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Abusers and Can They Change
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Lindsay G. Cassada 

Gloria Browder-Parham

804-717-2492 (FAX)

If you are in danger or need immediate assistance, dial 911 

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Mailing Address
Chesterfield Domestic & Sexual Violence Resource Center
PO Box 741
Chesterfield, VA 23832-0040

Street Address
10111 Krause Road, Suite 210
Chesterfield, VA 23832


Courthouse Address
Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
7000 Lucy Corr Boulevard
Chesterfield, VA 23832 


Domestic and Sexual Violence Resource Center
Abusers and Can They Change

Who Are the Abusers?

An abuser may

  • appear to be a charming, loving, family-oriented person
  • be a good provider
  • otherwise be a law-abiding citizen 

But, their abusive behaviors toward their intimate partner can lead them to severely injure, and possibly kill, their loved one(s). Domestic violence does not discriminate.

Abuser Characteristics

  • Low self esteem
  • Excessive jealousy
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Cruelty to animals, children
  • Blaming of others – does not accept responsibility for own actions
  • Poor communication skills
  • Isolates partners from friends and/or family
  • Raised in an abusive household
  • Use/abuse of drugs and/or alcohol

Can abusers change?

While all individuals can change, they should want the change to occur.

  • An unwilling or uninterested individual cannot be forced to change. 
  • Change must be intrinsic, a natural desire by the individual to alter and/or modify their behaviors.
  • Change is possible, but is difficult, as abusive, controlling behaviors are often learned behaviors.

Research indicates an increased likelihood of change when

  • an individual has a strong support system of non-enabling family and friends
  • community support, such as

While victims of abuse experience greater success with a positive support system, the same is true for perpetrators of abuse.

Domestic Violence Intervention Program Goals

To begin the process of recognizing and ceasing abusive behaviors, an individual may benefit from a certified domestic violence intervention program.

  • Teach individuals how to stop violence and prevent reoccurrence of future violence
  • Assist individuals in identifying abusive, violent and coercive behaviors
  • Assist individuals in examining their beliefs related to these behaviors
  • Hold individuals accountable for their abusive behaviors
  • Assist individuals in exploring alternatives to violence

Signs of Change

An individual may say they are changing, but true change should be observed over a period of time.

  • Accepting change is a long-process – not declaring themselves “cured”
  • Admitting fully to what they have done
  • Stopping excuses and blaming
  • Accepting responsibility and recognizing abuse is a choice
  • Identifying patterns of controlling behaviors
  • Developing respectful, supportive behaviors
  • Changing how they respond to their partner’s (or former partner’s) anger
  • Changing how they act in heated conflicts
  • Not demanding credit for perceived (or actual) improvements
  • Not treating improvements as vouchers for future abuse (“I haven’t done anything like this in a long time.”)
  • Accepting the consequences for their actions (including not blaming their partner, nor feeling sorry for themselves)
Related Content

About Domestic Violence

About the Commonwealth's Attorney Office

About the Domestic and Sexual Violence Resource Center