From old, dead-looking wood a new green shoot emerges.

4 signs your counsellor might have training in abuse

If asked, most counsellors will say that they have training in abuse but it is not part of the standard curriculum for most counselling programs. So, how can you figure out if your counsellor really does understand abuse or simply thinks they understand? Here are a few things you could look for:

  1. Do they hold your partner 100% responsible for the abuse or are they trying to get you to “fix the problems”?
  2. Do they know that there are many forms of abuse? Do they take all forms seriously?
  3. Do they know about the “Cycle of Abuse” (Honeymoon / Tension / Explosion)?
  4. Do they give you advice or tell you what to do?

If they don’t know these basics about abuse, chances are they do not have any specific training. If they are giving you advice or suggestions, they could make matters worse for you or more dangerous. You deserve really good, qualified support. Your local women’s shelter or transition house should know the names of counsellors or counselling programs in your community that are specifically for women who have experienced abuse from a partner.



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  1. I am a single mother of a beautiful 14 year old girl who i absolutely adore. My heart breaks every day because she is abusing me. She hits me, pushes me, pinches, pulls hair. Tells me I am ugly and fat. Humiliates and demeans me. Treats me like her personal servant. There is zero respect. I am dying inside everyday, she is exactly like her father was. I am reliving the abuse over again and I can’t stop it. I have tried to be stronger and use methods to remedy the situation but I have lost control. I can’t even speak without being told to shut up. Finally after 2 years of begging her father for help he agreed to take her. I have sent her to the wolves den. He yells and name calls but there is no physical abuse. I am racked with guilt everyday. I worry about the person she will become or is becoming. Does she think I don’t love her. Will he perpetuate the situation. Of course he will. But she cannot come back until she can keep her hands to herself. She never thinks what she does is wrong. No accountability, no remorse (which scares me), she is cruel and mean and vengeful. She lies all the time. I am so worried about her. Like I said I feel so guilty. Why won’t she try to get along? Her life here was filled with love and support. She has little responsibility other than to do homework, she enjoys 6 dance classes a week and plays 5 instruments. She does not use drugs or drink. God is miss her…but not the abuse. I really hope I am doing the right thing

  2. Catherine,

    I am just seeing your post today, but I thought I would reply anyway. I wonder how that went for you, and how your daughter is feeling now?

    I have been trained with When Love Hurts and if you would like some counselling or support, I’d love to walk alongside you.

  3. I lost three of my children suddenly to my ex abusive partner that I separated from in 2006. He did all the classic crap, isolated me and undermined me. After 12 years of having our three kids on my own all three are gone. I am devastated, he honeymooned them with promise of money when they were vulnerable teens now two live wherever I do not even know they barely have contact he took complete control he lied to the courts and authorities and schmoozed everyone with all his money. I cannot see or speak to my three babies I will never see them graduate or have kids. I feel robbed and the isolation I feel as if my kids will not remember me and they will think I do not love them him and his family with all their power and money have completely cut ties. I find it hard to believe that the justice system in this country will call a woman vindictive in court if she brings up abuse but the man can just outright lie. I lost everything and the fear and threat of him taking the kids using money lies and power was the stupid reason I stayed for the time I was with him from 2002 to 2006. I left to protect the kids and they went back in as teens because I was off work and suffered low income for three months. He offered to pay them the child support he would not be paying me and two of them went because they had never been separated eventually my daughter went to be with her brothers and he keeps her separate from her brothers in a different province he tells her and everyone else that she is a whore and a liar because she was raised by me. I feel so powerless. I lost my job, home, reputation, everyone turned on me even my own mother sided with him thinking she would get to see the kids but they never understood that him and his family revel in the power and control abuse cycle so they sucked my family in to betraying me and now him and his family have severed contact with my family as well. No one seems to care. Two of my kids run away and are on drugs one child I do not currently know where he is but my ex’s mother was a mayor so she has the police in her pocket to the point where when my children have called and asked me to call the police the RCMP called me and said they talked to her and they did not even do a welfare check on the child the child was not even in her care and they said if I called the police where the child was that they had already called ahead. They threaten me. I have a seven year old son who I need to protect from all this and take care of so for our safety and well being I moved across the country away from all the toxicity. I love my other three kids and I have always been their rock and been there for them but if I persist I was told I would lose my son. I have been threatened time and time again. I have no parental rights even though he exclaims to the courts I can see them and call them anytime I want he straight up lied. I just want them to know I love them and for them to be safe. Everyone thinks I do not care but I left because I do not have the money and resources to fight him. Hes so rich. Everyone just believes him. He threatened to kill me in front of our sons and then just never returned our two sons against a sole custody order, He bribed our kids and got them to tell CFSA they wanted to run away and now two out of three of them ran away from him and because of his lies the authorities will not take me seriously. I just do not want my youngest son especially to end up on the streets. Its not right.

    The long and short of this was when I brought this issue up to one of my counsellors, I could tell they did not have training in abuse because they completely dismissed my grief over this. They basically changed the subject saying there was nothing I or they could do about this because its in another province. It made me feel even more powerless and hopeless. I know I cannot control my ex or my three teens behaviours and all i can do with the three amigos is just try my best to stay in touch and let them know I love them and that I am here if they want. But I did not need to have my strong emotions dismissed or invalidated. That did not help, I just felt unheard and unbelieved.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing some of your story. My heart goes out to you. Although your experiences of Parental Alienation are really extreme, sadly Parental Alienation is far too common in these situations. If you have not already had a chance, I would recommend “Divorce Poison” by Richard Warshak. I think you would feel some support from that resource. I am so sorry your counsellors have been unable to support you in your grief. You have every right and reason to grieve. Take care. Karen.

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