Can an Abuser Change and Stop Their Verbal Abuse?

July 27, 2023 Cheryl Wozny

Can an abuser change? That is the question. One common characteristic many individuals share is the belief that people can change for the better. When verbal abuse occurs in relationships, the behavior may continue unless one or both individuals move to change the dynamic. This change can come from the abuser or the victim, forcing a shift in the relationship.

Can an Abuser Change? 

While I was involved in a relationship that included regular verbal abuse, I always hoped the abuser would change. I remember happy days when I enjoyed the time I spent with my abuser.

Unfortunately, the cycle of abuse continued, and each time we hit the honeymoon phase, I would be optimistic for change. There were days when my abuser claimed they would change, fueling my hope for a better relationship. However, in my situation, my abuser would not change, so I had to leave, forcing a change myself. 

For an abuser to change how they treat others, some elements should be present, including: 

  • Showing empathy for the victim
  • Recognizing the harm they caused
  • Taking responsibility for their abusive actions
  • Seeking professional help to modify future behaviors

Although it is difficult to change, it is possible if an individual is committed and genuine in their healing journey. I know some terrific people who have been abusive in years gone by but are pursuing better, healthier relationships now. 

Can an Abuser Change or Is It a False Promise? 

Knowing the difference between a false promise and an abuser trying to change can be confusing. Naturally, victims of verbal abuse may be hesitant to believe someone who has displayed abusive behavior.

Sometimes the routine of the relationship can mask the severity of the abuse and make it difficult to make a change. If an abuser professes to want to stop their behavior, but the relationship seems to cycle around and repeat, a victim may feel stuck in the false promises. 

How can you know if an abuser is trying to change their behavior for the better? Of course, no one is perfect, and even individuals who are not abusive can say hurtful things in the heat of a moment. But, if an abuser is taking responsibility for their actions and making an effort to seek outside professional help for a change, they are on the right path to healing and recovery. 

Many resources exist if you or a loved one is the victim of verbal abuse or wants to stop their abusive behavior. Visit our resources page for more information on finding support in your area. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2023, July 27). Can an Abuser Change and Stop Their Verbal Abuse?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

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