Couples counseling may allow abusers to stay focused on their criticisms of you, instead of dealing with their own problems. They may even retaliate against you physically or verbally for what you say to the counselor. You may also be put under pressure to give up certain things that are important to you in return for their giving up their violence. Abuse is a problem with the abuser, not a problem in the relationship. In Massachusetts, before an abuser can join an abuser education group and be in couples counseling at the same time, the Department of Public Health requires a nine month period of non-violence free of coercion, threats or physical violence.
Many of our clients have told us that it was only after their partners left, got a court order, or filed criminal charges that they realized the seriousness of their violence.