Domestic Abuse Counseling
Can Domestic Abusers Change?
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
Do domestic abusers change? Well, that is the sixty-four million dollar question.
Some people will tell you, “Absolutely not...never.” Other people will say, “Possibly so.” Then, there are those who have personal experience with domestic abuse counseling and successful outcome in working with abusive relationships.
Domestic Abuse as a Life Condition
We often hear battered women claiming that abuse shelter advocates say, “Once a batterer...always a batterer.” And this perspective is usually supported by law enforcement, as well.
Their point of view makes perfect sense from their perspective. Think about it. Their frame of reference is typically individuals in and out of the shelter system, going from an abusive relationship to protective residence or counsel with an abuse agency...back and forth, over and over again.
For law enforcement, it is not that much different. They are looking at couples that repeatedly lure them back into their homes on domestic calls. The officers see one domestic assault after another, often with escalating violence.
Domestic Abuse as a Relationship Dysfunction
Relationship therapists see domestic abuse as a “relationship” condition. They employ couple’s/marital therapy strategies to facilitate change in the abusive relationship.
Unfortunately, what often happens is that the dynamics underlying the abusive relationship solidify. This can be dangerous for the abused partner, as you may know if you have experienced failed couples therapy for domestic abuse.
Domestic Abuse as a Batterer’s Condition
Individuals who employ change strategies for what they see as a batterer’s condition breathe a breath of fresh air into the equation. These people understand the operative dynamics in play when it comes to domestic violence. And they are equipped with appropriate strategies to effect change for couples in abusive relationships.
This is the group of people who will tell you, “Yes, abusers can change.” They witness positive outcome changes in the batterers that they treat.
Their interventions focus on batterer accountability and responsibility. When most effective, their therapies have both a cognitive and behavioral component...and the outcomes are visible in the relationships and lives of the people that they help.
If you are in an abusive relationship and wonder if it can ever change, consider your options. Then, reach into your own place of knowing for your answers. If you are clear that it is time to move on, then do so with a proper safety plan in place.
If, on the other hand, you still question the potential for change in your abusive partner and ultimately in your relationship…consider your options thoroughly. Learn about domestic abuse counseling and domestic violence interventions…to break the larger cycle of family violence.
© 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.