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Penny Rayas, MFT
Penny Rayas, MFT, Therapist
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I was living with an abusive man. He now says that he has changed

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I was living with an abusive man. He now says that he has changed and that he misses me terribly. How do I know if he has changed?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Penny Rayas, MFT replied 4 years ago.
Hello there and thanks for asking JA. Can you tell me how long ago it has been since he abused you? What changed? Did he go to counseling or anger control group? For how long did the abuse go on? Are you attending therapy?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The abuse was sporadic. We have only been dating for a year, but I semi lived with him off and on for a few months. I left so he said that he really misses me and wants me back in his life. He has not attended counseling yet but is willing. I am not attending therapy yet. I had to go out of town for work. He is a highly intelligent man so I know he can change things if he wants to. But I did go back recently and he was not violent, but he did start arguments about me cheating and then asked me to leave, which I did.

Expert:  Penny Rayas, MFT replied 4 years ago.
Hello there, arguments about you cheating on him can start the violence again. What about taking it very slow this time. You can set your ground rules, such as going to couples therapy and him attending a group on anger control. Here is the circle of domestic violence.



  • Any type of abuse occurs (physical/sexual/emotional)

Tension Building

  • Abuser starts to get angry
  • Abuse may begin
  • There is a breakdown of communication
  • Victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm
  • Tension becomes too much
  • Victim feels like they are 'walking on egg shells'


  • Abuser may apologize for abuse
  • Abuser may promise it will never happen again
  • Abuser may blame the victim for causing the abuse
  • Abuser may deny abuse took place or say it was not as bad as the victim claims


  • Abuser acts like the abuse never happened
  • Physical abuse may not be taking place
  • Promises made during 'making-up' may be met
  • Victim may hope that the abuse is over
  • Abuser may give gifts to victim


The cycle can happen hundreds of times in an abusive relationship. Each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship. The total cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.

It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. Often, as time goes on, the 'making-up' and 'calm' stages disappear.


I think it is imporant to seek professional help to help both of you. First you have to work individually with therapist who are trained to work with domestic violence and then you will work as a couple.

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