How to repair a relationship damaged by domestic abuse

Men holding hands

The most important thing to do is to ensure the safety of all parties.

Domestic abuse can present in many different ways – physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological – and can sometimes be very subtle and difficult to detect.

Research shows that power and dominance are actually related to predictability. The person whose behaviour and responses are least predictable in a relationship is usually the most powerful.

It’s important for people to understand these systemic issues.

It’s also vital to identify and acknowledge whether any form of abuse is taking place, and then work together to ensure that this comes to an end immediately.

Man holding hands to head

Photo: Pixabay

In some situations, it might be more appropriate for both parties to have their own individual therapy. This ensures they both feel more able to talk openly about what has truly been going on.

Of course, there may be cases where the safest and healthiest course of action to take is to end the relationship completely.

It’s not always best to stay together.

It’s not possible to build a secure emotional connection if abuse is present, so this has to be dealt with first and treated as priority.

Putting an end to the abuse

Once all parties are confident that the abuse has stopped, you can then start to work on repairing those attachment wounds.

It’s important to reconnect and rebuild the emotional safety and trust.

Doing this means ensuring that both parties fully understand how and why the abusive behaviour was happening in the first place. This is so they can be sure that it will never happen again.

They need to understand what the causes and patterns of the destructive cycle were so that they can de-escalate the negative interactions and then start to promote and replace these with positive healing interactions instead.

We all have raw spots that can be triggered inadvertently by our partners. It’s important that we are aware of these, and of how we can regulate ourselves or take a time out when we do feel triggered.

Again, it may be appropriate for both parties to have their own individual therapy sessions.

This is to make sense of how they have been individually affected by what took place in the relationship, and to think about what they would need in order to heal.

This is the delicate process of rebuilding trust and emotional safety, both for themselves and each other. Going to therapy and openly discussing these experiences in a safe and mediated space is vital.

How to forgive

Forgiveness is about more than simply receiving an apology.

It’s an ongoing process of understanding the impact of these past experiences and coming to terms with the effect they had on the individuals and the relationship.

Women holding hands

Women holding hands. | Photo: ep_jhu / Flickr

There may be all kinds of emotions to process on both sides. For example, the abuser may feel guilty, ashamed, remorseful, sad, or fearful of losing their partner.

The survivor may feel equally ashamed, angry, resentful, bitter, or fearful of the abuse repeating.

For healing to take place, it’s vital that both partners fully process each of these emotions.

Both partners also need to empathise with each other’s feelings and rekindle a sense of emotional safety.

This can take a significant period of time, but it can be done with the right therapist, and relationships can be repaired and go on to be healthier and happier than ever before.


Stefan Walters is a sex and relationship therapist based in a Central London. You can find him at Harley Therapy.

Need help?

If you are experiencing any signs of domestic abuse, remember – you’re not alone.

Are you in the US? Contact The Anti-Violence Project hotline: 1-212-714-1141.

Are you in the UK? Contact Galop, who run the National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428

Or see our list of global support services for LGBTI people, in alphabetical order.

If you want to share your story of domestic abuse, please contact James Besanvalle or Joe Morgan.

Author: Stefan Walters

The post How to repair a relationship damaged by domestic abuse appeared first on Gay Star News.

Malaysian leader says LGBTI rights are ‘Western values’

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed (Photo: Facebook)

Malaysia’s leader Mahathir Mohamad once again said his country cannot accept LGBT rights such as same-sex marriage this week.

He dismissed them as ‘Western’ values at an event in Bangkok, Thailand.

Malaysia is becoming increasingly intolerant of its LGBTI population.

‘At this moment, we do not accept LGBT but if they [the West] want to accept, that is their business. Don’t force it on us’, he said according to Agence France-Presse.

‘The institution of marriage, the institution of the family has now been disregarded in the West. Why should we follow that? Our value system is as good,’ he said.

‘If they [the West] one day decided to walk around naked, do we have to follow?’

Mahathir was echoing comments he made last month that Malaysia cannot accept equal marriage or LGBT rights.

‘New’ Malaysia

Malaysian politicians, ministers and religious leaders continue to make anti-LGBTI comments. This week, leader of the opposition blamed the devastating quake-tsunami natural disasters in Indonesia on LGBTI people.

Importantly, a 2013 survey found 86 percent of Malaysians believed homosexuality should not be socially accepted. Only nine percent said it should.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia under Section 377 of the Penal Code. It is similar colonial-era legislation to the anti-gay law that India dismantled last month.

Furthermore, advocacy groups have warned of a backsliding in human rights for LGBTI Malaysians since a new government took power.

In the last two months, Malaysia caned two women for attempting lesbian sex. Police also raided the oldest gay club in the country. What’s more, ministers and politicians have spoken out against the LGBTI community.

Therefore, LGBTI groups have warned Malaysian leaders to stop using the LGBTI community as a ‘punching bag’.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post Malaysian leader says LGBTI rights are ‘Western values’ appeared first on Gay Star News.

Gay sex ban in Malawi fuels anti-LGBTI violence

Pacharo Kayira, Chief State Justice of Malawi, Human Rights Division, spoke to Human Rights Watch (Photo: YouTube).

Malawi’s laws criminalizing same-sex relations continue to create violence and discrimination in the southeast African country.

The repressive legislation and social stigma allow police to abuse the LGBTI community unchecked, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

LGBTI people also, therefore, struggle to access healthcare.

Sections 153 and 156 of Malawi’s Criminal Code prohibit ‘unnatural offenses’ and ‘indecent practices between males’. Men face 14 years in prison and women five years.

‘The law criminalizing same-sex conduct contributes to a perception that LGBT people are fair game and can be assaulted without any consequences for the attacker’, said Wendy Isaack, LGBT rights researcher at HRW.

HRW said a 2012 moratorium on arrests from the justice minister was not enough to stem the violence. The rights group urged Malawi to repeal the rights-abusing laws.

In February 2016, a gay man was reportedly beaten, nearly to death, by a gang in the capital Lilongwe.

Routine discrimination

The 61-page HRW report shows how LGBTI people in Malawi are easily victims of arbitrary arrests, physical violence, and routine discrimination.

The rights group spoke to 45 LGBT people in Lilongwe and Blantyre as well as lawyers, activists, and government representatives.

The report details many incidents of people being arbitrarily arrested and assaulted.

In one such case, a transgender woman went to a police station to look for a transgender friend who was arrested after being attacked at a market. At the police station, she was slapped and punched by police officers for ‘being gay’.

‘Imagine being beaten up in the street, reporting to the police, and being arrested yourself while your attacker goes free – this happened to people we interviewed, solely because of their perceived gender identity or sexual orientation’, said Isaack.

The repressive laws also prevent LGBTI Malawians from accessing health care, including HIV prevention and treatment.

Malawi issued a moratorium after international condemnation of the arrests of two gay men for holding an engagement ceremony.
But, Christian religious leaders pressured the Mzuzu High Court to issue an order suspending the moratorium pending judicial review.

Author: Rik Glauert

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