Can an abusive relationship change?

Can an abusive relationship change?
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Abusive relationships take many forms, according to Partners in Prevention. An individual of either sex and any age or social class can face physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse, or a combination of all four types of abusive behavior. An often-asked question is whether an abusive relationship can change for the better.

Professional Intervention
Experts are in near agreement that the only way to truly change an abusive relationship into one that is healthy is with professional intervention, according to "Motivational Interviewing and Stages of Change in Intimate Partner Violence" by Christopher M. Murphy and Roland D. Maiuro. There are a variety of professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors that specialize in abusive relationships and associated issues. In addition, there are in-patient treatment centers designed to treat individuals who are abusers and abused.

Time Frame
Although some relationships degenerate into an unhealthy, abusive status in short order, do not ever expect this type of relationship to repair and rest on a positive footing quickly, according to Partners in Prevention. Therefore, if you sincerely want to try and change an abusive relationship, you need to make a commitment to participate in a long process of counseling or treatment. You also must prepare yourself to separate physically from the abuser for the foreseeable future.

Oftentimes an abuser pays lip service to the idea of changing, and even agrees to participate in counseling or therapy. In many cases the abuser returns to his abusive behavior, even after you think he has succeeded in becoming a healthier individual, according to "But He'll Change: End the Thinking That Keeps You in an Abusive Relationship" by Joanna V. Hunter. You need to weigh and balance: your right to a healthy and safe life against the prospect that your abuser may never truly change.

A prevalent and dangerous misconception is that you, as the victim of abuse, personally possess the ability to change your abusive partner, according to Partners in Prevention. You may believe that if you change your own behavior, your abusive significant other will stop harming you. An abuser makes the decision to engage in physical, emotional, psychological and even sexual abuse of his own accord. Making changes in your own behavior will not trigger alterations in the conduct of the abuser over the long term, if at all.

Protecting yourself is the primary consideration when faced with an abusive relationship. Therefore, before you even consider the possibility that the situation can change, you must ensure your own safety. You need to physically separate from the abusive party immediately. If you do not have a friend or family member to provide you a place to stay, contact the national domestic violence unit for a referral to an agency in your area that will assist you.

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