Can Domestic Violence Abusers Change?

In a recent study, it is said that 60-70% of abusers who seek treatment and get help, can change their behavior and the way they act. After the recent Ray Rice scandal, I thought this was an extremely interesting article and idea. I would think, once an abuser always an abuser, but modern day research has found a different conclusion. If the male abuser seeks treatment, they can change, and 75% of them feel remorse and guilt about hurting their partner. In this instance, it seems really hard to think that 60-70% of aggressors got better on their own, making the chance that this can happen on it’s own pretty slim. Reverse causation in this case would say that if you change your violent behavior towards your partner, you get help, which doesn’t make sense either, because you would change your behavior after you seek help.

This study is a huge breakthrough when it comes to domestic violence, because if that high of a percent of people who are getting help with their aggression issues are getting better, that means that a large population of men in the country could heal themselves. The abusers who found themselves ridded of violent behavior towards their partner went to therapy once a week for four to twelve months, depending on the severity of their abuse towards their partner, which is a third variable used in this study. Overall, I think this news is going to help many couples around the world who are struggling with violence in their relationships, and help many people come to peace with their past struggles and problems.

Here is a link to the article I found about this topic.

Here is a link to the photo of Ray Rice and his Fiance above.

7 thoughts on “Can Domestic Violence Abusers Change?

  1. Alyssa Marie Gregory

    The stats are very interesting to me. In your blog you mentioned something about men in the country healing themselves. With that being said are your findings strictly for males who are abusive or is it mixed in with women. Looking at your topic , we can not forgot to always remember that females could just as well be the abuser as well. Also, I believe true change comes from the heart. Many people can go to rehab and therapy and still have the same bad heart to strike again. Im curious to see an experiment on subjects who seek therapy and see how long they go without hitting their partner again. This is a long term study of course but world bring us more facts. I personally think that therapy does help but essentially won’t change a person unless like I said prior that they want to change. Supporting my notion here is an article that furthers my argument about how there is more to stopping domestic abuse than just seeking therapy (like Andrew says all the time in class there are always other variables that effect our conclusions)

  2. Alexandra Elizabeth Brooks Post author

    Thanks for all your comments guys, they gave me more to think about than what I originally posted. I think it’s really a good point about the partner staying, as Alison said. If the abuser wants to seek help and change their behavior, good for them and I think that they should. I think it’s interesting that some victims would stay with their abuser, because if I was in that situation I would do everything in my power to get away, but it’s also one of those things that you can’t judge until you’re in the situation. And to Somil, the abusers said in therapy that they regret doing what they did, prison sentences were not involved. Thanks for your feedback guys!

  3. Lauren Marie Freid

    I completely agree with Somil Patel that the abuser will only seek treatment if she or he truly desires to get help and fix themselves. This is a very difficult thing to do because many abusers have psychological and/or mental issues that can potentially prevent them from seeing the reality of the situation. Many people believe that if one is an abuser once, he or she will always be an abuser. This can be true at times, but I believe that we all have the ability to change if we make the full effort and want to make ourselves better. You mentioned that 75% of abusers feel remorse and guilt about hurting their partner. How did the researchers actually obtain this result? Because if it was just based on a surgery of abusers, the study would have to be large enough that there could be a strong correlation shown between abusers and seeking treatment to get better. However, there would be many other factors that contribute to this study. People could easily lie just for the study, and you cannot truly determine if the abuser sought help unless you take a large group of people from treatment centers to see what they did in order to seek help. I always believe in second changes and the fact that people can change. The link below gives tips about how abusers can build themselves up so that they can change for the better. However, for an abuser to change, it can be a lifelong process and can sometimes not be accomplished.

  4. Alison B Mamtsis

    This is a really interesting topic because I’ve never been able to understand how an abused victim could stay with their significant other that abused them. I think a big part of this study also has to do with the victim because how can you know if the abuser can change when their partner is a constantly changing variable? Once abused their partner may not stay with them, their partner’s attitude and actions will most likely change which has a huge effect on the abuser. I think this is one of those things that varies case by case because an abuser may be prone to feel anger towards one partner and abuse them, but maybe a different partner won’t give them those feelings of anger. I think this is definitely an interesting study that could be expanded to include how an abuser acts with different partners

  5. Julia Molchany

    About a week ago, I went to see Denise Brown speak on the subject of domestic violence at the HUB. I’m sure you are somewhat familiar with the OJ Simpson case, where Simpson was tried for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson. Denise spoke on behalf of her sisters violent relationship which escalated from verbal assaults, to physical abuse, to murder.

    While this is just one example of domestic violence, I have educated myself on the topic and found that domestic abuse is a cycle. This website explains the process: .
    The “honeymoon phase” is often mistaken for change. While the abused believes that their abuser is genuinely apologetic for their actions, it is often only a matter of time before the cycle of agitation and abuse begins again.

    While psychologists do believe that change is possible, it relies heavily on the willingness of the abuser to get help. Some argue that people arrested for domestic violence, who are usually required to complete some sort of treatment or counseling, may even be more likely to repeat their behaviors. This could be due to a resentment towards their partner who they see as the cause for their arrest.

    It’s hard to determine what “change” really is in this case. Because domestic abuse isn’t directly related to a mental disorder or a biological deficiency, it is hard to track the change in a human. Many abusers also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which as of now, has no actual cure. This leads me to believe that abusers likely do not “change” as a person, but can learn to control their urges.

  6. Somil Patel

    I think the key point in your post is “if the male abuser seeks treatment.” Barring mental disorders, most people have the ability to change, but only when they want to. If the abuser does not want to change, he never will.

    Oftentimes, abuse is the result of alcohol or drug addictions that the perpetrator has little control over. Alcohol is especially bad with this, as it causes the user to become overly aggressive.

    You noted that “75% [of abusers] feel remorse and guilt about hurting their partner.” How was this number determined? I would imagine that most people would say that they feel remorseful in order to shorten their prison sentence or seem more normal, regardless of whether it was true or not.

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