it is unwarranted, unjustified and unnecessary. And so feeling it is deemed ridiculous.
However, when another person stands with you in your experience of an old or new injury, you walk through it. Its many facets become available to you...and your experiencing of yourself deepens.
So, what does empathy have to do with healing from domestic abuse? Everything. It is through the experiential attention that the perspective shifts and healing occurs.
Central to the practice of Restorative Justice is the routine in which the perpetrator attentively listens to the victim’s experience of their injury...through which empathy and healing occur. Survivors having this opportunity note the positive impact it has on them.
Healing You and Your Relationship
In domestic abuse counseling, couples cultivate habits of empathy and this supports ongoing communication. Invariably, those that gain the most from domestic abuse therapy are the couples who learn to effortlessly empathize with each other’s experience.
If you are stuck in your domestic abuse injury and can’t move beyond the pain, seek empathy from another to inspire your healing. If your relationship is stuck in the cycle of abuse, consider cultivating relationship empathy as a cornerstone to healing. It will amaze you to discover how this skill of relationship empathy fosters you and your partner’s mutual trust and respect.
For more information about healing relationship abuse, visit www.preventabusiverelationships.com/spousal_abuse_tx.php and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
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.