Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Abusive men don't change

(35 Posts)
thisishowifeel Thu 27-May-10 10:13:15

Is this really true?

My therapist seemed to think that yes they can change. She said that her job would otherwise be pointless.

Is it more that, they find it almost impossible to accept that it may be them with the problem, and therefore do not seek help, and if they got past THAT bit then change would indeed be possible?

The Freedom Programme run a course for men that seems to have success, as does the Lifeline programme. It's just getting them through the door is so hard.

What do you all think?

MarthaLovesMatthew Thu 27-May-10 10:16:47

I would say that just as alcoholics can stop drinking and drug addicts can stop using, abusive men (and women) can change their behaviour and stop abusing.

But as you said, the tricky bit is getting someone to admit they have a problem in the first place.

But if they do and they want to change, there's no reason why they can't and indeed many do.

ABatInBunkFive Thu 27-May-10 10:19:29

what Martha said.

Tortington Thu 27-May-10 10:24:00

what martha said.

CelticBanshee Thu 27-May-10 10:28:01

Martha, do you actually know of any abusive men/women that have successfully eliminated their abuse patterns with treatment?

I don't. I do know an individual currently getting 'treated' for his abuse, but I don't see how it can change him. Alcoholics know that alcohol is the key, drug addicts know that it's drugs - it would be a lot easier to eliminate when you have a specific target.

Abusers think abusive, it is normal to them, it is their mindset. When they're abusive to their partner / children, they don't run into their therapist and tell them exactly what happened because to the abuser, it was a normal interaction.

IMO, the only way an abuser would be successfully treated would be with intense therapy, preferably 24/7 - the therapist would need to live with the abuser in order to target the abuse patterns.

yellowiris Thu 27-May-10 11:13:51

Hi
I'm new to this place (well I joined ages ago but forgot about it). I'm dealing with this problem myself. My H is verbally and emotionally abusive, very manipulative and controlling but in subtle, underhand ways.

He has admitted many times that he's been in the wrong and even admitted to being abusive a few times, but mostly he gets angry at my use of that word and turns it around so I'm the abusive one just for labelling him.

I think that for a man with that mind set and the sense of entitlement, they rarely change. I have hoped and tried for 2 years (it took me 12 years of marriage before I figured out it was abuse) but he is just stringing me along.

Women's Aid is great for helping you see through the fog of abuse.
I've come to the conclusion that I no longer want to live with someone who needs therapy just so he can be nice to me.

Mummiehunnie Thu 27-May-10 11:20:31

I agree, the man has to realise that he is abusive himself and go and ask for help, many don't, you can have therapy to handle an abusive person and I am still in the process of managing a relationship with my ex, due to kids and finances court case stuff, it is difficult to get them to accept new boundaries, it can be done, the thing is they will still be abusive, only you don't take it!

The most empowering things I have done is not involve third parties, educated myself to handle him and changed the boundaries, much better at this stage than as it was years ago with me calling the police due to his death threats! The thing is I don't think the workds, you are an insignificant member of society, you are ugly inside and outside and other such things will ever leave me, I feel all those things every day now! I am working on not feeling that anymore!

CelticBanshee Thu 27-May-10 11:21:48

Good for you yellowiris!!

ipodmama Thu 27-May-10 11:42:11

I posted an earlier thread 'feeling weird'. My emotionally abusive/controlling husband has just died. I was with him for 15 years and it took me three years to realise that it wasn't about me; he would be the same with any woman. His illness (cancer that had spread everywhere including his brain, and took us all by surprise as he got sick and died in three weeks ) only made him worse. I went through hell in his final eight months. Apparently, I was always the problem and he accused me of all the things that he actually did; infidelity, misuse of money, fucking up the kids etc etc. I have learn't a few things about his childhood since his death and it wasn't pretty so his behaviour was probably normal to him - how are you ever going to change that? I'm sad for the kids but boy am I glad hes gone for good.Getting an abusive dh to change is probably a bit like winning the lottery - slim chance.

Bucharest Thu 27-May-10 11:46:21

I'm not sure they can, like alcoholics are always still alcoholics, they are (I believe) encouraged by therapists never to forget that.

I think abusive men (and women) can probably learn to control themselves (think of an inactive volcano) but the nature isn't going to change.

Abused woman can change though. They can, and must, be helped to stop allowing/enabling the abuse.

ipodmama- what an awful situation for you. Sending you much strength. x

GetOrfMoiLand Thu 27-May-10 11:51:48

Christ Ipod. Poor you, you must be feeling all over the place.

i don't believe that abusive men can change tbh. They just learn ways to control their behaviour. Perhaps with years of work and therapy you could make a breakthrough, but I doubt that anyone's intrinsic behaviour patterns would change on a permanent basis. You would always be on the alert for a 'relapse'.

Sod it, why waste your time. If someone is abusive to you, get rid. Don't be a martyr waste your time and emotion on trying to 'fix' someone.

XP was an abusive arsehole. years of me modifying my behaviour, trying everything to get him to change. What a waste of 7 years of my life. Most of my twenties wasted on him. Never again. Life is too short to waste it on trying to help people who generally do not want to change.

ItsGraceAgain Thu 27-May-10 11:56:24

I no longer think it's worth the effort. If you rented a house that turned out to have loads of hidden problems with leaks and faulty wiring, would you start fixing it or move somewhere else?

My problem was that I used to think all houses were uncomfortable & dangerous, metaphorically speaking. Now I know they're not, I don't see why I should be responsible someone else's faulty wiring.

ItsGraceAgain Thu 27-May-10 11:58:48

thisis - saw your other post, too. I still think you're better off attending to your own "leaks & wiring" ... leave him to do his own repairs in his own way!

ipodmama Thu 27-May-10 12:04:27

I had to spend a ridiculous amount of emotional energy telling myself over and over not to let his belittling/crap words get to me. It was hard work and probably made me stronger however the relief of not having to deal with him any longer is immense. I stayed because of the kids and my own sense of morals regarding splitting up a family etc - but I was only going to wait until our son reached adulthood. Even so I wasn't quite sure how I'd cope for another fourteen years! I guess I've been lucky as I can remember the struggle I had with all the feelings and he was scary ( threats etc) so I was never quite sure what he would do if I left. He was from Pakistan , I'm British; he'd threatened to send the kids away. HELL, HELL, HELL

GetOrfMoiLand Thu 27-May-10 12:22:26

Grace that is a brilliant analogy and I agree with your every word.

ItsGraceAgain Thu 27-May-10 17:52:01

Cheers, GOML

You know, what with so many worrying threads here at the moment, I wish something would happen to let all abused partners see through the mist and just dump the buggers. I do know how hard it is to recognise and admit the horrors in your own life, but what with threads being deleted and OPs fading away ... Nothing's going to change, is it?

Whereas, if everybody dumped their bullies and supported one another instead, there'd be no-one left for abusers to abuse. Families everywhere would be so much happier.

Fantasy over; back to the real worl!

ItsGraceAgain Thu 27-May-10 17:52:27

world, even

thisishowifeel Thu 27-May-10 18:00:21

But Grace....you do have a point, but it should be the culture of abuse that should be addressed. It is happening slowly.

On these boards we have seen abuse "outed" by health visitors, midwives, in my case my nurse practitioner. They are trained to identify it.

What is not happening is the same being true for the men who do it. I know there are ethical issues, but these men should be brought to account for what they do, there should be an education programme, on these citizenship days in schools, or whatever, to address boys behaviour and sense of entitlement. The perpetrators should be forced into facing what they have done and continue to do, through the health and social services, and the legal process.

I know that it comes from the family environment, but like drink/driving and smoking, racism etc....the culture can be changed, and quite quickly, but it need to be the men who do some of the bloody work on this too!

mathanxiety Thu 27-May-10 18:11:35

As long as there's any reward for not changing, there will be no change.

I think men should speak up more, but I think the courts should take dv far more seriously. The concept of 'father's rights' should be drastically reexamined by divorce courts too. Some men don't need any reminders of their rights.

ItsGraceAgain Thu 27-May-10 18:38:49

Yes, I've read on here about professionals spotting abuse and supporting the targets. it's fantastic news!

I was also thrilled when DV became a curriculum topic. Is it still? Making children aware of what bullying is, and why it's wrong, has to be the only long-term approach to reducing the problem, surely.

ItsGraceAgain Thu 27-May-10 18:41:40

Math - yes, though I can see why the issue is so thorny. Both male & female partners use children in divorce: in both cases, behaving abusively towards the spouse and the DCs. At least the courts no longer automatically favour the mother, which I feel is right. Probably going to be a while before the processes become sophisticated enough to see through bullshit & bullying.

mathanxiety Thu 27-May-10 20:04:28

I think women are disproportionately affected by domestic violence before divorce, though, and it's a pity the courts can't see that putting father's rights before the fact that a man may have abused his wife and by extension his children, has a very negative effect on children.

It tells children who have witnessed abuse that men can get away with violence or terrorising a family; if they are faced with visitation or some sort of contact with someone whom they have seen abusing their mother, they are learning to disregard their instincts, not go to the authorities for help (because it's the courts who are making them stay with their abusive dad in the first place), and that really nobody in authority cares about them or about their mother.

They are in danger of having the lesson from home reinforced by the system -- that women don't matter, that the only thing that matters is who shouts loudest, who can back up a command with a fist or a belt. Allowing abusive men rights to see their children or joint custody means dismissing and normalising their behaviour.

AnyFucker Thu 27-May-10 20:16:53

do I think an abusive man can change ?....no

do I think he can get better at it?...yes

he can learn to manage it better ie. in the cycle of abuse the "nice" spells a bit longer

or he becomes more subtle in his behaviour (this is why marriage counselling is not recommended in abusive relationships...he "improves" his button-pushing tendencies)

do I think any woman should stay with any man after the first incidence of pushing the boundaries ?

no

mathanxiety Thu 27-May-10 20:23:52

I think a lot of abusive men just manage to fine tune their abuse in a lot of the courses that are available, and they get a kick out of fooling the 'girly men' who run them or speak at them.

ItsGraceAgain Thu 27-May-10 20:44:10

Isn't that why Lundy Bancroft stopped leading anger-management courses for DV men?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now