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Do abusive husbands ever mend their ways?

(63 Posts)
shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 09:33:18

In your experience? Have you ever kicked them out, had them successfully attend therapy/medical treatment/whatever they need and then seen them go back to being the loving, caring, non-abusive husband they once were?

I posted a few days ago. Background is I got occupation order and non-molestation order against DH last Friday, he has been out of the house since then. DH has been suffering from depression and possibly worse for last months and became verbally and physically abusive with me, in front of the DCs. We have two tiny DCs and I am a full-time working mum. Am now trying to decide - do I give the relationship another chance if he goes gets medical help and recovers? Or do I file for a divorce now because abusers never mend their ways and there is a high chance that he will fall back into old patterns?

What is your experience? Many thanks for any answers/opinions/views.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 09:36:34

I think you don't have to decide yet. Wait and see what happens.

If he does recover it will probably be a long term thing, it won't happen immediately. And it might not happen at all.

You can keep him ta a safe distance while you explore your relationship again, if that is what you want to do, but tbh it partly depends on whether you still have strong feelings for him - I know when I have experienced abuse my feelings have gone off like a switch, and never come back again.

Don't rush. You have the control now - keep it that way for as long as you can.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 09:39:05

Btw lots of men suffer from depression and don't become abusive in any way because of it, so this suggests he had some leaning towards that sort of behaviour already.

Depression is also often used as an excuse for abuse.

To overcome what it is that makes him behave abusively, will take a very long time and hard work - counselling, therapy and so on. It is up to you how close you let him get while he is going through this process, that is if he decides to do it - and if he doesn't decide to do it then that says everything you need to know, he's not ready to be in a decent relationship and you should file for divorce asap.

Revengefantasiesrus Wed 10-Oct-12 09:41:12

Watching with interest...

MrsjREwing Wed 10-Oct-12 09:41:50

Give him time to get treatment for his health problems, if he doesn't seek treatment forget it.

MrsjREwing Wed 10-Oct-12 09:46:29

I just want to add, I was considered to have mh problems by my gp and the treatment didn't help as the depressiin was caused by a physical problem in my case no sleep or adequate oxygen, I had undiagnosed sleep apnea. In ladies it doesn't show as it does in Men, so if your H is a snorer get him a sleep study as you will kick yourself if that was the cause and he later gets treatment and feels better, then tells you where to go.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 09:51:50

I still maintain that physical problems and the resultant depression are not justified excuses for abuse.

They can be linked, obviously, but it doesn't make it alright nor does it make it something anyone should accept or live with.

NicknameTaken Wed 10-Oct-12 09:52:55

No, they don't.

The good thing is, one day you'll finally give up that hope, and frankly, it's a great relief.

ScaryBOOAlot Wed 10-Oct-12 09:58:18

Normally - no, an abuser is always an abuser.

However, if you're saying he's only done this for the last two months (not that that makes it okay) and that he's been diagnosed with depression, then getting the right treatment may well help him recover.

I am a vile bitch whenever I am have a depressive episode. I control it better than I used to because of DS, but when he's not around, if someone - especially if its someone I love - says something that gets to me, I can be utterly foul.

Given the circumstances, I'd encourage him - and you - to reach out and get some professional support. Hopefully he will come out the other side of it.

fuzzywuzzy Wed 10-Oct-12 09:59:02

My experience is that once your partner has hit you that's it. The first time is the hardest after that it's easy.

For me there'd always be the knowledge in the back of my mind that he can and has hit me & he can do it again.

Plus as another poster said, I honestly can't muster up any like let alone love for someone who's beaten me up.
I still remember the humiliation if trying to cover my bruised face to go to work.....

Snorbs Wed 10-Oct-12 09:59:06

What SeveredEdMcDunnough says. If he goes for treatment and if he's found the right treatment for his problems and if he puts his heart and soul into it and if he sees the light and if he can change pretty much his entire inner self and if he can then keep it up long-term, then that might be the time to consider re-establishing a relationship. But not a minute before.

While you're waiting for all those "if"s to come off, though, I recommend you start building a life without him. Start the divorce rolling. If, a couple of years down the line (because that's how long it will take) he's a new man then you could always re-marry.

MrsjREwing Wed 10-Oct-12 10:00:44

I just feel sorry for people who see their GP and say Dr I am depressed, GP hands out tablets and if it goes on for ages as it did with me, eventually you get talking therapy, well you can do those two till tge cows come home it is pointless if you are suffering a physical problem.

I went from being spoken to like a "normal" person to be spoken to like a "loon" and when by chance in a pre op test it was found I had sleep apnea and how bad it was I was spoken to like I was "normal" again by my GP.

Do please get your H a health MOT as you don't want your dc with an ill man, if he won't get treatment bin him, it has to come from him.

pregnantpause Wed 10-Oct-12 10:02:17

I know someone who forgave after treatment and counseling. He is no longer physically abusive. Emotionally however, I think they both are. There is much fear and resentment in that relationship, she uses the past to beat him with, and yet remains afraid of him physically, he resents her false forgiveness and still attacks her verbally. It's very sad and I'm glad to say there are no dc to witness their mistake of staying together.
In your case I think you have to decide can you truly forgive and forget? Can he go back, in your eyes, tjo the man he was? Will he always be tainted? Give him the time to change, its more his actions than yours that need to be the deciding factor, what is he doubt to make amends? Not what he is saying because its very easy to make promises of change, but what actions he's taking to that effect?

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 10:03:16

I agree with Snorbs. (except it will likely take more than two years!)

I would start building your life on the premise that he will not be in it - or at least he will be only on the peripheries of it. You can do this without ruling out a future re-ignition of things if he recovers and you find yourself able to be confident that he will never be abusive again.

You'll also find yourself in a stronger position to have that relationship, and successfully, if you have sorted your life out to be how you want it, without relying on him in any way. It cannot do any harm.

thetrackisback Wed 10-Oct-12 10:06:39

I believe that anybody can change but they've got to want to. External factors can't do this it is internal factors that are the driver. You have no control over this. I would stand back and get on with my life personally. You might be missing out on something amazing.

Apocalypto Wed 10-Oct-12 10:30:03

My own guess would be no, they don't, because people who misbehave in relationships generally see their behaviour as either trivial or justified.

People are I think logical to that extent. "I had an affair because she neglected me"; "I pissed the housekeeping away on shoes because I needed them"; whatever.

The person who thinks "I'm going to act like a selfish twunt because I just am" may exist, but must be very rare. It must be much commoner for people to think "I'm going to have an affair because it's on the rocks anyway", or "I'm going to hit her because she's annoyed me". Few people are prepared to be evil so they tell themselves they're not being evil.

Relationship history is always highly relevant. You would be wary in your 30s of hooking up with anyone who was your age or older but had never had an LTR. The best guide to someone's behaviour in the future is how they treat you now, except that it will get a bit worse as they feel able to take you more for granted; LTRs get worse over time IME, not better.

cestlavielife Wed 10-Oct-12 10:31:15

go to counselling yourself first and explore whether he really was "the loving, caring, non-abusive husband"

if he truly has had personality transplant due to depressive illness then yes there could be hope if he seeks treatment. but that is down to him. (and his therapists)

i know a couple where things got difficult due to h depression etc she gave him ultimatum get help or leave, he got help and things have got back to normal... but he had had a stroke i think that was a trigger factor.

if however he has displayed controlling behaviours previously and these have really maybe got worse since DC came along, well then it will take a lot of work on his part.

and recognition and self awareness on his part.

but you need to be thinking in terms of what happens over next 12 months - not what miracle occurs in next two weeks or three.

by all means give ourself a year to consider divorce, but dont move him back in before then.

struwelpeter Wed 10-Oct-12 13:08:04

No decisions for quite a while. Find out your options re divorce but also this is the time to concentrate on yourself, work out who you are, what you want in life and also your self-esteem. No one deserves abuse or caused it, but often there can be background reasons why someone settles for less than they deserve or keeps stuck in a situation that is going from bad to worse.
His business is to work on himself, you deserve time to work on yourself.

Dryjuice25 Wed 10-Oct-12 13:24:49

Ex horribly abused me on the night I discovered he was cheating. He never apologized and when I left him, he booked himself for counselling and swore he'd never do it again. I didn't take him back but years later I thank my stars for never looking back there(he begged for 4years).

Now he sleeps around " because I married young" and never lets her have access to money and thinks himself as god's gift to women. He has since made someone else pregnant whilst married, paid for sex and boast about fucking an ex who cheated on him before me and said "The bitch travelled 10 000 miles just to come suck my d***"

And he said his wife loves him unconditionally..WTF. Poor woman. Anyway my point is that he had therapy and counselling but that was a waste of time. He doesn't seem to understand how he is hurting her. He has got chillingly worse and views women as existing for men's benefit. I'm glad I dodged the bullet

Totally agree with Apocalypto. Ex seems to justify his vices and is highly entitled too.

shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 14:05:06

Thank you for all of the responses. This is very helpful and food for thought.

SeveredEd I do feel like my feelings have gone off like a switch, both emotionally and physically - right now don't feel like I could ever be with him again physically and there is no love left there. When I think about him, I just think about all the awful things he has done and said. Also feel like I have lost the trust and might forever be suspicious and worried that he might become abusive again.

MrsJREwing that is very interesting, DH also snores, but also does have MH issues - suffers from OCD for example - and this time around the few times I managed to get health professionals to see him or discussed his behaviour with them they did diagnose mental illness. But does mental illness drive a man to be abusive or does it have to be in him already...

Unfortunately DH has refused to seek medical treatment until now, refused to have any medical tests (blood or other) to see if there is a physical cause, refused to take any medication (including anti-psychotic drugs) that was prescribed him. And even now via our lawyers has offered to go to marriage counselling with me and now to jointly go to see a psychiatrist who specialises in marital/relationship issues - but only if I come with him. So I think he still doesn't get it.

DH never precisely hit me (no black eyes) but possibly worse - he has pushed me, grabbed me by arms and shaken me, kicked me in the shins while in bed, deliberately woken me at multiple times in the night and kept me awake by things like yanking pillow from under my head (every night), hitting me with pillow repeatedly, poking me in ribs or back, groping and harrassing me physically, episodes of trying to push me out of my bed, very extreme verbal abuse (every single day for hours on end), shouting at me, physically threatening me (shaking fist etc.), trying to physically overpower me to get hold of my mobile phone on one occasion -- and all this in front of the children. Oh, and all of this went on for nearly 4 months. So not just physical but emotional and verbal too.

cestlavielife he has displayed controlling behaviour previously, mainly since DC were on the way or came along, and that is what I am worried about - I had always taken them as rare one-offs that I put down to stress or something - but now thinking maybe they weren't (although there was never, ever any physical violence until some 3.5 months ago). And he had started to isolate himself - and us - both socially and from family starting some 3 years ago (around when first DC was born), so well before the horrendous events of last few months.

And I am seeing no signs of him accepting that what he did was wrong and that he needs to do tremendous amount of work if he values his family and children. I think he still thinks this is a "marital spat" and I just did this to play hardball with him.

Reading back all that I have just written it doesn't sound very hopeful does it?

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 14:08:49

Shell, this sounds more like unhinged behaviour than deliberately abusive - it's very very sad. When you mention anti psychotic drugs that alters my perception of the situation.

If he's seriously lost the plot, that isn't just depression - that's proper job mental illness which needs to be controlled, not that depression isn't proper, but it's totally different.

In this case I do think that once his psychotic behaviour has been controlled he might well become non abusive - however depending on what the assessment is, it might require drugs that will also make him fairly unresponsive and unable to sustain a relationship anyway.

Has he got a formal diagnosis?

CharlotteCollinsislost Wed 10-Oct-12 14:17:05

DO NOT go to couples counselling with an abusive partner. Just don't. It doesn't help.

As for the question of is it mental illness - I don't think mental illness makes everyone abusive, just those who have the right attitudes. And if it's shown to be mental illness, you'll still be left wondering what if he stops taking his medication?

Doesn't look good, does it?

shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 14:23:13

because people who misbehave in relationships generally see their behaviour as either trivial or justified

Apocalypto you seem to have hit the nail on the head - that is DH's attitude.

Only possible acceptable justification would be if he is so mentally ill that it has transformed him into a different person (and at least maybe I can forgive him if not forget) but anything else and not a chance for him.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 14:24:35

You have to be quite severely ill to be given anti psychotic medication.

cestlavielife Wed 10-Oct-12 14:43:02

given that you got non mol and occupation order you have clearly reported this and ahve it recored.
i think he is a dangerous man (regardless of whethre he can eb treated or not) and you need to keep yourself away from him;

and also DC - please do go for supervised contact only at this stage.

he may well ge even angrier/out of control when he twigs that you not going to le him back in.

4.5 years since i phsycially moved from flat pvsly shared with ex (he had his a major psychotic-ish breakdown a year before that, left for five months to be with his family and "get better", came back for a "visit" and refused to leave...) he is not i would say a normal sane individual and can be very scary still. has had more depressive episodes despite being now under doctors etc. i was told by someone else he had "felt better" and stopped medication... interestingly, each time he has latched onto different individuals who have supported him, picked him up, sometimes tried to get involved in restoring contact with DC etc.

here is a lot of research on the damage lviving with parents with MH issues if there is not enough support etc; i would say even more so if there is risk of violence. that jsut isnt worth it.

yes there are depressive parents who manage just fine and are good aprents -but they are the ones with a lot of insight into their condition, know when to ask for help and who to get it from.

this book has some good info in it on effects on children read chapter 12

you should also read why does he do that by lundy bancroft - reading both can help you have insight in to what you can attribute to MH issues pure and simple and what goes beyond that to controling /abusive behaviour . some chapters wont apply but i found some of the anecdotes cited scarily familiar.

regardless of if is MH or "criminal" behaviour really does not matter at this stage because you are at risk from his behaviour and you need to protect yourself and your DC. that means follwing thru on the orders you have, only allowing supervised contact for DC until you are persuaded by medical profressionals (not by him!!) that his MH issues are under control....

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