The Truth About Abusers and Change

05-04-2017 8:34 AM

This is my fourth post from Lundy Bancroft’s online seminar. Lundy is an internationally acclaimed author and speaker on domestic abuse and child maltreatment. I participated in his online seminar based on his 2003 best-selling book, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry Men.

If you’d like to read previous posts, Inside the Mind of An Abuser, Inside the Mind Part 2, and What You Need to Know When Divorcing an Abuser.

The Truth About Abusers and Change

And how to choose an intervention program

Do domestic abusers change?

Well, according to expert Lundy Bancroft, an abuser can change. But most don’t.

We don’t have any good statistics on the percentage who change. While studies have been done in many ways, almost none look the change in verbal or psychological abuse. Most measure success look at measures like jail time or arrest records. It’s very hard to measure psychological abuse.

Lundy says even if we had statistics, they would not help an individual woman determine whether her mate will change.

Here are six principles I learned in Lundy’s online seminar about abusers and change.

  1. Abusers only change if they want to change. They will not change because someone else wants them to change.
  2. Abusers only change when they accept 100 percent of the responsibility. That means, none of the blame goes to the woman.
  3. Abusers don’t change through couples counseling. The whole point of couples counseling is that the two people work together. An abusive person won’t be able to do this.
  4. Abusers change only through intervention. This usually means the couple is separated with no contact for three months or more. Sometimes jail time serves as intervention. Other times, the woman leaves.
  5. Abusers who are most motivated to change have typically lost two or three other relationships because of abuse.
  6. Abuses need a long-term group program. Usually, that means six to 24 months.

If you know a man looking for a program, search for one using the term, “Batterers Intervention & Prevention Programs.” Lundy warns that some groups pose as intervention programs but actually reinforce abusive behavior.

So he offered these tips when choosing a program.

Seven Things Batterer Intervention Programs Should Include

  1. Feedback from the abused woman.
  2. A mix of education and confrontation.
  3. Meetings at least two hours a week.
  4. Group-centered therapy rather than individual focused.
  5. Helping the abuser see his behavior as a choice.
  6. Helping the abuser understand that abuse is NOT about his emotions. Instead, it’s about his attitudes and double standards.
  7. Accountability for clients.

Stacy Graves is contributing editor of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ blog. You can connect with her at, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest.