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Can abusive men really change??

(14 Posts)
Bumpety Thu 27-Aug-09 17:13:38

Hi there,

I know there are many threads on this subject and I've read through most but am looking for specific advice so thought I'd start my own!

A summary: My sister has just managed to leave an abusive relationship, he wasn't physically violent but abused her in every other way possible, he is a repulsive excuse of a man angry

In the past two months he's gone from threatening her with court, fighting with her, basically continuing to abuse her until recently.. he's suddenly 'realised' what he's lost, didn't know what he was doing, deserves another chance, will go to counselling for her etc..hmm

She has been told repeatedly by women's aid networks / women's outreach workers that they DON'T CHANGE which she seemed to understand and agree with until this new turn around - now, of course her prick ex is different than the rest and can change and she's strongly considering taking him back.

We are all devastated by this, honestly can't believe that she has forgotten all the good advice and counselling she's received to get her where she is now (away from him)

Has anybody here been in an abusive relationship where the abuser HAS changed? Become a nice person? has become someone others would like to be around? COMPLETELY changing their personality to become somewhat human and dare I say it, normal?

I'd really appreciate any advice anybody can offer - would also like to hear from those who's opinion is that they can't/don't change

Thanks very much for reading x

NoGoodNicknamesLeft Thu 27-Aug-09 17:17:08

Crap, they're so manipulative when they do that "I'm so sorry" thing. They don't change. But! Your sis may not believe unfortunately till she sees it again. Try what you can to keep her out of it, but be ready in case she does go back.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 27-Aug-09 17:26:33

These men never change in my experience because they are too damaged as individuals. Three of my friends have been in such abusive relationships and each of these has ended in separation and divorce. Next thing he'll suggest to her is joint counselling - no and thrice no is my response!.

The scales will hopefully fall from her eyes soon enough; this man is being highly manipulative here and she is falling for the same old lies they trot out. All you can do in the meantime is support her and not directly criticise him. Get her to see the wider picture if they have children together.

Presumably as well your sister's self esteem and worth are through the floor to even consider taking someone like this back. Perhaps the Womens Outreach who have worked with her previously can continue to work with her at this time?. They should be aware of this latest ploy of his.

I would also be giving her a copy of "Why does he do that?" written by Lundy Bancroft.

Bumpety Thu 27-Aug-09 20:00:17

Thanks to both of you for your replies

I'm trying my best to get my head around the fact that she's just not ready to leave completely but it's heartbreaking to watch - she was so excited about being able to have friends over, to go out without a fight, not to have to justify visiting her family or how much she spends on a damn buggy (with her own money I might add!).. and the rest

Thanks for the book recommendation AttilaTheMeerkat, will look into getting that now

I'll also try to put her in touch with a counselor as you're right, her confidence and self-worth are obviously non existent

Thanks again x

gettingagrip Thu 27-Aug-09 20:28:13

No they don't!


gettingagrip Thu 27-Aug-09 20:30:17

Sorry that was a bit abrupt.

Am in a hurry!

NO time to do links but google 'brain changes in abusive relationships', also 'traumatic bonding'.

This will help her to see that her brain chemistry has been changed and she just needs to give it time.


LoveMyGirls Thu 27-Aug-09 20:36:15

Not in my experience.

Briefly -

went out with him for almost 2yrs 1st 6mths were fab then he jokigly would hit out or hurt me playing around gradually it turned from that to name calling then bit by bit he wore me down until I didn't know my own mind and I walked on egg shells, one I ended up going to hospital because the beans on his fry up weren't hot enough sad I left him (had to be babysat by friends because I'd get lonely and go back) his family begged me to go back to him I said if they loed me and dd1 they wouldn't ask me to have him back and they would make him leave me alone, I moved to the other side of town and started my new life......last I heard he was in prison for causing GBH to his gf.

I don't think it's worth sticking around to find out if he can change.

LoveMyGirls Thu 27-Aug-09 20:38:05

Oh and it took 2 years of counselling for me to get any confidence back and then a year of couples counselling to learn how to have a non - abusive relationship. I'm now 8yrs on and life couldn't be better, I'm back to the old me although I'll never forget and I'll never allow it to happen again!

LoveMyGirls Thu 27-Aug-09 20:44:40

This song always makes me think back to about 6years ago when I was starting to recover from the abuse....

Thank you

The fights, those nights
I tried to pretend it don't hurt
The way, I prayed
Someday that you would love me
Really, completely
Just how I wanted it to be
But no, so wrong
Can't believe I stayed with you so long

You hit, you spit, you split, ever-y bit of me, yeah
You stole, you broke, you're cold
You're such a joke to me, yeah

For every last bruise you gave me
For every time I sat in tears
For the million ways you hurt me
I just wanna tell you this
You broke my world, made me strong
Thank you
Messed up my dreams, made me strong
Thank you

[Verse 2:]
My head, near dead
Just the way you wanted it
My soul, stone cold
Cos I was under you're control
So young, so dumb
Knew just how to make me succumb
But I understand
To make yourself feel like a man

You hit, you spit, you split, ever-y bit of me, yeah
You stole, you broke, you're cold
You're such a joke to me, yeah

For every last bruise you gave me
For every time I sat in tears
For the million ways you hurt me
I just wanna tell you this
You broke my world, made me strong
Thank you
Messed up my dreams, made me strong
Thank you

[Middle eight:]
You coulda had it all babe
It coulda been so right
I woulda given you everything
Morning through night
Yeah, you taught me some lessons
Those are my blessings
That won't happen again
Thank you

Obviously I'm not thankful in the way people are usually thankful as I would rather have lived without the experience BUT it did teach me a lot and it did make me a much stronger person and I don't know that I would be who I am today without it. The thing I'm most thankful for is getting out of it and finding someone who is amazing and loves me without needing to control me and twist my head smile

twigsblankets Thu 27-Aug-09 22:36:37

It is very rare for an abusive man to change, but it does happen.

What has he actually done rather than said to indicate he has begun down the road of changing??

Does he seem to take any responsibility whatsoever for the abuse?

Does he acknowledge his previous behaviour as abusive?

Just wondering what he has done, apart from talking the talk to show that he has realised what he has put her through?

cestlavielife Fri 28-Aug-09 15:27:53

^he's suddenly 'realised' what he's lost, didn't know what he was doing, deserves another chance, will go to counselling for her ^

is all just another form of manipulation. she does not have to take him back to do those things for example if she prepared to go to counselling with him they dont need to be living together (i would not recommend it tho).

maybe suggest to her - dont have him back in your house - he can work to re-build a relationship with you without moving back in. if in 6 or 12 months he really has changed, then she can see if it is what she wants.

she should not take him back for seemingly practical or financial reasons.

i allowed my ex into my house to visit teh children, i tried to set boundaries -he strongly agreed of course i will repsect you i will sleep in the other room, in any case it is a short visit bla bl bla

within a day or two he was saying i ont like your behavour you are too cold towards me; ........ if you dont improve i will leave - then refused to leave himself .

i ended up having to move out of family home.

we are going thru court hearings over contact and he still comes out with sob stories of how he is the victim "she took my children away from me and left me all alone" bla bla bla.

no they dont change.

yes they CAN change but as lundy bancroft says only if they truly recognize their behaviour was abusive.

see also Checklist for Assessing Change in Men Who Abuse Women
2007, online information sheet

cestlavielife Fri 28-Aug-09 15:29:12

in fact here it is in full as i think it is a good list -

Checklist for Assessing Change in Men Who Abuse Women
By Lundy Bancroft
*Note: This is an outline for an article I have not yet written, but I thought it might be helpful to people already.

Admitting fully to what he has done
Stopping excuses
Stopping all blaming of her
Making amends
Accepting responsibility (recognizing that abuse is a choice)
Identifying patterns of controlling behavior, admitting their wrongness
Identifying the attitudes that drive his abuse
Accepting that overcoming abusiveness will be a decades-long process, not declaring himself cured
Not starting to say, “so now it’s your turn to do your work”, not using change as a bargaining chip
Not demanding credit for improvements he has made
Not treating improvements as chips or vouchers to be spent on occasional acts of abuse (e.g. “I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so why are you making such a big deal about it?”)
Developing respectful, kind, supportive behaviors
Carrying his weight
Sharing power
Changing how he is in highly heated conflicts
Changing how he responds to his partner’s (or former partner’s) anger and grievances
Changing his parenting
Changing his treatment of her as a parent
Changing his attitudes towards females in general
Accepting the consequences of his actions (including not feeling sorry for himself about those consequences, and not blaming her or the children for them)

mathanxiety Sat 29-Aug-09 08:11:50

It only changes after maybe years of intensive therapy with a very skilled therapist and total commitment on the part of the abuser. Has he done this? The man your sister is involved with has not changed. He is just doing the other side of the coin thing. The book by Lundy Bancroft is great, a real eye-opener. Make your sister read it, and if she won't then make everyone who cares about her read it. Do everything in your power to keep her from taking him back. The real issue with abusive men is their bloated sense of entitlement; if they attend the usual bad counseling or therapy they just end up feeling they are victims of their sad childhoods or that they just have some sort of an anger management problem. They usually learn more ways of abusing women, more subtle ways of manipulating them when the counseling shows exactly how women are hurt by them -- it just gives them new ideas most of the time. She should under no circumstances go to joint counseling with this man -- what he learns there he will turn against her too. She needs a lot of individual counseling on her own.

Bellsa Sat 29-Aug-09 08:22:12

I see alot of domestic violence cases in my job. Some of the men get community orders which specify a domestic violence programme, which involves counselling. From the number that I see back in the Courts, it doesn't work. IMO he's realised what he's lost-someone to victimise. If it was my sister I'd be encouraging her to attend counselling, and keeping her away from his influence, as far as I could.

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