QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Traumatic Stress

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I have looked all over the Internet for information about being an abuser, and can't find anything. I am looking for a way to stop abusing my girlfriend, and causing her pain. If you have any information that can help me in this matter I would appreciate it. I love my girlfriend very much and if I don't get some help, I'll lose her.

Answer

You are to be commended to do the first big step and that is to reach out for help. Your frustration in trying to find resources mirrors the problem in the field. You'll have to explore until you find something that fits your needs, but here are some places to start:

First, the reason why you abuse is unique to who you are and what your life history has been. Most abusers do not want to abuse and are indeed embarrassed and shocked not only at their own behavior but by the reactions of their loved ones. It is truly very confusing to all ("if I love this person how come I abuse them?"). General answers may not identify the individual triggers, intents and the skills needed to correct an abusive relationship. Therefore, selecting a mental health professional that is experienced in this area is very important and highly recommended.

Check the resources listed in the Trauma Department for more information. Agencies identified for victims will frequently have referral information for abusers.

In addition, a program that has been a major force in training facilitators to provide educational groups for men who abuse is the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project 218-722-2781. Ask for their program in your area.

The other contact in the Trauma Department resource list is the National Domestic Violence Hot line 800-799-SAFE, ask for programs for abusers in your area here also.

What our research seems to show is that abuse frequently doesn't occur one time, but is part of an ongoing pattern that without help, doesn't go away. You are wise in knowing that you need help.

3/12/98

Connie Saindon, M.A., MFT, has been a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist since 1979. In addition to providing services for Individuals, couples and families, Ms. Saindon is among the few specialists in the field of violent death bereavement. Founder the Survivors of Violent Death Program and volunteer faculty at the University of California Medical School Department of Psychiatry, she is author of The Journey, Violent Death Bereavement: Adult Survivors Workbook and contributing author of Violent Death: Resilience and Intervention beyond the Crisis. To reach her, please see this page.

 

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