Therapy With Abuser Is A Waste of My Time And His

They say that therapy with an abuser is a waste of time, and I think they are wise. Today in therapy, we talked about cats for most of the session. More specifically, we talked about how disrespected he felt because I chose to keep three cats while he was away on deployment.

I am so freaking tired of hearing how disrespected HE feels. I hear it all of the time from him, and I’m (almost) at the point of not caring if he feels disrespected or not. However, the therapist kept talking about the cats, so I decided that she must have a reason for it and rolled with it instead of fighting it.

Why go to therapy with an abuser? There is no good reason - it's an exercise in futility. Therapy is pointless for a couple caught in the cycle of abuse.It didn’t seem to matter that Will and I have already agreed to the terms of keeping three cats in the house; we have talked the cats to death. But still, in therapy, Will said the cats were our main issue because of how disrespected he felt. So, we talked about the cats in therapy when we should have been talking about the abuse in our marriage.

I just deleted a paragraph beginning with “One good thing about talking about the cats is…” I couldn’t finish the stupid sentence. I couldn’t finish the sentence because a thousand possible things were going through my mind, all of them interrelated.

In fact, the therapist could have picked any situation between Will and I and the discomfort of it being related to “everything” would be the same. Will and I rarely have ONE situation UNrelated to our history together. Almost every time we want to confront ONE problem, we wind up discussing two, or three, or four others.

I feel crazy crazy when I problem solve with him because there’s no easy problem, no easy solution, for us.

The therapist said and Will seemed to agree that women do not keep to the subject. Although that may be true some of the time (I am not above embracing a negative stereotype if it helps, which it rarely does), I am not the only person in my house who suffers from that particular compulsion.

When the therapist let this suggestion fall past her lips, I REALLY REALLY forced myself to believe she had a plan and a reason for saying this to us. It was infuriating to be at marriage counseling for a problem that is due, in part, to stereotypical labeling, only to hear the therapist stereotypically label me.

If this counseling is going to work, it seems as if I am going to have to act as if the past didn’t happen. I am going to have to pretend that I am once again a naive 20 year old girl who has never suffered injustice at the hand of the one I love. I have to “let it go” in order to move forward. I feel that the counselor wants me to pretend that we have no history.

It seems like she wants to pretend that she’s been with us from the beginning, and that the beginning is NOW. It only matters what we say NOW. The history between Will and I doesn’t exist. The abuse doesn’t exist (at least not yet because she hasn’t seen it).

This foundation of problems IS our history. Brick builds upon brick and also supports the bricks next to it. I would feel better if instead of pretending that we have no history, she ask me to begin knocking down the bricks that already exist. Acknowledge our history, ask about it, find out how we got to where we are and THEN help us to remove the foul cycle of abusive habits that built our first house so we can build a better one starting NOW.

I wish she had asked about more than the fucking cats.

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About Kellie Jo Holly

Kellie Jo Holly passionately advocates against domestic violence through her writing and mentoring service. She loves helping women cope with abuse while in the relationship and supporting them as they leave the relationship and begin to heal. You can also find Kellie on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. You can buy her books from Amazon.


  1. It’s not that history doesn’t exist… the scars and conditioning exert their influence on the present, unconsciously, out of habit of course. Our minds follow the path of least resistance, sticks to the plan. If we know how to react in an argument better than we know how to handle the silent treatment, we will chose the argument… like a reflex.

    Existing in a relationship without drama and conflict: can it be done if you do not recondition your mind, in the present? Perhaps not so easily… you KNOW how to exist in a relationship that has conflict. It’s familiar. It’s easy to your brain, the neurons are linked to fire. You would have to learn a lot of new things to exist in a relationship without conflict.

    Our minds are also attuned to fire together, in relationships. You do this, and I’ll do that, and then you’ll do another thing, and so on. We trigger, back and forth, and if it’s unconscious, a reflex, a habit, that will escalate into the situations which are our emotional addictions. We do them because we know them. We fear change, fundamentally. It’s simple biology really, isn’t it? Follow the path of least resistance. It takes new energy to create new neural associations, a new life a new way. Staying with the old, the ‘history’ is the greatest temptation.

    But the psychic energy of Thurisaz is really for UNFETTERING. I remember how you linked to my rune site, in July, and I felt that I’d keep an eye and see how things went. At that point, you interpreted Thurisaz in the sense that the resistance was speaking of the conflict between you and your husband. But Thurisaz also, perhaps more accurately, describes this Inner-World resistance of your mind… the struggle against our conditioning, our history, our habits, our ‘fetters’ as the ancients called them.

    There is resistance to creating a new way, to learning new things, to making a new life. Great resistance. To change, you must match that resistance, or strategically position your Thurisaz, your Thor’s Hammer, to strategically take out one Giant at a time (Thurisaz, the word Thurse and thus the day Thursday all represent the concept of a Giant). These Giants are unconscious mental constructs. They can be MASSIVE civilization shaping giants, or massive individual constructs.

    They ‘resist’ the expansion of consciousness, which is a continual process of learning, awareness,and UNlearning. This process happens ONLY in the presence.

    That is why I believe psychoanalysis to be somewhat fruitless in therapy. There’s a great book you should immediately read named ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ by Anthony Robbins. This book is a modern mystical text on Alchemy… but is based on the most advanced findings in applied psychology. It is about changing your life and your mental states not with analysis of the past, but attention to the present, and conscious direction into the FUTURE.

    The past will create more past. Surely you’ve seen that in action? The lesson of the third rune, Thurisaz, is to harness the protective force of the present to undo the unconsciousness and conditioning that rules your life…

    … and you have picked a fight with that unconscious conditioning. So finish it 😉

    Warm regards for the new year,

    [Tyriel’s site, runesecrets]

  2. What a blessing for you to respond at this time, Tyriel! Thank you for keeping any eye on how things progress. Your comment aligns with a phrase my husband has repeatedly said in the past few days. I was wondering what to blog about today, and now I know.

    Thank you, very much.

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