My counseling experience includes nine years at a non-profit agency that offered shelter and counseling to those who suffered domestic abuse and/or sexual assault. When I first started at the agency, I was doing my internship for my Master’s degree in counseling. I was apprehensive about my ability to help those clients who would be assigned to me. Who was I to think I had the answers for so many who were suffering at the hands of an intimate partner? I was thrown into the deep end of the pool when I was given the role of counselor for the shelter. I got to see up close and personal what it was like for victims and their children also, to be uprooted with no safe place to go except the shelter, facing a myriad of obstacles and fears about the future. The shelter staff worked diligently to assist these women and their children to maintain some degree of order in their lives. Basic needs were met such as food, shelter, and clothing, as well as those needs that went beyond basic, which included assistance with legal issues and safety issues, as well as personal counseling. I came to see these shelter residents as women of great courage and stamina. I was changed by my experience of working with them, offering them counseling and support.
In time, I was given the role of Director of Family Violence services at the agency’s outreach office. My experience there included providing counseling to male victims as well as female victims of domestic abuse. The work was hard and exhausting but also rewarding. I knew I might be the only person my client had ever experienced as kind, safe, and trustworthy. I felt privileged to have been a part of the client’s life, and there are clients I still remember and wonder how and where they are.
There is an abundance of educational material available on the subject of domestic abuse such as what is it, who does it affect, why do people abuse their partners, the effects of domestic abuse, the cycle of violence, staying safe when leaving an abusive relationship, and therapy for adults and children who have been affected by domestic abuse. An excellent source for information can be found at http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/domestic-violence
Please contact me if you would like more information or have questions. I look forward to talking with you.