Friday, February 22, 2008

How Can We Know Whether or Not an Abuser has Really Changed

How to Tell If Abusers Are Not Changing Abusive Behavior
(If an abuser is female simply exchange “He/Him” for “She/Her”)

An abuser has not changed when the following factors are present:

  • Says, “I can't change unless you do,” or “I've changed, but you aren't changing.” This is an attempt to convince the victim to give up rights and freedoms in exchange for not being abused.
  • Says, “I'm not the only one who needs help.” This is refusal to accept personal accountability for the abuse--trying to gain sympathy from the victim, family members and friends. The abuser who says this, is still lying about the abuse and attempting to cover it up. There is no acknowledgement that the abuse was wrong—no remorse concerning the abuse, only sorrow that there are consequences to pay.
  • Refusal to allow the subject of the abuse to come up or gets angry when it does
  • Refusal to discuss controlling behaviors and attitudes
  • Continues to deny the abuse, minimize it, excuse, or justify it
  • Defends abusive behaviors—Insists that the victim “just get past it.”
  • The abuser plays the victim by asking question such as, "How could you do this to me?"
  • The abuser continues to blame the victim for all the problems
  • Overly charming behavior—continually reminding the victim of all “the good times” and ignoring the bad
  • Trying to buy victim back with romantic gifts, dinners, flowers. All while insisting on the need to stay together to work it out (abuse must be stopped. It cannot be “worked out.”
  • Refusal to seek help or He promises to get counseling or other help, but never does.
  • Seeks help then attempts to convince the victim that he is cured, pressuring her to take him back now. Examples: "Now that I'm in this program, you have to be more understanding." Or "I'm learning a lot from this program". If an abuser is using this kind of pressure, then as soon as he gets his way, he will most likely drop the program. This is why it is very critical that if you are considering reconciliation, then watch his behaviors, talk in depth, and give it time. If he is really changing, he will respect your desires on this.
  • Sometimes, instead of counseling, the abuser will suddenly claim to have found God; he goes to church a few times. He might even go as far as to get baptized and join a church.
  • The abuser cries and begs. They particularly like to do this in a public situation so that the victim becomes embarrassed and appears to be "cold hearted."
  • Does things to sabotage the victim’s efforts to make it on her own.
  • Harassment or stalking - If the victim asks for space or time, the abuser refuses to allow it and continues to make contact—Harassing by phone calls, threats, legal frustrations, showing up at work, or hanging around family.
  • Continues to restrict the rights of the victim
  • Continues to behave in a superior manner
  • Continues to make it difficult for the victim to express herself or speak freely
  • Continues to demand constant attention – will not allow the victim to take care of her own needs.
  • Continues to put down and criticize the victim - ignores her strengths and contributions to the relationship.
  • Refusal to support the victim’s independence or to acknowledge her rights
  • Holds on to double standards
  • Continues to deny victim her fair share of the marital assets, i.e., money
  • His wants and needs continue to be placed above all else
  • Refusal to recognize damage caused by the abuse
  • Becomes angry with the victim over consequences she has suffered due to his abuse
  • Is angry or seems confused as to why you fear him, do not trust him, or are hurt and angry with him
  • Attempts to avoid consequences by trying to convince the you that something is wrong with you for allowing him to have any consequences
  • Behaving as if he is above reproach
  • Claiming that he would never hurt you - despite the fact that he has done many things to hurt you
  • Angry with you for leaving - instead of recognizing your right to have done so
  • Behaves as if you owe him
  • Impatient or critical with you for not forgiving him immediately – or not being satisfied with changes he claims he has made but you see no evidence of, or with changes he may have made but were not the changes you requested
  • Only seems concerned with how difficult the situation is for him and no one else
    • Feels sorry for himself
  • Does not show appropriate concern for how you and the children feel about what he's done - Abuse does more than just hurt, it is damaging, and if he does not show appropriate concern for the damage he has done, then he has not changed.
  • Still does things that are inappropriate for an intimate relationship - Cheating, not including you in family decisions, hoarding all the marital assets such as money, property, cars, stocks, bonds, etc. and refusing to allow you to have access to them.
  • Says he can only change if you help him - wants emotional support and forgiveness, and for the victim to return home immediately.
  • He claims to be changing, but you can see that he is not
  • He becomes angry with you for not realizing how much he has changed
  • He becomes angry with you for not trusting that he has changed - Abusers often apologize, and then become angry if forgiveness is not immediately forthcoming, as if saying, “I’m sorry,” instantly resolves the matter. The victim is expected to drop everything, and just move forward.
  • The abuser applies pressure for a reconciliation, because he can't “wait forever."
  • He is rude about you to the children
  • He threatens and tries to intimidate you – This is default behavior for most abusers. If you do not stop asking for change, he generally will convert to threats and attempts to intimidate. This often includes threats to attack family and friends, threats to kill you or "put out a contract on you," Threats that he will take the children away or get custody of them himself, or threats to kill himself.

These are all signs that the abuser has no intention of changing his behavior. This is then, his choice of how he wants to live his life. Your choice is, can you live with his choice?


Jeannie Babb Taylor said...

Excellent information. Thanks for sharing.

I help moderate an abuse recovery support group. The first question we hear from new members is "Is this abuse?" The other frequent refrain is, "He says he has changed; how can I tell?"

The answer to these two questions is critical in helping abused men and women build a better life.


Jeannie Babb Taylor said...

Another thought to add.... An abuser who has truly changed his/her stripes (which is rare) will not say "I have changed." He/she will ask, "Have I changed?"

As long as the abuser is still telling you how you ought to be treated and telling you whether you should be happy and satisfied with the relationship, the abuser is still the one trying to maintain control.

In healthy relationships, people don't demand that you be satisfied with their actions. Instead, they ask how they're doing.

Rose said...

Oh my gosh! you have just described my daughters entire marriage to her husband.This is amazing.I wish she could have found it.

Rose said...

Have you ever really known of one to change?

Rose said...

I have 2 deceased daughters and a granddaughter who was sexually abused as a result of my daughters thinking and waiting for them to change.