Dealing with Domestic Violence

Violence, Abuse, Troubled Home Life, PTSD
Curated By
Keiko McCullough

Keiko McCullough is a doctoral student at Indiana University Bloomington studying Counseling Psychology. Keiko graduated summa cum laude from the University of Akron with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2015. Her research interests, broadly, focus on the intersections of race, gender, and new media. She additionally studies men of color and masculinities, Asian American mental health, positive psychology, and feminist issues.

They Might Be Thinking:

  • I don’t feel safe with my partner, but there are periods of time where it gets better.
  • Sometimes I think about leaving, but how would I support myself? Where would I go?
  • I truly believe things will improve. 
  • I can forgive my partner for what they have done.
  • There are a lot of things I like about my partner that I don’t want to lose.
  • I’ve been with this person for X years, I have no idea what life would be like without them.
  • My partner isn’t a bad person, they just do bad things. Sometimes, it is my fault. 
  • I’m really scared about what my partner will do if I try to leave.
  • I can’t tell anyone about this. 
  • What would happen to our kids if I left? 

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • Call 911 if you feel threatened or domestic abuse hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • You’re in a really difficult situation. There are a lot of things happening and I can see how you might feel stressed/overwhelmed/etc. 
  • Given that you have been dealing with all of this at home, I think it’s very impressive that you’ve still accomplished X, Y, and Z.
  • Situations like this are complex, and there isn’t any easy solution. There are a lot of factors at play and I will not judge any choice you make. 
  • (If they ask you for help or seek help from others) I think your ability to ask for help from others and receive it is an incredible strength.
  • Thank you for sharing this with me. I can imagine it would be really hard to talk about this with someone else. 
  • Let’s take things one step at a time. If you would like my help, we can talk through everything together. 
  • If I were in your situation, I would probably also feel frightened/confused/ashamed/unsure/etc. You’re doing the best you can, and how you’re feeling makes perfect sense. 
  • I know some people might jump and say “you should leave” after learning about this, but I know it isn’t that simple. 
  • I appreciate you trusting me with this knowledge. I will not tell anyone about this unless you grant me permission. 
  • I know it might feel like you aren’t doing things well enough or handling the situation in the “correct” way, but I can see how much you are really trying every day. 

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • You should leave your partner. Clearly this is abuse.
  • Why do you stay in this harmful relationship? Why do you do this to yourself?
  • Are you crazy? Clearly you need to get out of this relationship - fast. 
  • You always pick partners like this. 
  • Are you sure what happened between you two wasn’t just an accident?
  • You’re lying. [Name of partner] would never do something like that. 
  • You have to get out of this relationship. Think about your kids. 
  • Go to the police and have them sort everything out!
  • I always knew [name of partner] was a terrible person. 
  • Maybe you should just stay with your partner. I don’t know if you can do any better. 
  • Why do you attract crazy people?
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