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Is there hope- can an abusive husband change?

(99 Posts)
ShouldIstayorgonow Sun 25-Oct-15 09:30:25

I've NC'd for this and have never posted about my OH before but just don't know what to do for the best. My OH was kind when we met 25 years ago but looking back there were a few warning signs early on. We met at
uni and he did used to make the odd undermining comment about my abilities when I struggled with writing up my PhD but back then then I was confident and pretty opinionated on occasions.
The first violence was when I was around 5 months pregnant with DC1 a few years later. We argued at the bottom of the stairs, I grabbed his glasses from his face (no idea why) and he pushed me really hard and sent me flying backwards. He was really sorry and vowed it wouldn't happen again. At first we were "equal" in our jobs but when Dc2 came along we moved countries for a couple of years and I didn't have a work permit but enjoyed being at home with the DC.
Life was mainly good though I could be stubborn about my point of view sometimes and so he would occasionally (every 12-18 months) be violent. This was usually pushing me over and kicking me, grabbing me by the throat or pushing me down stairs.i had bruises but nothing more and told no one.

To everyone else we seemed like the perfect family and I convinced myself that the bad times were few and far between. We decided to try for DC3 (yes, stupid I know) but soon after I found a breast lump which had to be investigated then removed so we put that on hold for 3 months (all was fine). We then agreed to stop contraception and I fell pregnant straight away. He bought me flowers the day I told him but then became sulky over the next week and said he didn't want to delay having more independence by another 2 years (DC2 was 2 at the time). He wore me down over the next few weeks trying to get me to agrre to an abortion, I refused and cried a lot which annoyed him. He finally told me he had made an appointment for me to have a termination (the country we were in at the time allowed this to happen and would do the consent and abortion at the same time). He drove me to the clinic and I broke down in tears in the car park and refused to go in. His response was to get a vasectomy 2 weeks later and be uninterested in the rest of my pregnancy. He is now sorry and regrets his actions as far as Dc3 is concerned but has never seen how terribly he behaved towards me.

We returned to the UK near my parents and I worked part-time. OH got another job so we moved to the other end of the country a few years ago. He works away for a few days every week and i worked part-time until a couple of years ago when I was finding juggling everything (we live far from a town, or any family) too much. I would love to work again but don't think I'll get a good reference from my last company at the last few months I know I missed deadlines etc. as I was finding it hard. I've completely lost my confidence and know I need to get braver.
He still blocks my exit from rooms, pushes occasionally but hasn't been really violent to me for about 5 years. He interrupts everyone constantly, says our opinions are ridiculous and shuts down conversations when he feels like it. He can also be funny but is very unpredictable and often has underlying anger, glaring, slamming doors if anyone upsets him, which is several times over the weekend usually.

Sorry this is so long. I've come to the part which is very hard to write as I know I've failed my DC through my weakness. Once my eldest was 10 he upset OH about something and came running down to me. OH had hit him so hard his lip was bleeding. Since then he has hit Dc1 every 12-18 months, never with me around, usually upstairs. DC has now left for college and 2 weeks ago he started on DD1 instead. She had told him to go away when he went into her room to complain about something. He said it was self-defence but DC3 and I had to stop him going back in for more. He was white with rage and screamed and swore at us that it was nothing to do with us but then went outside. It seems he's transferred his violence from me to the DC.

Finally, too latei know, I told him to leave the house (he was due to travel with work a couple of days later anyway). He reluctantly went, saying we couldn't afford a hotel, that he needed me to collect some furniture we'd bought etc.
This was 2 weeks ago and since then I have told him to enrol in a domestic violence prgramme (but there's a 4 month waiting list) he's read the booklet on the respect website and has been saying how sorry he is etc. He says he's been crying himself to sleep etc but has been pushing and pushing to come back.
The Dc who suffered at his hands 2 weeks ago has swapped texts with him and wants to let him come back as he is trying to change.
We saw the GP together (I gave him an ultimatum) who was hopeless , only suggesting counselling and it was the Respect helpline who gave us details of a programme. Social services were informed but decided that they trust me to safeguard the DC , particularly as they are older.

I want to know whether someone like this can change?

He says he can see how bad his behaviour has been and wants to have an equal relationship with us all. He says "of course they would be safe with me back" but how can I trust him?
If he could be a decent kind man I would try again as the children have only 1 father and I would be worried how he would be with them if we split permanently. He's currently way for a third weel but I know he'll be pushing to come back next weekend.

Does anyone have any positive stories where men have turned things around successfully?

Imgivinguponyou Sun 25-Oct-15 09:37:49

God, do not let him back ever. How many chances have you given him over the years? A dangerous man. I can't believe you are even considering forgiving him and letting him back into the family home. If you can't do it for yourself, do it to protect your dc.

Dulceetdecorum Sun 25-Oct-15 09:41:25

Sorry, I've never known a violent man change. This is is who he is. I think you'll find that the apologies and crying will be just a brief interlude and then he will be back to being the vile person he really is once he has manipulated you into allowing him to return.

Your comment about your children only having 1 father is really sad. He's an awful father and a dreadful role model. Surely they would be better without him? Just for a bit of context, I left my violent XH when my DD was 4 and she hasnt seen him since (her choice). Not having him in her life has been a huge positive rather than a negative.

Its easy to lose sight of what's normal and acceptable in a relationship and it seems that is where you are now. Please think about putting your energy into yourself and your children rather than getting him 'better'. The Freedom programme would be a good starting point.

SewingAndCakes Sun 25-Oct-15 09:41:48

No. Protect your children and never let him back.

Rozalia Sun 25-Oct-15 09:43:49

Why even take that risk with your children's safety?

magoria Sun 25-Oct-15 09:44:50

Yes. He changed from a man happy to abuse a vulnerable pregnant woman to a man happy to beat defenseless children.

You and your DC3 had to restrain him from going back so he could beat your DD some more.

Your DC know no better. They have spent their entire lives believing this is how family life should be.

Don't let this man near them again. They are already damaged.

RolyPolierThanThou Sun 25-Oct-15 09:46:34

Sadly no. Your situation sounds remarkably similar to my parents' marriage and I am dd2. Ecen down to the moving abroad, the coerced abortion attempt. Eerily similar.

It got bad that mum actually sent me away to live with my grandparents after my older sistee (previously the target of his rages) moved out (and in with her abusive boyfriend. But that's another story).

No he has not changed and my father and I are nc now for lots of reasons, not really the violence just his selfishness and unreasonableness. I object to how awful he was to his family yet feels entitled to affection from his victims. My younger dsis (the almost aborted dc3) doesnt care much for him either (weirdly she is his favourite now) and his relationship with his eldest child hangs by a thread.

He know his behaviour ir unacceptable, wrong and frightena hus children. He knew that before the ultimatums and yet actually IN that situation at the time, white with rage as you described, he cant or wont stop himself. Why would he next time? He didnt learn from the previous incidents. They kept reoccurring.

Out of interest, what has he done to rectify the situation with ds1 and dd2? Does he expect them to just forgive and forget? What is he doing to put things right other than just begging his victims to forget? Because the latter is not a long term solurion or strategy.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 25-Oct-15 09:46:45

In my opinion, no, they can't change. Their abusive nature is a fundamental part of their character.

If he's determined to try to change, then he needs to work on that while he's away from you and your children. This is a dangerous man. One who thinks it's OK to injure his wife, and OK to beat his children.

My own feeling is that he's paying lip-service to wanting to change, so you'll take him back. But once he's back it will be the same old shit. Crying himself to sleep? Oh, diddums.

Think on this: you are an autonomous adult and can choose for yourself whether to tolerate his abuse but your children are not. Both of you are setting a pattern for how they understand adult relationships. Do you welcome the idea that your son/s might turn out to be abusers, or your daughter find herself a man who abuses her just like her father abused her mother and then her and her siblings in turn?

My advice to you is to keep this monster away from you and your children for ever.

Vixxfacee Sun 25-Oct-15 09:48:26


Twinklestein Sun 25-Oct-15 09:48:43

There is no hope that he will change. But there is great hope that you might comes to your senses and leave him, going forward to a much happier and safer life for your children.

DoreenLethal Sun 25-Oct-15 09:49:39

No. The tears are all part of the plant to get back into the home.

If he was truly trying to change he would see how bad it had been and would back off.

Ohwhatfuckeryisthis Sun 25-Oct-15 09:49:41

He hurt you-you let him back.
He hurt your kids and you are considering letting him back?
No, time to woman up and protect your kids.

Anomaly Sun 25-Oct-15 09:52:04

Don't lethim back. Please get counselling for the whole family. If your eldest is at uni they often have counselling services.

This man is dangerous and dont underestimate the damage that living in fear of violence does. He may have been violent intermittently but the fear will have been constant.

tribpot Sun 25-Oct-15 09:54:24

For most people who post about domestic violence, turning that violence towards their children is in the line in the sand they won't cross.

He hit one of your children every year, he's now started on your daughter. And you think that you should let him back because he has read a pamphlet? Have a word with yourself.

You need to be very clear with your DD, it is not her decision as to whether he returns to the house. The fact that she has swapped texts with him and wants him to return is irrelevant. You are the parent and it's your job to protect your children.

Your failure to protect them, and yourself, so far is something you can never make right. Do not compound this by letting him back.

You need to be focusing your energies on learning how to break free of the abuse and the dreadful mindset it has left you with, where you have normalised something most of us consider absolutely abhorrent - violence towards children. Please talk to Women's Aid and get yourself on the Freedom Programme. Now is not the time to be concerned with his rehabilitation but with your own.

RolyPolierThanThou Sun 25-Oct-15 09:56:12

And the self defence argument is scary. He doesnt even take responsibility for his own aggressive behaviour. I suppose each time he was violent towards you it was something you did that 'made him do it' and if you hadnt done x y z then he wouldn't have list his temper?

My mum divorced my dad and I was GLAD to be rid of him even though I now was living with my grandparents. He is not a father worth having. Your children might be able to have a relationship with him when older or as a separated parents and but at least then it's on THEIR terms and they can choosen how much contact. To continue to live with him you are implying his rages are acceptable and they have no out from this situation.

Dont force your dc to have him around. He can still be their father when living separately. We're suggesting you a leave him not bury him under the patio.

Finola1step Sun 25-Oct-15 09:57:33

You are at a real crossroads in your life. You could take him back and hope for the best. But my gut feeling is that the terrible behaviours and dynamics are so entrenched, things won't change. The situation may improve but only temporarily.

The other option is that you stick by your decision and not let him back. This will of course be a very scary option. But this I your chance to rediscover your self. Your own interests, self confidence and self esteem.

This is your chance to really show your dc that this is not what a healthy relationship looks like. Your dc may well want you to stay together because they too will be scared of the unknown.

You've had 25 years of crap from this bully. If you let him come back, you are signing up for another 25 years of the same.

Have you thought about doing the Freedom program?

gamerchick Sun 25-Oct-15 09:58:25

I've typed out a few replies but none suited.

You let him back and you've failed completely as a mother. Protect your bloody kids and tell him to fuck off for good.

I suspect you've been abused for so long that someone making your kids bleed doesn't have the impact on you it should have. Since you can't trust yourself you need to keep him out under all circumstances.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 25-Oct-15 09:59:45

He's a text-book abuser right down to the first physical violence occurring when you were pregnant. Reading that long list of his abuse had made me very angry, and very, very sad indeed for all of you.

He'd find it very, very difficult to change something so fundamental to his being, even if he wanted to. Which I doubt. He just wants to come back to the status quo.

What will the next outburst entail? Putting one of you in hospital, or worse, before you accept the damage he's done over such a long time. Damage which could take a very long time in counselling for your children to overcome? Can you comprehend how dreadful it must have been for your children to live in fear of the next outburst? The next beating?

Keep him away from you all!

DoreenLethal Sun 25-Oct-15 10:05:36

Oh and you can NEVER have an equal relationship with someone like this.

You should report him to the police for the sustained attacks - not let him back into your bed and your kids house.

Whereyourtreasureis Sun 25-Oct-15 10:09:14

This is my experience with letting a violent partner back.

I met a caring, attentive, good looking and wonderful man as a teenager, we married when I was 18. By 20, I was a meek and anxious wreck, gradually worn down and beginning to change my views and behaviors so I didn't provoke him. After a particularly horrible incident, the blinkers were off, I called my dad and brother, and they helped me to make him leave.
After almost 8 months of wearing me down with telling me how disgusted he was with his behaviour, addressing it with a DV Counsellor, changing his job to a less demanding role, I truly believed he was the man I had married again, and I let him come home.
Things were fantastic- he couldn't do enough to make it up to me. Until I went for a night out with friends. He'd tried to call me and I hadn't answered. When I got home, he punched me so hard that he broke his own wrist on my jaw. I called the police while he was at hospital getting himself checked out for his injury and I never let him come near me again. I was a naive fool for believing he was ever a good man.
This was a lifetime ago, I'm now married with 3DCS, to a man who is lovely because that's who he is, not who he is trying to be.

I don't know if anyone will be able to give you a positive story of a 'changed man'. But I urge you, if someone here does have a positive experience, don't just focus on that one good outcome and gloss over the many negative ones, as justification for trying again.

Decent people don't have to change their personality and mindset to be safe around their family.


lavent Sun 25-Oct-15 10:09:31


I've been in your situation and I tried and tried, have second chances, third chances, fourth chances etc! Unfortunately he never changed and actually got worse and more calculated in his behaviour.

In the end I had to run.

Don't let it get to that stage!

You might benefit from talking to a domestic abuse support worker and perhaps attending the Freedom program (I am currently half way through and it's very eye-opening).

Seriouslyffs Sun 25-Oct-15 10:10:55

Boohoo, there's a waiting list, the GP was hopeless.
You're very quick to make excuses for him aren't you? Even him battering your kids hasn't been enough for you to kick him out and now you're colluding in his return.
Slow. Hand. Clap.

goddessofsmallthings Sun 25-Oct-15 10:12:25

I know I've failed my DC through my weakness

You won't get any argument from me about that particular statement of fact.

If you wish to redeem yourself you will ensure that your home is the haven of safety it should always have been for your dc, and you will NEVER EVER let this man cross the threshold again.

Fwiw, dv courses for perpetrators have a very low success rate and it's well documented that many 'graduates' simply spout the dogma without having learned to mitigate and/or control their anger. In other words, they can be more dangerous after attending these courses because they can speak so convincingly of the lessons they've learned but have no intention of putting into practice

lavent Sun 25-Oct-15 10:16:28

One of the first things I learnt on the Freedom program is that there are NO EXCUSES. Not drink, not drugs, not your cooking abilities (!) Men abuse for POWER & CONTROL only

YouBastardSockBalls Sun 25-Oct-15 10:17:28

Yes, they can change.

They get WORSE.

He beats your children.

Please, do not let him back.

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