* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.
One of the most asked questions regarding abuse, is whether or not abusers can make amends.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘a tiger never changes his stripes’, but does this actually apply to the situation at hand? So, Can An Abuser Make Amends?
The fact of the matter is that real change takes time, and happens gradually in small increments, so if an abuser were to change, this would not be immediate.
To find out more about whether or not an abuser is able to make amends, keep reading, as we take a look below.
Can An Abuser Change?
This is an incredibly hot topic, and has been the subject of debate for many psychologists and domestic abuse survivors.
It is difficult to know whether or not abusers are able to change, because each person and situation is different.
It is incredibly difficult for a person who is abusive to change, because oftentimes, the abuser themselves has been the subject of a traumatic upbringing, which subsequently results in their behavior.
In order to really change, the abuser has to be fully committed to reforming.
This means taking responsibility for their actions, as well as stopping making excuses, admitting to what they’ve done, and offering help and support to their partners.
One of the ways in which an abuser can make a positive change is by attending a certified batterer intervention program which places the focus on accepting responsibility and taking accountability.
How Can An Abuser Change?
There are several different things that an abuser can do in an effort to change, some of which we’ve touched on briefly above.
In order to fully be committed to making long term, sustainable changes, the abuser should:
- Accepting that recovery will last a whole lifetime.
- Not looking for credit for any improvements that they’ve made.
- Not engaging in any kind of abuse tactics and using the fact that they haven’t done anything for a long time as an excuse.
- Carrying the weight of their actions and allowing it to fuel them to become a better person
- Fully accepting the consequences of their actions
- Making amends with their partner and anybody else that they’ve abused
- Stop making excuses for past and present actions
- Recognizing that abuse is a choice, and taking accountability for that.
Some Steps Toward Change
In order to fully change, abusers need to take several different steps to make a positive recovery.
Many of these involve seeing a therapist, and delving deeply into their issues and why they choose to abuse in the first place.
One of the most important things that abusers should do in order to change fully is to always practice humility about the situation.
Abusers often have a very brittle sense of worth that can’t stand up to any kind of criticism.
As a result of this, they put on a false persona that shields them from any negative feedback.
In order to fully recover, abusers will need to draw down that wall, and accept responsibility for past mistakes and apologizing for them.
Unfortunately, the reason why many abusers struggle to recover is because they have a lack of empathy.
There is however, a way to develop this. Instead of merely self pitying themselves, and not seeing the hurt that they’ve caused their partners, abusers need to focus on the latter to be fully empathetic.
Seeing things from the victims perspective through therapy can help them to take accountability for their actions.
In order to recover, abusers need to be fully honest with themselves and share their thoughts and feelings openly.
The primary emotion demonstrated by abusive men is anger, but this is only a superficial feeling.
When we dig deeper, we find that there are far deeper emotions brewing under the surface. Most of these include shame, sadness, and hurt.
The reason why identifying deeper emotions is so important in abuse recovery is because they dictate our actions.
For example, if an abuser was feeling angry, then they would act on that anger.
If they were feeling sad on the other hand, having identified the deeper emotion, then this wouldn’t cause them to engage in abusive behavior.
One of the most difficult points of recovery for abusers is tolerating injury.
When we engage in an argument with somebody, and they’ve made us feel slighted in any way, the natural reaction is to bite back.
Abusters will need to build up their tolerance in order to not retaliate in a violent way when their spouse says or does something which hurts their ego.
Many times, abusers don’t even fully comprehend the extent of their own abuse.
It may be easy for them to understand that physical actions such as hitting their spouse is wrong, but they may not comprehend that jealousy, name calling, and shouting can also be abusive.
By expanding their knowledge about what abuse actually involves, and all of the different ways that a person can be abusive, they will be able to take accountability for their actions.
For example, an abuser might not understand that when they shout, they can make their spouse feel threatened, even if they have no intention of physically harming them.
There have been no extensive studies conducted on whether or not abusers can change. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell if this is possible.
Those out there who have engaged in abusive behavior should start attending therapy, as well as some groups which deal with abusive people.
Making real change, if it is possible, takes real time. It’s not something that will happen overnight.
Abusers need to take full accountability for their actions, as well as understanding the extent of their abuse, and practicing tolerance.
Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)
988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640.Both services available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org
Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish
Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)
Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228
Planned Parenthood Hotline: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222
National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255
LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)
The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)
The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net
International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com
The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.
‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories
- Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists
- GoodTherapy.org: http://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: https://aamft.org/Directories/Find_a_Therapist.asp
- Emergency: 911
- Hotline: 1-888-353-2273
- YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/
UK & Republic of Ireland
- Emergency: 112 or 999
- Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
- Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
- Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
- Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
- YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/