Marriage Missions International

Signs That He or She Has Changed and Will Stop Abuse

Photo credit: OUCHcharley / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: OUCHcharley / Foter / CC BY-SA

Within your heart, you want to believe with every fiber of your being that your spouse will never hurt you again when promises are made that he or she won’t be abusive to you in the future. He or she may truly be sorry and may promise you everything you would ever want to hear, but that doesn’t mean that he or she will be able to keep those promises. Some abusers won’t and some abusers can’t. They may not have the strength within them (at least not yet, or ever) to stop themselves from giving into their impulses to hurt you when they become enraged.

So how do you know if they really will stop the abuse in the future and if they indeed have changed? The truth is that you can never be completely certain, but there are some signs you can look for, that may help you determine this as best as you can.

Before we lead you to the articles we believe will help you with this issue, we want to preface all of this by saying that the information we’ve been able to find is addressed to wives who are in abusive situations. We acknowledge, however, that in many homes it is the wife who is the abuser. We truly get that.

We try to find articles, which will help those who are being abused. But the majority of articles written address women as being the victims. If you are a man who is being abused, please accept our apology that we aren’t able to find many articles to help you. It’s not for lack of trying to find them (and we will continue to keep trying). If this is the case for you, please reverse the “he’s” and “she’s” in the linked articles below to glean from and apply what you can use for your situation.

With that said, below is a link to an article written by Brenda Branson, posted on the BrokenPeople.org web site, which we recommend you read to help you with this very issue. Please click onto the link to read:

•  SIGNS THAT HE HAS CHANGED

And then from Barbara Roberts, from the web site Cryingoutforjustice.com here are some of the traits you should watch for:

WHEN BEING SORRY IS GENUINE

— ALSO —

Another article written by Brenda Branson is posted on the Focus Ministries web site, where she discusses whether the abuser is truly repentant or is temporarily regretful. In this article, she gives you insight, which may help you to be able to discern the difference:

The Difference Between True Repentance and Temporary Regret

And finally, to learn more from an additional article (author unknown) that gives additional points to consider, posted on the Escapeabuse.com web site, please click onto the link below to read:

SIGNS THAT AN ABUSER HAS CHANGED OR HAS NOT

If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Comments

53 Responses to “Signs That He or She Has Changed and Will Stop Abuse”
  1. Tess says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA)  I absolutely agree with this article. Thank you so very much for people like Brenda that is willing to bring such hidden things to the light so that they may be dealt with. I, from personal experience, know what it is like to be living with someone who is verbally and emotionally abusive. I have done it for 14 years. And have been through repeated patterns of abusive behaviour, then leaving and coming back with the hope and belief that "this time" he has really changed.

    I think it is not so much what he says (all the promises he makes), but by his actions that you can judge whether or not there is real change. You can only judge by the fruit of the spirit, and it has to be over an extended period of time. I have all too often been so quick to take him back, or go back to him because I wanted to believe with all my heart that he won’t hurt me again. It only lasted a short while and then when he felt that he’d successfully won me back, he became "arrogant" and the abuse started all over again! This is not the lifestyle God meant for his daughters to have. We are not to be slaves or in bondage to anyone, but only a bondservant of Christ.

    • Tommy says:

      (SOUTH AFRICA) Abuse… no matter in what form, is an infringement on your right as a human being. Abuse happens to male, female, and children. That is a known fact. Do NOT wait for the worst to happen. Do NOT stay in an abusive relationship/marriage/house/environment for the sake of your children or your siblings. Plan your move strategically. As soon as he/she is not around… flee to safety if possible. If you’re a child seek help… speak up and tell your teacher… someone at your church or simply someone you can trust. You will not be seen as having abandoned your family if you leave. There are laws to protect you. If you’re male… the same applies and it is the duty of the authorities to extend the same courtesy to you as if you were a woman. Abuse and violence is not gender or age based. It can happen and does happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. Get Help… get out and speak out before it’s TOO LATE.

    • Kellie says:

      (USA) I was raised that no one will ever want me but my mother, that I am her burden. She did not let me play with other kids stating to them and other parents that I had “little problems” and wouldn’t elaborate. If she was in a good mood and approved she would lavishly spoil me. My much older brothers were treated normally, my younger sister’s talents took her to band camp. I was allowed one date @ 17 and the next day my mom told her best friend (whose kids were party hearty stoners) that since I didn’t come home crying and with my dress torn, I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 18 and responsible for my own actions. That friend died two days before my high school graduation and told my mother to lighten up. I was so grateful to know that someone else felt I was being treated oddly.

      I lived with a man for over 30 years who beat me, said he was going to leave me when I was down and out and that I was too odd to ever be in a healthy relationship. He would sometimes be very kind to me but his friends covered up an affair with a woman who considered him a fling and although she has another boyfriend would still want him to be a friend with benefits.

      I moved in with a relative who belittled me, told me that my lot in life would be a series of demeaning sixty hour weeks, not enough sleep or showers and no time for play or let alone have friends or pets. He arranged for a friend to hire me in a laundry where he said I would be watched and held to a standard other employees were not. I do have borderline cerebral palsy and when I went to them for guidance they told me to get my able body out and not to waste their limited time or resources.

      I was looking for work when I met a man and he encouraged me to tell him my whole story. He said he’d like to help me and that his apt manager could vouch for him. We started out friends, but he soon professed stronger feelings for me. The only fault he found in me was that I had lived outside of God’s will. So we got married and it became apparent that he hears voices and tells him I sleep with other men and he wants to hurt me. It got so bad, I wouldn’t leave public places and the cops were often called. He was taken away for evaluation twice.

      I’m blackballed by the local domestic violence system. He called looking for me and it’s the county’s policy to blackball you for life from all their programs. Most of the women in the shelters are on the run from their own warrants, and many have abused their spouses. All I know is that I’ve been told their heirarchy is much like jail and some of the counselors told me this and that I’d get a job and be OK but shelter life is the best these women will ever have (as the bid me farewell).

      I’ve gotten picked on at every job except one that I’ve ever had. People know I have no boundaries and if I try to set them, an indulgent laugh is the usual response.

      The church I begged for help put me in a motel, housed me, helped me with my car, everything but friend me. They wanted all my email and facebook passwords so I wouldn’t have to worry or have stress from my husband. He only knows what state I am in, does not have money or a car and knows that either he gets mental help for the voices and paranoia (and maybe different personalities) or I can’t be with him. He says marriage is for better or worse. One of his personalities wants to throw me under a porch and keep me like an animal hillbilly style. He says KKK reigns where he has relative who believe blood is blood. His own kids turned him into a bounty hunter. I fear that the man who loves me is one of the minor personalities, too bad for me.

      So I’m faced with the reality that I seem to bring out the worst in people but ask them about me and they will admit to me being a sweetheart, gullible, or soft, or an idiot who deserves what she gets.

      At Bible study they told me that since I’m making more than min wage ($10) an hour and a man is making min wage plus commission has told me (for the group with the elder’s blessing) to quit my incessant whining that he lives within his means (he is probably making more than me with commission) and he and his wife are former carnies who know how to do things and not get caught. He formerly had his own business and fully feels that God has him in this humble station to teach him a lesson.

      Well, if that is true, I bring out the worst in the saved and unsaved and apparently my position is to ferret out those who act right even when they can get away with being wrong.

      I’m so very lonely. Being raised the way I was, I’m perfectly capable of entertaining myself. But I also crave acceptance and friendship that I see in others. I don’t seek out the popular and perfect, I seek out the solid and kind but they best I can get is that they are praying for me and that they are busy.

      I’m at the end of my rope and in a lease where I can’t leave til July 1. The leaseholders are a well oiled business and the one neighbor who moved in two months after has had all them same games pulled on him in a similar fashion. So, I don’t think it’s just me. He just accepted a $100K work from home/travel position that will allow him to break his lease soon. I can barely afford to pay my basic costs. I was using public wi-fi but there are more cars here than parking places and NO public parking outside the gated community, so the earlier one gets home the better.

      Please help me. If God wants me out of communion, fellowship for all my life I just don’t see that being to His glory. I’m so lacking for so long that it’s drowning out my ability to appreciate and experience good things. I miss my childhood sweetheart. He is gone. I miss the man who fell in love with a mess of a woman and still saw goodness. I am so far in debt to my birth family and they are all saying I am ungrateful and don’t appreciaqte them. They think it’s fine to hurt me and make fun of me and now that they’ve spent more $$$ on me that I will ever be able to pay back they call me mooch.

      Please help me. I’ve prayed with others. I’ve kept my troubles to myself and been called secretive. I am beyond the end of my rope and have turned the other cheek (my current church says I’m too passive but when I told them my supervisor suggested I confront my bully who sets me up and is constantly excluding me and saying I’m not a team player that if I confronted her I wouldn’t let up and may respect her strengths but will never trust her. My church told me I was out of line (when I did nothing I was too passive). My supervisor chose to seat her next to me assigned me as her Secret Santa ($15 gift card) and her friend flat out told me Thurs that she wouldn’t be giving me anything til after the holidays… in other words regift reject. My supervisor is aware and says it is part of the team.

      So I have no haven with friends who don’t exist, family, spouse, or church. I’ve been reproached by the elder to accept my lot, that I’ve brought it on myself, in a group of two (one of the Bible study ladies said she was adult ADHD and when I did not see the light she was “cured” by the grace of God, and now the in front of the group quit your whining I have less than you and I have turned down better jobs. On paper he makes just enough to qualify him and his wife for food stamps. I am not faulting him just that he is not is a worse place than me, I can stretch a dollar pretty well and just feel out manuevered. Their parting words of wisdom was to be innocent like the lamb yet wise like the serpent. I am NOT street smart nor does it appear I will ever be. My mom is sly, as is the coworker who is essentially being allowed and rewarded for lying about me.

      My elder will NOT tell me how to be wise like a serpent. They might as well have told me to rewrite the Bible. I don’t know how. I hope you take me seriously and see how sincere and scared I am. I’m too scared to be an asset and that’s not glorifying God.

      • Allison says:

        (USA) Kellie, you are clearly in pain and are suffering. Based on your story I truly don’t know what advise to give you. I hope you continue to seek and insist that you need help. Never forget that you are in God’s heart. Please take care<3

      • Anne from United States says:

        Kellie, I think you are very strong and brave that you managed to make a break from your bad relationship, & move away. I think it was the right choice and you should continue it. I think it is also possibly a dangerous situation for you.

        Being isolated and not having all strong healthy family relationships or a strong support network is very hard. But sometimes it is better to be by yourself than to have hurtful relationships, fair weather or 2 faced friends, people who do not know how to truly respect others for the journeys they have been, people who out of laziness, old habit, meaness, or just the way they are, believe they are superior and put you in a diminished treatment. I guess, you do need to find the strength then.

        What’s the upside? You get to spend time with a wonderful person, yourself! What if other people don’t agree? Who cares? It would be a even worse thing a bunch of flattery to manipulate, or bad things to manipulate. You’ve got to fight to find your own stead somehow. Maybe people in relationships are worse off somehow, for others distract.

        Sometimes people read off of how you were treated in the past, and some awful things you have internalized from all those negative messages.

        Then time alone can be very beneficial to work at that yourself, so as not to give others ammunition. You have been through, & will continue to get through incredible struggles. That should be reason enough to value yourself, and that’s no lie.

        Finances are important, and being safe and being around safe people. Church is fine to keep some connection there for that- but have other outlets as well. Many local libraries have free classes for instance. Not everybody will or should get married, but it is important to enjoy your own company and have life, a lifetime learning experience. I know it is corny, but reading is good company. When you get in the right place, you realize you really aren’t lonely, it is just internalized other people’s opinions of how you ought to feel.

        Seriously! When I add it up on paper, sometimes I feel bad my life is not going great. But if I can get my head & heart straight -I can say, life is an interesting journey -and since you don’t get to pick much of it, at least be kind to yourself and enjoy it when you can. It is not wrong to do so, it is part of appreciating the gift life is, it is wrong not to (excluding hurting others etc. ha, ha, you know what I mean).

      • Cindy Wright from United States says:

        Kellie, I’m so sorry I missed this when it first came in. How very tragic, with all you have gone through. I truly cry for you and pray for you. I’m glad though, that Allison and Anne have responded to what you wrote. I hope you read what they have written and I hope it helps in some way knowing others care.

        One thing I want to caution you though, is that no one from the outside knows exactly what you are going through (as you’ve learned the hard way). Many very good intentioned people will advise you to leave (and many will advise you to divorce –we won’t because that is a decision between you and God… only the two of you can make that decision together), but be careful. Sometimes leaving (and/or divorcing) can put you in more peril than staying. Sometimes the abuser will respond in an even more violent way and hunt their victim down to hurt them even more seriously. I don’t want to scare you more… Lord knows you’ve had more of that than any person should have done to them, but this is a “heads up” just in case you need it, to be cautious in leaving to find refuge. You need to have a plan that will work for you.

        Please read through as many of the articles as you can in this topic of Abuse in Marriage to glean through what is pointed out and figure out what will work for you and what won’t, so you can try to come up with a plan to be as safe as it’s possible for YOUR circumstance. It would be good to find an abuse center where you can talk to a counselor. Please look through the “Recommended Resources and Links” part of this topic to find some that we recommend… but also know that a lot of communities have local abuse centers that you might find helpful, as well or instead of. They have experience with situations where the victim is in danger (whether the victim would do better to stay for a time until they can come up with a safe plan or whether they should leave right away). Hopefully they can help you to figure out what YOU can and should do in your circumstance.

        Anne gave you some good advice… just be cautious in the leaving part to time it right and try to have a healthy support system in place, if it’s possible. Obviously, you’ve found some bad ones in the past… but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good ones out there that can do better. Just use your God-given intelligence, prayer, and discernment in figuring out if the “help” you are reaching out for is a good one or not. I wish we could do more for you here than this… I truly do. But hopefully, through the articles we have posted with various advice from those who have been through abuse, and also the links we make available that you can use, and prayer… we ARE praying for you and with you (and so will others who will see your plea), you will eventually find the help you need. I’m SO sorry for the pain you’ve been going through. I pray you will find light at the end of this very dark tunnel. I hope and pray for you that you can find a way to be safe and stay safe. Please know that we care.

  2. Charity says:

    (ZIMBABWE)  What advice would you give to someone in an abusive relationship?

  3. Grace says:

    (AUSTRALIA)  Charity, There are so many links in marriagemission.com for abusive marriages. Arm yourself with information about domestive violence/abuse. “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Another website is notunderbondage.com.

    I have just separated from my husband. He has continually declared himself changed and often convinces friends, pastors, counselors and even Christian psychologists. I thought I was going crazy because the family and I felt more abused than ever, but couldn’t pinpoint it because the physical stuff had stopped.

    Psychological abuse can be far more damaging than physical abuse – it eats at the very core of who you are. You begin to second-guess yourself and not trust your own gut instinct.

    Well-meaning friends and pastors ask why I don’t see the change that he says has happened. They ask me for examples of abuse. Now I know that when people ask me that, all I have to say that he is still abusive because when I ask for abuse to stop, he retaliates or punishes me for it and the abuse actually escalates. No, he doesn’t hit me, but he discredits my opinions and my voice. It is domestic violence because I don’t do what I feel like doing, I do what I don’t want to do and the entire family walks on eggshells, feeling afraid of what he will do.

    He can easily manipulate others to believe he has changed, but until he is able to admit fully to the abuse and identify the attitudes that drive it, he is still abusive and hasn’t changed, NO MATTER WHAT HE SAYS.

    • Davies says:

      (USA)  If you would like to know everything about abuse please read: Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft. Every Christian counselor needs to read this amazing book. Every woman should read this book before entering into a courtship or marriage. Please spend the time and money to inform yourself. This book is worthy of every penny you will spend.

      According to Bancroft who has studied this issue for more than 15 yrs and has been involved with over 2,000 case studies, said 90% of the time it is the man who acts this way. The statement above “in MANY homes it is the wife who is the abuser” is an overstatement and the reason you cannot find any articles regarding such. Men learn this entitled mentality from their abusive, controlling fathers. They believe it is their right, and entitlement, to control AND abuse. It is overwhelming the many methods used to abuse and more than likely, many women are in abusive situations and do not understand the method of abuse being used on them. Physical is only one of many.

      Women are to be treated as Christ would treat His bride, the church. Heaven help the men who cross these lines of abusive behavior. They will be accountable before God for what they have done to such a precious gift God gave him to love, honor and cherish. My prayers are with all women who are currently in such relationships. Can anyone imagine our Good Shepherd hurting His own sheep? Never! Nor should you except your husband treating you, God’s precious lamb, this way. No man should act like this but especially a husband that claims to be a Christian. Christ would have no part of such deceitfulness and nor should his church.

      • LKA says:

        (USA) 90% of the time it is the man who acts this way. The statement above “in MANY homes it is the wife who is the abuser” is an overstatement and the reason you cannot find any articles regarding such.

        Sorry, but domestic violence is divided into two basic groups. Reciprocal (both parties engaging in DV) and non-reciprocal (one sided DV, one partner abusing the other with no fighting back). Non-reciprocal DV makes up one half of all DV and the primary agressors in DV are women by 70% http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2005.079020 Women are people and must be held responsibly for their actions and men are not all aggressors and incapable of being seen as victims.

        “The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” (Proverbs 19:13)
        “A prudent wife is from the Lord” (Proverbs 19:14)
        “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” (Proverbs 21:9)
        “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” (Proverbs 21:19)
        “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4)
        “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.” (Proverbs 27:15-16)

        • Kelly says:

          (UNITED STATES) Emergency Rooms are not filled with MALE victims of domestic violence; they’re full of FEMALE victims.

        • Cerene says:

          (USA) As always, if it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true. From the same study you cited, it states domestic violence became an issue because of the physical harm that was being done to the female victims. It also states women are not posing physical harm to men.

          Men like you will always try to take scripture out of context and use it to justify abusing women but it will not work. We are daughters of the king and at no time does the Lord tell a man to abuse his daughters. You will NEVER find it. If a man is loves and cherishes his wife, as the head of his household, he will set the tone for their marital relationship. If he doesn’t, he will have a contentious, angry wife, as he should. I pray that any woman associated with men such as yourselves will know the love of their Father and NEVER SETTLE for less than God wants for them.

          From your study: “Existing research on this topic demonstrates that IPV became recognized initially as a critical threat to the health of society because of the severity of consequences among female victims and the high prevalence of male-perpetrated IPV victimization among women in the United States and abroad. By contrast, no evidence has demonstrated that female-perpetrated violence against male partners has been a threat to the health of populations of men. Additionally, studies that have compared the prevalence of female-and male-perpetrated violence against partners have had various limitations—namely, that male-perpetrated violence against female partners is highly stigmatized and likely underreported and not comparable to violence perpetrated by women against their male partners. Further, unlike male-perpetrated IPV against female partners, which has been linked to assertion of male control and is likely rooted in gender inequalities, female-perpetrated violence against intimate male partners has often been documented to be more likely a result of self-defense or poor conflict management in relationships. With the exception of self-defense, female perpetration of violence against male partners is likely more closely related to other forms of non–gender specific unhealthy relationship behavior and is not likely a major concern for the field of public health.”

  4. Janice says:

    (UNITED STATES)  My husband abused me physically, emotionally, verbally for 15 years. We have been married for twenty. It started within weeks of becoming married. He has done everything from holding a knife to my throat/sitting on me and banging my head on the floor until I passed out to humiliating me in front of others by hollering at me in front of strangers/showing up at my job, stalking me. I loved him so very much when we were first together, but over time, so slowly, I did not even see it happening, he killed that love. I have no respect or trust for him anymore. I care about him, want him to be happy and safe, but I am no longer in love with him.

    Now, for the last five years, he has been on an antidepressant, gotten older and has not physically laid a hand on me. The verbal threats have still been there, although even the threats have become less, but the physical violence has stopped. The problem is this, I have no wish to remain with him. As I said, I care about him but no longer am attracted to him sexually or even want to be in the same room with him for long periods of time.

    I finally got the guts to tell him this but his answer is first anger and then whining that he has stopped hurting me and it has been years since he has. Can’t I please forgive and forget? I don’t know what to do anymore because he has stopped physically hurting me. Being the person that I am, I feel like I would be leaving him without justification.

    • Laila says:

      (UNITED STATES)  Janice, I’m going through the same thing! From 3 weeks after our daughter was born the physical abuse started. I swear I thought it was all in my head for the longest time! My problem is, is that although the first year was dreadful, physical abuse happened on a weekly basis not to mention the emotional abuse and control, the situation has progressively gotten better.

      Its been 6 years and out of the 3 physical incidents within the last 9 months only one was “really bad”. But for about 4 months I have felt completely different than I ever had before. I care about him and desperately want him to be happy but I am afraid I have lost “it” for him. But I feel so guilty for feeling this way since it has gotten better, relatively speaking. I feel I am being selfish if I were to leave now. I feel so dumb for not leaving when it really was bad. Like you say, it’s like there is no justification to leave now.

      But reading your post I KNOW that there is! You know there are couples who divorce for much less! I decided last night that I probably need to seek counseling. Which is something I had never considered for myself before. We’ll see what happens. I will keep you in my prayers, Janice. Thanks for your post!

  5. Stephenie says:

    (USA)  Sheila, Thank you for the quotes they were helpful. Janice, I can really relate to you. I am constantly thinking about divorce. Every time there is an incident I want out but then He sweet talks me and i stay. I feel sorry for him but i wonder how long can i bear these cycles. I have done everything I know to do including all the things mentioned in the quotes. He does not appear to be changing except for the times he is the nice guy.

    I do fall in love with him again each time. I wonder if i am in traumatic bonding? We have been in counseling for a least 2 years individual and couples –the couples is always difficult because we always have to have a discussion after the counseling which goes on for hours. The whole day is usually messed up. I feel like I am wasting time. I am not getting any younger.

    In fact, I am trying to plan my retirement with him but we have so many disagreements about how it should be done. He is 14 yrs younger than me. I love God and want to do the right thing but I am at my wits end!!

  6. Charles says:

    (USA)  I have a question about abuse. It seems that my wife says that I am abusive, although I have never hit her, never called her out of her name, and she accuses me of being controlling and manipulative. So how do I deal with this? I am a logical and honest man.

    Should I accept that her perception says that I am abusive, even though I went through counseling and they stated they saw no abuse, my family and several churches that knew her says they saw no abuse, and in fact they say that she was the one that is controlling and manipulative.

    The problem here is that we have been separated for 7 months. She won’t even talk to me or give me the time of day, refuses to date, or even call me on the phone. She has my 3 kids, and she won’t explain to me what is her criteria she is looking for. She claims if I had accepted that I am abusive then she would have been back home.

    The problem with this whole system is that any man who is in disagreement with his wife can be said to be abusive. The whole system seems sexist as if I was a woman who was with a man who didn’t agree with me (fighting to be in control), I could easily read the stuff that is in Psychology books (she read “Why does He do that, in the minds of angry and controlling men”) and label my man as abusive, even though he has never hit me, cursed at me, or call me out of my name. Because things don’t go my way and I get angry, I say that this man is abusive.

    There is no proof of abuse other than her being depressed, (I was even more depressed than her to the point of being suicidal). The counselors that saw both of us said they saw no proof of emotional abuse, yet she will not come home until I accept that I am abusive.

    I know we live in a feminist world now where the labels come on easy on men through simple accusations and my wife is taking advantage and believing this with all of her heart without a second opinion other than her perception and a counselor whom never met me but said based on her depression, she was emotionally abused.

    What do I do? I need help. I want my family back, but I don’t want to confess to a lie, (I tried to give in many times, but my heart just doesn’t believe the lie and I usually fail with the descriptions of the signs that he changed).

    Do I just accept her perception which a member of the church said I should do, or should I continue this cold war with my wife and let her withdraw everything from me until I submit to her demands?

    • Cindy Wright says:

      (USA) Charles, It’s difficult for anyone on the outside of matters, to know how to respond to your plea. It’s true that the word “abuse” is thrown around so easily now-a-days. That which is sometimes a matter of being what we used to call, stubborn, bull-headed, obstinate or argumentative, is now called abuse. People get a term stuck in their heads and they can’t see how to label it any other way, so this seems like a very accepted term. What’s difficult is that sometimes when someone labels the other in their minds as being “abusive” they shut down dealing with them. A lot of it is in the eyes in which we perceive them. Eventually no matter what they do — even if it’s completely innocent, they put the “abuse” label on their behavior and shut down in dealing with them.

      That’s not to say that sometimes there is legitimate abuse going on — on both sides, male and female, but I think that term is thrown around too easily. I’m a female and I see that often wives abuse their husbands and yet they don’t label it that way, or others don’t label it that way. It shouldn’t be. It definitely shouldn’t be. If a certain behavior is not acceptable for a man to do towards a woman, it’s not acceptable for a woman to do to a man — whether it’s over-the-top screaming, name-calling, controlling the other’s behavior, hitting, punching, slapping and on and on. Wrong is wrong, no matter what the gender.

      As far as what you can do –that’s difficult. It seems that no matter what you do, you have the larger than life label “abuser” written across your forehead, as far as what your wife sees and no matter what you do, you can’t escape from it. I don’t know if your behavior is abusive, controlling or not. I just have the information you’ve given that indicates it may be more in the eyes of your wife than reality.

      But whatever it is — it is what it is. We can debate on and on whether this is fair, whether it should be, and whatever. But that will be futile. All you can deal with is the reality of the situation. And all I can say is, you have choices to make. You can go in the way that you have gone and continue to get what you’ve gotten (I think that is said to be the definition of “insanity” because you’re expecting different results, when in reality you won’t get them), or you can change a few things. Either you convince her to go with you to another counselor, to try once again to clarify what she labels as abusive and hopefully break a stalemate (although you don’t seem to indicate that this is what she’s willing to do. She seems to hold all the cards here. She won’t open up to you and she has your children. It’s a sad but true reality.

      Or you pray, ask God to help you to have ears to hear and a mind to better understand her concerns and you indicate to her that she could be right. Tell her that you haven’t seen it that way up to this point, but you’re willing to hear her… WITHOUT ARGUING YOUR POINT. Try with all that is within you to get clarity to what she’s trying to convey in what she labels as abusive. If you do that, and you’re still not able to understand where she’s coming from, then ask again to go to a counselor or a marriage coach together to try to gain clarity. I’m thinking you need to use a communication tool, such as the “Speaker/Listener” approach. If that tool won’t work for you (we have an article on this in the “Communication and Conflict” topic) then a marriage coach may be able to better help it to work for you, if you and your wife are open to clarifying your problems and then working through them from there.

      There is even a book titled, Rick and Jane Learn to Listen and Talk: The First Step to Intimacy, which shows a sneak preview into what a marriage coach can do for a couple to help them work through their issues.

      Charles, I’m not saying that your wife is “fair” in how she’s approaching matters. I don’t know. Probably not. But I only read your side of the matter. Nor can I judge what you’ve said you’ve done and are willing to do. All I can do is give you the question Dr Phil often poses, when deciding how to approach a problem. As it deals with what you’ve tried so far, he asks, “How’s that working for you?” If you’re happy then keep doing what you’ve done. If you aren’t happy and you’re open to trying a different approach, then MAYBE what I’ve posed might work. I’m not sure if your wife has slammed all options shut or not, but that’s all I know to give you in options. I wish I had more.

  7. Charles says:

    (USA)  Thank you for your advice Cindy, I will be a Berean and study this site more to get a better understanding of what my wife is saying. I really wish my wife would have gotten some accountability before she decided to do this, or I wish I would have really been abusive towards her to so that I can fully accept my guilt.

    It’s difficult because if we do get back together, I really would have to walk on eggshells now in fear that she would leave me again or call me abusive for something else for me just being myself.

    I don’t see anything wrong with submitting to the list that is on this page, but it’s just the fact I would have to bear the guilt of something that really don’t fit my character. Other people who know me are shocked to hear that I am being accused of being abusive. But if I want my wife and kids back, I will have to submit to her perceptions.

    I wish you guys had a section that talked about this of dealing with the accusations of abuse. A section for guys who are being accused of emotional abuse. Things would be easier if I called my wife a name, or even hit my wife, then the proof is there, and to deny the allegations would make me a clear liar. But with emotional abuse, there are far too many arbitrary points to prove this, other than perception.

    But now, with the stuff that is out on the web, and in the psychology sections of books, it’s easy to label any man as an abuser. In the end, I am forced to submit to my wife it seems like. If she ever has a problem with me again, then all she has to do is withdraw from me and take my family away from me.

    • Anon says:

      (AUST)  “Things would be easier if I called my wife a name, or even hit my wife, then the proof is there…” Would you rather your wife be hurt so you can be rightly accused rather than wrongly accused? Your main concern seems to be your reputation, not how she feels.

      Remember, all abuse is abuse, and it is not about hitting or calling names, or even yelling. All one has to do to be a perpetrator of abuse is treat the wife (or husband) as your property, someone you are entitled to control, someone who has less power than you. It is about the coercion (overt or covert) into making her something you want her to be. It is about the imbalance of power in the relationship.

      If she has read Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, she has read the most insightful and recommended book there is on the topic of abuse. There is nowhere in there that gives a reader the impression that you can call anything abuse, or that emotional abuse is arbitrary, or that a victim should simply leave. Anyone that says that is not truly receiving the message and just hearing what they want to hear.

      If you have nothing against submitting to that list on that page, then do it for her sake. Her perception is everything. If we love someone, we willingly and joyfully submit to them, unless our survival or safety is at risk. “If she ever has a problem with me again…” what was her original “problem” with you? Don’t minimize it. A loved one’s concern should be your concern. No sane person ever just leaves and “takes the family away”. If she is insane, it would be better to let her go as you can’t change her. If not, see her point of view and ask her WHY she sees you as abusive and what she is afraid of, if she is still willing to talk to you. If she isn’t, get help from counselors who work in the field of domestic violence. Your friends are unlikely to understand domestic abuse so they won’t be the best source of help either. Better still, read the book yourself.

      • Davies says:

        (USA)  Anon ~Great response. You hit the nail on the head. If you are causing your wife pain and you do not care; if you can only see things from your viewpoint/perspective and refuse to accept the fact that you are hurting her THEN you do not care for her and are only serving yourself. Who has the right to tell another person, that what you are saying or doing isn’t causing that person pain? That is playing God.

        P.S.There is only one God and it isn’t you. A husband is there to show his wife the example of Christ. Christ came to SERVE His Father in this sinful world. As the leader of your family; you are called to serve your family FIRST and foremost your wife. That is the vow husbands take before God and man, but obviously do not take seriously. God gave you your wife as a HELP MATE and if you do not take what she is telling you seriously; YOU HAVE A PROBLEM; NOT YOUR WIFE.

        If she says you are hurting her; whatever may be the cause, do yourself a favor and LISTEN AND CARE. If you cannot do something as simple as that, why did you take this most important vow before God to love, honor and cherish your wife till death do you part? This is not hard. If you argue every time she tries to let you know you have hurt her, you are not showing love (as you promised) but total self love. God defines love very clearly in His Word. If you say Christ lives in your heart, then there is no way you could ignore the pain you are causing your wife or trivialize her needs. Would Christ ever treat her that way? Then how can you and call yourself a Christian?

      • Diana from United States says:

        AMEN!

    • Tommy says:

      (SOUTH AFRICA) South Africans are no different. In fact the laws that governs domestic, gender abuse and violence against woman and children form part of our constitution. Unfortunately these laws were passed to restore the customary abuse that has happened and in some cases are still rife within the African cultures. For example… It’s expected of African (cultural black women and not all South African) women to catty piles of wood on their heads or huge cans of water on their heads and even walk around with their breasts exposed.

      Our constitution of today however, protect women from that kind of abuse while at the same time keeping cultural practices in mind. Regrettably these laws are now being abused to its full capacity… as Charles has mentioned in the earlier post. If you disagree and state your opinion, you’re labled as an abuser. I think the law should make provision and protect both genders… but sadly as said in other posts… the law is biased and more in favor of females. The tables have turned in S.A and we strive for gender equality… which now makes the women the potential abusers as they’re at the top of the list of the Affirmative Action policy and they’re now the CEO’s and managers of companies… basically the bosses. And this is then brought from the corporate environment into the homes.

      In S.A if a woman lays a complaint of abuse with the authorities, the alleged abuser is arrested first, and questions are asked later. A large percentage of the country feels that the law has too many loop holes and women are taking advantage of this and can have their partner in jail over a whole weekend only for the authorities to discover on Monday that there’s no evidence of abuse. Watch this space… I’ll be back with more.

    • Ann says:

      (USA) Charles, I don’t even have to hear your wife’s side of the story to label you an abuser. Hitting someone or calling them out of their name is not the only indication of abuse. Control, Manipulation, Coercion are all forms of abuse. You don’t even have to raise your voice to be abusive. Look up the abusive personality type “Water Torturer”. I bet the description of that type of abuser would sound familiar to your wife. There were a few things that jumped out at me while reading your post: “There is no proof of abuse other than her being depressed (I was even more depressed than her to the point of being suicidal).”

      Sounds like you are minimizing the effects of your abuse by this statement. You were suicidal? Really? What stopped you from killing yourself? “I wish I would have really been abusive towards her to so that I can fully accept my guilt” and “Things would be easier if I called my wife a name, or even hit my wife, then the proof is there.” It seems you’re more concerned with being labeled an abuser than you are with actually being one. “I know we live in a feminist world now where the labels come on easy on men through simple accusations and my wife is taking advantage and believing this with all of her heart without a second opinion other than her perception.” All she needs is her perception. Perception is everything.

      Most abusive men, especially emotionally abusive men, strive to achieve a good public image so it isn’t surprising that most people who know would be shocked to hear that your wife is accusing you of being abusive. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t. Instead of trying to find all the reasons to disprove your wife’s complaints, why don’t you take a closer look at your behavior and see if there is any truth to what she’s saying. Really listen to what she has to say without trying to defend, rationalize, justify, and minimize your actions. Maybe you really aren’t abusive (most men accused of being abusive, usually are) but something is clearly wrong since she left you. Maybe you could ask her to be more specific in the behaviors that you exhibit that makes her feels as if you are abusive. Kudos to your wife for not staying in a relationship that she feels is abusive!

      • Tony says:

        (USA) Sounds to me that by your definition, it’s not Charles, but his wife who is the abuser, using the techniques you describe. Manipulation. Experts have already indicated he is not abusive, but he feels he still has to walk on eggshells around his wife for fear she will cry wolf again.

        Unless I’m not understanding his story, it sounds like there is an abuser in the relationship and it is her, not him.

      • Diana from United States says:

        Charles… Yes! This is how I feel. How hard is it for a person (man or woman) to treat their spouse exactly they way they want to be treated!!! I do not go to church like I should, but I absolutely believe in the verse that says “do unto others what you would want to done to you”! I may not have quoted that exactly, but I’m sure you got the picture. I have never known a man, or a woman that wants to be cheated on, lied to, berated, called names, ridiculed for their upbringing, reminded how you are more intelligent than they are, that you are more successful financially, and to keep you mouth shut, until you get a college education, and until then, you can have a say so! Really! Please, please, please always treat your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, or friend, exactly the way YOU expect to be treated!!! It’s simple! If not, you sooooooooo need help, and please get it sooooon!

    • Anne from United States says:

      I know this is an old post, but anyways Charles, obviously if you do not hit her, or verbally threaten, insult, intimidate, punish, like what a lot of these women have experienced here (why they are seeking support in a world overwhelmingly skewed for men). What you are doing, is not in any way punishable by law, that you would fear that situation.

      If it is a situation, as I’ve experienced, where my problem person stabbed themselves in the leg & called the police to get me arrested, but very luckily for me, decided to visit a friend instead of going straight home, yeah, you should think about how to protect yourself and get out of the situation as fast as you can, if you are in danger of being set up or framed. You should try to leave. I wasn’t for financial reasons ,& he injured himself several months later and I was arrested and had to spend the night in jail. So it can happen. I don’t trust the police or legal system at all. Some people are crazy enough to injure themselves just to punish another person, and if you have a person like that in your life, God help help you.

  8. An Abuser says:

    (CANADA)  I was reading this page, and thought everyone here might like to see an abuser’s perspective. I abused the love of my life physically and, especially, verbally. Now, she has left me for good. And I don’t blame her. I am truly mentally ill and suffer through episodes of psychotic rage among many other things. Most of the times, I don’t remember the abuse. It’s like a block of my memory has been removed, and it doesn’t occur only when abuse happens, memory blackouts are very common for me.

    The times I do remember felt surreal, like it wasn’t really me or it wasn’t really occurring. When she told me she wanted to leave because she was afraid of me, realization hit me. Initially, I was devastated, it isn’t fair that she left me due to mental illness. But it is even less fair that she has to be an abused psych nurse instead of a partner. I have come to realize this, as I believe in accepting responsibility for my actions, right state of mind or not. We eventually dealt with the situation very amicably, in a respectful, adult way. I don’t blame her for leaving me. It hurt so much initially, but I have learned to accept what happened, and that I alone have brought this upon myself, and move on.

    Now we have realized what wonderful friends we could be, and would like to maintain a healthy relationship as friends. I am now in counselling, and want to spend this coming year learning to be a better man and a better father and improving myself physically, spiritually, and, most importantly, psychologically. Just as it is important for the sufferer to recover, it is important for the abuser to take time to get him/herself in order before venturing down the rocky road of new relationships. I don’t intend on looking for any serious relationship for some time. I know I can beat this, though I’ve noticed a very unfortunate lack of support for abusers. Some of us REALLY do want to change, and it hurts that it’s so hard to find help. I am just glad that our families and friends both respect our circumstances, and don’t hate me for what happened.

    I feel very ashamed. I have always been staunchly against domestic violence. I’ll admit to being a little bit of a misogynist (only a little!), but there are many, many human rights that both men and women deserve. I, myself, feel very much like Lady MacBeth. I have a spot on my conscience that will never go away. It will be the right of every future woman I see to know this has happened in the past. It WILL NOT happen again. I believe that, with all my heart.

    Not every abuser really will repent, but you have to acknowledge that some will. Unfortunately, my beautiful ex-wife has a penchant for attracting abusers. Though small, I am very strong, and apparently very scary, so I’ve taken it upon myself to ensure that she never has to suffer abuse again, and that our child never will experience abuse. I hope that helping her in the long term will do something to help reduce the damage I did. I am just glad that she still thinks about our time together and about me positively, and I hope she can continue to think good of me.

    Some general advice: if you think you might be in an abusive relationship, you probably are. Don’t feel guilty or indebted to the person. If you want to leave, leave and don’t look back. Most abusive relationships probably won’t end as well as mine did. I don’t think most abusers will realize their problem anytime soon, and let their spouse choose to leave in a respectful way. Use your support network to help you leave, don’t do it alone, especially if you are afraid of your partner.

    Bottom line: NO ONE, man or woman, should ever have to fear their partner. If you do, something is seriously wrong, and you should re-evaluate your relationship ASAP.

    P.S. If anyone knows of any communities for recovering abusers to talk/get help/get support, I would love to know. I will do anything to make things right (not with my marriage, that’s irreparably totalled, but with myself).

    • Biz says:

      (USA) I just wanted to comment to you that your humility and frankness is the most beautiful thing for me as an abused woman to hear coming from a person who has struggled with being abusive. My husband finds himself too holy to even admit that he has anything to change. I totally agree that there should be an area/forum somewhere for people like you and others (there are a lot of abusive mothers) out there who need the help and support. You have walked down this hard road of work to try to change and continue to get healthy you may be just the person to start a forum and advocate support in healing of other abusers. We all are loved by the Lord. May God richly God Bless You!

    • Diana from United States says:

      I hope that you can change! But it will take a lot of time and counseling! Good luck! I have always had hope for abusers, because there is hope! Keep trucking my friend!

  9. Sandra says:

    (USA)  I had only been married a few days when I could finally take it no longer. An ex girlfriend of my husband’s was calling every day and I lost it. I became angry and was going to break his phone. Normally I never get angry. This was a very rare occasion for me. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am not an angry person.

    Since then he states he doesn’t want to see me anymore. He is afraid I would get this angry again in front of his children. My children are grown and his are much younger. Even my children who I raised myself thought this was very out of character for me. I have prayed for restoration of my marriage, but this has failed. My pastor has offered to counsel us, but my husband refuses to go to counseling with me. I am overcome with guilt over my outburst, but not for the reason I became angry. I would just like prayer for the deliverance from the guilt. Thank you, Sandra

  10. Billy says:

    (USA) I was an abuser. I would use the present tense, but that’s yet to be seen. I for one could not stand to be in a room very long with someone like “davies”, because he/she is very emotionally manipulative.

    Quick history: In two different relationships I became abusive. Both relationships were fueled by sex. Both contained lies and a lack of accountability, or maybe even love on my partners part. Both of us in each relationship rushed things, and we’re living together almost immediately. All of us have our own addictions, whether they were sex, power, lies, or drugs. I know none of that sounds clinical and professional… however, I am not trying to be.

    In both relationships I wanted to seek counseling BEFORE any abuse took place. Therefore, davies, if you must go on ranting, then at least give me the credit for being willing.

    I was also at one time a student of theology. Your theology is demanding and somewhat manipulative. Just look at how many words you put in all caps. And yet, at the heart of the issue, there should be resolve. Never should you patronize somebody by saying, “and you call yourself a Christian?” Such talk should only be by a chosen accountability partner, someone with whom you develop a inspirational, sometimes uncomfortable, but ultimately accountable relationship.

    Please save the judgment. There are far more views out there than yours. From Martin Luther, to Thomas Aquinas, to John Piper, to Rob Bell, to Andy Stanley, to Joyce Myer, to Timothy Keller, to Alan Watts, to Wayne Dyer, to Erich Fromm, to Robert Townsend…

    There are some really great resources out there for possibly understanding your personal dynamic of abuse. Getting a trained counselor, not necessarily of the Christian orientation, but rather someone who is experienced is gonna be a big help. Men abuse for different reasons. But there are baseline behaviors.

    I’m really not trying to get into a lengthy debate with “davies”, it’s just that their view of life saddens me. Invariably, it will end up offering an abuse who is remorseful, scared, alone, and desperate with more fear and judgment. I was brave enough to walk into a rural church at a “Divorce Care” meeting that was mostly women, and admit my abusiveness. I was not met with much grace, however some of these women admitted to affairs and sobbed on. It was hard.

    I’m now starting to learn a little more why I abused, and honestly, a lot of it came from the same rigid systems that “davies” is promoting. Neither girlfriend of mine was interested in church or matters of spirituality, except in a floaty, worldly sense. I thought it was my goal in life to transform them and empower them with theological discerning and wisdom. What an idiot I was.

    Let those who seek help find it. We are all on a journey. You need not be religious, clean, stable, or have a worked-world-view to start on your path to recovery. Believe it or not… most of the church has never attended a grueling AA, SAA, NA or meetings of that nature. They don’t understand the powerlessness over addiction and behaviors. There is a large following of the “power” gospel folks. It’s almost as bad as prosperity theology. You would think that these Bible thumpers would have read Ecclesiastes, Job, or Jonah. But the 12 steps and attending AA meetings are a good place to start.

    Much like my girlfriend who said, “I fantasize about being raped, and it actually turned me on when you put your hands on me” …I too am an addict, lost in past childhood repressions, and full of problems. Empathy is life.

    My last girlfriend left about 2 months ago, and I have been hurting ever since. But it’s never too late to change. Who knows what groundwork and foundation I can lay for myself; what spiritual system I can grown to see as my own. I need not accept Ravi Zacharias’ system just because his logic is superior (although I do greatly value him).

    Well, I’ve said enough… May we all grow in love, from the abused, to the abuser, from the addict, to the dealer. And may God truly help us, through one another, through crises, through personal enlightenment, through joy and pain, because we need it in this confusing and sometimes unbearable world.

  11. Denise says:

    (ZIMBABWE) If a man loves a woman and treats her as his best friend, lover, helper, and really cares about her, she would not complain and will be happy to give him her best.

    A man finds all kind of ways to hurt a woman and most of the time it’s emotional. If the womans starts trying to save the relationship he retaliates in new ways to keep her SUBMISSIVE and reliant on him.

    The best advice from someone who is in an abusive relationship is to get out and don’t fight cause he might change for a month or two and then it will get worse. If you have children, trust your motherly instincts that you’re strong enough to do it alone before you allow your precious babies lives to be destroyed and you could end up taking it out on them and being abusive yourself. Trust that GOD will feed you and give you the strength to get through on your own.

    I still live in fear and he still abuses me everyday. But my hope stays in my LORD that one of these days HE will open the right door and make me strong enough to leave with my three wonderful sons and give them a happy, loving mommy.

  12. Larry says:

    (USA) I have been in the military over 3 years and about a year or so after I joined my high school sweetheart and I reunited via facebook. We started living together after I got back from a deployment in 2011. She changed her life and gave up her friends and family and transfered her job to move to where I am stationed.

    Many days I would be so mad about the Navy I would yell at her and take it out on her. I never had an explanation of why I was mad. I would put my hobbies and interests and my dad before her. I didn’t mean to, I just didn’t realize it then. I would curse at her and put her down for no reason. I would get mad and slam cabinets. About the 3rd day of this deployment I realized what I was doing to her because it was being done to me.

    I left in March and she seemed okay. She was looking at houses for us and we were talking about having a baby. Then she went to a family function for my family in June and we have been falling apart ever since. She moved out of our apartment. She told me I will never change and I have become a totally different person. It is now almost November. We would be married almost 2 years and she changed her number and won’t even pick me up from my arrival back in the states.

    I can swallow my pride on all of this. I just want to sit next to her and have a conversation. I love her so much and as I get closer to 30 I don’t want to be that horrible person I used to be. Any thoughts?

    • Cindy Wright says:

      Larry, It’s wonderful that you now realize the messed up way you have been expressing your anger. You have a chance to change that, if you keep that in the forefront of your mind and intentions and seek ways to make permanent changes. But it will take more than good intentions and a hope to sit and “have a conversation” with the one you love. When every day living gets uncomfortable in some way, when the one you love bumps you into an uncomfortable place (which happens in EVERY authentic relationship), you will act out again in impulsive, abusive ways that you might not want to right now, but it will assuredly go in that direction unless you take steps to learn how to NOT go there in your mind and behavior.

      Larry, this is a Christian web site. We deal with those who are married –to try to help them express more love in their marital union. But even so, as I read your comment, I sensed your genuine sorrow and desire to change. I HIGHLY encourage you find a good Chaplain to help you sort all of this out. Chaplains are supposed to be helpful in relationship issues. If you can’t find one in the location you are in, please go into the “Military Marriage” topic of this web site. Even though you aren’t married, the same Military links can help you. What you are dealing with will not just go away by having good intentions. You may have good intentions to do your job in the military, but it took a lot of training to better prepare you to do what is needed. It also takes grit and determination to overcome the obstacles.

      The same is true in relationship issues. People overlook that fact. They think that matters of the heart should just flow “naturally” in a good direction. It does not –no more than it flows “naturally” to be a good soldier. We are a stiff-necked people and we want what we want when we want it. And when we don’t get it –when things become uncomfortable, we often act out in immature ways that can destroy our love relationships. We must apply ourselves to learning what it takes to better live together and work together in peaceable ways –that which isn’t absorbed in selfism. The links we provide in the “Military Spouses” topic can be a good place to start learning what you need to. And perhaps in other places on this web site. This is only a beginning, but it’s a good start. Apply yourself to learning what you need to so in the future, you actually CAN have a healthy, enjoyable, and meaningful relationship –perhaps with this gal, or another one, if she won’t give you another chance.

      From what I see, you’ve had a wake-up call. Please don’t waste it and go the “natural” route of living your life by the seat of your pants (or in another location). Be courageous and learn what you need to, so your future relationship will not be spoiled by good intentions but bad execution. I hope and pray you will.

  13. Michael says:

    (USA) Ok. First of all I would like to say that I realize that this is a Christ-centered web site, however, I would greatly appreciate feedback that is entirely practical and less faith based. I hope that is not offensive to anyone. I certainly do not mean it to be so and I am wiling to take any advice as I am sick and desperate and terrified.

    I am a man in my early thirties (for the sake of an honest response, I promise you that my statements are true and honest as possible) and am in the middle of a break up due to my abusive behavior. I am completely aware of the abuse I have inflicted and mortified at my behavior, as well. I have seen a good deal of unhealthy and abusive relationships in my life and have always been disdainful of the abuser and even, in the more extreme situations, of the abused for returning again and again. What is confusing me and terrifying me so bad is that I have NEVER struck a partner nor been as emotionally abusive in my life and at first I was all too eager to blame my partner’s activities or behavior for my ill treatment of her. As I said, This is new to me. I thought I was prince chrming and the hero, but it turns out that I am a physically and verbally and emotionally abusive monster! It was not even once, but 5 times that I actually used phisical force and now that I am more aware, I cannot even count the times that I was verbally abusive.

    I am horribly ashamed, and what is worse, I know that I cannot take back the damage that I have done. I would happily take any punishment if it would heal the hurt I have wrought but, of course, there is none. We are technically “taking a break” and I dont know if we will get back together or if I desrve to or even should if she gives me the chance.

    I love her dearly and I never want to hurt her again. In fact, I want to spend the rest of my days making it up to her. But I am TERRIFIED! Who am I? Where did this come from? How can I make sure that I never lose control again? How can I stifle this monster once and for all? Am I a terrible person? I think I must be, but I never was before. I am willing to go to therapy. Take lashings. Anything! Help me please. Help me be the loving supportive partner that I set out to be. Please. Tell me what to do.

    I am fairly self -aware. It takes me a little bit to admit to myself and others when I am wrong but I pride myself in usually, coming to my senses. I ranted and raved when she first suggested and then forced this “break” upon us. But in the end, I realize that she needs this desperately after what I have put her through. And I need it too. To try and fix this horrible thing that is in me now. She forgave me and took me back way too many time and I don’t know if she even should, even if I never do it again. The damage is done, isn’t it?

    If it turns out that she needs to break from me permanently, I will not try and stop her. But if she, decides to give me a chance (another one :-() I want to have the tools it takes to be a good man, one that would NEVER touch his woman and spends his time with her making her laugh and smile and feel safe. I will do anything. I HAVE to do EVERYTHING in my power but I don’t even know where to start. I am not rich. Any therapy that I can get must be fairly inexpensive in order for me to keep a roof over my head even. I need advice so badly! And resources. And mostly some hope that I can, if not fix this, then to soothe the wounds that I have caused as best as possible. And a prayer or two for me wouldn’t hurt either I guess. Thank those of you who are willing to help out a monster like me.

    • Cindy Wright says:

      The best we could advise for you to do is to go to Compassionpower.com, which is the web site for Dr Steven Stosny. It’s not a Christian web site. I’ve heard Steven speak and he is quite good. He really knows his stuff –knowing the dynamics of abuse since he came from an abusive home. He also has a lot of printed material and has some of it posted on his web site, which can start you in the right direction. You can even contact him through his web site. It’s sure worth a try –writing what you wrote us and seeing where it goes from there. I hope you are able to get the help you need. And yes, we are praying for you.

      • Anon UK from United Kingdom says:

        Cindy

        I feel sorrow and compassion for the above man Michael.

        I have been reflecting on this topic.

        I think, for one, the label “Abuse” or “Abuser” can be very broad brushed and hard to escape from.

        I also have been thinking about the dynamic of what leads to this.

        I think it is a huge great lie that a person should “feel free or be able to say *whatever they like* in any way they like, without fear of retaliation”. I think we have bought into a lie in society which misleads people, male or female, to believe that you can be as mouthy as you like – and then stand back and say, now – don’t you dare “abuse” me or strike me.

        I do not for one believe that abusive retaliation is excusable. But neither is provocative language.

        And so Cindy, I ask you, have you thought about whether the dynamic in abuse is a Jezebel (for a lack of better language) manipulative spirit which manipulates without regret, and then the abuser feels “I must put a stop to this or that right now!”.

        I’m not making an excuse for true abusers or abuse. But I think that things sometimes, not all times, do not happen in a vacuum. I think for some people with tendencies to abuse, no matter what you say to them they are going to abuse. But I think in some cases, one party manipulates and manipulates, is outrageous in their speech and tone, provocative and showing little regard or respect for the other person, and then when the “abuser” looses it (control) – they are blamed in total for everything that went wrong.

        Many a time it must be admitted that it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Please tell me your thoughts, for I believe it is far too easy to demonise the victim, which may be a very manipulative passive aggressive individual who is painted as ‘completely innocent victim’ of the big bad abuser.

        I’ve been on both sides of the fence here.

        Anon

        • Anon UK from United Kingdom says:

          I must add that I just wrote such a letter to my daughter, whose husband very very badly abused her and she is seeking separation by legal trial.

          I admonished her that I don’t know if her husband would have treated her the same had she been civil.

          She is very provocative in her speech and psychology, though she has been a vastly huge site better, dramatically better, since I wrote her. It is the first time I’ve stood up to her in all her 30 years of life. My letter was strong. I told her she is far too mouthy. And that it is a misnomer to believe you can be mouthy all the time without a bad result.

          It’s a huge great lie of modern self-centred psychology and thought to believe you should be able to say anything or to do anything to anyone at any time, provoking them, without expecting retaliation at some point. Sadly this can end up as abuse. I don’t condone abuse FOR ONE MINUTE, but also neither do I condone out of control manipulative twisting speech or actions. Again, most things don’t happen in a vacuum.

          As far as my daughter, her father is also a twister, manipulating everything, such a twisting of any situation such that he, nor she is at all to blame – ever. Again, she has vastly improved from my writing of the very strong letter to her, at a time of a huge wake up call for her, ending in divorce.

          I believe both parties in any relationship need to be loving, civil, communicative, and respectful and responsive to each other. When you fear over-reacting, respond sooner, as a wise friend once told me about 25 years ago. It is good advice.

  14. Riya says:

    (NEPAL) I’ve been married for the last two decades. But I have lived an abusive life both physically and mentally in the hands of my husband. I have two children. For their sake also, I tried to stay wth him, as I had a troubled childhood. I was in a job yet I didn’t have any courage to leave him as I had no relatives of mine to give support to me and my children.

    Now, due to his physical abusiveness, I have a hurt eye with which I’m unable to see clearly… To escape from him I had applied for a job abroad and I got it… So now I’m not with him but my two children 18 and 16 are wth him… I don’t love him but I wish for his happiness. I don’t want to go back to him. What must I do? I sometimes feel guilty that I’m earning lots; that’s why I’m leaving him. He too, hasn’t got any relatives to support him… As for my children their both expenses are filled by me. I’m really in a dilemma as to what to do so please help me…. Show me the right way.

  15. Riya says:

    (NEPAL) Thank you Cindy, for your fast reply. No, I can’t bring my children to the country where I’m working. But I’m planning to send both children elsewhere to study in boarding school. Please help me by showing me the way is it right of me to not return back to him… by not returning back to him. If I’m setting a wrong example in the opinion of my children, and the society back home sees this kind of activity as a disgrace. I want to support him financally, but don’t want to return back to that hell of life. Please help me.

    • Cindy Wright says:

      Riya, If your husband has been abusing you in the way you say (which I have no reason to doubt it), then I’m not thinking that staying with him is healthy for ANYONE involved. It’s certainly not good for you to subject yourself to being beaten and possibly killed at some point (physical abuse has a way of escalating, as you can read in the articles posted in this topic). And what this does to you emotionally, is also horrible, as well. You weren’t created to be treated like a piece of garbage. Your husband should know better than this.

      It’s also not good for your children to see this happening because it is horribly toxic for them to see one parent hurt their other parent in this way. This exposes them to all kinds of negative imprinting and images, which no child should ever have to experience. I could go on and on about all of the horror that their brains are trying to process and work through in some way… but it’s NOT a better thing to allow yourself to be beaten, rather than separating from your spouse. If you can’t bring them to the country where you’re working and living, then it seems that sending them to a boarding school may be best for them. This is a viable way of escape for them.

      As for what others think negative thoughts and gossiping about your separating, I hope you will hold your head up high and realize that the Lord understands. He will not judge you for leaving a spouse who will mistreat you in this horrible way. If they judge, shame on them. It’s easier to judge when you aren’t the one who is being assaulted in such a devastating way. I’m all for marriages staying together –that’s why we participate with God in this marriage ministry, but when there is this type of abuse going on in a marriage, and there is a way of escape, I believe God showers grace upon us and allows us to take it. I truly don’t believe He would have you stay and subject yourself and your children to this type of shameful behavior on your husband’s part.

      And as far as supporting him financially, that is a decision you need to take to God. As long as the children are living with him, their needs obviously have to be met. But if they are in a boarding school, I’m not thinking that you have any other financial obligation, concerning caring for your husband’s material needs. If he has made matters so horrible that you had to leave him because of the abuse, then the consequences are that he needs to man up in at least one area of his life and NOT be financially dependent upon the wife he abused –even if he doesn’t have relatives to step in and help him. Wish him well, pray for him, but I wouldn’t feel guilty if his life went in a worse direction because of the sinful choices he has made and makes. By your financially supporting him, you are enabling his sinful living conditions to continue. I wouldn’t put it past him to eventually bring another woman in to abuse because he seems to have so little regard for the care of his own wife. I wouldn’t want to be a part of enabling that to happen by giving him money to live on. If he wants to sin, allow him to pay for his sinning ways.

      I know this sounds harsh, but that’s how I see it. However, I greatly encourage you to pray about this. Please don’t financially support him because you feel guilty, but rather, and ONLY because God shows you (beyond the circumstances that I can see in your short communication with me). If God tells you to do so, then that’s what you should do. If not, then I wouldn’t have any qualms about cutting him off financially, but still wishing him well and praying for him. Perhaps it will lead him to repent –and I mean TRULY repent –not just say the words and yet live in contrary ways. Abusers are manipulators, so be careful, be wise and be prayerful. I pray the Lord helps you to experience peace and joy in some way despite all of the horror you have lived through. Please know that my heart is with you and that I pray for you –that God blesses you.

  16. Mathabo says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA) How do I realise when someone abuses me?

  17. Tiffany says:

    (USA) I have been with my husband for 3 years. We got married this past August. A couple of nights before Thanksgiving is when it really sunk in that things were different. There was one time before when he came home drunk telling me I was jealous and he was pushing me around. I was sober then and finally got him to stop. But this last time I was also drinking and things were fine he was all lovey but he wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom. I eventually wet myself and began to cry then he started to mock me so I broke loose and went to sit in the bathroom.

    He ended up breaking down the door and started to choke me. I was so shocked I started to cry even more. He eventually stopped and I ended up going outside where he followed me pushing me around the yard. I didn’t want to get up, afraid he would keep doing it. He told me I needed to get up or he would kick me in the head. Eventually one of my friends told my parents and they convinced me that I needed to get out because they were all afraid that if it happens again I may not be so lucky. I was really upset because he didn’t remember any of it, and he kept crying saying he was sorry. I left him while he was at work and waited until all of my important things were gone to tell him I was staying with my parents.

    I was gone for a week. He kept crying over texts saying he was sorry and I need to come home because he was drunk and didn’t mean to do anything. I eventually got annoyed with all of the messages and him crying about it. He told me that I was breaking the law for leaving him without talking to him first, told me that I’m an adult but I’m acting like a child. It has been a couple weeks that I have been back living with him. He hasn’t drank but he still annoys me. He has always had a low libido, but lately all he wants to do is make love. I feel like he is trying to make me forget what happened. We haven’t even talked about it since I have returned. All I think about when I look at him or think of him is when he broke the door down and choked me. I don’t even feel like I love him anymore. I don’t know what to do because if I leave him I know he will be crushed.

  18. Davies says:

    (USA) Tiffany -Men who abuse also know how to manipulate extremely well. They know how to play your emotions and make you feel sorry for them OR even try to put it back on you. Do not take his bait. You will only find yourself back in another abusive situation. He doesn’t deserve your time or love. He wants his needs met and you’re there to fulfill a very sick person’s needs. If he wanted what was best for you, he would not be pleading with you to return. He would accept how horrific his actions toward you were and would never want to put you back in that situation again.

    He needs not to be back in any relationship until a professional counselor releases him and even then the proof is in the pudding (if he can truly change). Stay away. What he put you through is unbelievable. He sounds very dangerous. Be safe. Saying a prayer for you. PS Abusiveness means there is no character, trust, integrity and especially love. How sick is the person who says they love you, after treating you with verbal, physical or mental abuse? That is NOT love for you, only love of SELF. He is the opposite of love. Love means he lives to serve, care and protect you from harm. Abuse is the opposite of this.

  19. Michael from United States says:

    Hi. I came to this website looking for help. My wife and I separated two weeks ago and she is strongly considering divorce. During this time apart, she has seen me as an abuser by reading the book “Why Does He Do That.” I read the book too. At first, I was resistant to being called an abuser, but the book called out all my tactics, especially the ones where I turn the blame around onto her and how I manipulate my community to make it seem like its her fault. I am an abuser. I have made my wife cry too many times by making her feel like crap. She’s felt so bad and hurt that she starting hitting herself. This happened multiple times. Several times, she even tried to commit suicide… although she said she never intended to go through with it, she said that she was in that much pain and wanted her pain to somehow get through to me.

    However, I superficially looked at her pain and the next day, went on acting like everything was normal. I never took her pain seriously unless she threatened to leave or left. Then I would say sorry and she would forgive me. This happened too many times and two weeks ago, she had enough. I’m realizing more and more how abusive I have been. She is incredibly intelligent, generous, and absolutely loves Jesus. Many times, being with me made her think that she was losing her faith and her faith was very dry. I am so ashamed of my controlling behavior, my sense of self-entitlement, self-righteousness, and the way I manipulate conversations with her and others so that my actions aren’t that bad. I hate this. I want to stop. I don’t know how. I’ve been in tears everyday but feel so hopeless. The couple times we’ve seen each other, I’ve cried often and she sees them as just selfish tears – tears of my own pain, but not tears for her. It’s true that I am crying because of my own pain but I know that I am crying for what I’ve done to her too. It’s all mixed up because I’m a mess. I tried to write an email to our network of friends confessing my sins. However, she saw how I was using passive voice constructions and other techniques to disguise my sins. I rewrote it to make myself more of the primary actor. She was going to write the letter to friends but I said I wanted to because I needed to take responsibility for my sins. She then said that I’m doing it because I’m trying to take credit for being the confessor instead of letting her tell it. I am lost. I am trying so hard but because she’s lost complete trust in me, it feels like everything i do will be looked upon with the most suspicion. I’m crying out to God in desperation to rip this abusive nature in me.

    In the book by Lundy, it says that abusers rarely change. My wife has been told that abusers never change. I am so sad. Is there any hope? There seems to be plenty of resources for abused women. Is there any for the abuser who wants to change? Are there resources for the abusers who are the “Mr. Demanding” or “Water Torturer” or “the Charmer.” Please. I know that my wife loves happy endings and that if she knew that I was different, that she would, without a doubt, want to reconcile.

  20. Sarah from United Kingdom says:

    Hi there, in need of advice. My life is in turmoil at the moment. My husband has abused me over the years and I am planning to separate. We have 2 children and he is a good dad to them. The abuse has not happened regular but there has been long periods of time till it has happened again. I’ve tried to block it out and pick myself up and keep going. When it first started it was very subtle and very hard to recognise as abuse. It has got worse as time as passed.

    The thing is he does not do it whilst the children are here and keeps saying if I leave with them to think about how it’s going to affect them. I feel devastated and torn apart. I have made the decision to leave because he started with verbal abuse, then threats and bullying behaviour. The last time he physically hurt me by pushing/shoving me across the room. I was left shocked and shaken. I asked him to please leave but he refuses. I am waiting for a property to come available so I can move out. In the meantime he is trying to convince me to give him another chance .He is doing everything in his power to show me he has changed.

    The truth is I love him and want to believe that hes changed. But I know that I have to take a stand and leave so he takes responsibility for his actions. I feel heartbroken but I’m determined to do the right thing for myself and my children. Please pray for God’s strength. How can I stay strong and not let resolve weaken?

  21. Kristin from United States says:

    I’m not sure where to start. I’ve been in an off and on relationship for three years. I have left and continuously find myself coming back. Hoping for change, and for the relationship I prayed for. The abuse started early on and I am unable to honestly say why I stayed other than I felt a deep connection and thought that if I waited it out I may finally have the happiness I know I deserve.

    This has yet to happen and he has become more violent and has resorted physical violence during arguments. He is much bigger than me and makes it a point to remind me. I am embarrassed to share with my family what has been happening and don’t want to share with my friends. I feel lost and don’t know what to do. I really would love to believe that with therapy and proper communication skills we will be able to make our future that of what we wanted from the beginning.

    I don’t believe I am innocent in all of this but I do believe he often turns minor disagreements into horrific battles that lead us down the path of destruction. How do I know how to go and how to stay away for good?

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Dearest Kristin, Run… don’t walk, but run, if you can as far away from this relationship, as soon as it is possible. I know that you have to be careful with a violent person –a lot of it is about control and some abusers, if they feel they are losing control, will become aggressive. So be careful. Please read as many of the articles we have posted in the Abuse in Marriage topic to find ways of escape. Please don’t think that this is about you… It’s not; it’s about him giving himself permission to treat you as a sub-human. Most often, abuse will ramp up and get worse and worse, so you are just getting a peek into the beginning of escalating violence. Please escape while you can. Here’s an article I encourage you to prayerfully read through: http://marriagemissions.com/warning-escape-abuse-before-marriage/.

      If this guy is not 100 per cent committed to change –FINDING someone IMMEDIATELY to help him do that and is very, very repentant and sorry for what he has done to you on top of that, you are in a losing battle. One without the other or an absence of both means he only cares about himself –your safety has little if any meaning to him, and he will act accordingly. Even then, it would be a very, very, very tough battle –a lifelong one. YOU have to be proactive here and leave this abusive relationship. Please talk to your family and get their support. You need it. Abusers can break down your ability to reason as you should. Please get help and leave this abuse. Get out while you can. I hope you will and pray that God gives you the strength and wisdom to do what you need to do to escape.

  22. Father from United States says:

    I want to share what might be a less heard perspective. I failed in my role as a shepherd to my family. We had problems when we met and I will always swear that there was a deep and true love that is worth recovering, as well as the fabled love at first sight, but we were people –using each other within about 15 minutes after that. Yes, there were disasters, and spirals, and influences, and they were tests, as we all get tested, and we failed, sometimes separately, and sometimes together. We came from broken and dysfunctional homes and there was involvement with the local child agencies, and ultimately we spent 20 years making excuses and justifications until now there’s restraining orders in both directions and 4 children are nearly lost to those same agencies, generation 2, group homes and foster care. Whatever she says on her end, which is her program now, on my end a lot of therapy and classes has revealed to me that we were what could be the sneakiest thing ever: addicts that met each other and engaged in the deceit typical of that two-fold, such that we never came close to admitting it even to ourselves.

    The lesson? Abuse as taught by the post-Christian mindset comes full circle back to the Bible, and it should. They label many things as financial, emotional, ***ual, physical, and verbal abuse. While there are certainly readers that did not deserve what happened in their life, abuse often goes both ways, as it did with us. Your initial weakness doesn’t have to be addiction, many things can start repeated spirals. The only thing that can stop them is admitting to a lack of control, and meeting life on it’s terms, not yours, by giving yourself over to God.

    The points made in the articles listed here can and should be used as references to self examination by both parties in a relationship. Do you want him/her back, do I want her back? Of course, and I pray to God for it every day. But that may or may not be in the Plan. What is in our control today is to desire and then apply the ability to be sincere in our personal change. If we’re honest, we realize that we abuse ourselves before we abuse others. We should want to reflect the points of sincerity raised in these articles for ourselves in our relationships with ourselves and God, then the relationships with all others, not just our partners, will follow.

  23. Shannon from United States says:

    All of this informative information has affirmed my feelings. My relationship of two years with my fiance has been verbally, mentally and physically abusive. I had faith he would change and supported everything I could with him. It wasn’t working, so I had to have a protective order against him to get him away. I know it’s only a piece of paper, but it was a very big step for me. I loved him deeply, but loved myself more. This isn’t easy, but I know for me, it is the right thing to do for my future and safety. Thank you.

  24. Crystal from United States says:

    I am a white female who was lead to this site after googling how to stop being physically abusive to my boyfriend. He is a black man from the streets so you never can tell. Also, I know my bf wouldn’t be caught dead going to the hospital for being abused by his girl and I’m sure many men feel that way so that explains mostly female DV ER visits.

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