Options for People Who Use Abusive Behaviors

Domestic violence happens because one person believes they have the right to exercise power and control over the other person in that relationship. That belief is supported by a system of personal and cultural experiences and attitudes. While changing belief systems and ending abusive behaviors is difficult, it is not impossible.

Change is a long-term process. It requires a sincere desire to change on the abusive person’s part and the community to insist upon accountability. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Those who claim to have changed their ways in a short period of time should be regarded with suspicion since such manipulation is often a tactic used by people who abuse.

Many people think anger management classes will help a person stop using abusive behaviors, but this is not true. This is one of many myths about abuse that abound in our culture. Domestic violence is not caused by a person being angry and out of control. Similarly, substance use treatment or therapy will not address these behaviors, either.

A person who chooses to abuse may also have substance use or mental health disorders that exacerbate their behavior. Indeed, many do, but abusive behavior is not caused by substance use or mental health issues. While addressing co-occurring issues is one piece of creating a safe future, we must recognize that the only way to address and change abusive behavior is to deal directly with the belief systems that cause them.

Abusive people who truly wish to change should seek help through a Certified Domestic Violence Intervention Program (CDVIP). These 48-week programs, licensed through the Maine Department of Corrections, are designed to challenge belief systems that support abusive behaviors and provide needed accountability to change behavior.

All CDVIPs work with local Domestic Violence Resource Centers to maintain the highest standards for victim safety and offender accountability. To find the Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program nearest you, visit the Maine Department of Corrections’ website.