Content Warning: Abuse
An online friend asked a really big question:
Can abusive people be rehabilitated?
In my mind rehabilitation is changed behavior. In theory, it should be possible.
If they can genuinely apologize, that’s a start. A genuine apology should include:
- acknowledgment that the event(s) actually happened
- acknowledgment that their actions were harmful and abusive
- taking responsibility for their actions
- commitment to never do that again to anyone
Ideally, it would include remorse, but they might realize the extent of their harm without therapy.
Which brings us to the need to make real, consistent changes in their behavior. This cannot be done on their own. They are going to need therapy and help from friends and family. The therapist is going to guide them and the community needs to make sure they follow through.
No one is perfect. There may be close calls and relapses. They should genuinely apologize every single time. This process would probably take a while.
These are all very realistic steps, yet it is difficult to find genuinely reformed abusers.
From personal experience and talking to fellow survivors, here is what I believe to an abuse survivor’s rights:
- survivors should only tell their story when they are ready and willing
- survivors should never have to communicate with their abuser ever again
- survivors should never have to be around their abuser ever again
- survivors should never have to help rehabilitate their abuser in any way
- survivors should never have to provide a verbal or written statement of forgiveness
- survivors should never be blamed for the abuse they received
This list is by no means perfect but rather what I currently believe to be critical.