HOW DO YOU KNOW IF HE’S REALLY CHANGING?
Positive signs include:
- He has stopped being violent or threatening to you or others.
- He acknowledges that his abusive behavior is wrong.
- He understands that he does not have the right to control and dominate you.
- You don’t feel afraid when you are with him.
- He does not coerce you into having sex when you don’t want to.
- You can express anger toward him without feeling intimidated.
- He does not make you feel responsible for his anger or frustration.
- He respects your opinion, even if he doesn’t agree with it.
- He respects your right to say *no.*
- You can negotiate without being humiliated and belittled by him.
- You don’t have to ask his permission to go out, go to school, get a job, or take other independent action.
- He listens to you and respects what you have to say.
- He communicates honestly and does not try manipulate you.
- He recognizes that he is not *cured* and that changing his behavior, attitudes, and beliefs is a lifelong process.
- He no longer does ___________ (fill in the blank with any behavior that used to precede his violence, manipulation, or emotional abuse).
Old habits die hard. Your partner’s abusive behavior is rooted in a desire to control the relationship, and that pattern isn’t going to change overnight. He may no longer be violent, but he may still try to exert control by manipulating you into doing what he wants. Here are some common manipulative behaviors: Tries to invoke sympathy from you or family and friends Is overly charming; reminds you of all the good times you’ve had together Tries to seduce you when you’re vulnerable Uses veiled threats – to take the kids away, to quit attending counseling, to cut off financial support His promises to change don’t match his behavior You may be so hopeful for change that you want to believe him, even if things don’t feel any different. But trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, then chances are you’re not.
COUPLES COUNSELING WON’T STOP THE VIOLENCE
Your partner may try to get you to go to couples counseling, telling you that you both have a problem and should work on it together. Couples counseling does have its place in working out problems, but his abuse is not something it can help with. That’s his problem, and he needs to work on it in a battering intervention and prevention program. If you think the two of you would benefit from joint counseling, then by all means, go – AFTER he completes a program and is no longer violent.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE SAFE?
If you feel that you will be safer away from your partner while he is in an intervention program, you have every right to leave. Even if you leave, you must understand that his participation in the program is no guarantee that he will not be a threat to you. The risk that he may be violent toward you can even increase when you leave. For your own safely and the safety of your children, watch for these signs of a problem in the way he behaves toward you. Tries to find you if you’ve left. He may try to get information from your family and friends about your whereabouts, either by threatening them or trying to get their sympathy. Tries to get you to come back to him. He may do anything to get you to come back – if promising to change and being charming or contrite don’t work, his efforts could then escalate to threats and violence. Tries to take away the children. He may try to kidnap the children as a way of forcing you to stay with him. Stalks you. If you always seem to run into him when you are on your way to work, running errands, or out with friends, or if you receive lots of mysterious phone calls, he could be stalking you.
(This isn’t original text, I’ve seen it several places… now you have too)