Do you recognise that you are abusive to your partner? Are you concerned that your behaviour towards your partner is costing you your relationship? Are you worried your children are witnessing too many arguments between their parents?
It's important to face up to how your behaviour affects your partner. The more you can understand what your behaviour is like for them, the harder it will be to behave badly towards them in future. Most people get into relationships because they care for their partner. You may not intend hurting them, but you are. You may be feeling bad about how you've behaved - ashamed or guilty.
Effects of your abusive behaviour
Your behaviour is likely to be having a serious effect on your partner's health. If you've used physical violence, you've probably caused injuries. These might include soreness, aching, numbness, headaches, cuts and other wounds, black eyes and bruising burst ear drums, or broken bones. In some cases people have been killed or permanently disabled by their partners. Even if you haven't been physically violent, your partner may have developed physical problems as a result of your abuse, such as feeling physically tense, having difficulty sleeping, feeling exhausted, having panic attacks, palpitations, being physically sick. As well as the physical effects, abuse also has an impact on a person's emotional well-being. They may feel stressed, vulnerable, depressed, ashamed, drained, terrified, confused, nervous, hurt, unloved, worthless, destroyed, scared, and humiliated. It is likely that your relationship will suffer as a result of your behaviour and may even result in the relationship breaking down completely. Your abusive behaviour will also be having an emotional and a physical impact on your children.
How can I change?
It can be hard to face up to what you've done and how it's affected others and you might find yourself minimising things, pretending things aren't that bad. When you do this you're not taking responsibility for your actions, because:
- It makes you feel better in the short term - if you're not responsible for your violence, then you don't have to feel bad about it .
- It means that you don't have to do anything about it - if you're not the one responsible for the violence, then there's no point looking at your own behaviour and attitudes or trying to change them.
- It means you can't stop your violence - if you aren't responsible for it, then there's nothing you can do to prevent it happening again.
It's very tempting to try and deny responsibility for your behaviour by blaming your partner. There are many other ways in which you can wriggle out of responsibility for your behaviour by saying that the reason for it was some kind of outside influence such as work problems, money worries, things that have happened to you in your past. However, plenty of people experience these things and don't become abusive to their partners. One of the first steps to ending abuse is to take full responsibility for your behaviour.
You need to recognise that it's up to you what you do and how you behave, and to stop blaming your partner. It can be tough facing up to difficult problems but if you are committed to changing your abusive behaviour then there is help and support available. Changing abusive behaviours is a long and difficult process. The Respect website provides lots of useful information to help you recognise your abusive behaviour and suggests way you can tackle it. This website is not designed as an alternative to a specialist behaviour-change groupwork programme which you may find more helpful in the process of change.
- Domestic violence perpetrators: identifying needs to inform early intervention (pdf format, 245Kb)
- Domestic violence offenders: characteristics and offending related needs (pdf format, 48Kb)
- For men involved in domestic violence (pdf format, 471Kb)
- Domestic violence: who are the victims and who are the perpetrators (pdf format, 112Kb)