We have met many many domestic violence victims in our practice over the years. Every story is a bit different but they all ring true in some ways. The person who has suffered has a difficult time breaking free from the abuser. Counseling is often a very important factor in helping someone going through a divorce or thinking about a divorce from an abuser. We, as attorneys, can navigate the legal issues but the emotional side is better handled by a professional who understands domestic violence and the cycle. Another truism: the victim thinks the abuser will change and that the victim can help them get better. Psychologists may tell you differently. Rarely do abusers change their behavior and sometimes they just escalate the abuse. Third: the victim often thinks that they are somehow at fault and maybe even deserve the abuse. Not true. What do you do if someone in your family is in this cycle? Only the victim can make the changes but you can advise them what we tell our clients: it is not their fault, they don’t have to live that way and there is help. Often a victim will save themselves when the straw breaks the camel’s back. Only the victim knows when and what that will be: harm to their children, disconnecting their phone, embarrassing them in public, being stalked, having their family find out and having to tell their story, or the police having to be called. Once that happens, it is sometimes a clean break from the abuser but don’t be dismayed if it is a see saw merry go round. Be patient, keep giving them love and positive messages. They don’t have to live that way, it is not their fault and there is help.