Archive of ‘Relationships’ category

Myths About Domestic Violence: Part 1

With the recent events involving former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice and his wife, the epidemic of domestic violence has been in the spotlight of America. Various parties throughout the past few months have given many opinions and beliefs about domestic violence, more so in the past few weeks since a video of Ray Rice brutally attacking his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, rendering her unconscious. Having spent most of my counseling career working with women and children who have experienced domestic violence, this has certainly stirred up a lot for me. There are several myths about domestic violence that are perpetuated by in the media and I think it is important to identify these are myths that many Americans believe to be true.

Susanna Wetherington, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

By: Susanna Wetherington, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

So, lets take a look at these myths about domestic violence and set some things straight. This conversation will be split into 3 parts, as there are over a dozen myths to be discussed. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that for the purposes of this discussion, I will be referring to the abusive party as a man and the victim as a woman. This is because the vast majority of abusers are men and their victims are women. However, it is also important to note that abuse also occurs in gay and lesbian relationships. The information for these blogs is taken from the book, “Why Does He Do That: Inside the minds of angry and controlling men,” by Lundy Bancroft. This is one of the most widely used texts utilized by experts in the field of domestic violence. To learn more about Mr. Bancroft and his extensive work with abusive men, please click on this link:

Now onto the myths:

Myth #1: He was abused as a child.

Research has shown there to be a weak connection between childhood abuse and later abusive behavior. The fact is that experiencing abuse in childhood does not cause a man to later become abusive towards his partners. The only influence of child abuse on later abusive behaviors is that men who are already abusive have a propensity to be more violently abusive if they experienced abuse in childhood. It is not uncommon for abusive men to use negative and often traumatic experiences in their childhood to explain their abusive behaviors, but this is actually a way to escape taking responsibility for their actions. Non-abusive men do not use their past as an excuse to mistreat their partners.

Myth #2: His previous partner hurt him.

As discussed previously, in that abusive men often use past incidents or relationships as excuses for their current abusive behaviors. Someone who was genuinely mistreated in a previous relationship would not be using that experience to get away with hurting others. An important point to remember about abuse, if it is an excuse for mistreatment, it’s a distortion.

Myth #3: He abuses alcohol or drugs.

Many individuals wish to believe that alcohol or drugs cause a person to become abusive. I completely understand why this myth would be so prevalent – “If he can get sober, then the abuse will stop.” It would be so much easier to accept it is something outside of the abuser, controlling him, such as alcoholism or drug addiction, to explain his behaviors. And this myth can provide hope that an abuser really can change if this aspect of his life is changed. However, it is simply not true. The fact of the matter is that alcohol and drugs cannot make an abuser, and thus sobriety cannot cure one. An abusive man must deal with his abusiveness in order to overcome his abusiveness.

I hope this introduction to the myths about domestic violence has sparked piqued interest in the readers at home into the true nature of domestic violence. Next week we will look at more myths about domestic violence. If you or someone you love is involved in an abusive relationship, please seek help. Following are some links for resources in the Austin area and you are also encouraged to contact us at Austin Family Counseling.


Leaning In and Letting Go

This past week at yoga, the instructor said, “Where in your practice are you resisting or rigid in ways that are not serving you well? Blam. These words really hit home for me- not just in my yoga practice, but in my life.

Jennifer Alley, LPC

As I noticed my tense muscles and began focused relaxing and leaning into the pose, I also quickly realized that any tension in relationships I am currently experiencing, any interpersonal difficulties, resentments, or stresses that I am ruminating on, tend to be very related to my own ideas about how things “should”be, how others “ought”to be, or ideas that I am holding onto that are making life more painful and stressful for me.

After the class and since then, I have tried to think about my relationships in new ways, asking myself: Where can I let go? What beliefs or ideas are inhibiting or hindering my relationships with people I love and care about? What “shoulds”are keeping me from being humble and open-minded to people and relationships that I tend to have more difficulty with? In what areas is my need and desire to control failing and making life much more painful for me (and for others)?

As I work on this, I feel somehow freer, lighter, more able to lean in to others and less stressed with managing outcomes or relationships. I am purposed to check in daily with myself to notice my feelings, to pay attention to the tension and beliefs or ideas that are behind the resistance. I am going to try to lean in to the discomfort, letting the rigidity and desire to hold on go, deepening my ability to be vulnerable, more authentic, and open-hearted in my relationships with others.

Suggested questions for journaling/meditating on:

  • What people/situations tend to be most difficult for me?
  • What are my beliefs/ideas about this person/situation/conflict?
  • What are my feelings about this person/situation/conflict?
  • What are my fears regarding this person/situation/conflict?
  • What is my personal agenda/ what do I want to have happen?
  • What am I holding on to that is not helping me or my relationships with others?
  • What beliefs/ideas/agendas could I let go of that would be helpful?
  • Are there ways that I can “lean in” or “let go”?
  • Is there someone that I can share my feelings/fears with?

“Letting go is hard, but sometimes holding on is harder.” ~Unknown



Family Time in the School Year

girl swinging pic

It seems like the middle of summer but the next school year is right around the corner. As you stock up on pencils, paper and other supplies, it is a good time to set family goals and have important conversations about finding balance this year.

School often brings with it extracurricular activities, homework, endless laundry, and large to do lists. It is easy for family time to be replaced with children playing sports, studying, and attending birthday parties and other social events while parents hustle to run errands, keep up with housework and their career, and shuttle their kids from place to place.

Because there are only so many hours in a day, something has to give. And all too often, it is family time together. Uninterrupted, device-less, quality time is a precious commodity these days. But maybe this year, you and your family can be intentional about making it a necessity.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider it:

  • Children whose parents are involved are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and are more likely to do better in school.
  • Families are better able to adapt to challenging situations if they are emotionally close.
  • Children whose mother communicates frequently with them (listening, answering questions, and talking) are more likely to perform well academically.
  • Children whose father spends time with them doing activities tend to have better academic success, as well.
  • Adolescents whose parents are involved in their lives tend to exhibit fewer behavioral problems.
  • Youth who participate in activities with their parents and have close relationships with them are less likely to engage in violence.
  • Eating dinner together frequenting reduces the risk of substance abuse for teens.
  • Adolescents whose parents are home with them after school and during the evening hours are less likely to experience emotional distress.

Spending time together doesn’t have to be costly or elaborate. Often, it is more about the frequency of checking in, talking with one another, eating meals together, playing games or playing outside with one another, and other low-stress activities that help family members bond the most. Now is a good time, before it all begins again, to sit down and talk about setting up regular rituals and routines for connecting with one another and committing to make family time a priority this year.

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