Apologies and Excuses

Apologies and Excuses

“I’m sorry. I won’t ever do that again…”

If your partner is abusive, you’ve probably heard your share of “I’m sorrys” and excuses for their behavior. When it comes to people making apologies and justifications for their unhealthy actions, it can be difficult to see through their words or recognize them for what they are.

Why do we accept an abusive partner’s apologies over and over again? Why do we want to believe the excuses a partner makes when they’re treating us badly? Sometimes the justifications sound really good. Especially when we’re looking for something — anything — to help make sense of how this person we care about is acting toward us. It’s normal to want to rationalize what’s going on because abuse is pretty irrational.

Abusive partners are skilled at coercion and manipulation. Apologies can be a form of manipulation; they make you think an abusive partner believes that what they did was truly wrong. An abusive partner knows that apologizing will make them seem remorseful and that you will trust them again, so they can continue behaving abusively.

Maybe your partner uses excuses to make you feel like what’s happening is your fault—or at least that it’s not theirs. But we know that being abusive is a choice and there is no excuse for mistreating a partner. Let’s take a look at common excuses that abusive partners use and talk about why these, like all “reasons,” aren’t justification for violent and hurtful behavior.

“I was drunk/I was using drugs.”

Using drugs or alcohol isn’t an excuse for being abusive. There are people who drink and use drugs and don’t choose to abuse their partners. Ask yourself: how does your partner act when they’re drunk around their friends? How do they treat you when they’re sober?

A statistics teacher would tell you, “Correlation does not imply causation.” Just because two things happen together (like drinking and violence), it doesn’t mean that one causes the other.

“I act this way because I care about you.”

Acting extremely jealous, controlling, possessive or violent is not an acceptable way to show someone you care. These behaviors have no place in a healthy relationship.

“You made me mad/provoked me, and I had no other choice. I can’t control it.”

Stress and anger issues may coincide with abusive behavior but, like drinking or taking drugs, they don’t cause it. An abusive partner’s actions are always a choice that they make. Ask yourself: how does your partner react when they are angry with other people? Would they fly off the handle at their teacher or boss? Chances are probably not, because they know they can’t get away with that behavior around others.

“I have a mental illness or a personality disorder — ex. I’m bipolar, I have PTSD.”

There are people who have mental health issues and don’t act abusively toward their partners. If your abusive partner is dealing with a mental illness or disorder, ask yourself: do these issues affect any part of their life besides their relationship with you? Do they act abusively toward people outside of your relationship? If not, they may be using mental health issues as excuses for their abusive behavior. It’s also important to note that mental health issues that cause emotional problems can be managed with appropriate treatment like medication or cognitive behavioral therapy.

“I grew up in a violent home where I experienced or witnessed abuse.”

Many people who grew up in violent homes choose not to abuse their partners. Some people who experienced abusive upbringings may even use their past as motivation to be a healthy partner since they know how it feels to live in that environment, and they want healthier relationships for themselves. Regardless of what kind of trauma someone has experienced in their past, it’s never okay for them to be abusive towards you. As in the other situations we explored in this post, abusive behavior is always a choice.

Is your partner always making apologies and excuses for their abusive behavior? Call, chat or text with a loveisrespect advocate today. We can help!

Comment section

22 replies
  1. [This post has been modified to remove identifying information] Ive recently finished with a partener who has a defect in his anger issues he has threw things that I confided with him infront of his children. I replyd wif sumthn that he tends to hide and he grabd my neck threw me on his bed and liftd his fist to punch me instead he stepd back and threatnd to shoot me wif one of his guns he has in the home he then rang my father using a diffrent personality to collect me but he made one mistake he confiscated my fone while my parents were tryn to contact me wen my parents hot to me and ask why I wasnt answering my fone they were shocked to hear that he had taking my fone so striaght away they knew they were dealn wif a sick person

    1. Hi Lynne,

      Thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you have survived a very scary ordeal. There is nothing that you could do to make that behavior acceptable and you have a right to protect yourself. You deserve to have support and people that will help keep your safe such as your parents. If you would like to reach out to an advocate about what you have experienced or to help make a plan to stay safe, we are here 24/7. You can reach us through chat on our site, by calling 1-866-331-9474, or by texting “loveis” to 22522.

      Take care

      Advocate LC

  2. Hi guys, I’m 17, but I don’t know if I am in an abusive relationship…He was really sweet at first, then with time he started checking my phone.. He always judges one of my friends and the people in my grade…One time he ripped my shirt, grabbed my wrist a bit tightly and spit on my face… but he claims he loves me… I don’t know what to do…

    1. Hi Alexa,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to check out our blog and share your experiences with our online community. I know it can be hard to hear, but the behaviors you’re describing — like checking through your phone, judging the other people you spend time with, and threatening, hurting, or insulting you physically — all sound like abusive behaviors. From what we know, abusive behavior tends to show up and then escalate or get worse over time, and that seems like some of what you’ve been dealing with as well. You never deserve to be treated in that way, and there’s never an excuse for him to act that way towards you. Healthy and loving relationships are built on trust, support, communication, and most of all, respect. It doesn’t sound like his behavior towards you has been very trusting or respectful.

      I would encourage you to chat with one of our advocates whenever you feel like it; our advocates can talk with you more about what’s going on in your relationship and can help plan out some options and next steps that work for you. We can be reached 24/7 by phone at 1-866-331-9474, by live chat at , or by texting LOVEIS to 22522.

      Thank you again for sharing your experiences with us. I wish you the best of luck.

      Take care,
      LIR Advocate AC

  3. Hi, I’m a 49 years old female who has been brutally assaulted by my ex husband off and on for the past 3 years. He has been abusive to me physically, emotionally, psychologically and mentally. He has tried to strangulate me at least 3 of the multiple times he assaulted me. I found out that I was not the only one he had assaulted, he had 8 domestic violence misdeamenor cases prior to me filing. He would talk down to me calling me old or crazy, when things were not the way he wanted them. Now, I have filed 2 more assault charges against him, since he completed the domestic violence classes for the 3rd time and just was released off of these cases early 2015. I really thought that there’s no way I could be a battered woman, because I had never been in an abusive relationship before. I’m proving so wrong. I find my self thinking I caused him to treatment me this way and thinking what he said to me was true that I brought him to this point of nearly taken my life and begging him not to take me from my children and grandchildren. I’m afraid that if he doesnt go to prison this time, he’s going to do what he said(“before I spend time in jail, murder will be the case the gave him).

    1. Hi Bernadette,

      We’re so glad that you found us and are reaching out to talk about what you’ve survived. It takes a lot of courage to be honest about the abuse that you’ve experienced. It’s understandable that you never expected to be in an abusive relationship; no one does and no one should be. You have the right to be safe and to be treated with respect. We’re so sorry to hear that your ex-husband is violating those rights and telling you that it’s your fault. You’re not in control of what he does and you’re not responsible for the choices he makes.

      With the situation continuing legally, it’s really important to focus on your safety and taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. We’re here 24/7 by phone (1-866-331-9474), chat, and text (text: loveis to 22522) as a safe place for you to talk about what’s going on and get help making safety plans. There is helpful information on our website here about what safety plans might look like. I also hear that your family is incredibly important to you and I hope that they are a source of support of you. It’s so helpful to be able to talk about what’s going on and get support from the people you care about. This page talks more about support systems and how they can help you get through this situation.

      Your strength and courage has carried you so far in surviving this horrific situation. Please know that we are always here for you.

      LIR Advocate AS

      Some information has been removed per our community guidelines, which can be found here.

  4. I am 29 and have been in a mentally abusive relationship for over 3 years. I never thought it could happen to me. I always said why would someone stay in an abusive relationship? Why don’t they just leave. I want to leave more than anything in the world but I feel stuck. I can’t seem to let go. He calls me names tells me no one wants me and only he would put up with me. I stay around hoping that the nicer I am and the more I do for him he will change and respect me. It just seems to get worse the more I do. He breaks me down and makes me feel like I’m nothing, then when I say I have had enough and leave he comes back with an apology and everything I want to hear. I keep getting promises of change and professional help but it never happens. When I’m down and crying and begging for his affection he walks around with his head held high. Abuse is painful and very draining. I have lost my confidence and will because of this human being. I am trying my best to get help

    1. Hi Rochelle,

      I’m so glad that you know we’re here to support you. You have the right to be safe and to be treated with respect, and your partner violating those rights doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. It sounds like your partner is lying to you, being verbally and emotionally abusive, so that you stay in the relationship. Between the put downs and promises to change, it’s understandable that you feel overwhelmed and confused. It’s makes sense that you hope your partner will choose to stop being abusive and that you can have the healthy and happy relationship you thought you had. Unfortunately, most people who choose to be abusive don’t choose to change, so you may never see that hope realized. Only your partner has the power to stop his abusive behavior; you’re not in control of it and you don’t deserve it.

      As a society, we don’t talk enough about domestic violence or the dynamics of abuse, so it can be easy to look at the situation and tell a survivor to simply leave. We know it’s not that simple for many people who find themselves in an abusive relationship, whether the challenges are financial, legal, physical or emotional. Our advocates are here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (Text: loveis to 22522) to be a safe place for you to talk about what you’re going through and to brainstorm options around your safety and self-care. You deserve to be safe.

      Take care!

      Advocate AS

  5. Unfortunately many movies and the media in general promotes violence and abuse as valid means to gain and retain power. Abusers tend to profit via employing several conscious and unconscious actions to maintain power and control in a relationship or impose their beliefs onto other people. beyond personal relationships, terrorism and the blaming of unacceptable treatment of fellow human beings appear to common. Violence and fear of potential violence is making many people, both young and old, feel unsafe and helpless. In struggling to survive in a highly competitive world we often forget that it is a basic right to feel safe, valued and respected. Too many tyrants are currently ruling homes, workplaces and countries, and growing richer and more powerful while others beneath them feel increasingly distressed, helpless and hopeless. The personal and the private spheres are now collapsing as abuse and violence is being recognised as a global epidemic. The worse abusers do not even apologise; they are masters of blame-shifting and deception.

    1. Hi Chris,

      We appreciate your support in the effort to end violence of all types. You’re completely right that everyone has the right to be safe and treated with respect, and this one of the key points that we focus on in our work with abusive, unhealthy and healthy relationships. While violence and control occurs on many different levels and in different situations, Loveisrespect focuses on intimate partner relationships, such as dating.

      For anyone with concerns about their relationship or if you’re experiencing any type of violence in your relationship, please know that we’re here for you 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (Text: loveis to 22522).

      Take care,

      Advocate AS

      Please note: some information was removed per our community guidelines.

  6. I currently have a “boyfriend” or whatever we are right now even though we’re romantic around each other, and things are going great. I’m not in any type of abusive relationship or anything like that with him, but I heard about this website and wanted to check it out. So far, I’ve been reading and learning about the signs of an abusive relationship. Is that wrong to do that even though I’m not experiencing any of this?

    1. Hi Nayelle,

      We’re so glad you found us! Please feel free to take a look at any of the pages, blog posts, or quizzes that you find interesting. We share this information so it’s available to anyone, regardless of their relationship status. We also talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships. If you want to talk or think of a question at any point, please contact us! Our advocates are available 24/7 by phone (866-331-9474), by chat, or by text (text “loveis” to 22522).

      Take care,

      Hotline Advocate AS

  7. Hi, I’m 47 and have been married for 21 years. I’m not even sure where to start. For the past 5 years that I can clearly recall, I have told my husband about issues in our marriage. Here are just a few: I made the mistake of agreeing to have sex with him and another couple (trying to keep his sexual appetite appeased – big mistake and am ashamed), he then went on to try and have sex with the other lady while her partner was not at home, he tried to have sex with one of his staff members and then blamed me for it (I was angry with him so he says but he can’t remember why), financially he has just done what he likes eg: raise credit card from 5000 to 20000 without letting me know and using it, increased the mortgage to go on holidays, bought a 10,000 bobcat – even though he’s not a tradesman or does any outdoor work etc. When I’ve brought up issues with him about our relationship all he says is that I’m making him feel bad.

    These things are just the tip of the iceberg as to what has been going on – I need clarity, is my husband being an emotionally abusive person? As this has been going on for so long – I’m worried I can’t see the wood from the trees.

    1. Hi Ros,

      We’re so glad you’re part of our community and are reaching out to talk about your experiences. I can understand why you’re feeling hurt and concerned by the choices that your husband has made. Finding out after the fact that he’s made decisions to your household finances without talking to you was scary, I’m sure, and likely affected the trust in your relationship. It also sounds like he’s made some disrespectful choices in his sex life as well. One of the biggest red flags I’m hearing is that he blames you for his choices. There is only one person responsible for what your husband says and does – him. He is the person in control of those decisions and trying to shift the blame to you isn’t okay.

      It sounds like you’ve tried to communicate with him about the situations and how you’re feeling but he isn’t choosing to communicate in a healthy way. Telling that you’re making him feel bad is deflecting the conversation back to you. It’s important to let your partner know if they’ve hurt you, but it doesn’t sound like he’s choosing to do that in a respectful, healthy way.

      It makes that you’re feeling confused after experiencing this for so many years. Reaching out to your support system, like family and friends, might be helpful and we encourage you to take care of yourself. This page from our website, Self-Care, is about taking care of yourself has lots of ideas and links to similar pages on other website. If you’d like to talk more about what’s going on, please feel free to reach out to our advocates anytime by phone (866-331-9474). We’re here for you 24/7!

      Take care,

      Hotline Advocate AS

  8. I’ve been out of my abusive relationship for two years now which life’s been very great. I do have a daughter with my ex and I have visited him since he’s in prison for the abuse he’s committed toward me. He seems to be doing very good like going to classes which he’s been doing since he’s gone their. I’m having trouble with him because he wants to be a family but I insist that we can’t since we been thru a lot and I just don’t know what to believe I’m afraid to give him more chances. I’m very confused with my feelings. What should I do????

    1. Hi melissa,

      Thank you so much for being a part of our online community and sharing your story! It sounds like a really confusing and overwhelming situation, and it is okay to take your time to decide what the right choice is for you. Something that might be important to keep in mind is that you never owe someone a chance. If you feel like the situation might be unsafe, it’s something that you are not comfortable doing or even if you would just rather not, you can feel justified in prioritizing your own wellbeing.

      It sounds like you endured a lot of abuse from him, and that is something that you deserve support for working through. Allowing yourself the time and space to heal can be so important. You deserve to feel safe, and you deserve to be happy. In asking the question of how to move forward, one useful thing to keep in mind might be to think about what sort of environment would help that happen. What makes you feel safe, and what do you feel would give you the best environment for happiness?

      Only you can make the choice about what the right decision is for you, but please know that we are always here to support you. If you would like to talk through your situation, discuss options for local support or if you have any questions or concerns that you would like to address, I encourage you to reach out to us anytime. Our advocates are here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522) to offer a safe space to talk.

      Take care!
      Advocate GR

  9. i’m 40 yrs old…..I have been in a mentally, emotionally and verbally abusive relationship for 19 years. He has had another child while we were together. His behavior is a pattern of what his father has done towards his mother. He verbally abuses me in front of our children, and puts me down with everything i try to accomplish or do. He apologized frequently and I’ve found myself forgiving him and still having hope that he’ll change for the better. He is not going to change because he has to see that he has a problem first. I was in a physical abusive relation yrs before him and prayed that i would never have to live through this again, but because my physical abuser never verbally abused me i did not think that i was in it again….I AM…..we’ve been married 5 of the 19 yrs. and i am planning to leave and take time to regain my self worth, and to instill in my children that this is not in any way the type of relationship to be in. I have came to love myself more and will not allow anyone to treat me in a way that is not loving, caring and respectful. I have learned that its not my fault the problem he has and i no longer what this for my children or myself. I am in counseling and it has helped me in a major way. I pray that we all find better, do better, live better and accept better and love ourselves and know our worth. I commend all of you for telling your story to help others in recognizing our truth. WE WILL WIN!!! love you all and i will continue praying for our well being!

    1. Towanda,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story and your beautiful words of support and encouragement. I’m sorry that your husband is putting you and your children through that! He sounds very hurtful and intimidating. There is no excuse for him to treat you abusively. You are absolutely right that the abuse is not your fault, nothing you could possibly do would make it so that you would deserve to be treated like this. While growing up in a household where domestic violence is present does impact children, it does not cause abuse as many people who have grown up with abuse put a lot of effort into maintaining healthy relationships because they know how painful abuse can be.
      It sounds like you are thinking about leaving the relationship. Please know that we are here to support you in any decision you make. If you would like to reach out to us directly, an advocate can help you make an emotional safety plan for while you are in the relationship, one for preparing to leave, or anything else you want to do.

      You can reach us 24/7 on the phone at 1-866-331-9474, text (text “loveis” to 22522), or chat through this website.

      Take good care,
      Advocate RG

  10. I have been married for under a year and my relationship has had many happy times. Every few months or so, my husband and I have gotten into a disagreement or situation where one of our feelings have been hurt and it has been over literally nothing. My instinct has been to retreat and cool off and spend time alone. My husband on the other hand will talk and talk and eventually the situation will escalate because I can’t take him going on for 30 min to hours telling me that I have hurt his feelings. I will yell at him to leave me alone, because he won’t listen to me ask politely. This will cause him to feel justified to keep going with his ranting and raving.

    I have never experienced a relationship like this. I thought his constant attention and devotion and openness about everything, quick to marry, constantly checking up, wanting to please me was flattering and was “true love”. This has been a roller coaster.

    I have confronted him about his behaviour and he has said that he has never acted this way before. He has restrained me and prevented me from leaving the house, taken my keys, slapped me and blamed me for provoking him. When I feel like i can’t get away from him, I have become verbally abusive and have defended myself when he has attacked me, which he has stated many times that I have abused him.

    I have confronted him and said “no more”. There is so much tension in our home right now. He / we are not talking right now. My parents are aware of the situation.

    My question: he said he is owning his mistakes, but I don’t know how to let go. I’m not sure of what to do Or how to proceed? SHould I stay, he is a smart man and is being very passive.

    (side note: he has a son from a previous marriage, 4 years old, his relationship with him is extremely controlling, close, and he treats him like his equal. Constantly uses a passive, baby voice to never upset his son. No boundaries for him. Accuses me of being jealous. I have two children of my own and they are very repsectful boys that have been raised with manners. My youngest son really adores my husband because he is very likeable. My husband has also tried to discredit my character to neighbours and my own parents, .

    Is any abuse acceptable? Can it change.

    Reading my post….it looks very clear. I made a mistake marrying him. Moving on is hard on your own.

    I always try to find the good in people. This relationship has been very intense with “love” and has blinded me to reality.

    Beth

    1. Hi Beth,

      Thank you so much for reaching out for help about this. It sounds like writing your experiences and thinking it through on your own has helped to clarify the situation in your mind. Writing it down, or talking it through with someone, can help you to process what you have gone through in this relationship. Many of these things that you have written about in your comment, including the things like he slaps you or prevents you from leaving when you are arguing, are definitely forms of physical abuse. Others, like the constantly checking up and the constant attention, are also red flags of controlling behavior. Abuse is about power and control, and an abusive person uses many different tactics to gain and keep that power over their partner. It’s absolutely not ok this is happening in your relationship, and it’s not your fault at all.

      I would encourage you reach out and speak with one of our advocates if you are feeling like you need more support about this. We are here 24/7 through chat, text (text “loveis” to 22522), and phone at 1-866-331-9474. We can safety plan about leaving the relationship if you are ready to do so, and help you think more about how to take care of your emotional safety during this stressful time as well.

      Take care,
      Advocate CC

  11. Hello,
    I have been in a relationship with a man for 5 years. He has been abusive for 3 of those years! A few months ago, I finally broke it off. Of course, it has been a struggle because I love him and wish We could stay together. It has been a struggle for me to let go. His mother contacted me a week ago explaining that she admitted him into the hospital, because of an odd behavior he was displaying. She also apologized, saying he confessed to her how he has been treating me and that she had no idea he did all that to me. So it looks like he is getting help. He was released last night, but will be going to weekly therapy sessions. He asked me to come meet him, he wants to get back with me. There have been promises before but nothing ever stopped him. Should I believe that the help he is receiving will be effective? Should I try to be friends? Or should I Pick up and not look back?

    1. Hi Jill,

      It sounds like you recognized his actions were not ok and took some great steps for yourself; you should be so proud of that. It’s good that he has admitted to his behaviors, that’s something that many abusive partners never do. Therapy is a great step, but it’s important to keep in mind that abusive behaviors take a lot of time and dedication to change. It’s not something that happens overnight or even over a few weeks. Since abuse is a choice, he has to be dedicated to making healthy choices instead of abusive ones. You can click here to read an article from our sister-site about change in abusive partners. I think it will be really helpful for you!

      Ultimately, it’s up to you and how you feel about the situation. Nobody knows the situation like you do. If you don’t feel comfortable or aren’t quite ready to trust that he is truly dedicating himself to change, it’s ok to take some time and see how things go. You likely experienced many broken promises and manipulation during your relationship with him, and that is something you have the right to be wary of. You don’t owe him contact or friendship, so if you aren’t ready for that step that’s completely fine. And if you want to just pick up and go, that’s your right and it would be just as fine as any other option. Click here to read our article called “should we get back together?”

      If you’d like to talk more about this feel free to reach out to us at any time! You can contact us 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), our online chat, or text (text: loveis to 22522).

      Take care,
      Advocate JL

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