Accountability for People Who Harm

These lists help develop accountability for people who harm. When an abusive person does all of these things, then and only then, are they held accountable to the person they have abused, to all survivors of abuse as a group, and to themselves. 

A person who has abused their partner becomes accountable when they:

  • Has acknowledged to the abused partner and to their community of friends and family that they have assaulted and controlled that partner, and that they have committed acts of violence against the partner.
  • Has admitted that the pattern of abusive control hurt their partner
  • Has admitted that their behavior was unprovoked and inexcusable.
  • Knows that their behavior was immoral and criminal.
  • Understands their behavior was not caused by stress, chemical dependency (alcohol and drug use), or any other outside factor.
  • Knows that they were not out of control.
  • Admits that they intended to control or punish their partner.
  • Deeply regrets their actions and is horrified by them.
  • Recognizes the pain and suffering they put upon their partner.
  • Accepts full responsibility for their acts.
  • Acknowledges this without expectations of approval from their partner.
  • Understands they are not entitled to the partner’s forgiveness.
  • Recognizes that the partner may never trust them again, and may remain afraid of them forever.
  • Can recognize all of the losses suffered by their partner and the partner’s family and friends.
  • Does not expect protection for their name or reputation.
  • Realizes that they need the help of their family, friends and community to prevent further use of violence.
  • Knows that they need to find others to support them in non-violence.
  • Knows clearly that there is nothing in the relationship or the partner that caused the abuse or violence.
  • Knows that they are at risk of abusing any partner in the future.
  • Realizes that the abused partner should not have to hear any of the above points from them, unless the abused partner desires to hear it.

In addition, if the abused partner has left, then the abuser:

  • Agrees to limit or cut off (depending on what the abused partner wants) contact with the abused partner, the abused partner’s friends and the abused partner’s family.
  • Agrees to stop chasing and tracking the abused partner.
  • Agrees to avoid the places the abused partner frequents, and to provide the abused partner with plenty of space away from them.
  • Agrees to stop collecting information about the abused partner.
  • Understands that they needs to pay restitution as child support and/or alimony, if the abused partner desires, agreeing to support the abused partner as long as the abused partner and/or children need it, to replace the losses the abused partner has sustained.
  • Refuses to manipulate their children to discredit the abused partner.

Guidelines for Assessing Change in Men Who Abuse Women

list provided by Lundy Bancroft

  • Admitting fully to what he has done
  • Stopping excuses
  • Stopping all blaming of her
  • Making amends
  • Accepting responsibility (recognizing that abuse is a choice)
  • Identifying patterns of controlling behavior, admitting their wrongness
  • Identifying the attitudes that drive his abuse
  • Accepting that overcoming abusiveness will be a decades-long process, not declaring himself cured
  • Not starting to say, “so now it’s your turn to do your work”, not using change as a bargaining chip
  • Not demanding credit for improvements he has made
  • Not treating improvements as chips or vouchers to be spent on occasional acts of abuse (e.g. “I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so why are you making such a big deal about it?”)
  • Developing respectful, kind, supportive behaviors
  • Carrying his weight
  • Sharing power
  • Changing how he is in highly heated conflicts
  • Changing how he responds to his partner’s (or former partner’s) anger and grievances
  • Changing his parenting
  • Changing his treatment of her as a parent
  • Changing his attitudes towards females in general
  • Accepting the consequences of his actions (including not feeling sorry for himself about those consequences, and not blaming her or the children for them)