I get an awful lot of people ask me something along these lines
“My partner has been abusive and I have had enough and said I am leaving. Now, he says he will change and I don’t know what to do.
Should I stay or go? Now that he says he will make an effort to change, I feel bad that I still want to leave BUT, how do I know he really will change?
This, or something like it is a very common response to the suggestion by an abuser that they will change so, what should you do?
Constantly chasing the illusion of the relationship that you really want makes it very tempting to just accept the abusers suggestion that they will miraculously change!
So many people make the mistake of just believing an abuser when they say they want to change without putting a PLAN or structure in place to ensure that it happens.
I hope the following checklist will help you and give you both a time frame and a structure.
Change does not happen by itself so there is no point just leaving it to chance,
Change requires work and time for that work to see positive, genuine and lasting results.
Go through these things with the person who says they want to change.
Write down together what they say, as this is what you are agreeing together as part of the process to bring about change.
If you are in any way concerned about your physical safety then leave!
let them work out the details of their change by and for themselves.
You then decide what you want to do, based on the response to this checklist.
Just this will help you to see how serious they are.
Remember that their decision to change does not obligate you to keep trying with the relationship!
Maybe you would prefer to give them space to do the personal work on themselves and by themselves?
If you have been in an abusive relationship this might be a good time to take a step back and do some work on yourself too!
Motivation: Check why the person wants to change?
No-one can ever change for someone else!
They must want the change for themselves and it MUST be independent of any decision that you might decide to make about your relationship.
You may decide that no matter what changes they make, it is too late for you.
You cannot be their ONLY or MAIN motivation.
Sure, faced with losing you may be the catalyst but, you cannot be manipulated or gilt tripped just because they have worked on change.
Make this clear!
If they do not want to make the change unless you agree to stay then this is the wrong motivation!
Motivation for change cannot use fear, manipulation or guilt tripping.
So, establish that they are doing this for their own future happiness which may or may not, involve you.
You are responsible for your own future happiness, not that of an abuser!
Remember, they are master manipulators, do not get caught up in any attempts to blame you or make you feel guilty.
If they cannot even do this checklist with you but claim they are going to make BIG changes, to keep you in their life, be very wary!
of course it is up to you but, if you had decided you were leaving, then do! You had decided that for a reason and you can then see what changes(if any) are made, from a safe distance.
I say this because all too often, suggestions of change are just a smokescreen and unless you intervene with a solid plan, then nothing will ever change!
What: Get clear on what they want to change and again, related to the above, establish why they want that change to take place.
How: Exactly as it says, how are they going to bring this change about? What help will they seek? And how will you monitor the results.
Time Scale: When will they start? Obviously if they are serious about changing they will do all they can to start as soon as possible.
Affect: What affect do you expect this to have? What do you want/need to see, experience to feel comfortable in this relationship?
Excuses: Be very alert to and aware of any excuses!
Get clear on all of the above.
Write it down and AGREE what you have AGREED.
Use what you have agreed as your blueprint, use it to monitor progress.
If you are tempted back WAIT to see lasting results and put very strong boundaries in place, based on your values and knowledge of your true value and worth.
If you find this exercise hard to implement by yourself then get someone to support you.