Talking Points: Tough (But Caring) Talk for Men Who Have Abused Their Partners
If you are a friend, co-worker, neighbor, teacher or coach of a man who has abused his partner, you are in a good position to help prevent future abuse, but only if you give the right feedback. Sometimes, we end up responding in a way that inadvertently supports abuser's excuses for abuse, regardless of our intent. Here are some talking points that will help you to hold your friend to a higher standard:
1) Say that you are concerned about him and cite one or more of the following possible consequences (based on your knowledge of what is most meaningful to him).
If this goes on, you could:
-ruin your relationship;
-push her (partner) away;
-harm your kids by being exposed to it, or by seeing the aftermath;
-alienate your kids;
-lose a lot of money from legal consequences/paying for another residence;
-face emotional and financial stress;
-harm your own, and partners, health;
-create bad publicity for you and your family; or
2) Tell him that he needs to get help to make sure that this does not happen again (in his current or any future relationships). Point out the limitations of quick-fix strategies, like:
-Promises that it will never happen again
Your response: That's a good start but promises can backfire when immediate trust is expected.
Your response: Great but apologies won't work if you expect an immediate acceptance of your apology.
Your response: Gifts don't mean anything if you keep repeating your behavior.
Your response: Good, but studies have shown that outcomes are poor for people who don't stick with it; also, you have to get the right kind of help.
-Bargaining (e.g. I'll get help if you get help; I'll get help if I can move back in.)
Your response: You need to be committed to changing your own behavior. She is not responsible for helping you to change or for rewarding you.
Responses specific to particular excuses he might be making:
"She provoked me."
-Nobody can cause you to do anything you don't believe in doing.
-You can't control her actions; but you can control your own.
-You are 100% responsible for how you choose to react.
-I'm not justifying what she did, but your violence can only make it worse.
"I lost control."
-You did have control, because you chose not to... (give an example of something he didn't do, such as punch her with a closed fist or stab her)
-That's a cop out; you are still responsible for your own behavior.
"It's only because I love her so much that I have such strong feelings."
-That's not the way to show it.
-Your intentions are good but your behavior creates the opposite effect.
"I was just trying to point out how wrong she was."
-That may be true but now all she remembers is your violence.
-Would you want to listen to someone who hits you?
"I'm just under so much stress."
-There's stress that you can't control and stress that you create for yourself.
-Yes, and that's all the more reason to not create more stress by getting yourself arrested, etc (point out other consequences).
"It only happened because I had too much to drink."
-You are still responsible for what you do when you drink. Not all drinkers hit their partners.
-You should monitor your drinking, knowing that you might become violent or say ugly things when you are drinking.
-The consequences don't disappear just because you were drinking.
"It's the only time this has happened."
-Great, but let's make sure it doesn't happen again.
"It was self-defense."
-There's a difference between self-defense and paying someone back with interest. Self-defense means taking the minimum necessary actions to protect yourself from harm, for example by leaving the situation, blocking her blows, etc.
Feel free to copy with credit.