Advice from a Survivor of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence does not discriminate based on class, race or culture..

The House on Sunset is the memoir of Sarafina Bianco, a former teacher who found herself in the throes of a violent, abusive and life threatening relationship. Her story envelopes the reader into the horrifying nightmare of the experience that is domestic violence, shedding light on the epidemic of domestic violence that is often hidden in the shadows. This article speaks to some facts around Domestic Violence and shares some advice from Bianco herself for fellow survivors.

Domestic Violence is Misunderstood

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is an under-reported and misunderstood problem that does not discriminate based on class, race or culture. It is traumatic and often lethal to many women. Sadly, numerous myths continue to exist about domestic violence and what it really is.

Some pertinent facts regarding Domestic Violence follow:

  • Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • One in four women and one in seven men over the age of eighteen in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Intimate partner violence alone affects over twelve million people a year.

Once someone finds themselves in a relationship that is characterized by abuse, it is often too late in many ways to easily escape.

It can be more dangerous for partners in domestically violent relationships to leave than to stay, as their abusers often set out to find and kill them.

Sarafina Bianco was able to escape, and has built a new life for herself. She is using her experience to reach and help other survivors heal as well, and is building a life for herself around advocacy.


How does someone heal from the trauma of domestic violence?

Everyone's response to trauma is different, and there is no right way to heal from it. Psychotherapy has been found to be helpful to many with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Sarafina Bianco notes how therapy and writing were especially helpful for her. In her own words:

"Before I found counseling services, writing was my only outlet. I felt alienated from the people in my life, alone in ways I didn’t know were real. So, every Sunday, I gave myself one hour of time to vent about living after abuse: the difficulties with hiding how hard recovery was, and the nightmares that reminded me how different my life had become.

But I would have never, and I mean that 100%, never been able to write The House on Sunset without having gone through three very hard, very long years of trauma therapy at a local non-profit for survivors of domestic violence. There, I dealt with my PTSD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I learned the warning signs of abuse, my personal beliefs that might have made it easier to overlook Mike's flaws, and I learned how normal abuse survivors are.

Through my group therapy experiences, the ignorant assumptions I had about survivors were thrown in my face, teaching me that we all just wanted to help. Our strength was our worst enemy, unfortunately."

Advice from Sarafina Bianco to Survivors

"Find a healing outlet. Some people find it through writing, while others are better able to heal through therapy. Most survivors don’t realize there are non-profits that offer free trauma therapy to them, if they set up an appointment to get help. You do not have to provide police reports or documentation, but you do have to show up.

I received individual therapy for three years, plus attended many group sessions. In group, we were better able to explore healing options: like education, art and music. At the time of leaving my abuser, there is no way in hell I could have afforded these services. That’s why finding a non-profit is so important."


If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, is a way to search for local services, or you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233).


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