13 Steps to an Abusive Man’s Process of Change

1. Admit fully to his history of psychological, sexual, and physical abusiveness toward any current or past partners whom he abused. Denial and minimizing need to stop, including discrediting your memory of what happened. He can’t change if he is continuing to cover-up, to others or to himself, important parts of what he has done.

2. Acknowledge that the abuse was wrong, unconditionally. he needs to identify the justifications he has tended to use, including the various ways that he may have blamed you, and to talk in detail about why his behaviors were unacceptable without slipping back into defending them.

3. Acknowledge that his behavior was a choice, not a loss of control. For example, he needs to recognize that there is a moment during each incident at which he gives himself permission to become abuisive and that he chooses how far to let himself go.

4. Recognize the effects his abuse has had on you on your children, and show empathy for those. He needs to talk in detail about the short-and-long term impact that his abuse has had, including fear, loss of trust, anger, and loss of freedom and other rights. And he needs to do this without reverting to feeling sorry for himself or talking about how hard the experience has been for him.

5. Identify in detail his pattern of controlling behaviors and entitled attitudes. He needs to speak is detail about the day-to-day tactics of abuse he has used. Equally important, he must be able to identify his underlying beliefs and values that have driven those behaviors, such as considering himself entitled to constant attention, looking down on you as inferior, or believing that men aren’t responsible for their actions if “provoked” by a partner.

6. Develop respectful behaviors and attitudes to replace the abusive ones he is stopping. You can look for examples such as improving how well he listens to you during conflicts and at other times, carrying his weight of household responsibilities and child care, and supporting your independence. He has to demonstrate that he has to come to accept the fact that you have rights and that they are equal to his.

7. Reevaluate his distorted image of you, replacing it with a more positive and empathetic view. He has to recognize that he has had mental habits of focusing on and exaggerating his grievances against you and his perceptions of your weaknesses and to begin instead to compliment you and pay attention to strengths and abilities.

8. Make amends for the damage he has done. He has to develop a sense that he has a debt to you and to your children as a result of his abusiveness. He can start to make up somewhat for his actions by being consistently kind and supportive, putting his own needs on the back burner for a couple of years, talking with people whom he has mislead in regard to the abuse and admitting to them that he lied, paying for objects that he has damaged, and many other steps related to cleaning up the emotional and literal messes that his behaviors have caused. (At the same time, he needs to accept that he may never be able to fully compensate you.)

9. Accept the consequences of his actions. He should stop whining about, or blaming you for, problems that are the result of his abuse, such as your loss of desire to be sexual with him, the children’s tendency to prefer you, or the fact that he is on probation.

10. Commit to not repeating his abusive behaviors and honor that commitment. He should not place any conditions on his his improvement, such as saying that he won’t call you names as long as you don’t raise your voice to him. If he does backslide, he cannot justify his abusive behaviors by saying, “But I’ve done great for five months; you can’t expect me to be perfect,” as if a good period earned him chips to spend on occasional abuse.

11. Accept the need to give up his privileges and do so. This means saying good-bye to double standards. to flirting with other women, to taking off with his friends all week-end while you look after the children, and to being allowed to express anger while you are not.

12. Accept that overcoming abusiveness is likely to be a life long process. He at no time can claim that his work is done by saying to you, “I’ve changed but you haven’t,”  or complain that he is sick of hearing about the abuse and control and that “it’s time to get past all that.” He needs to come to terms with the fact that he will probably need to be working on his issues for good and that you may feel the effects of what he has done for many years.

13. Be willing to be accountable for his actions, both past and future. His attitude that he is above reproach has to be replaced by willingness to accept feedback and criticism, to be honest about any backsliding, and to be answerable for what he does and how it affects you and your children.

Author: Lundy Bancroft Why Does He Do That?

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