The Truth About Whether Abusers Can Ever Change & Stop An Abusive Relationship

Photo: getty
The Truth About Whether Abusers Can Ever Change & Stop An Abusive Relationship
Heartbreak

For a long time, abusive relationships were socially accepted. Now, it is a clear requirement for a healthy marriage to not include physical or emotional abuse.

If you do find yourself in an abusive relationship, you may wonder if it's possible for an abuser to change so that the two of you can have a healthy relationship.

RELATED: 15 Undeniable Warning Signs Your Relationship Is Abusive

Like their fathers and grandfathers, modern men have grown up in a social context that glorifies interpersonal violence in macho culture and, in some cases, as a normal component of interpersonal relationships.

Why? Because, to some men, abuse is the key to achieving power and control in a relationship, which is the norm for them. These men don't value being peaceful and egalitarian with their wives because it gives them no value in front of other men.

An individual man would never renounce the tool of domestic abuse because it serves the purpose of maintaining his share of power and control over the wife. There's no equality here — just dominance.

This dominance is highly rewarded, and no man who is prone to abusive behavior voluntarily gives it up because, in their minds, it equals sexual prowess, strength, and self-worth.

Therefore, we need strong social pressure to present abuse as a non-acceptable behavior, which is punishable by law.

So, what can lead a man to change abusive behaviors? External pressure and a personal decision prompted by the wife's abandonment.

RELATED: 21 Signs You're In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

In their individual relationships, men see the deep hurt that their violence causes and are very well aware of the fact that they run the risk of ending their lives alone because their abused spouse can leave them.

They can't ignore the pain and suffering of their spouse, especially if she threatens to end the relationship.

Confronted with her leaving the marriage, men begin to appreciate the value of a committed relationship. It's a powerful motivation for internal change.

In short, the husband must decide to stop abusing, and no coaxing from the spouse can replace this realization.

How can women see if their abusive man is changing?

Abusive men do change if, and only if, they go through some specific steps:

  • The abusive person stops denying and takes responsibility for his abuse and own his behavior without excusing it, minimizing or blaming his partner.
  • The abusive person recognizes he can't change himself, so he voluntarily gets some professional help. He understands he needs to work on changing his own history of trauma by investing time and effort for as long as necessary.
  • The abusive person can accept limited contact with abused persons to show boundaries and respect, reinforcing a new behavior.
  • In short, the abusive person has to decide to change and do the work alone, (or in a therapy group for abusive men) and the abused spouse must step out.

Abusive marriages present a difficult situation that requires strong decisions, but, no matter the outcome of the relationship, the victim of abuse needs to heal and be secure and happy above all else.

RELATED: 7 Heartbreaking Reasons Why People Stay Abusive Relationships

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Dr. Nora Femenia is an expert in resolving conflicts in long term relationships. She offers conflict resolution coaching to individuals and couples, using her own method that merges developmental psychology and conflict studies.