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


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