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How can I stop being abusive to my partner?

Are you abusive in your relationship? Are you controlling and possessive of your partner? Do you want to change the way you behave, but feel like you can’t help yourself?

If you recognize yourself as the abusive partner, you should question your own behavior and how you may be treating someone that you care about. The next step would be to work on yourself so that you can stop being an abusive partner.

Well, it’s not easy to break abusive patterns. But you’ve already crossed the first and most important hurdle already – you accept and acknowledge that your abusive behavior is hurting your partner.

Here are some tips on how you can change the situation:

  • Find someone you can confess to, apart from your partner. This is a bold step and requires courage. But once you’ve done that, you have someone else who knows the reality and can watch out for you.
  • Consider meeting a counsellor to help you through this process.
  • Find out what causes your harmful behaviour. Sometimes your partner might just be a target for everything else that’s going wrong in your life. Whether that’s the case or not, find out what’s causing you stress and what makes you react abusively. Are you being overly possessive because your partner abused your trust in the past? Or is there something deeper – your troubled childhood or a previous marriage? Does alcohol or drugs set off the abuse?

Talk openly to your partner. Once you know what makes you behave badly, let your partner know what you’ve learned. Let them know that you’re planning to change your behaviour. Seek their help to work out how can you can behave better in future, and try to heal the damage you’ve caused. Ask them how they would like to be treated and see what you can do to match those expectations or come close to it.

Actions speak louder than words: you have to show that you’ve stopped your abusive behaviour. If you continue to abuse your partner but just apologise and beg their forgiveness every time it happens, then nothing has really changed. If anything, it adds to the pain you’re causing.

Work towards positive behaviour. Once you have a guide to good behaviour, start working on it. Set personal targets for controlling your anger and stress levels. Remind yourself that being angry is a decision you make. Not being angry will also be a decision you make.

Don’t expect your partner to be warm and welcoming. There might be years of anger piled up in them. They might not know how to react to a change in your behaviour and might even view you with suspicion. Be prepared for the worst responses, and don’t let them put you off wanting to change.

Be patient. Don’t expect yourself to change dramatically in a short period of time. Don’t set yourself unrealistic goals. Patterns of abusive behavior can take a long time to do away with.

Do you have any questions? Talk to us in the comments section.

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