top of page

Hope: a factor in domestic abuse and recovery

Domestic abuse can sometimes be seen as the most hopeless of circumstances, where someone being abused is trapped in a relationship. We often ask “why do they stay” and there are many reasons, from being economically dependent on the partner, to feeling such low self-esteem or self-confidence that it seems impossible to make arrangements to leave.

Interestingly, one of the most powerful factors in staying, is hope. Because of the way that the cycle of abuse works, the person being abused will continue to hope that, if they can just get things right, everything will revert to the honeymoon period where all is well. Each time there is an incident, there is a promise and each time the person will hope that this time their partner will change.

As time goes on, the person may not want to believe that their partner is not the person they thought they were or perhaps they have have invested so much time and effort into the relationship that they feel they have to give their partner yet another chance to change. At this point, hope is starting to ebb as the person recognizes that things are not turning out as they had imagined at the start of the relationship.

The realization and acknowledgement that the relationship is never going to change can result in a huge sense of hopelessness as their life plans and future seem to disappear. This can sometimes result in suicidal ideation as the person is not sure what the future will be, if not with their partner. It is at this point that many people access therapy as they feel they need support to manage their feelings, decide what their next steps are, and/or simply help them to work through what they want and need, after years of simply trying to meet the needs of the abuser. The sense of hopelessness without a clear future can feel very big and overwhelming because the person has always taken solace in hoping for a good outcome and that no longer seems possible.

When a client arrives for counselling in a state of hopelessness, it is important for us, as therapists, to hold hope for them at that time that things will get better, because the client may be unable to do so themselves. What we don’t know at that point is what ‘better’ might mean, we simply trust in the process to help them find that future.

As clients start to frame their ideas for a new future, we support their steps towards meeting their goals. Just as clients have worked very hard in the belief that they could make positive changes in their relationship, however difficult that might have been, so they can use that same belief to make positive changes to their lives now. In this way, hope is no longer a problem for the person, holding them in an abusive relationship, it can now be called upon to support the development of a new future for the client.

The creation of a new a life, within the community they have chosen, doing the things they want to do, is a very simple definition of recovery. Recovery driven by hope can be a very powerful thing.

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page