Steps Abusers Must Take to Change

Listed below are steps written by Lundy Bancroft that an abuser must make to change his destructive behavior. 

1. Admit fully to his history of psychological, sexual and physical abusiveness. Denial and minimizing need to stop, including discrediting your memory of what happened.

2. Acknowledge that the abuse was wrong, unconditionally. He needs to identify the justifications he used, including the ways he blamed you, and talk in detail about why his behaviors were unacceptable, without defending them.

3. Acknowledge that his behavior was a choice, not a loss of control.

4. Recognize the effects his abuse has had on you and on your children, and show empathy for those. He needs to talk IN DETAIL about the impact that his abuse has had, including fear, loss of trust, anger, etc. And he needs to do this without feeling sorry for himself or talking about how hard the experience has been for him.

5. Identify in detail his pattern of controlling behaviors and entitled attitudes. He needs to speak in detail about the day to day tactics of abuse he has used, identify his underlying beliefs and values that drove those behaviors, such as considering himself entitled to constant attention.

6. Develop respectful behaviors and attitudes to replace the abusive ones he is stopping.

7. Reevaluate his distorted image of you, replacing it with a more positive and empathic view. He has to recognize that he’s focused on and exaggerated his grievances against you. He needs to compliment you and pay attention to your strengths and abilities.

8. Make amends for the damage he has done. He has to have a sense that he has a debt to you. He can start payment by being consistently kind and supportive, putting his own needs on the back burner for a couple of years, fixing what he has damaged, and cleaning up the emotional and literal messes he has caused.

9. Accept the consequences of his actions. He should stop blaming you for problems that are the result of his abuse.

10. Commit to not repeating his abusive behaviors. He should not place any conditions on his improvement – such as saying he won’t call you names as long as you don’t raise your voice.

11. Accept the need to give up his privileges and do so. Stop double standards, stop flirting with other women, stop taking off with his friends while you take care of the children. He also is not the only one allowed to express anger.

12. Accept that overcoming abusiveness is likely to be a life-long process. He cannot claim that his work is done by saying, “I’ve changed, but you haven’t.” or complain that he is sick of hearing about his abuse.

13. Be willing to be accountable for his actions, both past and future. He must accept feedback and criticism and be answerable for what he does and how it affects you and the children.


Signs an Abuser Has/Has Not Changed

Many survivors of abuse are hopeful that their abuser will change.  Many abusers also make promises to change to fix the relationship.  This promise, however, is a difficult one to fulfill.  More than likely he has broken promises before and you are not sure if you should believe him.  Listed below are the signs to look out for to know for sure if he has or has not changed.

Signs That He Has Changed

He is willing to wait however long it takes for her trust in him to be rebuilt, and does not pressure her to forgive or reconcile until she is ready.

He does not say or do things that threaten or frighten her.

He listens to and respects her opinion, even if he disagrees.

She can express anger or frustration toward him without being punished or abused.

He respects her “no” in all situations, including physical contact.

He does not prevent her from spending time with friends and family, and does not punish her later.

He is willing to continue counseling as long as necessary.

He takes responsibility for his actions, and does not blame her for his bad behavior.

He is kind and attentive instead of being demanding and controlling.

When he becomes frustrated or angry, he does not take it out on his wife or children.

When he fails, he admits his mistake and takes responsibility for changing abusive behavior.

He admits to his abusive behavior, and stops trying to blame or cover up.

He acknowledges that all the abuse was wrong, and identifies all the ways he used to justify his abusive behavior.

He acknowledges that his abusive behavior was not a loss of control, but a choice on his part.

He recognizes and is able to verbalize the effects of his abuse on his spouse and children.

He identifies attitudes of entitlement or superiority, and talks about the tactics he used in maintaining control. He replaces distorted thinking with a more positive and empathetic view.

He consistently displays respectful behavior toward his wife and children.

He wants to make amends for the harm he has caused.

He is committed to not repeating his past behavior, and realizes it will be a life-long process.

He is willing to hear feedback and criticism, is honest about his failures, and is willing to be held accountable for abusive thinking and behavior.

“Beware of the temptation to gauge change by means of the perpetrator’s church-going behavior. Going to church is not good enough . . . does not prove that he is no longer going to hurt her.” —Woman-Battering


He Has Not Changed If . ..

He blames her or others for his behavior.

He uses guilt to manipulate her into dropping charges or keeping silent.

He does not faithfully attend his treatment program.

He pressures her to let him move back in before she is ready.

He will not admit he was abusive.

He convinces others that she is either abusive or crazy.

He demands to know where his spouse is and whom she is with.

He uses her behavior as an excuse to treat her badly.

He continues to use sarcasm or verbal abuse, talk over his wife, and shows disrespect or superiority.

He does not respond well to complaints or criticism of his behavior when he slips back into abusive behavior.

He continues to undermine her authority as a parent, and her credibility as a person.

His mindset about women has not changed, even though he avoids being abusive.

He criticizes his spouse for not realizing how much he has changed.

“Completion of a batterer’s intervention program class by a man does not mean his victim is safe or that he has stopped being abusive. While men may learn tools for acting nonviolently, research indicates that many men continue to be abusive, even if they change their tactics.” —Embracing Justice: A Resource Guide for Rabbis on Domestic Violence

If you go back too soon, the abuse will be worse and leaving again will be harder.

Written by Brenda Branson

Why Men Become Abusive?

Abuse has become more and more of a problem in recent times.  Some even are calling it an “epidemic”.  Though domestic violence is heard of more frequently, it is not an acceptable behavior.  Because of the embarassment and denial that comes with abuse, there is little information on why it exists.   There have been very little research in why men become abusive, but here are some of the theories.

Children who were abused are more likely to become abusers themselves. Boys who are abused are more likely to grow up into an abusive man. Through studies it is recorded that it did not matter if the men were beaten by their fathers, mothers, or even extended or non-family members. If they experienced the abuse, than they were more likely than not to commit to domestic violence as an adult.

Results of studies conducted on abuse tell us that abused boys may learn that violence is the way to handle situations in their lives. “Domestic violence is a learned behavior.”  They are taught that this is the right way to resolve a problem and from what they have seen, it is the only way they know how to resolve conflict. They then use this method they are taught and apply it to difficult situations as an adult.  It is not inherited through genetics and it is not a disease.  It is also a problem for all racial and ethnic groups, regardless of age and education.

According to TIME Healthland and a study performed by the Achrives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine revealed, “Boys who bully may be more likely to become abusive men”. Read the article here. It stated that boys who are schoolyard bullies are more likely to grow up as abusive partners to their wives. The boys who were violent to other children during their childhood were four times more likely to behave the same way with their partners, than the children who were not known to be bullies.

Other results of the study also revealed that the victims of bullying were more likely to behave violently towards their intimate partner than those peers who were not bullied. Also, children who witnessed abuse between their parents or other violence growing up were more likely to become abusive.

“These findings suggest that individuals who are likely to perpetrate abusive behaviors against others may do so across childhood and into adulthood,” said, Kathryn Falb of TIME Healthland.

If the truth is that abuse is in fact a learned behavior, the question is, can it be “unlearned”?  Experts think so.  Many programs have been developed for men who want to change their abusive habits.  The only problem is that the men have to commit and have to commit fully.  Many treatments are unsuccessful due to the lack of committment and desire to change.  It is only when we can figure out a way to make these men fully commit to change, will we be able to stop and hopefully prevent abuse from reoccurring in the future.

Photo credit: dave apple via flickr

Your thoughts on this article are greatly appreciated.  Please feel free to comment below.

Types of Abuse

There are many different types of abuse that occur in relationships.  Listed below are some of types and what they consist of:

Emotional Abuse includes:

  • Criticizes you constantly
  • Manipulation
  • Never keeps promises
  • Does not let go of the “wrong” things you’ve done
  • Destroys property
  • Constantly possessive and jealous
  • Humilates you
  • Threatens to break up with you
  • Withholding/Silent treatment
  • Makes you feel guilty
  • Expects you to agree with him
  • Tells you what you can and can’t do
  • Accusses you of cheating
  • Isolates you from family and friends
  • Plays mind games

Verbal Abuse includes:

  • Calling you names
  • Belittling you
  • Telling you you’re worthless
  • Swears or yells at you
  • Interrupts you constantly
  • Telling others you are crazy
  • Blaming you for the abuse
  • Saying that you are a bad parent

Physical Abuse includes:

  • Shoving or pulling you
  • Pinching or grabbing
  • Spitting on you
  • Driving recklessly
  • Slap or hitting you
  • Punching or kicking you
  • Choking or smothering you
  • Restraining you from leaving
  • Holding you down
  • Using weapons

Sexual abuse includes:

  • Not taking “no” for an answer
  • Coerce you into unwanted sex
  • Cheating on you and exposing you to STD’s
  • Forcing “make up” sex
  • Demanding sex acts
  • Forced sex with another person or object

If you are being abuse, get help immediately.  Experts say that abuse only escalates, regardless of an abuser apologizing and stating they will stop.  There are many resources available to you.  Please visit our resource page and get help today.

Did My Abuser Choose Me?

In an abusive relationship, victims often wonder “why me?”  They do not know why they were the ones that ended up in such a horrible and unhealthy relationship.  Although victims are not a fault for being chosen to be abused, there are some characteristics that may make them more likely to find themselves in an abusive relationship.  Read the list below to make sure your behaviors do not make you more likely to fall prey to an abuser.  Victims normally portray the following:

You do not trust yourself –

  • You do not go with your gut feeling
  • Need consent from another individual before making a decision
  • Do not think your opinion matters

Take criticism very harshly

  • Feel you do not deserve the best treatment –
  • Inconvenience yourself so that others won’t be inconvenienced
  • Expect to be criticized for your actions
  • Do not want to look like a “trouble maker”
  • Feel that if someone is mean to you, you deserved it

Giving up things that are important to you to keep others happy –

  • Discontinue hobbies that you enjoy because others do not approve
  • Hide photos rather than displaying them because he doesn’t like them

Being insecure about your competence –

  • Fear of looking stupid, weak or lazy
  • Worry about what others think of you if you quit
  • Fear of failing, you can’t make mistakes

Overlooking other people’s mistakes and flaws –

  • Feel that it’s okay for others to make mistakes, but not you
  • Believe that you can “save” others from their downfalls

Isolating yourself –

  • End friendships that your abuser does not approve of
  • Spend less time with family because your abuse does not like them
  • Do not go anywhere without your abuser

Do not cause disruption in the relationship –

  • Not willing to break up with your abuser because it will hurt him
  • Avoid conversations that will upset your abuser

Avoid making decisions –

  • Allow others to change your mind about something
  • Choose a course of action to please your partner
  • More likely to follow the crowd, rather than do what you want to

Living according to these behaviors makes you more likely to end up with an abuser.  Abusive men look for women who are “naïve” and “easy-going”.  They want someone who is not willing to stand up for themselves and gives in easily.  Don’t fall prey to someone who will take advantage of you.  Be an independent individual and if you find your partner trying to change any of that, it’s not in your best interest to still around.

Image: photostock /

I encourage your feedback on your thoughts or experiences you may have relating to this topic.  Please post your comments below.

Warning Signs of an Abusive Man


There are many sure tell signs of an abuser.  Read the “red flags” below to be able to tell if you are in a relationship with an abuser.

Jealousy –

  • Does not want you to go out with friends or family
  • Does not like when you talk to other men, accuses you of cheating
  • Gets angry when talking to other too often
  • Is very possess of you, always asks where you’ve been
  • Tries to isolate you

Controlling –

  • Demands attention from you
  • Tries to take over your finances and possessions, ie car
  • Gets angry if you show independence
  • Needs to know your schedule constantly

Manipulates –

  • Tries to make you believe that you are crazy
  • Tries to make you think he is not abusive
  • Makes it seem like you are at fault for any trouble
  • Gives excuses for why he’s abusive

Punishes you –

  • Withholds things that you want
  • Does not want to talk about the relationship because you do
  • Criticizes you frequently

Doesn’t act the way he talks –

  • His actions are opposite of what he says
  • He breaks promises
  • Creates a cycle of abuse (fights, hurts you, makes up, repeat)

Superiority –

  • Feels that he is better than anyone
  • Feels above the law
  • He is always right
  • Has to feel powerful and in charge

Mood Swings –

  • Constantly caught off guard by his mood
  • Is happy, in love one moment, then turns abusive and mean

Won’t seek help –

  • Does not believe anything is wrong with him
  • Blames his past

Disrespectful of women –

  • Does not have respect for his mother, sister or any other women in his life
  • Thinks men are superior
  • Thinks women should stay “in their place”

History of abuse –

  • Was abused as a child
  • Has had abusive relationships in the past
  • Abuses animals

If you see any of these signs of abuse, run.  Any one of them can be a red flag and can escalate to another.  It’s only a matter of time until you look back and see all of the red flags.  If you are staying, thinking he can change, think again.  These men say they will change, but before you know it, you are under his power again and the cycle of abuse begins.

Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

Abuse occurs when someone is causing harm to another. There are many types of abuse, including: emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse. It is known that if abuse occurs, it will often continue in cycles. This means that when someone is abused, they experience a “honeymoon” stage of making up and apologizing, but then they abuse again. As this continues, the abuse often gets worse. Sometimes the victim eventually becomes the abuser in another relationship. Either way, abuse needs to be stopped. Here are the steps to stop abuse.

1. Face your past of being abused. Abuse will continue to create unnecessary challenges in your life if you do not get help. Being in denial about your past will not allow you to move on from it. You need to acknowledge what happened to you and talk about the issues. Then you can begin to heal from the abuse.

2. Understand that you cannot just ignore memories of abuse. It will come back around and this is what ends up creating the cycle of abuse. If you are being abused, you may try to push the memories out of your mind and go back to the abuser. But the abuse may continue and even escalate.

3. Don’t create excuses for abuse. Abusers often tell their victims that they didn’t mean it or “were abused as a child”. Then the victim feels bad for them and returns. If the abuser was really sorry, they would stop making excuses and get help.

4. Attend therapy or find a support group. Talking out your issues with a specialist or others who find themselves in similar situations can help for you to recognize and overcome abuse.

5. Become knowledgeable about abuse. Read self-help books to allow you to get an understanding of what you are going through. They also have a lot of advice on overcoming the situation you are in.

6. Recognize that it’s not your fault. Abusers have a mind of their own and do not know how to handle their anger. It is their fault for being the way they are, not yours.

7. Review your unhealthy relationship. Take a look at where it went wrong. Recognize where there may have been warning signs that you overlooked. Knowing the red flags in relationships can prevent future abuse.

8. Get assistance from an organization that specializes in domestic violence. There are many agencies that provide support to victims including a safe shelter, as well as, legal and emotional support.

Overcoming an abusive relationship can be one of the most difficult things you ever do. It’s important to seek support and learn ways to avoid abuse in the future. This will help to break the cycle of abuse in your life and allow you to move on to a healthy and more fulfilling relationship.

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