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.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. rosyandjim
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 10:53:11

    This is a great blog with some useful tips and help. I am a support worker for domestic abuse victims and will definitely be using some of your writing in my work, thanks!

    Reply

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