Ending an abusive relationship can be very difficult, especially if you feel like you still love your partner in many ways. It is perfectly natural to hope that the abuse will stop, or to think that you may be able to change your partner so that they stop acting in an abusive way. In the vast majority of cases, an abusive partner will not change for the better, unless they are willing to accept that their actions are problematic.
Many abusive relationships begin with seemingly insignificant acts of abuse, and if the abuse is allowed to continue it can get worse and worse. In the vast majority of cases, an abusive partner will not change during the course of a relationship. There may be happier time periods in between periods of abuse, but these will often become less frequent as the abuse becomes more intense.
Statistics collected in the United Kingdom suggest that many men who have been involved in an abusive relationship will go on to begin another abusive relationship once their initial relationship is over. Although abusive tendencies may not show themselves again straight away, they are likely to develop over time, and can be even more serious than those which were displayed in the first instance.
Can abusive men ever change?
It is possible for abusive men to change their behaviour over time, but they must be willing to engage with a counsellor and accept that their previous behaviour was wrong. Facing up to the truth about their previous choices and understanding the consequences of their actions in one of the first steps that an abusive man must take if he wishes to change his behaviour in future. He must be able to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in a relationship.
Realising that the blame stops with the perpetrator is also an important part of changing behaviour. A former abuser must stop searching for excuses for their violent actions, and they must recognise that violence actions are a choice. Drugs and alcohol are/were not an excuse for violence, and should not be used as such.
If a perpetrator feels like drugs or alcohol are likely to trigger violence, then they can make the choice not to use these substances again in future. Likewise, unemployment or stress at work is not an excuse either. Many other people suffer from these problems and do not harm their partner.
Abusive men also need to learn to be respectful towards women in general, if they wish to change their abusive behaviour. They should accept that everyone has the right to live their own lives without being dominated or controlled by another person. Some men feel as though they are “doing their partner a favour” by taking control of them. This is not a respectful attitude to have towards a partner. Learning to respect a partner is an important part of changing behaviour.
In order to stop abuse, perpetrators must be prepared to give up the control in a relationship. Power and control should always be shared equally between partners in a healthy relationship. If an abusive male wishes to change their behaviour, they should be willing to attend a perpetrator programme. These are available across the country to people who wish to learn how to behaviour in a relationship so that their actions do not negatively impact upon their partner or their children.
A GP may also be able to put an abusive man in touch with a local counsellor who can help him to learn how to break the cycle of abuse which is destroying their life.