Married at the age of 22 in 1992, a mother of two lovely sons soon after, as a woman I was always taught to be an obedient wife and daughter-in-law. Over the years, I learned that being this ideal woman would mean accepting being humiliated by my in-laws, abused physically and mentally by my husband, and enduring bruises, pain and sacrifice in a marriage for over two decades.
Can An Abusive Husband Ever Change?
Can abusers change? For years, I held on to the hope that they could.
I loved him dearly. My husband was in the merchant navy and would be home only for six months in a year. After our marriage, when he left for his trip, I was expected to single-handedly take care of all the household chores and was insulted at the slightest fault on my part. A five-minute delay in breakfast or in folding dried clothes was met with criticism and insults from my in-laws.
Before leaving, my husband had suggested I continue my studies and so I did. But when he came back from his trip, I saw his true side. He slapped me after he heard his family tell him how lackadaisical I was toward them. He abused me sexually for hours at a stretch, after which I was expected to be normal and make his family and him all their favorite dishes. With time, the abuse became more intense. Slaps turned to punches and punches to being hit with a hockey stick.
I prayed and hoped he would change because I had nowhere to go and had no confidence left to do anything on my own. But can abusive men change ever? I now believe that the violence, the inhumanity run in their blood.
My brother refused to help me and my mother, a widow, had two other daughters to take care of. I accepted my reality as my destiny and continued to live through the ordeal, day after day.
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Fatherhood did not mellow him
A son was born to us in 1994. I was very happy. I thought fatherhood would change him, soften him. I was wrong. Can abusive husbands change? I feel they’re too drunk on power to ever care to. So, it was almost as if my husband had found another victim and resorted to child abuse.
It was when the violence toward my son became unbearable that I stopped wondering “Can abusers change?” and put my foot down. How could I let him hurt something that was most precious to me?
My approach to my situation changed. Instead of weeping and crying in front of him after he abused me, I started locking myself up and spending time on my own. I started reading and writing and found solace in it instead of focusing on and wondering, “Can an abusive man change?” over and over again.
Do abusers ever change? Who knows? But I will never forget that day in 2013 when he beat my older son to an unconscious state. Yes, I was abused too, but my son could have died that day. It was almost like divine intervention as I felt a voice telling me, “No more.”
I left the house quietly and made a failed attempt to file an FIR. I returned from the police station with a phone number on my palm. I called the NGO, desperately asking for help. There was no looking back. I had made my decision. Can abusers change? Well, I had waited long enough to find out and now believed it was time to fight back.
Despite the lack of support from my family, I filed a case against my husband and his family. You would think they would back off. But do abusers change? They filed 16 cases against me. I fought a battle for two and a half years. That was a very tough period for me, but I found solace in my children (the younger son was born in 2004) and in knowing that I would never go back to the relationship that left my soul and my body wounded.
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After running from one court to the other, today I have the custody of both my children and a house to live in. I won the case and got a divorce from him in 2014. I took my children out of an abusive relationship. Sometimes I wonder where I got the strength to run away from my abusive husband and start from scratch.
I hope women who face domestic abuse do not take as long as I did to realize that abusers never change. They should stop being apologetic for him and his actions. Instead of wondering, “Can an abusive husband change?” and trying to hold on hoping he can, it’s better to get away as soon as you can.
Today, I am an inspirational writer and I have written three books. My elder son is studying as well as working. The stain of coffee that he splashed my elder son’s face with, in his fit of rage, is still visible on the walls of my former home. Will an abusive man ever change? I hope to never again be in a situation where I am faced with this question.
I do not know and do not wish to know where my husband and his family fled after losing the case. I have my peace and my children are with me. They are safe and that is what is most important for me.
(As Told To Mariya Salim)
Someone may be an abuser due to multiple reasons. They may have aggressive mental health issues, suffer from a traumatic past, or be an alcoholic or drug user. Or there may be no reason other than them being terrible, inhumane people. Even if there is an explanation behind their abusive tendencies, know that the explanations do not excuse their behavior.
You could forgive them for the sake of your mental peace. But it is best not to forget things or trust them ever again. Whether you choose to forgive them or not, know that your decision is valid, no matter what anyone says. Put your well-being and mental health first and decide accordingly. You don’t owe your abuser anything.