When a man feels sorry for his abusive behavior, his regrets collide with his entitlement. The contradictory chatter inside his head sounds something like this:
I feel bad that I said ‘fuck you’ to her; that’s not a good thing to say, especially in front of the children. I lost it, and I want my family to have an image of me as always being strong and in charge. I don’t like for them to see me looking ugly the way I did in that argument; it hurts my self-esteem. But she called me “irresponsible”! How does she expect me to react when she says something like that? She can’t talk to me that way. Now the children are going to think I was the bad guy, when she was the cause of it. If they start siding with her, I’m going to let them know why I was mad. Now she’s made me look really bad. Fuck her.
Let’s follow the path that this man’s internal dialogue takes. First, his remorse is not primarily focused on the way his verbal assault wounded his partner. What he feels bad about mostly is: (1) He damaged his image in other people’s eyes; (2) he offended his own sense of how he would like to be; (3) he feels he should be able to control his partner without resorting to abuse. From those thoughts he slides into blaming his outburst on his partner, which he feels entitled to do, and in this way rids himself of his feelings of guilt. By the end of his self-talk, he is holding his partner responsible for everything, including the effects that he has just had on their children. The abuser’s self-focus and victim-blaming orientation tend to cause his remorse to fade in this way.