Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence

Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.IPV describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercive acts) by a current or former intimate partner. IPV can vary in frequency and severity. It occurs on a continuum, ranging from one episode that might or might not have lasting impact to chronic and severe episodes over a period of years.

Sexual Violence

The term sexual violence is an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse. Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Forms of sexual violence may include: Rape or sexual assault, child sexual assault/abuse and incest, intimate partner sexual assault, unwanted sexual contact/touching, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, showing one’s genitals or named body to other(s) without consent, masturbating in public, watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission.

Spiritual and Religious (or church) Abuse

Religious abuse is abuse administered under the guise of religion, including harassment or humiliation, which may result in psychological trauma. Religious abuse may also include misuse of religion for selfish, secular, or ideological ends such as the abuse of a clerical position. Religious or spiritual abuse also refers to psychological manipulation and harm inflicted on a person by using the teachings of their religion. This is perpetrated by members of the same or similar faith, and includes the use of a position of authority within the religion. Spiritual and religious abuse often times lead to Religious Trauma (please click on Religious Trauma definition for additional information)

Healing from Purity Culture

Purity Culture is a movement which emerged out of white evangelicalism (also called fundamentalism) in the 1990’s, the purity culture promotes sexual purity, (sexual) abstinence only until a heteronormative marriage. Purity Culture teaches that one’s identity is completely tied to their sexual behavior; one’s identity, especially women, was tied to their virginity. The Purity Culture teaches that sex, sexual urges, desires, impulses and thoughts and any sexual activity beyond a light kiss prior to marriage are dirty and sinful. The Purity Culture developed many specific guidelines for how one was to live that included the roles that men and women played, how relationships were to look, sex in marriage and many other gender-specific rules. Purity Culture forbids physical contact with significant others, as well as engaging in self pleasure, having lustful thoughts, insistence on female modesty and emphasis on virginity. Men are considered sexually out of control while women are non-sexual and held responsible for men’s sexual acting out and temptations.

Religious Trauma

Religious Trauma, like other trauma, results from overwhelming, terrifying, emotional or intense experiences that causes the nervous system to exeprience physiological threat. Trauma can be the result of single, multiple, chronic or prolonged events that the body interpretes as physiologically unsafe. In a religious context this may stem from (but is not limited to) indoctrination, fear of punishment of sin, the threat of hell, rules/traditions, acts of worship, the inability to leave the religious environment and other religious abuse or religious harm. Symptoms of religious trauma are similar to symptoms of other trauma and may include many other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sexual dysfunction, borderline personality disorder, social disorders and drug and alcohol abuse.

Complex PTSD

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a devastating condition that affects some people who have lived through long term trauma such as months or years of abuse. It causes symptoms similar to PTSD but also has other symptoms that lead to significant impairment in relationships and quality of life. For more information on Complex PTSD and its symptoms, please click here.

Codependency and Boundaries

Codependency can be defined as excessive emotional, physiological or physical dependence or reliance on another person(s) in order to be able to function. Codependency is often used as a survival and coping mechanism for individuals in abusive relationships and systems, relationships with addicts or to manage trauma. Individuals who are codependent or in codependent relationships, or are within codependent systems often struggle to implement boundaries--safeguards to ensure that they are able to live autonomously, experience safe and healthy relationships and both recognize and communicate their wants and needs.

Click on the term for an expanded definition of each of the areas I specialize in. The content on this page may be sensitive and/or triggering for some individuals; please exercise caution and kindness towards yourself if you choose to read this information.