Can an abusive ex-partner change? This is the question I pose myself as we both have moved on into new relationships. My personal reflections have often examined whether there was something in my own nature that triggered all the violent episodes. I’m far from perfect, but I couldn’t find anything. People describe me as calm, placid, gentle but firm when needed, honest and completely open and transparent. People say they never see me angry. I’ve also drawn encouragement recently from the work of Dr Denise Hines, one of the very few Psychologist undertaking research into male victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). This is an extract from a factsheet on ‘A Closer Look at Men who sustain Intimate Terrorism by Women’ , part of ‘The Men’s Experiences with Partner Aggression Project’ and matches me completely:
The male helpseekers in this study paint a picture of men who are fairly well educated, who
have professional‐level jobs, and who have children involved in their relationships. They
report sustaining severe levels of violence at the hands of their partner and have significant
concerns about whether to leave their partners and what would happen if they did leave.
Many of these men report loving their partners, hoping that she will change, showing
commitment to their marriage, and concern about what would happen to the children.
This has help and reassured me that I’m not to blame for what happened to me. In my search for answers, I’ve looked to see if I can see some of my abusive ex-wife’s behavioural patterns continuing.
Before and during the marriage, my ex-wife was a compulsive liar. Of course, I didn’t realise this at the time and had I made this discovery before we got married, my life may have turned out different. If the falsehoods she told were solitary, you may feel they are inconsequential, but continued untruths paint a different picture. Whenever she felt threatened or didn’t want to divulge anything, she became very skilled at speaking a plausible sounding lie.
If you have followed my story told here, you will know that we were both church ministers. My ex-wife remains a church minister. She trained as a minister before I did, and had an enforced break from that training. She always told me that the reason was because she originated from one of the offshore islands of the UK, the church authorities felt she needed time to acclimatise to life on mainland England. There may be some truth in that, I don’t know, why would I initially doubt that. Recently I discovered that she had an issue with her church mentor during this period that resulted in the church instructing her to do an Anger Management course and the church moving her from shared accommodation to a single occupancy flat.
When we first met, we were both having driving lessons. I took my test and passed. My ex-wife told me she had a test booked. When I later enquired about this, I was told that she’d cancelled her test when she had to travel back to her parental home following the illness and death of her mother. Over twenty years later, she is still having driving lessons but has not sat even one driving examination. If she had a driving test booked all those years ago, surely she would have taken at least one examination by now? The ‘evidence’ suggests that there was never a driving test booked. Another ‘lie’ which she kept up all those years.
Coming from an island environment, my ex-wife always told me she could swim. On many occasions, before and after we wed, she said she could swim. I couldn’t swim. As we planned for a family, we talked about the importance of teaching the children to swim and it was suggested that my ex-wife would take the babies to early year swimming lessons. This never happened. Furthermore whenever we went on holidays, my ex-wife never went in the sea or took the opportunity to swim if the apartment complex had their own pool. Never in twenty years, did I or our children see her swim. Can she swim? She says yes. Do we believe her? No.
I could cite many other instances during the marriage that formed a consistent pattern of falsehood. Has this continue since we separated or she said revert to being truthful?
I know that she has lied to cover-up a mistake she made. As I left the marriage with absolutely nothing, it took me a little while to establish myself again. At first, all the children stayed with my ex-wife. I paid child support, and as part of our arrangement, agreed to transport the children wherever they need to go, and also as well as regular access, offered to have the children when my ex-wife needed to attend church seminars that constituted overnight stays. This was on the proviso that I had plenty of notice so that I could arrange for time off work. The annual church conference was approaching and she’d asked me if I could look after the children. I booked the time off work and said I could. Just a week prior to the conference, she realised she’d made a mistake and given me the wrong dates. By this time, I couldn’t re-arrange my work schedule and so, I couldn’t change the dates. Mutual colleagues were soon contacting me because my ex-wife had told her line managers and peers that she couldn’t attend this conference at the last minute because I was being awkward and was refusing to look after the children when I said I would. I was rather annoyed about this and so I contacted her line managers (who had also been mine before I left the church) and explained what had happened. The following day, the story she was telling had changed. She was actually admitting to people that she had made a mistake.
The situation has changed in that our daughters now live with me. But she still lies and her falsehoods now concern the children. This coming weekend is Easter. This Saturday is the day my daughters are scheduled to stay with her. She asked that they don’t visit this weekend because she ‘is very busy with work.’ Okay, she has an extra service to conduct on Good Friday, but is no busier than any other weekend. My daughters don’t mind because they don’t like staying at their mother’s. It transpires that the real reason she can’t have them is because she’s attending a wedding on Saturday with her new boyfriend. Another lie. The sad thing is, if she had told me the truth I won’t have minded as it’s perfectly reasonable and understandable. All it does is show to me that she hasn’t changed and is still the compulsive liar I felt she always was. Can abusive ex-partners change? I would say No.