Why trying to fix an abusive partner doesn’t work

Torn heart hanging from a wire

There is no easy fix for abuse.

“He promised he’ll change if I stay with him.”

“She needs me to help her become a better person.”

“Relationships are supposed to take work. If I’m patient and strong enough, we can work through this.”

It’s not uncommon to hear hopeful statements like these from people in abusive relationships. That’s because abusers know how to make their partners feel like they have a responsibility to stick around.

While it’s true that healthy relationships involve compromise, an abusive relationship is a totally different situation. No amount of compromise or patience will “fix” a partner who abuses you. If you find yourself tethered to an abusive partner and hope to repair the relationship, consider these factors first:

It’s not your responsibility to fix them.

Plain and simple. Regardless of age, income, education, etc., you are not responsible for your partner’s problems.

They have to realize (and admit) there’s an issue.

How can you fix a problem you aren’t willing to acknowledge? Many abusers don’t feel that they’ve done anything wrong. They may even try to convince you that whatever happened was your fault.

They have to genuinely want to change.

Think about it: realizing that you are an abuser and putting in the work to change is a huge commitment. It’s a long, hard, uncomfortable look in the mirror. This kind of change cannot be motivated by anyone but them.

They’ll need more help than you can give.

This type of self-work is tough. They’ll likely need help from a therapist or other mental health professionals. Even with that help, it could take years of work before they’re prepared to be in a healthy relationship.

They could harm you.

In some cases, even mentioning to an abusive partner that they have mistreated you can result in them lashing out verbally, physically, or both.

Prioritizing you.

Realizing that you are in an abusive relationship is a big revelation and not one to take lightly. No one wants to leave a loved one behind, but it’s important to prioritize YOUR needs and safety first. If you feel prepared and supported, leaving is a good plan. You may also consider reporting the abuse to a therapist, law enforcement, or a trusted friend or family member. As always, our helpful advocates are here to support you 24/7 at 425-746-1940 800-827-8840.