10 Signs Batterers Are Willing to Change
By Kelly Ann Evers
We all want to believe that our abusers and batterers are willing to change or want to change. With their heartfelt apologies, promises to not do it again, and lavishing gifts, the victim is hopeful that he means it this time.
Domestic abuse and domestic violence do not happen by accident. It is not the result of drinking too much or doing drugs, nor is it the result of having too many problems in life, or being under a great deal of stress.
Domestic abuse and domestic violence are deliberately perpetrated by an abuser against a person or persons whom he or she wishes to control. Batterers’ batterer because of a learned behavior that was continually seen as a child; for example, a father that physically abuses their mother repeatedly.
When a child is repeatedly exposed to this kind of unrelenting abuse, statistics show that the child will repeat the cycle of abuse — unless they get help. In addition to recurring exposure of family violence, children and adults who are continually exposed to violence through media and video games also can become abusers.
Can a Batterer Change?
The real question is: can a batterer or abuser change? The answer is yes if he/she really wants to. The problem is, batterers may want help, but they are not willing to submit to the programs. Or they may start a program only to woo the spouse back, but shortly later return back to his old pattern after the woman returns. A batterer must be willing to seek help and be willing to fully comply with a personally-designed batterer treatment program, and they must be willing to complete the program. Unfortunately, without help from a team of professionals, a batterer is unlikely able to heal on his own.
One thing I’ve discovered while working with batterers is that most love their spouses and don’t want to repeat the cycle of abuse they saw as a child. Unfortunately, pride, anger, habits, and ingrained patterns are what hinder progress or willingness to change. If however, the batterer is willing to seek help, remain in the program, and be open to community help, there is a good chance the cycle of abuse will end in that family.
Although the 10 signs below can give you an idea if the batterer is willing to change, the only real way to know if the batterer will change is with time. Time will be the real test.
Signs Batterers are willing to Change
Accepts the spouse’s decision for a respite without laying guilt, shaming, or harassing her/him.
Accepts and participates in community-wide accountability team (batterer treatment program, Drug and Alcoholic Programs, Pastoral Counseling, Psychological Therapy, etc.).
Is truly repentant and asks forgiveness to all who have been hurt.
Takes responsibility for damage done to family, friends, and children.
Is willing to give up drugs and alcohol.
Will not harass, annoy, lay guilt, abuse, torment, persuade, stalk, contact, or distress family, friends, accountability team.
Willing to stay in program for as long as it takes.
Willing to wait, as long as it takes, for spouse and children to trust him.
Willing to go into treatment without victim.
Willing to go into treatment with no strings attached (“I’ll go if you will come back”).
Take a Respite
It’s recommended to take a 30-, 60-, or 90-day respite away from the batterer. This time gives the batterer time to reflect and ponder his violent behavior. During this time, it also allows the victim to clear her mind, make decisions for her and her children, and allows the victim to seek help for herself and her children.
After the respite, the victim can decide (with the help of her pastors, counselors, spouse’s treatment program leaders, etc.) if she and her children should return to the batterer or allow continued healing to take place while separated.
It is well-documented that abusers do not change without continual therapy specifically geared toward the abusive relationship patterns. In these relationships it is necessary to work together yet also work separately on each issue in abusive relationships. A combination of group therapy, drug and alcohol treatments, batterer treatment programs, psychotherapy and pastoral care is highly recommended for abusers as they work towards healing.
If the batterer is not willing to seek help from a team of professionals, the wise course of action is to remove the victim from the situation. Removing the victim can be dangerous, however. Abusers who feel they are losing control of their victim retaliate. Studies have shown that 70% of victims that leave have had to seek emergency medical care and 25% are murdered after leaving. Although these statistics are alarmingly high, staying will result in similar statistics.
Help is Available
Help is available for both the victim and batterer. For victims who choose to stay, they are actually condoning and enabling the abuse. To help the batterer, the victim needs to remove herself from the situation so he can get help.
Domestic abuse and domestic violence are not okay. It shouldn’t happen to anyone. Ever! Unfortunately, it happens far too often. Whether you’re a victim, or a friend, family member, or co-worker of a victim, His Love Heals, Domestic Violence Help is here to help you understand domestic violence and domestic abuse. The more you know about it, the easier it will be to actively seek assistance for yourself or people you care about.
If you feel you are in a victim of domestic violence, understand that Betty Griffin House, St Johns Counties Domestic Violence Center is here for you. We are dedicated to researching and providing you with the most up-to-date information to help you understand domestic violence signs, solutions, help services, statics, and facts.
If you are a Batterer then Project Change @ Kids Bridge is also here for you. YOU should control, only YOURSELF, and we are here to show you not only how to do that, but to wholeheartedly accept that as the “NEW YOU”. You can get help in a lot of places, but make sure you not only get help, but get help that works for you from now on. We have those tools, and we are willing to share with you!