Helping Abusers

If someone you know is an abuser or expressing abusive behavior, here is important information to consider:

Can an abuser change?

Perpetrators often abuse because of learned attitudes and feelings of entitlement and privilege, which can be difficult to reverse. To start the recovery process, an abuser should locate a certified batterer intervention program immediately. While people do have the capacity to change, they need to genuinely want and be committed to all aspects of change in order to do so.  Abusers may see a benefit from having control over a partner and justify the abuse.  Ultimately, the abuser is the only person responsible for the abuse and the only person who can decide to change.

Signs an abuser is willing to make changes:

  • Admitting fully to what they have done
  • Not making excuses or blaming others for their behavior
  • Accepting responsibility and recognizing the abuse is a choice
  • Demonstrating respectful, kind, and supportive behaviors
  • Accepting the consequences of their actions
  • Changing how they respond to their partners anger and grievances
  • Not demanding credit for improvements and changes they have made
  • Accepting that the relationship is over is that is the partners request

How can I help a friend who is an abuser?

  • Learn about domestic violence so that you can help recognize unhealthy or abusive behaviors
  • Do not support your friend’s attempt to justify or minimize the severity of his/her behavior
  • Only if you feel completely safe in doing so, suggest that your friend considers seeking professional help is another way to support them in changing
  • Remind them that change will create a healthier relationship for both partners
  • Stay in touch and support the abuser over the long term  while they make changes in their abusive behavior

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