Escaping a violent or abusive partner is a monumental step toward a better, healthier life, but it is hardly the last step a survivor will take.

Violence can have long-lasting effects on a survivor and affect their daily life even after the abuser is no longer in the picture.

Just like physical wounds, psychological and emotional wounds need to be taken care of or healing can not happen. Counseling and support groups can play a very important part in the healing process, allowing the survivor to not only survive, but to thrive.

Many survivors escaping violent relationships will show signs of PTSD.  The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as a mental health condition that develops after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as abuse, combat, an accident, or natural disaster.

Memories of the trauma can trigger extreme fear to a point where it may immobilize the survivor.  Nightmares, concentration problems, irritability, guilt and depression are also signs of PTSD.

Many survivors blame themselves for the trauma they have experienced.  Their abuser may have told them repeatedly that the violence was their (the survivors) fault, and after a while they may start to believe that themselves.  To regain self-esteem, survivors can seek out counseling and support groups.  Support groups are a safe space where survivors can connect with others who have been through similar circumstances and can encourage each other as they begin to heal and rebuild their life.

Safe Harbor offers both individual counseling and support groups in both English and Spanish to adult survivors as well as to children, age 5 and up, who have witnessed domestic or sexual violence involving a parent or guardian, and teens, age 13 and up, who are the victim of sexual assault/abuse or dating violence.  Our counselors use a client-centered and trauma-informed approach in delivering our services, in which the survivor is believed and supported. All of our services are confidential and free of charge.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our counseling referral line at (804) 249-9470 ext. 12. Leave a message with your name and contact information, and let us know if it is safe for us to call you back. Your call will be returned within 48 business hours, and a member of the Safe Harbor team will complete a brief phone intake with you to assess your needs and schedule an appointment with one of our counselors.

For more information about our services, please visit our Counseling and our Children’s/Youth Counseling Programs under the How We Work tab at the top of our Homepage.

Adapted from