Abusive Relationship Signs
Why Does an Abuser’s Apology Feel Empty?

Dr. King


by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.


Have you ever noticed how some apologies make you feel worse after getting them? You thought you were getting the apology you so longed to have; but you got an excuse, justification and campaign to extend your compassion.

Maybe that’s why you feel worse, because instead of getting the understanding you wanted for yourself, you are being asked to give it at a time that it’s simply not for the giving from where you stand.

The Abuser’s Apology

An abuser by nature refuses to assume responsibility for his (or her as the case may be) abusive behavior. That is one of the defining characteristics of intimate partner abuse. The controlling partner will externalize blame. They will find a way to assign responsibility onto you for their altercations toward you.

You’ve heard it: “It’s your fault.” “You made me do it...say it.” You know the drill.

And then to add insult to injury, you will be asked to embrace the pain—their conflict—underlying their abusive conduct toward you. Their request for your compassion can either turn you off or turn you on. It’s the hook that re-engages domestic violence victims back into the abusive relationship.

What’s Missing in the Abuser’s Apology?

Whether you are turned off and run in the other direction, or turned on and find your way back into the battering dynamic is neither here nor there. In either case, it’s incomplete. Why? It’s inadequate and incomplete because the fundamental essence of an apology is missing.

For an apology to be effective, it needs to encompass an authentic appreciation of your experience. It must carry sincere empathy toward you and understanding of the violation toward you. Without that, it’s just words that say nothing and do nothing for you.

An abuser, however, falls short in the empathy department. That, too, is a defining characteristic of intimate partner abuse. The ability to embrace your experience is weak at best. More often, such compassion is non-existent.

If you find yourself in a relationship in which the apologies you receive are limp, loose and ineffective, look deeper into the dynamics of your relationship. You may be in an abusive relationship that could spiral out of control without proper intervention.

For more information about abusive relationships, visit www.preventabusiverelationships.com and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps couples worldwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.