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Any positive experiences on abusive men changing for the better (and for good)

(31 Posts)
creativevoid Mon 07-Oct-13 09:11:59

I have finally realised dh has been verbally and emotionally abusing me, controlling me and keeping me on eggshells. At a friend's recommendation I read "why does he do that" and the scales fell from my eyes. It's just all so clear now. We have 2 ds, 3and 5. If it weren't for them I would just walk out. It's also for them I'm changing things because I don't want them to grow up seeing this (anymore). He has accepted that his behaviour is abuse, saw gp Friday and referred to someone else for Wednesday. The book says these are good signs but also says few abusive men really change and when they do it can take years of hard work. I'm not sure I have the energy for it, only to leave anyway later. But I want to try my best for the children. Any hope out there?

If you truly want to try your best for the children, I would leave your DH. He's had enough chances and he's blown them all.

Such men rarely stick to proper therapy (not a six week course for instance) for the years needed and some therapy too can be harmful in that it teaches the abuser how to further abuse their victims.

What's his background like in terms of his parents; this was learnt in his own childhood. A short block of sessions is in no way going to undo all that is it?.

Its therefore no point at all trying to keep this sinking ship together and I would make plans to legally separate from him.

Keeping you on eggshells is to my mind code for saying living in fear.
Your children do not need or warrant such a poor example of a father in their own childhoods. They need a happy and emotionally healthy mother; you need time to heal away from him. I would suggest you also contact Womens Aid and enrol on their Freedom Programme.

Such men do plead that they will change but rarely if ever really do so and not without years (yes years) of therapy. Even then it may not work out. Does he even now truly accept any responsibility for his actions, I daresay not.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 07-Oct-13 09:21:53

There will be someone along, I'm sure, to say that their bully saw the light and changed behaviour. You've read a good book but I would heartily recommend you have a a look at the 'Freedom Programme' which is for victims of male abuse. Because, even though he's superficially saying the right things, manipulative men are very sly and this has to be very much as a 'last chance' deal. Zero tolerance. My fear is that you won't know if the behaviour has started up again because you're acclimatised to it.... and he'll just bide his time until the dust settles.

You're right. Children don't deserve to grow up seeing their mother intimidated by their father. You don't deserve to be on pins in your own home. Good luck

SirSugar Mon 07-Oct-13 09:24:41

No

Preciousbane Mon 07-Oct-13 09:27:10

I have no idea if they can change because I divorced mine.

What is the books main theme?

Preciousbane Mon 07-Oct-13 09:27:55

To add , no I don't think they can change.

AnyFucker Mon 07-Oct-13 09:29:09

No

JustBecauseICan Mon 07-Oct-13 09:30:09

No.

creativevoid Mon 07-Oct-13 09:30:52

Thanks everyone. I will look at the freedom programme. I'm seeing a solicitor tomorrow (he doesn't know). I work ft and he is sahd so key thing is to make sure I don't lose my children. I know the consequences - I grew up in the same kind of house and ended up being furious with my mother for not protecting us and herself, and also blaming her for not just doing what my father wanted (not realising this was impossible). Our relationship has never recovered and I realise now how much she suffered. I won't have the same with my children.

scallopsrgreat Mon 07-Oct-13 09:35:51

There has to be consequences for them if they are to change. Bancroft reiterates that constantly in his book. There has to be zero tolerance too from you, his immediate family too along with friends, GP, therapist (and a very specific therapist would be required I'd imagine - the type that Lundy Bancroft is) etc.

Because you are asking this question I am assuming that you are still living with him? Where are the consequences for him of not changing? It isn't good enough for you to threaten to leave. You have to actually leave and take your children with you. He has to do this by himself.

So no I don't think that they do change. Not without a great deal of work (years) and even then I think it would be easy for them to fall back into their abusive ways if you don't keep being intolerant of it. It would be completely exhausting for you.

Bumpiemalumpie Mon 07-Oct-13 09:38:38

It is great you have realised and he has taken some advice. If he sticks to it he is 20% ready for recovery but sadly, research tells us (me as a person who works with families who re in DA relationships) that abuse is a learned behaviour that comes from the early years, it is as hard to change as true addictions, nail biting, nose picking and over eating. There are schools of thought that say an abuser is in training from age 2.

I see your reasoning however, My advice would be that you leave him whilst he has the therapy (should b at least 6months), get some support for yourself such as a BOOST group or Freedom Programme which will support your self esteem and ability to form relationships that are positive and then, when he says he has "changed" and you have clear evidence, trust and confidence in this, try more contact.

Prioritise your children's need for a safe, secure and non abusive (even indirecty) environment.

Sorry for the long speak but hope it helps with perspective

NumTumRedRum Mon 07-Oct-13 09:40:07

No, I'm sorry I haven't either. You can't change him, only how behave. Good luck op.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 07-Oct-13 09:40:56

I'm really pleased you're seeing a solicitor. Now that you're wise to what's going on and understand the likely prognosis, you'll benefit hugely from careful planning.... and I mean that mentally as well as practically. I think, once you research it a little and discover that you're actually in quite a strong position, you'll find it gives you the confidence and courage to stop treading on eggshells and to reject him instead. Good luck.

Thistledew Mon 07-Oct-13 09:48:46

My abusive ex had a couple of years of intensive therapy after we split and I often wondered if he had managed to change his ways.

I got my answer when he tried to contact me 4 years after we split. By calling me and sending sexually suggestive text messages at 4 o'clock in the morning. confused

I guess the answer was 'no' then.

Even if your H is one of the very small number who will change, it is going to be a long slow process to do so. Why should you and your children suffer in the mean time? Much better that you separate now, he sorts his shit out on his own watch, and you keep an open mind about reconciling in the future if he is successful.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Mon 07-Oct-13 09:49:17

No.

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life policing your partner's behaviour for signs of relapse? What kind of a relationship would that be? Let alone the fact that you're in a very poor position to do that anyway, since your boundaries have been skewed from childhood. And that by staying, you are removing the only real consequence to his abusive behaviour that might make your abuser uncomfortable enough to seek change.

Glad you're seeing a solicitor. I predict that when you do end things with him, he will throw his current actions in your face: "But I went out of my way to accommodate you by seeing GP and getting counselling!". Abusers do not like doing things that aren't for their own pleasure; he will for evermore consider that you "owe" him.

creativevoid Mon 07-Oct-13 09:53:37

Thanks everyone. Feeling very sad because I know you are right. Trying to put in place the building blocks to leave. Key thing is childcare. We moved here last year from London. I am from another country and have no family or network where we are now. I know I can do it - just working through the options and implications.

Ohnoitsgonewrong Mon 07-Oct-13 09:54:04

I left my ex he abused me for years the final straw was when he beat me up in front of our children , I took him to court and prosecuted him but he only had to have some relationship course for a couple of months .
His treatment of me never changed in 18 years he's with someone else now I'm waiting for the day she calls me as I'm sure that day will come ....

Hi, OP- just to say go.I was in the same situation- from European country, 3 DC. I left him (well, made him leave) now almost 5 years ago. Had moved from Wales to Home Counties the year before, so no friends or family. Sole earner/ him being sahd.
We survived. Childcare fell into place surprisingly quickly once I was forced to get on with it.
Best thing I ever did!
Interestingly, he hasn't seen DCs for over 3 years now- not interested since there isn't a free ride attached anymore angry

foolonthehill Mon 07-Oct-13 10:31:47

mine didn't (hasn't).... so far he has had 2 years of individual counselling, anger management course, stress management course and a full length abuse perpetrators course.

The net effect seems to be it wasn't his fault it was "circumstances/his upbringing/my upbringing/my behaviour/the children/stress/artistic temperament hmm, money worries, not being recognised as the genius artiste that he is hmm hmm and treated appropriately"

In my life this means he is now a highly manipulative abuser with lots of the right phrases to win others over but no change at all.

I do have a friend whose husband exhibited many abusive traits...he had a difficult upbringing, some mental health issues and lacks emotional empathy...when she confronted him with his behaviour he did change...he asked her to list the 10 worst behaviours, set up systems to help him change his reactions and expectations, put up a whiteboard in the kitchen to remind him of trigger/flash points and worked very very hard to change then he went to therapy, then he asked his wife for more feedback 2years on they are in a completely different place.But he is still working and asking for help...

The main difference I see is that whilst he had abusive behaviours he was not an "entitled man" he valued his DC and his wife above himself. IMHO "abusers" get so much fuel for their selfishness and feel so justified in doing so that it is very very hard to re-wire them.

fromparistoberlin Mon 07-Oct-13 10:33:51

good luck. I have a similar situation to you. will PM you sometime !!!!

keen to hear what soliciter says

that said, the fact he even wants to go for treatment is slightly encouraging.....

pictish Mon 07-Oct-13 10:44:13

Yes...I do.

I don't have the time to go into the whole story atm, but will return later to fill you in if you are interested.

The short version is that I walked out three years ago having had a gutful of his anger, self righteousness, bullying, demanding and control. He was never violent, and I always stood up for myself...but over time his behaviour deteriorated to such a degree that I was completely unwilling to put up with another minute of it. I was utterly miserable.

We did get back together after some time apart, and since then there has no return to the abusive behaviours. He is a different fish these days.

However, I know that my story is highly unusual and not the norm. When it comes to advising women on here who are in similar situations, I tell them to leave and not look back.

I will answer any questions anyone has, in an hour or two, as I need to go out shortly.

pictish Mon 07-Oct-13 10:47:31

I am very wary of offering false hope or aiding someone to continue in their abusive relationship, so I rarely mention the fact that we survived and healed from abuse.
Women in these situations will cling to any shred of light, and I do not want to be the person dangling it in front of them. The vast majority of abusive people do not change.

Anniegetyourgun Mon 07-Oct-13 10:58:47

I think the point there is, though, Pictish, that you left and he knew you wouldn't come back unless there was very real change. It helped him reach his personal rock bottom, as it were. If there is a good person somewhere under the bad behaviour, carrying on putting up with the bad behaviour is not going to help them change. Zero tolerance might - if they have the strength of character to learn from it. And if they don't, at least you're out of there.

I'll be watching this with interest. My DH has exhibited some abusive behaviour. He left last week and he has since admitted to me he's terrified of hurting me or DD and he would rather die than do that. He is calling the mental health team today (under my supervision, he's scared of doing it) and we'll go from there. I know we can't carry on like this, and so does he, if he can't change then we're finished and HE is the one who is implementing that...so I hold out some hope. He has every right to be very angry at the world but I can't put my life on hold forever waiting for him to deal with his issues.

Good luck OP, stay strong.

whatdoesittake48 Mon 07-Oct-13 11:36:55

I would like to tell you that there is hope - but that leaving is always a good option too.

In my case, i was on the verge of walking out and would have if he hadn't changed. There are things I will never forgive and things I still don't understand, but I can say that he is now a changed man and has been for about 6 months.

I don't mean that he is simply going through one of the "good" cycles, because i saw that often enough to know it was all fake and leading up to something "bad".

his change seems real to me and believe me, I am careful, watching every word, every look and each and every criticism for underlying motives.

What happened was he accepted his behaviour was wrong, he looked for answers in books and did the freedom program. we talked about everything. he apologised and still does - often. he stopped blaming me for his behaviour. He regrets the fact his actions had an effect on our children and me.

The shouting stopped immediately, the arguments became quieter and more rational and eventually the arguments became less and less. We communicate much more and I am slowly learning to love him again wholeheartedly.

For me the best bit is that finally - maybe just in the last month - the fear has gone. the eggshell feeling has gone. I no longer fear normal text messages, i no longer hate the sound of his car in the drive, I no longer wish he wouldn't come home and I no longer feel scared to voice my opinion. I felt terrified at first that i would never get over it. And to be truthful it took a long time and there were times when I felt that I was Broken and that he had broken me. i was so angry about that. but that feeling has passed. With each and every day that he is kind, open, talkative, sympathetic, understanding and genuine - I trust him more.

We have now come to understand where the anger came from and learned to put it aside.

he is by no means perfect and I do not have rose tinted specs. He ashamed of his behaviour and i am sad I allowed it to continue so long. maybe if I had been willing to leave earlier, he would have improved sooner.

I think it was very hard work for him in the first few months. He struggled with why i was still angry. he found it hard to disagree with me fearing i would accuse him of being EA. But in time we have reached a middle ground where we can both express our grievances in an open way. I feel heard for the first time and it feels incredible.

I wish you the best in your journey and I think that the first step is to feel that you can walk away. because only at that point will you know you have nothing to lose and he will realise that he has everything to lose.

I wish that we had undergone this process apart because I think I would have healed more quickly - so having some time apart might be beneficial for you.

good luck.

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