Talking to Abusive Men

Are you concerned about someone you think is abusive to his partner, but don’t know what to do? Here we describe the warning signs and discuss how you can talk to abusive men about their behaviour. You may worry about making the situation worse. If you recognize some of these warning signs, it may be time to take action.

Sometimes people around an abusive man overlook his behaviour and only focus on supporting the abused woman. At other times, people may sympathize with the abusive man, which may inadvertently escalate his abuse.

Talking to an abusive man is an important part of preventing woman abuse, but it needs to be done carefully. Abusive behaviour won’t go away on its own. There are services to help him in his community.

Here is what you can do when you recognize the warning signs of abuse:

• Choose the right time and place to have a full discussion.

• Approach him when he is calm.

• Be direct and clear about what you have seen.

• Tell him that his behaviour is his responsibility. Avoid making judgmental comments about him as a person. Don’t validate his attempt to blame others for his behaviour.

• Inform him that his behaviour needs to stop.

• Don’t try to force him to change or to seek help. Tell him that you are concerned for the safety of his partner and children.

• Never argue with him about his abusive actions. Recognize that confrontational,argumentative approaches may make the
situation worse and put her at higher risk.

• Call the police if the woman’s safety is in jeopardy.

If he denies the abuse:

• Men who are abusive will often minimize the impact and deny that they have done anything wrong. They may state that it isn’t that bad or blame the victim for their actions. This type of behaviour deflects his own responsibility for his actions.

• Keep your conversation focused on your concerns for his family’s safety and well-being and reiterate that abuse is never an answer.

• Keep the lines of communication open and look for opportunities to help him find support.

Always keep yourself safe. Don’t get in the middle of an assault. Call the police in an emergency.