Is He Really Going to Change this Time

COUPLES COUNSELING WON’T NECESSARILY STOP THE VIOLENCE

Your partner may try to get you to go to couples counseling, telling you that you and he need to work on this together. He may encourage you to go to pastoral counseling with him. If he has done this, then he is refusing to take full responsibility for his abusive behavior. He may be manipulating you into staying with him by taking this approach. His abusive behavior is not likely to stop unless he acknowledges that you are in no way responsible and that he has a problem that he needs to seek help for regardless of whether you stay with him or not.

Positive Signs That He Is Changing

  • He has stopped being violent or threatening to you or others.
  • He acknowledges that his abusive behavior is wrong and is his responsibility.
  • 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 try to 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, or take other independent actions.
  • He listens to you and respects what you have to say.
  • He communicates honestly and does not try to manipulate you.
  • He recognizes that he is not “cured” and that changing his behavior, attitudes, and beliefs is a life-long process.
  • He no longer does _______________________ (fill in the blank with any behavior that preceded his violence, manipulation, or emotional abuse).

Warning Signs and Manipulation

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 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 buy you back with romantic gifts, dinners, flowers, etc.
  • Tries to seduce you when you’re vulnerable.
  • Uses veiled threats — to take the kids away, cut off financial support, etc.
  • His promises to change don’t match his behavior. You may be so hopeful for change, yet don’t feel any different when you are with him. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, then chances are, you’re not.

You may not be safe if

  • He tries to find you if you’ve left. You may leave at a time of crisis to feel safer. He may try to get information from your family and friends regarding your whereabouts, either by threatening them or trying to gain their sympathy.
  • He tries to take away the children. He may try to kidnap the children as a way of forcing you to stay with him.
  • He 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.

Reprinted and adapted from materials developed by the Texas Council on Family Violence for the Battering Intervention and Prevention Project of the Community Justice Assistance Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.