The trauma of enduring an abusive relationship can linger for many months, if not years, after the partnership ended. That is where domestic abuse counselling can have a role to play.
One of the so-called talking therapies, formal counselling allows you to discuss your feelings, problems and associated issues with a trained counsellor confidentially and safely.
The goal is to help you understand yourself better and come to terms with what has happened to you, gaining greater self-esteem and self-confidence in the process.
Counselling is a two-way relationship with the counsellor listening to you, encouraging you to talk about your experiences and emotions, perhaps by asking questions which challenge the way you think and your assumptions.
Counsellors are non-judgemental and are not there to give advice, but can help you to find ways of coping. If you want to change aspects of your life, a counsellor can create a plan of action with you.
To gain full benefit from counselling, you should have regular sessions every week or two lasting up to an hour. It is vital you find a counsellor who you strike up a good rapport with, can trust and who has a good understanding of how domestic abuse effects survivors.
Though traditionally a face-to-face, one-to-one activity as that allows intimate conversations and the chance to react to facial expressions, there are other ways of receiving domestic abuse counselling.
One is through groups, which offers the advantage of talking about your experiences with others going through similar traumas, potentially offering you a support network.
If you have a busy life or cannot get away from other responsibilities such as childcare, telephone counselling is an alternative. This is more flexible and you can receive domestic abuse counselling in the comfort of your own home.
Online counselling is also possible and you may find that a good option if you prefer to order and write down your thoughts as part of the emotional healing process.
Your GP surgery may be able to refer you to a counsellor. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has a link to therapists on its website, as does the online Counselling Directory.
Prevention, of course, is better than cure and Respect runs a confidential free helpline (0808 8024 040) with email and webchat options for domestic abuse perpetrators wishing to end their behaviour. The organisation also offers advice and guidance to those working with domestic abusers, counsellors included.
Respect strongly recommends abusers are directed towards individual domestic violence perpetrator programmes instead of anger management courses, mediation and attending counselling sessions with their partner as the victim may be coerced or put at risk of retaliation.