Question:

My brother says, “He has the right,” all the time when I try to talk to him about how he treats his girlfriend.  He says he “has the right” to decide what they spend money on, that he gets to decide that she should always take care of the kids, that she should make dinner and that he should be able to hang out with his friends when he wants to because he does “real” work. He feels he has the right to scream and hit her when she “gets out of line,” and complains.

Can this kind of thing ever change?

Answer:

Yes; it takes work to change. His violence is a choice. He’s learned that these choices are okay based on his values (deeply held beliefs) and they are reinforced through social messaging and perhaps reinforced by the people he hangs out with. You can stay connected and offer another way of thinking about it. And that is what the Helpline does, too. We can talk through the kinds of things that might help your brother take a pause and re-think. We can  help you find a way to encourage him to give us a call, too.

People who have successfully changed these beliefs and actions usually start out talking about their own history seeing these things modeled. They often see violence as a justified tool that goes along with having power, like being the only decision maker in a household, a role they feel is passed down to them, or one that they have earned or deserve.

Eventually, if they keep talking it through, they can see that how they act does not consider the needs of their partner and children but only their own sense of entitlement to being the one with all the power.  They can see that their abusive and entitled behavior breaks the trust in the relationship because they are not safe to be around when they don’t get what they want.

The power to control and dominate others often sounds really attractive or normalized to some people who call us. But over time, callers realize that real connection with their partners and family is what they want, and that they must change to get that true connection. We help people go through this process. Sometimes the harm they’ve done has caused irreparable damage to the bonds of trust, and then we help the callers work through their sadness, grief and accountability. This, too, helps the change process; we do this for the safety of those who are now separated, and for future partners.

We’re so glad you reached out. Give us a call at (877) 898-3411.