Mandated Counseling

If convicted, your batterer's sentence will probably be mandated counseling, not jail time. Many states have batterer intervention programs. Judges routinely order convicted civilian batterers into one of these programs, but exceptions are often made for the offender who is a police officer. He may be allowed to see a therapist of his choice rather than be subjected to counseling in a group for "common" batterers. Abusers' attorneys will often argue that a police officer's reasons for battering are different than those of the common abuser. They argue that a police officer abuses his intimate partner because of the stress of police work, rotating shifts, alcohol or drug use, and so on.

Batterer's Counseling Difficult

There are issues to be aware of regarding counseling for batterers. Though counseling can help those who truly desire to change their behavior, most batterers deny that their behavior is problematic, wrong or inappropriate. They endlessly justify, blame and rationalize.

Therapists who lack training in the dynamics of domestic violence often unwittingly collude with the batterer.

They do not recognize or challenge the batterer's rationalizations for his behavior. The therapist may buy into the stress of the job hypothesis, or diagnose him with poor impulse control, or intermittent explosive disorder. They do not recognize that he is able to refrain from using violence when in the presence of his colleagues, his commanding officer, or the judge.

If the therapist does manage to frame the violence in terms of power and control over you, the abuser flips it around. He tells the therapist that you're the abuser; you're the one who wants to control him. He says you're just as bad as he is, everything has to be your way. He points out that you are the one with all the power — even over his career. He says that he is the victim and a mere accusation from you could cost him his job. The therapist may also see his violence as only a symptom of other serious marital problems and suggest that you participate in counseling with him. The therapist may even hold you responsible for his violence because you "push his buttons" by doing things that you know upset him, or because you threaten his livelihood.

Couple's Counseling Not Recommended

Due to the extreme danger to the woman, domestic violence counselors advise against couple's counseling. The imbalance of power in the relationship makes it impossible for you to safely express your thoughts or emotions. The abuser will later use against you what you disclose in the sessions. He is likely to be furious that you talked about such personal things, or that you made him sound like a monster while you presented yourself like an angel. Remember that the therapist will not be there to defend or to protect you after the counseling session is over.

Domestic Violence Counseling

If you want counseling for yourself, you might want to contact a local domestic violence agency. Counselors and advocates are experts on the dynamics of domestic violence and can help you understand what's going on. They can help you draft a safety plan and sort through your options. Your confidentiality is safeguarded. If it is impossible for you to physically go the agency, arrange to have counseling sessions over the telephone. (Use a friend's phone or a public phone as a safety precaution.) You can always decide to go to couple's counseling later if you feel stronger and are convinced that his attitude has genuinely changed.

Many domestic violence agencies also offer counseling for children and adolescents. Children of police officers suffer the same kinds of abuse and emotional confusion as other kids and often more. They know that they are different because their father is a police officer.

Excerpt from Police Domestic Violence: A Handbook for Victims. Diane Wetendorf, ©2000, 2006, 2013 All rights reserved.

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