Posted by Nthabey

Do abusive men change? How do I know if he has changed?


Hi there, thanks for taking time to write to us.

Well, it’s not easy to break abusive patterns. Abusive people in a relationship can change if they accept and acknowledge that their abusive behavior is hurting their partner. If they purpose to stop the behavior and actually put steps to change then its possible to change.

The best way of knowing if an abusive person has changed is if they stop the abuse. If they change their way and become better and more restrained and disciplined.

Changing an abusive behavior takes time. Be patient. Don’t expect yourself to change dramatically in a short period of time. Don’t set yourself unrealistic goals. Patterns of abusive behavior can take a long time to do away with.

Check out this article on abusive relationships to learn more .


As humans we are constantly growing and changing; any experience we have helps to shape us.
You say that a man has an abusive nature in his history and ask how you can know if he has changed... the answer is that if he had changed, you wouldn't need to ask this.
I would suggest that you firstly attend a few couples therapy sessions to gain a better understanding of eachother's wishes and frustrations, followed by perhaps informing a relative on each side so the situation isn't a "dirty secret" (this also gives you both someone nearby to consult if things go aray). Most importantly, give yourselves time. Can he turn over a new leaf in a day ? Of course not, that's unreasonable to expect (especially if he has years of bad behaviour trained into him).
Ask him to write down a list of things he does that he believes are negative, and a list of things he believes you do that are negative, and then try to discuss and work on them together. Perhaps he needs to channel excess energy into a sport ? Maybe you need some extra support if you're excessively weepy or clingy ? Does he have family issues he's keeping bottled up ? Etc. Etc.
It shows promise that you're asking this question though: please don't give up on him unless he becomes dangerous/malicious. People can change, with the right support provided. He is always welcome to ask questions here, too, remember.