Domestic violence, rape, & molested
You may resonate with the domestic violence and sexual assault story below: As the person in the ABUSIVE relationship. As the child of the person in the ABUSIVE relationship. As the loved one of the person in the ABUSIVE relationship.
When you first met your partner, they were charming. They made you feel intensely desired. You never expected this would turn into an abusive relationship.
Once you were dating, they asked you not to spend time with someone. They didn’t like the way they looked at you. But you knew it was just because they were insecure. At first, their jealousy made you feel loved.
They said that they didn’t want you to work because they wanted to take care of you.
Then they said they wanted to take care of you by handling all of the money. Which made sense to you since most of it was theirs anyway.
Maybe you felt relieved not to have to work or worry about money. But then they started criticizing your purchases. And told you that you couldn’t afford things that you wanted while they bought themselves extravagant things.
Sometimes they’d say mean things. But they had a rough childhood so you were understanding.
When you got upset, they would say they didn’t mean it. And that you were being too sensitive. Or that you were overreacting to what was clearly a joke.
They very rarely apologized for their emotional abuse controlling behavior.
Eventually, they started to blame you. And say that they wouldn’t say those things if you just didn’t do the thing that pissed them off. Or didn’t trigger them.
You started to question whether you did do something wrong. And maybe you are too sensitive. Maybe you just misunderstood what they meant.
You stop doing anything you think might upset them because it’s just not worth the fight.
You don’t tell your friends what’s happened. They won’t understand. Plus, your partner is a private person. Maybe they even explicitly asked you not to tell anyone.
Your partner starts to say that they don’t want to hang out with your friends or family. They think your friends and family don’t like your partner. And you know it’s true so you agree.
Then they say they don’t feel comfortable with you hanging out with them either. They’re just going to turn you against them.
They say more mean things. Maybe they push you or throw something.
They tell you that if you tell anybody what happened, they’ll tell people about that thing you feel ashamed of doing, like drug use or who you had sex with.
One night they get so pissed that they hit you. Or they want sex and you say no, so they rape you.
You threaten to tell someone, but they respond that they’re going to hurt your family or your kids if you do.
Sometimes they apologize after they get really pissed and occasionally, they buy you gifts to make up for what they did.
Maybe they promise to get help or go to couples counseling. But they likely don’t follow through on that. At most, they go for one or two sessions. And then complain that the couples counselor is taking your side. If they go to individual therapy, they come home and tell you that their therapist says you are the one who is abusive.
You think about leaving, but they are your only support. You don’t have anywhere to go and you don’t have any money.
If you have kids, you want both parents to raise them. Or you’ve been protecting your kids from them. And you worry about what the other parent might do when they’re alone with them.
You remind yourself that other people have it worse. It’s not as bad as the childhood abuse you suffered or what happened in your last relationship. You tell yourself you should be grateful for that.
You think about seeking counseling in Colorado for domestic violence. But you’re afraid the counselor will take your kids away if you don’t leave.
Maybe you know that leaving an abusive relationship is when abusers are most likely to kill their partners. Abusers are often willing to do whatever they need to do in order to gain control again.
Maybe you’ve heard stories of parents killing their children after the other parent leaves them. And you know the courts are likely going to make your kids spend time with them because they’ve never directly hurt your kids.
Once you’ve left, you want to start to tell people what happened. But you’re ashamed of staying so long. And you’re worried you’ll look like the vindictive ex.
You’re worried people will blame you for not protecting your kids.
You blame yourself for what happened in your relationship.
You should have noticed the signs of an abusive relationship.
Why didn’t you leave when you did notice abusive relationship signs?
You should have left sooner.
Do you have a sign on your forehead that tells people you would be a good victim?
Not all sexual assaults happen within an intimate relationship. For you, it might have been a coworker, a boss, someone you went on a date with, a neighbor, a friend, or a friend of a friend. Most rapes are done by someone you know.
I call it sexual assault rather than rape. For most people, rape refers to someone sticking their penis into your vagina without your consent. For others, it means someone sticking their penis into your anus without your consent. Sexual assault refers to the wide variety of sexual activities done to another person without their consent. Consent is basically where you agree to participate in something.
This might be someone grabbing your breast or butt in a club. Someone masturbating on a bus where you can see. Sticking their penis in your mouth. Sticking objects into your mouth, vagina, or anus. Making you masturbate them. Making you masturbate while they watch. Masturbating against or near your body.
This does not include the other more subtle forms of sexual abuse, including sexual harassment. Making comments about your body. Making comments about other people’s bodies. Talking about sex in front of you. Watching porn in front of you. Being naked. Touching you in uncomfortable ways. Talking about who they want to have sex with. Repeatedly asking you for sex. Complaining about not having sex.
Now, there are legal definitions of these things for when you want to press charges. Some of these things are illegal. Some aren’t. I can help you figure out if you want to press charges and if it’s possible to do so. If you don’t want to do so, I will absolutely support you in that as well.
Most people use the word molested when a child is repeatedly raped or sexually assaulted. Most kids are molested by someone they know. Often a trusted adult. Such as a teacher, babysitter, family member. Sometimes by another child who is a friend or family member.
I work with many parents who were molested. We often discuss how to protect their children without scaring them.
My basic coaching is to teach your children that they can tell any adult they trust, any time anybody, child or adult, touches them in ways they don’t feel comfortable with.
I want kids to tell any adult because they may not want to tell their parents. Perpetrators threaten to hurt parents. Or tell kids that nobody will believe them. And kids want to protect their parents.
I make sure to include people of all ages.
I make sure to say, even if it’s me or your other parent. Because kids get molested by their parents as well.
I teach any time they are touched in ways they don’t feel comfortable with. Because perpetrators often start with more subtle touching that’s not on “bathing suit areas.”
For some children, I also teach them to talk to a trusted adult if someone tells the child to touch them in ways that makes the child uncomfortable.
The best way to protect kids is to teach them consent and respect their consent. For example, ask them before hugging them. Don’t force them to give hugs when they don’t want to do so.
How I know my shit when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault
have a shit ton of intergenerational trauma in my family that includes domestic violence, sexual abuse, alcoholism, and drug abuse. I’ve been the victim in abusive relationships. And I’ve learned how to create healthy relationships, including my current partnership.
I worked solely with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault for the first 10 years of my career. I saw a lot of criminal trials, protection order hearings, divorce hearings, and child custody hearings. Later, I provided counseling to families who were court ordered to treatment by child protective services.
At one job, my office window overlooked the parking lot. So I would guess who would end up in my courtroom as a victim and who would be a perpetrator. I was disturbingly good at this guessing game because I could see differences in the way they moved or looked at people.
As the children’s advocate at my first job, it was my responsibility to do all of the child abuse reports. And educate all of the parents about the impact of witnessing domestic violence on their children.
Parent after parent would tell me “Oh, the kids were sleeping.” Or “we always argue in the bedroom so the kids don’t see it.”
Child after child that I did counseling with told me “Oh, I watch from the top of the stairs.” Or “I can hear them screaming through the bedroom door whenever they fight.”
Many were anxious all day while at school. They worried their parent would get hurt at home while they weren’t there to protect them. It is difficult to explain to a child that they can’t protect their parent or they all might get hurt worse.
When I provided grief groups for children, I could spot children who were being abused long before other therapists. I recognized the signs of abuse more quickly because I had seen what it looked like.
It’s not your fault that you’ve been a victim of domestic violence or rape
Now, the standard party line amongst domestic violence counselors and sexual assault counselors is to tell you that it’s not your fault. And you couldn’t have done anything to prevent the abuse. I find this horribly disempowering unless you were a child at the time it occurred.
You are probably allowing things early in your interactions with someone that tells them you won’t say no when you need to. And that you’ll stay in spite of their bad behavior.
Now, if they hit you on your first date, you’re probably smart enough to end things there. Yes, I have actually heard a story where someone punched someone on their first date.
Abuse is typically more subtle and gradual than that though. Which is why it works as a control tactic for the abuser to get what they want from you. They only use the level of coercive control that they need to get what they want in that moment.
Why hit you if a glare is going to get them what they want?
You absolutely can make yourself more safe by learning when and how to say no. And recognizing when it’s safe to say yes. You absolutely can create safe and healthy relationships with good people. Counseling for domestic violence in Colorado can help you learn how to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship. So you can walk away before you get hurt.
Domestic violence counseling online in Colorado and sexual assault counseling online in Colorado
Online counseling for domestic violence is just as effective as in person domestic violence counseling. Online rape therapy is just as effective as in person sexual trauma counseling. We can still use CBT to help you feel safer in the world. Use somatic therapy techniques to help heal the trauma in your body. And do sound therapy to help you feel calmer.
It can be hard to find the right therapist who you won’t have to see in your neighborhood. Online therapy gives you a lot more choices.
You’ll potentially be exposed to fewer things that freak you out. Such as other people. It can feel a lot safer to talk to someone who isn’t in the same room with you. While you have the things in your home that help you feel calm. Such as your pets or your favorite blankie. Also, you get to control how much of you I can look at. Which might help you feel calmer.
“Love is giving someone the power to hurt you but trusting him/her not to.”
-John Albert Halili
Serving the Denver Metro Area, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Boulder, Grand Junction, Greeley, Pueblo and the entire state with online therapy in Colorado. I do not see clients at my home-based office located in Bailey, CO.