Women’s Center Update: Is couples counseling for me?
Domestic violence stretches across all social and economic borders in our society. The unfortunate truth is that someone you know has either been affected by domestic violence in one way or another, or knows someone who has. Domestic violence is more common than we want to believe.
When someone is experiencing emotional, verbal or physical abuse, they are inclined to seek help and assistance from someone they know and trust. If someone belongs to a church or other type of organization, they may seek the help from a guidance counselor or a church counselor. Many times victims of domestic violence are made to feel this problem is partly their fault and therefore seek couples counseling.
The truth is, when someone is abusive, controlling and intimidating, it’s not a “couples” problem. This behavioral trait in someone means that they need help, help with controlling their anger and help with resolving conflicts without using violence and abuse. If this person also has drug and/or alcohol issues, then they must seek help with those issues as well. Domestic violence and substance abuse often coincide. However, they are separate issues. If someone receives treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse, they would still need further assistance learning to control their anger and resolve conflicts in a healthy way.
Couples counseling can be very dangerous for the person who is being abused. A person who is beaten, intimidated and controlled isn’t free to have open dialog in a counseling session without jeopardizing their safety. Issues that are discussed in counseling could prompt a violent confrontation or altercation afterwards, leading to further abuse to the victim. “Couples counseling” also implies that the problem is within the relationship and it’s not.
California state law, (PC 1203.097) mandates that any person who has been court ordered to attend Batterer’s Treatment classes may not participate in any form of couples counseling because of the high risk of danger to the victim. The Women’s Center offers individual counseling and a supportive group for victims of domestic violence separate from Batterer’s Treatment classes offered for those who are abusive to their partners.
If you or someone you know needs more information regarding this issue, please feel free to call our office at (530) 544-2118 or our 24-hour confidential crisis line at (530) 544-4444. We are here to help and you are not alone! The South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center is located at 2941 Lake Tahoe Blvd., across from South Tahoe Middle School next to the fire station. Our building is financed by a low-cost loan through the Rural Community Assistance Corp.
– Jennifer Kline is a court advocate at the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center.