(An excerpt from my new book Am I Being Abused? A Woman’s Guide to Domestic Abuse. Book available from Amazon on Kindle.)
Repentance means that we turn away from our sins and turn towards God. True repentance is always characterized by a change of thought and a change in behavior. If your abuser is serious about having repented, time will prove him to be telling the truth.
How do you know if he has truly repented? Here are some things to look for:
He will see himself as a sinner in need of God’s grace.
He will be aware of his need for God’s forgiveness.
He will take a hard look at the things he has done that has hurt you.
He will apologize without pressuring you to believe him.
He will do whatever he can to restore his broken relationships and will trust Christ do the rest.
It will hurt him that he has hurt you.
He won’t make excuses for himself.
He won’t push you to say that you forgive him, or that you trust him.
He will no longer hurt you, or cause you to be afraid.
He will no longer force you to do things that you do not want to do.
He will not try to make you feel guilty for saying “no” to him.
He will allow you to express yourself, even when you disagree with him.
He will allow you to express disappointment.
He will understand that you are justifiably angry, disappointed, and hurt and that it will take you time to heal.
He will treat you with respect.
Everything will no longer be about him.
He will accept full responsibility for his bad behavior and poor choices, including abuse, other relationship problems, addictions, lies, poor job performances, stealing, etc.
He will be willing to listen to you when you want to talk about things that have hurt you.
He will understand that saying “I’m sorry”, or you forgiving him, won’t mean that he automatically has the right to have his relationship with you fully restored.
He will realize that he has to prove himself to you in order to have a chance of earning your trust.
He will realize that the consequences he is facing aren’t something you are doing to him but something he has done to himself.
He will hold himself accountable for doing better in the future.
He will understand if you need space.
He will do whatever it takes to get his life on track.
If he has abused drugs or alcohol, he will get into a treatment program and stick with it.
He will get into counseling sessions with a pastor, an elder, a counselor, or a therapist, or have someone he trusts who can help him that he talks to on a regular basis.
He will seek to be held accountable by those mature in the faith.
He will study the Bible and pray.
He might read theologically sound books and books on being a godly man, husband, or father and try to apply what he’s reading.
He will do these things without trying to draw attention to the fact that he is doing them.