Domestic violence counseling in Charlotte, NC

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There are many reasons people seek counseling for domestic violence.

Maybe you’re in a relationship that makes you feel fearful, isolated, or helpless but you don’t know what to do about it.

Perhaps you’re ready to stop blaming yourself for your partner’s behaviors, or believing you deserve to be mistreated.

Or it could be that you’ve recently left an unsafe relationship and you’re interested in restoring your self-worth and sense of empowerment.

While domestic violence can create feelings of embarrassment and shame that often make it difficult to seek help, we believe that everyone deserves safe and healthy relationships.

At Modern Era, our domestic violence counselors are here to meet you exactly where you are. It’s normal to feel afraid or overwhelmed when you find yourself in an abusive relationship, which is why we’re here to support you every step of the way.

What is domestic violence?

Identifying a cycle of abuse when you’re living through it can be incredibly difficult. Abusive behaviors and the shame they create can easily lead you to think that your partner’s behavior is normal. Thoughts like “well, don’t all couples fight” or “at least they didn’t hit me” are common—and can stand in the way of you getting the help you need and deserve.

When you’re in an abusive relationship, getting help begins with knowing what domestic violence is.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as:

“The willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”

Domestic violence includes:

  • Physical violence,
  • Sexual violence,
  • Psychological violence, OR
  • Emotional abuse (e.g. name-calling, threats, possessiveness, distrust)

How common is domestic violence?

While feelings of shame and embarrassment are common feelings when you’re experiencing domestic violence, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It is estimated that more than 10 million U.S. adults experience domestic violence annually.

Does domestic violence always involve physical violence?

Physical violence is not the only form of domestic violence.

Domestic violence can also be identified by how power and control is distributed in your relationship. The Domestic Abuse Prevention Project created a wheel that illustrates the many ways in which power and control is maintained in a relationship. Below is a gender-neutral adaptation of the model, as domestic violence occurs to individuals in all communities.

power and control wheel for DV

Typically, abusive behaviors escalate gradually over time and can result in physical and emotional injury, or, in severe cases, death.

What are the signs of domestic violence?

Domestic violence can occur in any relationship, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Domestic violence can also take many forms, and the signs can vary depending on the situation. 

Some common signs of domestic violence include:

  • Physical signs: bruises, cuts, broken bones, black eyes, and other injuries
  • Emotional signs: anxiety, depression, fear, shame, low self-esteem, isolation, and feelings of helplessness
  • Behavioral signs: a partner who is controlling, jealous, possessive, and exhibits other signs of an abusive relationship
  • Sexual signs: coerced or forced sexual activity, sexual harassment, or unwanted sexual advances
  • Financial signs: withholding money or resources, preventing the survivor from working, or controlling the survivor’s finances

Other tell-tale signs of domestic violence include:

  • Physical signs: bruises, cuts, broken bones, black eyes, and other injuries
  • Emotional signs: anxiety, depression, fear, shame, low self-esteem, isolation, and feelings of helplessness
  • Behavioral signs: a partner who is controlling, jealous, possessive, and exhibits other signs of an abusive relationship
  • Sexual signs: coerced or forced sexual activity, sexual harassment, or unwanted sexual advances
  • Financial signs: withholding money or resources, preventing the survivor from working, or controlling the survivor’s finances

How does counseling for domestic violence help?

Whether you are in a domestic violence relationship currently or have experienced domestic violence in the past, mental health counseling can help. At Modern Era, we take a holistic, trauma-informed treatment approach to help you process and heal from intimate partner violence.

Early on, we will work together to create and enact a personalized safety plan. We will surround you with community resources and supports as you exit your relationship safely and at your pace.

From there, we will begin to process your experiences and understand how they impacted you. We will reduce their power so that you can live with more peace and freedom. You will learn skills to cope with difficult emotions and improve your self-esteem.

It is also important to develop tools that will support your wellbeing in future partnerships. This means you will learn to identify healthy relationships, set appropriate boundaries, and ask for what you need from others without guilt or shame.

At the end of counseling we want you to leave feeling confident in your ability to:

  • Build and maintain healthy partnerships
  • Identify relationship red flags. In other words, recognize when people are using fear, shame, and other tactics to gain power and control
  • Set healthy and appropriate boundaries
  • Communicate assertively
  • Practice self-advocacy
  • Feel empowered in your decision-making

Domestic Violence Counseling FAQs

As mental health counselors, we will always do our best to create safe, encouraging, and validating spaces to talk about hard things. We understand you as fully human – not as the sum of your experiences.

Further, we will help you create a plan to safely exit unsafe relationships and spaces. We offer an empathetic approach because we understand how difficult it can be to leave. We will also connect you with community resources and local advocacy groups to provide additional support along the way. Finally, we will stick with you from beginning to end. We are not just present when things get tough; we’re here to aid in your progress and celebrate your healing.

Counseling can empower you to advocate for yourself and leave an abusive relationship. It can arm you with the tools to do this safely and the skills to cope with difficult emotions that will likely come up. It takes, on average, 7 attempts for a survivor to permanently leave an abusive relationship. The power of fear and emotional abuse is strong, but seeking out counseling can make leaving feel more attainable and help you reclaim the life you deserve.

Trust is an important component of any healthy relationship, including your relationship with your counselor. At Modern Era, our counselors follow the ACA Code of Ethics (2014), which mandates that counselors “protect the confidential information of prospective and current clients” and “disclose information only with appropriate consent or with sound legal or ethical justification.”

This means that your conversations with your counselor remain private and confidential unless you offer them explicit consent to share this information, or a legal exception to confidentiality applies. Counselor’s must disclose confidential information in a few scenarios, including the following:

  • You pose an immediate danger to yourself or someone else;
  • There is reason to believe a minor or vulnerable adult is being abused or neglected; or
  • A court-ordered subpoena is served to obtain your mental health records and/or your counselor’s testimony.

The purpose of these exceptions to confidentiality is to protect you or others from harm.

The length of time in which clients see meaningful growth and change often varies. At Modern Era, we want counseling to move at a pace that feels comfortable and safe for you. It is important to emphasize, though, that change does not happen overnight. It is likely that you would meet with your therapist for 6-8 sessions at minimum. Additionally, therapy sessions range in frequency, but starting with weekly meetings is typically recommended. 

If you are in immediate danger, you can always call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). This 24/7 hotline offers anonymous, confidential help to individuals in abusive relationships.

Safe Alliance is a local non-profit organization that offers a Victim Assistance Legal Representation Program. Through this program, pro bono lawyers can help you understand your legal options, represent you in court, and advocate for your current needs. Safe Alliance advocates can accompany you in court, educate you about relevant legal processes, offer crisis intervention and safety planning services, and work with you to complete a domestic violence protective order application. Our domestic violence counselors can help you navigate and connect with these resources based on your situation and readiness.

When you’re experiencing domestic violence, it’s very common to feel paralyzed by fear. By leaning on your inner strength and reminding yourself that you deserve to be safe and to heal, you can take the courageous step of getting the help you deserve.

Ready to get the support you deserve?

Call us at 704-800-4436 or click the button below to schedule a first session with one of our domestic violence therapists today.

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