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Can an Abusive Spouse Change?

Many people in unhealthy marriages hold onto the idea that their partners can change. While some abusive spouses do change and become loving, supportive partners, the percentage of abusive spouses who successfully break out of the mindsets that pushed them to abuse their partners in the first place is quite low.

Domestic violence can leave permanent physical and mental scars on a victim. When an individual is facing domestic violence in his or her marriage, divorce is the right choice. Though it is possible for an abusive spouse to change, it is not common. Even when an abusive individual does manage to change, his or her victim’s scars from the abuse can make it impossible for the two of them to have a healthy relationship.

Changing Through Involvement in a Batterer Intervention Program

There are programs that exist to help abusers who want to change take the steps necessary to do so. These programs are known as batterer intervention and prevention programs. However, studies on these programs’ effectiveness have mixed results, with some finding that they lead to a lower recidivism rate than jail among individuals arrested for domestic violence and others finding that these programs simply do not change abusers’ ingrained thought processes, making them ineffective at rehabilitating individuals who have committed acts of domestic violence.

Do Not Wait for an Abuser to Decide to Change

Involvement in a batterer intervention program alone cannot make an individual stop being abusive. Neither can counseling, an anger management course, substance addiction treatment, or a lifestyle change like becoming involved in an organized religion. All abusers who change have one thing in common: They wanted to change and they made the effort to eliminate the destructive thought patterns. Unless an individual consciously chooses to change his or her ways and makes a continuing effort to hold him- or herself accountable for his or her actions, a partner cannot expect that individual to change.

If you are involved in an abusive marriage, do not wait for your partner to change. He or she might continually express regret for his or her actions and say he or she wants to change, but these are not the same as actually making an effort to change. Whether a legal separation or a divorce is the right choice for you is a personal decision. Whichever you choose, do not stay in the marriage hoping for your partner to change. You cannot make another person change. When you are facing domestic violence in your home, you need to put your own health and safety first and leave the relationship.

Work with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

Nobody deserves to stay in an abusive marriage. If you know your marriage is over, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to start the process of legally ending the marriage. To learn more, contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd today to set up your initial legal consultation with a member of our firm.

Published July 13, 2018
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