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Abusive Relationship Ever Change?

Question:

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p>I am going through a divorce. My husband was initially emotionally abusive, he also broke everything, this eventually led to pushing me, and the last thing choking and bruising me. I left him after this. I still love him and am confused. He wants to go to anger management and make it work. My question is: Can a relationship that was abusive change if someone gets help? Is there a chance that he would stop being abusive if he seeks help? Please help me, I am so lost.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
  • ‘Anne’ bases her responses on her personal experiences and not on professional training or study. She does not represent herself to be a psychologist, therapist, counselor or professional helper of any sort. Her responses are offered from the perspective of a friend or mentor only.
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  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

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p>Anything is possible, but some things are more probable than others. If your relationship has been charaterized by abuse in the past, it is quite likely that it will continue to be characterized by abuse in the future. Your husband’s desire to attend anger management and make the marriage work may be sincere, but it may also be a ploy to give you something so that you come back, and when he’s feeling secure again in his power over you, he’ll start being abusive again. This sort of dynamic plays out again and again in a hundred thousand therapy rooms across the nation every day.

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p>You could make yourself mad trying to figure out these probabilities and the reality is that you don’t have and never will have the ability to predict the future. You will never have enough information to make this sort of decision properly. Ambivalence towards staying or leaving can become stable in this sort of situation – you never quite leave becuase there is always the chance that things could get better. You don’t want to end up ambivalent in this sort of situation, however, becuase people who stay in abusive relationships get their souls worn down and sometimes end up physically broken too. You are probably best off trusting your first instinct that it was time to leave and staying separated from this man.

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p>Therapist Mira Kirshenbaum wrote a great book about making decisions whether to leave or stay in troubled relationships called “Too good to leave Too bad to stay”. You may wish to pick up a copy and read it. I think it might help clarify your decision making process.

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