“Will my husband change,” she says. Domestic abuse survivors worldwide ask this question, over and over.
I think there is only ONE person who can answer this question. And that person is your husband himself. No one can tell you that someone in particular will or will not change. That is completely up to the individual himself.
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Now the other question is can a batterer change? Or, do abusers change? That is a completely different question.
I have thrived in the “change” industry/business/art for three decades. Through this experience, I have observed stunning change in people during psychotherapy. So if you are asking someone like myself with my background, then you are more likely to hear about the prospect of change.
However, more often this is a question posed to someone in the domestic violence victim's advocacy community. And the knee jerk response, from what I hear, is that change is not to be expected.
I was told the same thing two decades ago. And that was, indeed, true in my personal experience. In my professional life, however, I see it differently.
Domestic Violence Victim Advocacy
Many of the people struggling with this question ask, why do the advocates and people from law enforcement tell them not to expect change? My sense is because this is not what they witness.
Domestic abuse victim advocates are trained to support victims toward safety…whether in or beyond the abusive relationship. Their orientation and expertise is specifically for this purpose, and in this their service is invaluable.
Therapists and Batterer's Intervention
Professionals who help people with the specific intention of facilitating change will see the issue completely different… and understandably so, because that is their focus.
In this sector, you will find people telling you the likelihood of change under varying circumstances, but again no one has a crystal ball. And the only person who can know if change is going to happen is the person himself or herself.
Denial and Change
This person, who you so want to change, may not be in a position to answer this question accurately at the time it is asked. More often than not, batterers are in denial long after their partners have awakened to the abuse in their relationship.
So if you ask the only person who knows the prospect of their changing, you could get a response that says, “Change what?” “You're the one that needs to change (for us to be happy).”
The delicate walk between denial and change is the art of therapy. Working in and through resistance is a cornerstone of therapeutic process. Effective treatment interventions are designed to deal with denial and work through resistance. That is an important part of what makes them effective.
Will Your Husband Change?
Changes are if you are asking this question, you are looking for the prospect of change. Given that, you owe it to yourself to know your options.
If, on the other hand, you have moved on and you are asking the question to put a hard and fast end to a dangerous situation, trust you gut and follow your instincts. In the final analysis, remember it's not between you and them; it's between them and themselves.