Can they really change?

Hi Vic, I have been in a violent relationship with my partner for two years now. Within the two years we have been together, we have had two children. He is currently in prison for male assault on female against me because I decided I had had enough and had to make a statement to the police. 

The truth is, I love him so much and only wanted him to be taught a lesson and make him realise what he was doing to me was wrong. For six months now, he rings me from prison and apologises and tells me he will change. I've heard it before but never believed him after he'd turn around and lay his hand on me again. 

He tells me he wants to sign up to a course when he is released next month. Do you believe that he is remorseful? Can they really change?

Thank you


Hallo, thank you for writing in with your question.

This is the one question that probably every partner of every perpetrator wants answered.

My immediate answer is YES - cos I did.

The answer for you and for your partner is NO - not until he gets help. He has to come to understand that family violence is not OK! That it's OK to ask for help!

While he is talking to you by phone and saying this and saying that it is all talk. We men state these things in all sincerity but the reality is we don't know what we are talking about.

We say we want help and want to change but we don't know what it is that we're doing that's bad and we don't know what it is that we have to change.

We really don't know.

I don't know your partner's upbringing. I was brought up with violence as a way of teaching, learning and disciplining me. I grew up with the belief that violence was the answer to all issues in and out of the home. I perpetrated a lot of violence and abuse.

It was not until I signed into an anger management programme for an entire year that I slowly began to realise and accept that most of my life and the beliefs that I grew up with were a lie - that a real man has to be tough and strong and deal with all issues with the bash, name calling, swearing, put downs, power and control.

The programme made me look at my whole life and look for the answer to the questions:

Who am I?

What is a real man?

And it was really sad and still is that no one - but no one - had ever shown me what a real man is. 

NOW with your two children how are they going to know what a real man is if your man don't know?

No one has ever shown him and he has never had the need to change from his behaviour cos the whole of male society colludes with his macho man image beliefs and behaviours.

YOU absolutely did the right thing by dobbing him cos he does not belong in your house with your kids till he is a safe man. Then and only then can he come home and have a safe family.

He is NOT gonna get this help in jail even though it's better he be in there than being at home and the kids and you having to put up with his violent, abusive, negative behaviour.

It would've been ideal if the prison had a stopping violence programme set up for him before he got out that he had to follow up on, on his release, but alas that is not what happens.

Before he gets released, if he is genuine about changing he needs to:

1. Find alternative accommodation
2. Ring 0800 456 450 and get the number of the local stopping violence programme, join it and complete it.
3. Get counselling 
4. Arrange for couple counselling for you both.

This is what a real man will do.

It will be while he is attending these programmes that the facilitators, counsellors and both of you will know the best time for him to move back home.

The length of this timeframe depends on how long he takes to get on that journey to be a safe man wanting a safe family.

Your love for him is not in question.

His love for you and the kids is!

If he truly means what he is saying to you on the phone from jail he WILL want do all these things.

If he says that it is too much or tries to transfer the blame for him being in jail or question why he should have to do all these things, then he is not for real cos he still don't know what he has to change or how and he still cannot take responsibility.

There's a saying I use a lot: ‘If you don't know what you don't know, you'll always do what you've always done and you'll always get what you've always got."

I know it sounds bad but it's the truth as I know it.

I want to help him so that in helping him he gets the knowledge to be safe for you and the kids and that you start a whole new safe lifestyle.

I hope this helps.


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