I think I’m abusive – can I change?

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So, you didn’t treat someone right and it keeps happening. Maybe you’ve already screwed up a relationship and hurt someone badly?

No more excuses - you can change.


Does this sound familiar?

When you treat your girlfriend or boyfriend badly, you hurt the relationship, you hurt them, and you hurt yourself.

And  if you keep on going like this, eventually your girlfriend or boyfriend will stop trusting you, or worse, be scared of you, and might want to leave.

What makes a good relationship?

Relationships aren’t just about love, passion, romance, or sex. And showing love to someone isn’t just saying “I love you,” or “I’m sorry.”

If you really love someone, you show them respect, which means:

  • understanding that the other person doesn’t always have to do what you want
  • accepting that they have a right to their own friends, their own opinions, and to make their own decisions, including about sex, and
  • listening to the other person, caring about their opinions, supporting their independence and treating them as an equal.

But it’s not really that bad…is it?

No one likes to think that they’ve hurt or abused someone else. It doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. You might prefer to think ‘It’s not that bad’ or to make excuses for your behaviour.

But abuse is a choice.

If you are abusive towards someone else, it’s because, in some ways, you get some benefit from it. You act like this because you want to control your girlfriend or boyfriend, so they’ll do what you want them to.

Maybe you feel threatened by their independence, so you demand that they don’t talk to other guys/girls.

Maybe you’re using your girlfriend or boyfriend as a punching bag when you feel under pressure? Maybe hurting others and seeing them scared of you makes you feel more powerful. Maybe you blame them so you don’t have to feel bad about what you did.

Whatever the reason deep down, abusive behaviour is never ok.

The good news is you can learn to stop, think and act differently. It might take time but you can change.

It takes guts to face up to the fact that you haven’t treated your girlfriend or boyfriend with respect. It takes even more guts to take responsibility for it and do something about it.

If you choose not to change

Then as time goes on, you could destroy your relationships with your girlfriend or boyfriend (in the unlikely event they stick around), your friends (who are probably making excuses to see you less and less) and family.

It’s not a happy ending, is it?

Choose a happy ending

If you choose to stop abusive behaviour and to relate to people differently, you’ll

  • have more honest, trusting, happy and supportive relationships in future
  • feel good about yourself instead of feeling like (and being) an a***hole sometimes or often
  • understand yourself more
  • be a better parent for your children, now or in the future.

A first step

Since you’re reading this, you’re already thinking about your behaviour, which is good.

One way to change things straight away is to talk more and react less.

Discuss your strong feelings with friends and family members.  Trust that other people will listen to you and help you solve these problems.

The next step: call in the experts

Contact a service and they’ll put you onto someone who can help, like a counsellor. Thinking about seeing a therapist regularly.

There are also programs called “behaviour change programs” that help people change their behaviour.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it is possible. You’ll find that your relationships with all people, including those you love the most, and how you feel about yourself will only get better.

What do you have to lose?

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