Sanctuary for the Abused
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
If He/ She REALLY Wants to Change
1. He cannot change unless he deals deeply with his entitled and superior attitudes. No superficial changes that he may make offer any real hope for the future.
2. It makes no difference how NICE he is being to you, since almost all abusers have nice periods. What matters is how RESPECTFUL and NONCOERCIVE he chooses to become.
Holding on to these fundamental points, you can use the following guide to help you identify changes that show promise of being genuine. We are looking for "yes" answers to these questions.
Has he learned to treat your opinions with respect, even when they differ strongly from his?
Is he accepting your right to express anger to him, especially when it involves his history of mistreating you?
Is he respecting your right to freedom and independence? Does that include refraining from all interference with your friendships and giving up the demand to always know where you are and whom you are with?
Has he stopped making excuses for his behavior, including not using your behavior as an excuse fo his?
Is he being respectful about sex, applying no pressure and engaging in no guilt trips?
Has he stopped cheating or flirting with other women, or using other behaviors that keep you anxious that he will stray?
Does he listen to your side in arguments without interupting, and then make a serious effort to respond thoughfully to your points, even if he doesn't like them?
Have you been free to raise your grievances, new or old, without retaliation from him?
Has he stopped talking about his abuse as if it were an accident and begun to acknowledge the he used it to control you?
Is he actually responding to your grievances and doing something about them (for example, changing the way he behaves toward your children)?
Has he greatly reduced or eliminated his use of controlling behaviors (such as sarcasm, rolling his eyes, loud disgusted sighs, talking over you, using the voice of ultimate authority, and other demostrations of disrespect or superiority) during conversations and arguments?
When he does slip back into controlling behavior, does he take you seriously when you complain about it and keep working on improving?
Is he being consistent and responsible in his behavior, taking into account how his actions affect you without having to be constantly reminded?
Is he acting noticeably less demanding, selfish, and self-centered?
Is he being fair and responsible about money, including allowing you to keep you own assets in your own name?
Has he stopped any behaviors that you find threatening or intimidating?
Has he significantly expanded his contribution to household and child-rearing responsibilities and stopped taking your domestic work for granted or treating you like a servant?
Has he begun supporting your strengths rather than striving to undermine them?
Have you had any major angry argument with him in which he has shown signs fo a new willingness to conduct himself nonabusively?
Clear Signs of An Abuser Who ISN'T Changing
*He says he can only change if you change too.
*He says he can only change if you "help" him change, by giving him emotional support, reassurance and forgiveness, and by spending a lot of time with him. This often means that he wants your to abandon any plans you had to take a break from seeing him.
*He criticizes you for not realizing how much he has changed.
*He criticizes you for not trusting that his change will last.
*He criticizes you for considering him capable of behaving abusively even though he in fact had done so in the past (or has threatened to) as if you should know that he "would never do something like that", even though he has.
*He reminds you about the bad things he would have done in the past but isn't doing anymore, which amounts to a subtle threat.
*He tells you that you are taking too long to make up your mind, that he can't "wait forever", as a way to pressure you not to take the time you need to collect yourself and to assess how much he's really willing to change.
*He says, "I'm changing, I'm changing," but you don't feel it.
Be Straight with Yourself
To use good judgement and make wise decisions about the prospect of change in your abusive partner, you need to be honest WITH YOURSELF. Because you love him, or you have children with him, or leaving would be difficult for other reasons, you may be sorely tempted to get overly hopeful about small concessions that he finally makes.
If he doesn't budge for five years, or twenty years, and then he finally moves an inch, your ehaustion can make you think, Hey! An inch! That's progress! You may wish to overlook all the glaring signs indicating that his basic attitudes and strategies remain intact. Beware of his deception and your own self-deception.
I have heard such heart-rending sadness in the voices of many dozens of abused women who have said to me, "I wish I could somehow recover all those years I wasted waiting around for him to deal with his issues." Save yourself that sadness if you can, by insisting on nothing less than complete respect.
The previous was excerpted from the book "Why Does He Do That" by Lundy Bancroft, pgs 346-351
(Bancroft wrote this in the male gender. Your abuser may well be female.)