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.

Scared Silent: A Memoir written by the ex-wife of the DC Sniper

I just finished reading Mildred Muhammad’s memoir titled: Scared Silent: When the one you love…becomes the one you fear.  Not only was it a powerful title, but once I started reading it, I could not put it down.  I had come across the book at a local Barnes and Nobles, read the first page and was hooked. 

The book is a biography written by the wife of the man named the DC Sniper, John Muhammad.  Him and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo killed 10 people and harmed many more in a shooting rampage that terrorized DC, Virginia and Maryland for days.  But there’s always more to the story and Mildred explains just that in her book.  John was an abusive husband and Mildred knew that he wanted her dead.  She had left him and he felt that she had taken his children away from him.  Mildred felt that John randomly shot all of these victims so that when he shot her, she would be just another victim as well.    

As I continued reading the book, I looked in disbelief the entire time.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know what her husband, John, was putting her through.  I had experienced abuse myself and I understood all of the crazy-making that he was creating.  But what shocked me, was that the purpose of the shootings was that John was going to kill her and make her another innocent victim, and I was convinced that it was true.  I lived through the horrific events of the DC Sniper shootings in 2002.  I remember it on the news everyday how innocent victims were being shot down and killed randomly just doing every day things.  But the news had never reported what was really going on.  They portrayed John as part as a terrorist group, and hid the fact that he was after his ex-wife.  Maybe they didn’t believe her, but I do.  Mildred had a reason to be scared of John and he made that clear to her.

There’s a line in the first pages of the book where Mildred explains that her husband, John told her “When a man hits a woman, it means that he has lost all respect for her.  It would easy for him to kill her after that”.  Reading that line scared the crap out of me.  My abuser had hit me many of times.  That sentence made me realize that if I caught him at the wrong moment, he could easily end up killing me.  I always asked him why he never respected me and reading that made it all to clear.  I allowed him to hit me.  When he did, I stuck by his side, letting him know it was okay.  But it wasn’t and it’s clear to me now why I never got the respect that I deserved.

This book gives a powerful insight on what women in abusive relationships go through.  I was a real eye opener for me.  Mildred is a powerful voice in the world of abuse and we all can learn a lot from her.  Not only has she written her own memoir, but she also runs an organization called “After the Trauma”.  It is a website that helps women of abusive relationships.  It provides many resources and information for victims.  Her site can be found at:  Not only did she write Scared Silent, but she also has another book titled: A Survivors Journal.  It will be one of my next reads.  If you are interested in either of these books, they can be found here:

Is Jake Pavelka from The Bachelor is Abusive?

After catching up on Monday’s Bachelor Pad 2 (yes, it’s my guilty pleasure), I started to see signs that Jake may actually be what we like to call a “toxic man”.  Although I had watch his entire season of the Bachelor, seen the special Bachelor Breakup Reunion on him and his former fiancé Vienna, and have been following him on the Bachelor Pad 2, I have began to think that he may be abusive towards women.  I was taken back by this idea, after all, he seemed like the perfect gentleman for most of the series.  I’d love to hear everyone else’s take on this, but here’s how I feel.

If you are not familiar with the show, I will catch you up a bit.  Jake was Season 13’s Bachelor and throughout the show, there was a lot of hatred towards the woman that he ultimately chose.  He proposed to Vienna, who was known as the villain of the season among the other women.  Jake was such a sincere and loving man during the taping of the entire season.  Then the tabloids hit that him and Vienna had broke up, then gotten back together again and then broke up again.  The typical on-again, off-again relationship.  Then ABC decided to do a “Break Up Reunion” with the duo to get the story straight.  I didn’t realize it at the time because I did not have the knowledge of what abuse looks like, but after seeing Jake and Vienna around each other again (post breakup) on Bachelor Pad 2, I started to become suspicious of Jakes ways.

During the first few episodes of the show, Jake persistently tries to get closure from Vienna, who has moved on and is now dating someone else on the show.  Vienna is very uneasy around him.  The initial part of the show, where the contestants are arriving, she is disgusted with the idea that Jake will be coming on the show.  She is nervous and looks scared that he might actually show up.  This is what really threw up a red flag to me.  This is the exact same way I would feel when my abusive boyfriend would get home every night.  My stomach was in knots, I was constantly on guard.  I looked exactly like Vienna did. 

So Jake ends up being on the show and all he can talk about is how Vienna treated him so badly and he wants to talk to her.  Vienna does everything in her power not to talk to him, she even refuses at one point.  She states that she is not comfortable even being around him.  From this point, as a victim of domestic violence, I feel that Jake emotionally and verbally abused Vienna.  But now I’m curious if he ever became physical.  This suspicion brought me back to the break up special and I decided to watch it again to review his body language towards Vienna and I was confused with what I was seeing.  (After googling it, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one that felt this way).

If you watch the video, Jake and Vienna continue to argue back and forth.  Although Vienna does interrupt him a couple of times, it is only because she can never get a word in edgewise.  But if you watch how Jake reacts to Vienna’s interruptions, is not just “babe, could you please stop interrupting me”.  It feels to me that it is aggressive and at one point he says in an abusive tone “Stop interrupting me!”.  Not only does he say this in a degrading tone, but he actually puts his hand out, with the back of it towards Vienna and “karate chops his leg”.  If Jake feels powerful enough to act this way in front of millions of viewers, then what did he do to Vienna behind closed doors? 

Not only do I feel Jake’s actions show signs of abuse, but I worry how Vienna reacts, I feel that she is a victim.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Vienna by any means, but I feel that all women should be treated with respect.  After crying histerically, she actually curls her body up in to her lap and covers her face.  Curling up in the fetal position is a natural reaction that are body does when we feel threatened.  Was Vienna doing this to protect herself from Jake?

At the end of the reunion, Vienna actually walks off the set.  As she is telling Jake how horrible he treated her, he never even looks her in the face.  He has a smirk on his face, which he has been wearing the entire show, and emotionally abuses her by not even entertaining or listening to what she has to say.  He is trying to make her look like the trouble maker and he will just sit there calm and look like the “good guy”. 

I don’t know if my intuition is right or not, but I would love to hear how everyone else feels.  Do you feel that Jake may have abused Vienna?  I’m interested in hearing your opinions!