For Partners, Family, & Friends
We’ve been asked, “How do I talk to my husband/boyfriend/brother/friend about this issue? His behavior is hurting me and/or others. If you are in this position, we’ll try to provide some guidelines and suggestions. Remember, the message that his behavior is unacceptable is a really hard thing for your guy to hear, even if it is true. There are several things to consider before you begin the conversation:
- If you are his partner and have already been on the receiving end of physical violence, or you worry that you could be, think about your safety first. If you suspect in any way that he will retaliate (immediately or later) and you could be physically harmed as a result of the discussion, we urge you not to bring this resource up with him directly and to give your personal safety the greatest priority. Consider asking someone he trusts, like a family member or friend, who is not at risk of physical retribution to discuss this resource with him instead.
- Consider talking to him in a public place where others won’t necessarily hear you but will see and possibly intervene if he becomes upset and reacts physically.
- Your effectiveness in the discussion will depend on how open he is to the message. Of course, using a caring and diplomatic approach is much more likely to yield good results.
- You are not responsible for his behavior or him changing. All you can do is plant the seeds and provide good information.
After you’ve made the necessary arrangements to ensure your safety and feel comfortable moving forward with the discussion, we have a few tips to help the conversation go better for you both:
- Start by seeing him as a valuable human being. If you can’t see him that way, then you are not the right person to talk to him.
- Let him know you care about him, his well-being, and his long-term happiness, including having a successful relationship.
- Tell him your concern for him is that he’s hurting you (or his partner), your desire to stay in the relationships, and therefore hurting himself.
- Warn him what the consequences will be if the behavior happens again–calling the police, leaving, etc. Be willing, ready, and able to follow through on whatever you say. This message is likely to feel really threatening to him.
- Focus on what he’s done, not on who he is. Our worst actions don’t define us.
- Ask him how he feels about what’s happened. You’ll get a good idea if he feels remorse (open to change) or is defensive.
- Tell him many men who have found themselves in this situation discovered there were some unhealed wounds causing their reactions. When they healed the wounds, their self-control improved significantly.
- Remind him he was created for a better life than what’s he’s experiencing now.
- Tell him about our website: www.ananiasfoundation.org
- Use force or threaten violence. Violence does not stop violence.
- Scold or shame him for what he’s done. Shame is a poor motivator for change.
- Tell him he needs to make different/better decisions. Reactions don’t use the part of the brain that makes decisions.
- Tell him he is doing this because he thinks he is entitled or superior. Unless he has said it explicitly, you don’t know what he thinks or how he feels.
- Tell him he’s hopeless. He’s not.