I abused my husband and childrenMy mother was typical of women who abuse their husbands and children: Growing up- nobody in the family could do right. No one was allowed to have their own opinion and we never afforded space or privacy. The silent treatment, verbal and physical assaults were her "right" because of how we "behaved," or because of her own troubled past. It was never her responsibility or fault. Then of course there was the denial that she did any of it after. Some things were denied totally, for others she made excuses and where denial was totally impossible a lame and insincere sorry was all I got. Unfortunately I took those behaviors with me into my relationships.
I abused a man through manipulation and control for 7 years until he withdrew so much from me that he was of no use to me so I dumped him, but not before I made sure he would get all the blame for the divorce. Did I know I was doing it? Yes and no. There were many times after my rages would finally settle that I would sit and think, "This is not a healthy reaction - what is wrong with me?" - and I would feel guilty (as I should have) - but as quickly as that thought came, I went to work convincing myself that he deserved it because of this or that, and that I was justified in my explosions because of this or that. We are masters at convincing ourselves of our own lies. And because he stayed, it reinforced my belief that what I was doing was normal and okay.
I was actually very insecure and because I had gone through so much abuse as a child/teen/adult from my mother, it was my "normality." Any attempt to tell me I was the unhealthy one made me furious and ignited my defense mechanisms. For a lot of us who have abused/do abuse, our anger is near impenetrable. In my case, I didn't recognize the hurt I caused my husband and my children in this way. Whenever my husband or children complained I silenced them with threats, blackmail or used seduction and other forms of manipulation.
After the divorce I still went through the initial phase of blaming him for everything - but in the end, I had were my own demons to face. I am fortunate that I decided to do so because not everyone does. Someone mentioned earlier that it is very humbling to recognize that you are an abuser - I would call it dehabilitating - to have spent so long having convinced yourself you were the victim, just to finally know within yourself YOU were the abuser. I was deeply ashamed and regretful that I had caused someone else so much suffering - and in my case, it was easy to want to change after I realized I was "that" person. However, the behaviors are deeply rooted and I agree with the sentiment here that those take time and proactive practice. Some people will want to and will succeed, others will find it to be "too much work." But it is possible. It has been well over a year for me and I barely recognize myself today from the angry, depressed person I was. Life is a lot more enjoyable. For the first time I find myself genuinely interested in others' feelings and while it is not yet second nature, I find my prior habit of lashing out in anger has been replaced with wanting to understand what the other person is thinking/feeling, and talk about it with empathy and concern and without the blame game.
Whether you stay with your abuser or not, only you can decide, because no two relationships work the same way- different things keep us in our relationships. I can honestly say I don't think I would have recognized it if I hadn't been left, but that isn't the case for everyone. You've just got to trust your instincts and really listen to your inner voice - it is there to protect you.
Abusers rarely change, and they can never be forced to change. An abuser will only recognize that they have a problem, when they are ready. Trying to force this change will only succeed in making the abuser angry, and possibly even delaying the process. Realizing that you are an abuser is very humbling, and so this is a step which has to be taken by the abuser, but support always helps too.