“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!