Denise left the following question on another post and I felt it deserved attention in its own. Feel free to add inspiring stories as well.
Post from Denise:
I am reading some of the posts on here and I am curious. Do they ever change? Has anyone had any experience with their spouse abusing and then saying they want to get help and actually getting it and if yes does it help? Is there any hope?
Yes, if the person really wants the change they can. You can not want them to change, they must want it.
I found a site with some helpful information for you. I encourage a women that feels he may change to support him, just never stop putting your safety first. There is hope, even if he won’t change, you can.
Counseling Services: Amendinc.org
AMEND provides treatment for men voluntarily seeking or court-ordered into domestic violence counseling. Following an intake assessment, AMEND’s counselors design a treatment plan to help the client eliminate physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. The treatment plan focuses on identification and awareness of the problem; taking responsibility for the abuse; enhancing self esteem; building anger management, conflict resolution, communication, stress-management skills; and remaining chemically free. Specific group sessions discuss family of origin, addictions, sexuality, irrational beliefs, gender stereotypes, parenting, and more. Clients are seen weekly for individual or group sessions. Each session begins with a check on any current use of violence/abuse and alternative coping skills successfully utilized.
AMEND offers specialized counseling for those seeking anger management, parenting classes, Christian-based counseling, culturally-diverse group counseling and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence. We currently have offices located in Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties. All counseling services are offered on a sliding-fee scale.
I found this article on the site, the story brings the hope you may need.
My name is Tom.
I’ve had four domestic violence charges in my life which have changed my life drastically. I truly believe my past aggressive behavior was due to a learning process as a child, causing a lot of anger in myself, alcohol and drug abuse as a teenager through junior high and high school leading to fighting through irrational thinking, alcohol abuse from age 18 to 37 through both my marriages, which in turn led to divorce in both of them.
I do know that we can’t change the past. However, my physical and mental abuse to both of my ex-wives and four children, two of which are my natural children and two are stepchildren, could have all been avoided only if I knew then what I know now. I truly feel that no one, including pets, should live in fear in their own home. There is plenty of that to deal with outside our homes. We should feel that we have a safe place to go and feel comfortable and not on edge.
With my last domestic violence charge, I was expecting to go to prison and lose everything I had worked for my whole life. The judge ordered that I stay in the domestic violence classes with AMEND that I had started three weeks prior to my sentencing, a fine, and of course probation. I felt very lucky.
Before I started the domestic violence class prior to my sentencing, I totally evaluated myself. I put myself in my ex-wife’s place, my children’s place and my friends’ place. I felt real bad about hurting the people that were the closest to me. The sad part for them and to me is that they all hung in there with me as I continued to hurt them. I’m sure they expected that I would change. And I did not, not until I realized that alcohol, which led to my irrational thinking, such as jealousy, blame, and justifying all my irresponsible behavior, was a major contributor to most of my problems.
I realized at this point that the only one that could change me was me. I got tired of being involved with the court system, and decided I needed to take control of my life the best I can. I quit drinking . . . after all, I would only be cheating myself if I had not quit.
Through communication skills and learning to slow down on snap judgments, trying to understand where the other person might be coming from – this helps in family communications and also in general, everyday conversations that we all go through – I have realized that there are a lot of angles to the truth, not only mine. In turn I think it is very important to think things through with understanding before acting. I think a good example of trying to put ourselves in the other person’s place would be driving down the highway with someone tailgating and in a hurry. Maybe this person has a medical emergency of some kind or is just late for a meeting. If at all possible, I think that we shouldn’t play road games and let this person go by. There is no reason to be angered by this. It just may set the tone for the rest of the day or night, which in turn may backfire on us.
Another example would be a person physically or mentally abusing a person including a child or pet. If the abuser would stop and think of how they would feel on the receiving position, I think they would see that it is a very scary and confusing place to be – trying to understand how someone they could love so much, would treat them so badly. This will break down the trust and openness in a relationship of any kind, and gradually may lead to arrest, divorce and even death.
I think one way to deal with anger in this situation is to catch it before it escalates into something that we may regret for along time. Remember, once something is said, it’s hard to take back.
When I was younger, in elementary school, I would see my father physically and mentally tearing my mother down. This seemed like night after night, after the bars closed to 4 or 5 in the morning. My mom would never argue back for being in fear that she would get hurt physically by him. I felt real bad for her. All the time this was going on, I was learning this is the way to control someone through fear. As I got older I was turning into the kind of person that I had learned to hate. I really feel I was using alcohol and drugs to escape what I really should have become. I turned into someone who was always looking for a confrontation of some kind and hoping it would turn into a fight.
We all have options in our lives, and we are the only ones who can control our actions. We need to take responsibility for our actions . . . no one else can. However, I do know if we continue to make poor choices, the courts will gradually take control of our lives, and once we’re in the system, the only way out is to complete our sentence, unless we want to look over our shoulder for the rest of our lives.
Through the years, I didn’t think there was anything to change in myself. I always thought it would never happen again, I had a good grip on myself this time. But I didn’t, I always reverted back to my old self.
I was in an AMEND group for 3 1/2 years. I went for my mandatory 36 weeks, and was learning a lot about myself. I asked Nancy, my therapist, if I could stay, for I didn’t feel comfortable enough with myself. I continued to stay on Antabuse for a couple of years, which was my choice. Through the years in the class I have seen a lot of men go through the 36 weeks. I have yet to hear one of them regret being in the class. I have seen them get themselves back together and in return they are able to get together with their families on the right track, towards what a family life should be.
Not all men involved in domestic violence have families or are currently married; they may have abused a girlfriend, or wife which already may be a broken relationship when they start their classes. However, they do get themselves in the right direction for their next relationship through their own strong boundaries within themselves.
When I used to go to jail, I would think and say that she threw me in jail again. After I realized that the women I had been married to weren’t physically strong enough to pick me up and throw me in jail, I started to realize it must be my own behavior that got me there. This is when I was able to start working on myself at age 37. I sure have a lot of wasted years behind me, and this is the reason I stayed in the class.
Domestic violence affects everyone around us, right down to the police officer who makes the arrest. In my case, this is how alcohol, drugs, and domestic violence changed my life.