FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MEN WHO ABUSE
Who are the abusers?
Abusers come from any background, ethnic group, class, neighbourhood, religion. The can be young or old, educated or not. They can be of any gender; however the majority of abusers are men.
What causes domestic violence?Domestic violence is the misuse of power to gain control over another person. Domestic violence is not caused by stress, illness, drugs or alcohol abuse (although these factors can occur alongside instances of violence and abuse). Domestic violence can occur in any relationship including straight, gay and transgender relationships.
Can an abuser change? Change is possible because violence is a choice. However to make positive change he must first accept responsibility for his violent and abusive behaviour. The process is slow as it requires the abuser to challenge their beliefs and attitudes and stop using power and control. This is not easy to do and requires much hard work and commitment.
Am I to blame for his violence? No. Men make a choice to use violence and abuse. A lot of violent men will blame their partners for their abusive behaviour to avoid taking responsibility for themselves. They choose when and how they are violent or abusive. Most abusive men are only violent towards their partners and many report they can turn off their violent and abusive behaviour when others are around.
Does he just lose control?No. Abusers choose who to hurt, when to hurt and how to hurt to accomplish their ends. People think men who have behaved in violent or aggressive ways must be mentally ill, crazy or lose control. Violence is not about losing control but rather trying to get control over a person or situation. Domestic violence occurs when someone decides to use physical, sexual, emotional and/or spiritual abuse to get their way – or to make someone do something, stop them from doing something or to punish them. Most are not violent or controlling outside the home.
What if he is sorry?
Most abusers are sorry about their violence afterwards. In fact remorse is part of the pattern of violence. The abuser may promise to end the violence, to attend counselling, he may give gifts to his partner and will do, say or promise basically anything to ‘get everything back to normal’. When the victim accepts the apology or returns to the relationship the pattern of abuse and violence begins again. If an abuser is serious about stopping his violence he will take full responsibility for his behaviour and will seek help and actively work on changing his behaviour.
How do I know if he has changed?
Some men do complete domestic violence education programs with changed beliefs and a willingness to be noncontrolling and non violent. However it is not safe to assume that just because an abuser has completed or is attending a program that violence and abuse has stopped. Change comes slowly. Trust your gut feelings and ask yourself the following questions:
- Has he completely stopped doing and saying things that frighten you?
- Can you express your opinions about the relationship without fear of being punished?
- Does it feel safe to bring up topics that you know upset him?
- Will he listen to your opinions with respect?
- Does he respect your wishes about sex and physical contact?
- Has he stopped expecting you to do things for him?
- Can you spend time with friends and family without being afraid he will retaliate?
- Do you feel in control of your life?
If you answered no to any of these questions it is likely you are still at risk of further violence and abuse. Always consider your safety first.