Why You Should Never Attend Couples Therapy With Your Abuser

Updated: May 25

A woman is being shouted at and should not attend therapy with abuser

Abusers are master manipulators and seek out opportunities to gaslight, manipulate and control the people they are abusing. Attending couples therapy with an abusive person who hasn’t received treatment of their own yet can result in the abuser weaponizing the sessions as part of their abuse. Here’s why you shouldn’t attend couples therapy with your abuser.

Key takeaways:

  • Intimate partner violence affects one in five adult women and one in seven adult men.

  • There are multiple forms of abuse, including emotional/verbal, sexual, and physical.

  • Many people experiencing abusive behavior from their partner think that attending couples therapy will save the relationship, but this is not true.

  • Attending couples therapy with someone abusive is not recommended at all, is often unhelpful, and can actually put you at further risk of violence.

  • Abusers who have not received individualized treatment for their abusive behavior are likely to try and weaponize and manipulate couples therapy sessions, making them unproductive at best and using them as another mechanism of abuse at worst.

If you suspect you’re being abused, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or visit their website – please be aware computer usage can be monitored; be safe.

Domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence, is sadly too common. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in five adult women and one in seven adult men report experiencing severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Sexual violence in the form of rape, although likely underreported due to stigmatization, has been reported at rates of approximately 18.3% for women and 1.4% for men.

While many people think that attending couples therapy with their partner may save the relationship and stop the abuse, sadly, this is not the case. Attending couples therapy with someone abusive to you is not recommended, and can actually put you at risk for further abuse.

What is intimate partner violence?

The CDC defines intimate partner violence (IPV) as “abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship.” This is also sometimes called “domestic violence,” or “dating violence” if it occurs during the dating phase. The phrase “intimate partner” is a broad term that can refer to spouses both current and former, as well as dating partners. Here are some things to know about IPV.