Has anyone ever worked it out in a (physically) abusive relationship?

Yes, but it wasn't until I told people. I think the secrecy kept it going- we were both in denial. Now, this wasn't "sleeping with the dragon" type of abuse. He wasn't ultra controlling or possessive, but if we were fighting, he would hit me to gain control of the situation- the fight would always end afterward- me broken and him feeling like a scum bag.

After telling people 2.5 years later, we broke up soon afterwards. I didn't speak to him for nearly a year because He refused to seek counseling, not wanting to admit he was "one of those people" but merely reacted to relationship circumstances. He finally did end up going through a program, and we started talking again. A couple of months later, we were "dating," but it took me a while to feel serious about it. During our year apart, I grew a lot as a person, and started prioritizing my friendships above romantic relationships, and I worked on being happy while alone. This really helped in the dynamic of us dating again, but not permanently.

Eventually, things got bad again. He would get drunk and misconstrue things, and things wouldn't escalate like they used to, because I would keep my cool, but eventually, I got emotional. Little shoves began to break me down as I realized I was allowing myself to put up with it again, and I would hate myself for it, and I would eventually get worked up too, which only made the physical violence worse. It was only a couple of years later, when stressful and tragic life circumstances made me increasingly depressed and him a more irrational and angry drinker, that things got too horrible to ignore. By this point, we were living in another state, and I had next to no social support. I thought I was going to die that night because he wouldn't stop, but I ended up with just a concussion. We sought therapy afterwards. Again, I think bringing shame and the reality of what he was doing into the picture was the biggest help. I told my friends, and I told him I told my friends, and I told him I would tell people whenever it happened.

The therapy was really helpful. It was a husband and wife team, so we each had someone on our side. We did individual counseling and couples counseling. I think it helped we were in a nonjudgmental atmosphere that still had no tolerance for violence. He had other people telling him that ANY kind of unwelcome touch was abuse (any period of physical violence would start with something like "holding me down" as if that was okay, despite the fact that I was posing no physical threat to him or myself; subsequent physical violence always got increasingly worse with each dispute or misunderstanding). We learned each other's triggers, how to communicate properly, and he stopped drinking for a while, and to this day will not drink to the extent that he used to. That was the major turning point for us.

Physical violence never happens anymore. It's weird because even I don't totally understand why. I think it was the very clear boundaries of my not tolerating it anymore combined with him accepting responsibility for his actions in a constructive manner. I don't think this is the norm, and I think for people that are abusive in a more manipulative and sadistic way, it would not work out the way it can with someone with impulse control and substance abuse problems.

Even though things ended up working out, and we love each other immensely, I wouldn't recommend our path for most people. It was hard, full of heartbreak, and I had a long recovery from PTSD, and have only recently begun fully trusting him again- after years of no violence whatsoever. Now, we don't even yell for the most part. So, yes, it is possible to still be together after abuse, but it's a long, hard road that most people won't follow. If the abuser is not a sociopath or narcissist, therapy in a nonjudgmental setting is best, and he can't be forced into it, or you will both be wasting your time. I actually believe that there is far too much demonizing of people that abuse their partners- they are all pigeon-holed as possessive and sadistic, so that people who don't fit that stereotype never get the help and support they need to change. Despite my experience, I think it's too difficult for people to stay together after a certain amount of abuse has taken place in most circumstances. Even if that's the case, people who have gotten violent with a partner really needs to seek intensive therapy to prevent it happening again with someone else. It will only get harder to change as you get older and more set in your ways.

/r/AskReddit Thread