The strangest thing to me about abusers is they have absolutely no clue how to atone for their sins. I say strange because, well, we live in a day and age where all they’d really have to do is google it and, voila, there they have their answer. It’s funny, in a twisted, gallows humor kinda way.
When I left, after two decades of being perfectly open with Zelena about what I needed, he had the audacity to ask what he had to do to prove he’d changed. I flat out told him that I’d spent 20 years telling him as nicely as I could, making requests, letting my needs be know (because I was never going to be “one of those wives” who thought their spouse should be a mind-reader…btw, that’s garbage, women don’t do that, the men that complain they do just never listen, and I was never going to be a naggy wife, to which nearly every woman I’ve spoken with has asked, “How did you ever expect him to do anything?”).
Later, Zelena’s mother, known here as Sapphira, called and told me I was terrible and godless, yadda, yadda, for not forgiving him. I told her it had nothing to do with forgiveness, it had to do with trust and he hadn’t proved to me that he had changed. She asked the same question.
So, while there are variations for each person who has been subjected to abuse, here is a succinct list of what the jerk should do. I hesitated in posting or sharing such a list initially because I feared that Zelena might see it and try to fake his way through it. Then I re-read the list and realized that he is just not capable of even pretending to care.
I found this at one of my new favorite blogs, A Cry for Justice, which deals with abuse within the church.
If they are genuinely repentant, abusers will:
- Stop all blame-shifting. Stop blaming their spouse. Stop making excuses.
- Commit to going to a professionally run Behavior Change Group for spouse-abusers.
- Admit, confess and accept responsibility for all their abuse, in full detail.
- Identify the attitudes that drive their abusiveness.
- Relinquish their attitudes of entitlement and superiority over their partner, even the last bastion and stronghold of their selfish sense of entitlement.
- Be accountable to group leaders, probation officers, courts, and any others who are overseeing their actions and attitudes.
- Accept the consequences of their actions.
- Resist feeling sorry for themselves if they have to pay consequences.
- Be honest and non-manipulative in their communication.
- Be empathetic to the multiple and long-lasting effects of their abuse on the partner and children.
- Attempt to right the wrongs by restoring losses which they’ve caused to their victims.
- Allow the hurt partner and children to take as much time as they need to heal.
- Not attempt to use behavioral improvements as bargaining chips.
- Not demand credit for behavioural improvements.
- Carry their own weight in all matters, including parenting.
- Develop respectful, kind, supportive behaviours.
- Change how they respond to the grievances of their partners.
- Accept that overcoming abusiveness will be a decades-long process.
It should be known, that even if he did all this, I would never be able to trust him. He lied so well the years before we were married, deceived and betrayed me so often during our marriage, I will never believe another word he says.