2. Decide to change
How desperately do you want to stop being abusive? Is this something you want to try to keep your partner from leaving or is it something you want to truly accomplish? Change is never easy. The process of changing your abusive mindset, your personality and tendencies is going to be a difficult process to say the least. Things will get hard as you take each step and sooner or later you will want to quit. You will realize that being your old abusive self is a lot easier, even if it comes at the cost of hurting your loved ones.
However, if you want to overcome your abusive instincts and be a new person, then you need to make a decision about it and reach the end, no matter what. You have to commit to change. You have to motivate yourself on a daily basis and put in the hard work. But most importantly, you have to do this for yourself, not for anyone else. “He must change for his own sake – not to keep his wife or girlfriend tied to him,” writes Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, author and Senior Lecturer at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
3. Take responsibility for your actions
You have to realize that you have complete control over your thoughts, behaviors and actions. You are in control of what you say and how you act with your partner and others. You have to admit that it is never their fault, but your own. No one deserves to be abused. So you need to take responsibility for your abusive behavior and refuse to be a controlling, abusive person.
Although there may be tons of reasons that may influence your behavior, only you are responsible for your actions. When you recognize that you are responsible for physical, emotional and psychological abuse towards your partner and others, you can finally find the strength to apologize for your behavior.
4. Talk to the survivor
Speak with the person you have abused till now. Sit down with them, apologize from your heart and simply listen to them. Truly listen to what they have to say. Understand how you’ve made them feel, how your behavior affected them and how your actions broke them. Yes, this will be a difficult process. But this will also encourage and inspire you to change. It will help you see how you have hurt the ones you love and why you need to change. Listen to them without judgement. Without being defensive. Without blaming them or yourself. Listen to understand, not to explain. Listen to the person you have abused without feeling attacked.
This is a crucial step in breaking the cycle of abuse. This will help you gain the perspective you need to stop being an abusive person and become who you truly need to be – a loving, compassionate, caring and supportive person.
5. Don’t accept your excuses
Once you listen to the survivor, it is likely that you may try to explain or justify your behavior. You may find various reasons that might have led to your abusive behavior in the past. But don’t believe in them. Do not believe your own excuses for your abusive behavior. People do not abuse others because they are bad,sadistic people who enjoy others’ pain. They become abusive because of their own suffering. It is all the pain and suffering you’re holding inside that makes you an abusive person. It makes you feel insecure and vulnerable. With your feeble self-esteem and poor sense of self-worth, you struggle everyday to overcome that pain. However, instead of lifting yourself, your suffering forces you to bring others down.
But you need to overcome this tendency. You need to stop using your suffering as an excuse for abusing others, especially your loved ones. It is only by healing yourself from your inner pain, you can truly transform yourself into a better person.
6. Forgive yourself
Yes, you are an abusive person. But that doesn’t have to define you for the rest of your life. Abuse is something we do, it is not who we are. So forgive yourself for hurting the people you love. It is only by forgiving yourself you can stop the cycle of abuse and transform yourself. An abuser often hurts others because of all the pain they feel inside. As they start to blame society and others for their suffering, they avoid accountability. Moreover, to ease the pain they hold inside, they start to hurt others.