Can Abusers Ever Be Reformed?


This is a question I struggle with myself on a regular basis. Can abusers really ever change or is it just theater to try to pull you back in so they can mistreat you again? Should you ever let a prior abuser back into your life if they seem to have changed for the good?

None of these are easy questions and there are certainly many contributing factors that should be considered as well. Perhaps abusers who once had drug or alcohol addictions and have now gotten clean for a significant period of time will have changed enough to give them a second chance.

What about those who lived for years with undiagnosed, untreated mental illness and finally get the help they need? How much of the abuse was who they truly were and how much was the influence of the untreated mental illness? This scenario is one I personally have experienced to some extent with my own family. How much responsibility should they hold for the abuse, especially any times they may have actually dipped into psychosis?

I know many abusers find religion at some point in their lives and claim to have been completely changed. I must admit I am suspicious of this claim. Perhaps religion truly does change the hearts of some, but much of my personal experience has taught me that if someone is a bad person before they find religion, they will likely be a bad person after they find it. Superficialities may change, but does their behavior/attitude/actions?

Unfortunately, I have no real answers to the question of whether abusers can ever change, but I hope that they can. I would warn everyone to be cautious in extending an olive branch to anyone who has deliberately hurt you again and again, but I do understand the desire to believe in the power of change.


49 responses to “Can Abusers Ever Be Reformed?”

  1. I think that this is still a grey area and needs to be approached with extreme caution and tact.
    Even if you forgive an abuser who claims to be reformed you should stay on your guard.

    Yet it would be unfair not to give an abuser the chance to reform and redress his wrongs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Protect yourself at all times and resist being around a former abuser.

    Some are evil and will be a predator for life.

    Best we not think or ponder about an abuser.

    Old trauma is fueled by thought

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No one can answer for sure. But I think if the person has a mental abnormality, resulting in abusive behavior then the therapy and treatment may make them normal. But if it’s just a part of their personality, then I don’t think that they will change. Unless maybe something drastic happens to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Maranda, I am inclined to expect the worst in people but that is because the majority of people have no idea how hurtful they are being. That being said there are absolute psychopaths who seek to hurt and maim (and they are not inside hurting themselves).. people who abuse others for sick and twisted power plays…. they are the worst.
    But not everyone who hurts others is like that… some people hurt others because they’re scared, some hate themselves and want to be treated that way, some are on the attack because they’re so used to being attacked, some get so caught up in the moment they lose all sense of their normal self, and some have no idea they have hurt others because no one says anything so as to “not hurt their feelings”
    So dependent upon the approach and broach of the subject, most people are open to the shit they have caused and feel remorse. Others don’t feel remorse because the felt justified as they were sticking up for the person they loved… so… It’s difficult.
    But by no means should anyone stick around with the people or person who has caused the abuse. Nooooo keep yourself safe and sane and surviving. Fuck off the abuser they don’t deserve you (or others) anyway

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think an abuser can be reformed, but that reformed person can’t really be back in your life. There’s something about the two together — former abused and former abuser — that relationship will always be marred and potentially toxic. It’s like a reformed alcoholic getting together with a drinker, it’s just not going to work out. The chemistry is wrong, no matter how much you want it to be right. I tried to work things out with my “reformed” abusive father, and it slipped right back into abuse. You see it in abusive couples all the time. The reform is for their future life, forgive them, as Ashley says, but never forget. You both have to move on.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. i was abused sexually as a child i have aspergers and m.e .Abusers NEVER change.if they was .they would
    NOT,…NOT done so much damage too our minds and bodies .SCARES ARE A LIFE SENTENCE .i was FORCED
    too watch things THEN DO THEM too them, my story of abuse is in a Authors book .how many people are there
    who have Aspergers and Sexual abuse .for get understanding forget help .i have flash backs.night mares
    MOST DAYS .EVEN gOD DID not HELP me or others .the pain a lone is like NO Other pain there is
    my blog,http;//

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, even among abuse I tend to think child sexual abuse is the worst kind of abuse. I honestly can’t think of one good reason why someone might commit child sexual abuse. Even if you are drunk, on drugs, or mentally ill, you wouldn’t think that would make someone attracted to children and want to harm them that way unless they already had those desires. I don’t think anyone should ever try to reconcile with someone who sexually abused them as a child.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. i recently googled, “can people really change” while i was considering giving my narcissistic & emotionally abusive ex another chance.
    google said they could–if they wanted to.
    but do they want to? or is it just a ploy to get something they want that requires the illusion of change.
    my ex has not changed no matter how much he claims he has. it is sad. i wish he would change. now i just have to accept that he is not going to change & move on. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Of the people I know who used to be habitually abusive some have changed, long term, for the better and most haven’t. I think it’s very complex. The reasons people become abusive are very varied so my feeling is that the way their behaviour might or might not change is also varied.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My personal view is that abusersdon’t change. Not to sound unforgiving or begrudging, but I firmly believe that bad people don’t change after finding religion. Most people can do good things, even abusive people can do good things. But for me, someone who has been bad in general, or has hurt me many times, has to do a lot more than a few good deeds and be a nice person, to make me think they’ve changed. Are they nice because the person knows they’re guilty of wrongdoing? Are they nice because they know they’re going to get caught? Are they nice or doing good things in their life, because they want to put on a show of reform, and eventually they’ll go back to their old ways? And maybe as you’ve said, some people do genuinely change for the better! But in saying that, I haven’t experienced such miracles with others. Which tells me that it simply doesn’t occur: bad and/or abusive people never change. They may go back and forth between being good/nice and abusive, rinse and repeat. But people don’t really, truly reform themselves. This is my take on things, from life experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That has been very similar to my life experience too. On one hand I try to give people the benefit of the doubt normally, but when someone has hurt me deeply over and over again, I will likely always be suspicious about their motives to some degree.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. i think it’s always kind to give people the benefit of the doubt and then there are stories like this:

    “Now, he is asking me to marry him again, and he’s gone to anger management and vowed he would never hit me again — and that he would terminate his affair with his current fling, if I agreed to marry him.”

    if i was the woman i could see trying to be polite and maybe trying a friendship for a few months but if i was this guy’s friend or co-worker i would just walk away.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I shouldn’t be answering this because I really have nothing positive to say. My best advice is to not let your guard down. Protect yourself if you are going to expose yourself to someone who has hurt you before. I’m in my late 40s and I’ve been around oodles of abusers. None of them have changed. They may find new ways, but deep down that mean spirit seems to prevail. Stay safe. 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

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