Is Restitution A Part Of Repentance?

Morning friends,

I hope you have something fun planned for July 4th. My 3 granddaughters are coming up for the weekend with their parents. We have installed a zip line and a slackline on our cabin’s property. One more thing we need – a big tire swing. Everything kids love to do.

I’ve been practicing on the slack line. If you don’t know what one is, go here to see.

So far, I can stand on it for 4 seconds without falling off. My goal is by the end of summer to be able to walk across this slack line without holding on. I am going to take a ride down the zip line this weekend. I hope I don’t hurt myself. I’ll post a picture next week.

Question: We had a question from last week’s blog regarding restitution. The question went something like this. When someone seriously sins against someone and says he or she is repentant, is restitution required? The writer mentioned Zacchaeus’s spontaneous restitution of monetary damages when he came to Christ as an example of the need for restitution.  

Answer: John the Baptist says it best when confronting the religiosity of the Pharisees who had great words but no changed actions. He said, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sin and turned to God.” (Luke 3:8).  

Genuine repentance always shows up in changed thinking and behaviors, which if appropriate includes restitution to someone for the damage caused. For example, if I am not paying attention while exiting my driveway and back into my neighbor’s car on the street, if I’m repentant, I don’t just say I’m sorry. Repentance means that I also voluntarily pay for the damages as well as learn to be more careful when backing out of my driveway. Saying sorry would be meaningless without the subsequent changes, especially if I did it over and over again.

When God was establishing guidelines for the Jews to live together in community, he not only gave them the basics of the Ten Commandments, but also detailed guidelines about consequences for wrongdoing and how to make restitution (Read Exodus 21, 22, 23 for examples). He knew that when you caused someone harm, even unintentionally, there needed to be repairs made to the relationship by making restitution for the damages. But notice God’s words in these passages when the injury was on purpose, or due to carelessness, or prior knowledge of the tendency of an animal to be dangerous. Then the consequence was more severe and the restitution more extensive. (Exodus 21:28).

Therefore, what does restitution look like in cases of marital abuse, chronic adultery or other destructive patterns when repentance is genuine? First, it is something that is initiated by the repentant sinner, not demanded by the victim. Justice is demanded by the victim and equally important in some cases. But if we look at Zacchaeus’ example, he volunteered to pay back those he cheated. If I crash into my neighbor’s car and cause damage, I volunteer to pay for the damages. If I refuse or neglect to do that and assume my “sorry” is sufficient, my neighbor could rightly demand justice for those repairs. My neighbor may also need to use the legal authorities or courts to require me to pay for damages. But then my words, “I’m sorry” are meaningless.

When a destructive spouse wakes up and repents from his entitlement mindset and abusive/destructive behaviors, he accepts the consequences of his behaviors without conditions or resentment. Click To Tweet

He understands that he has broken trust and caused damage and if the relationship is to be repaired, he has to demonstrate goodwill and initiate ways to rebuild and repair that trust. 

This may not look the same in all situations but let me give you a few examples. I remember one of my clients waking up and realizing that she enabled her second husband to continue to abuse (physically and sexually) her daughter. In her repentance, she confessed to her daughter that she was too weak emotionally and spiritually to leave him at that time and offered to pay for the daughter’s therapy as long as it took for her to heal. The mother could not undo what she (or her husband) did, but she did initiate restitution for her damages by offering to pay for her daughter’s healing. This was not demanded by the daughter but volunteered by the mother. In another example, a woman separated from her abusive husband. He said he was repentant, but showed that by willingly moving out of the house, paying for her therapy, his therapy and all the household bills with no demands for sexual favors or reconciliation and continued this for several years until trust began to be rebuilt.  

When a destructive person feigns ignorance on ways to initiate restitution, and yet shows competence in figuring out other matters of importance in his or her life, their repentance is suspect. If getting a fishing license was important to him, he’s figured out how to do it. If repairing an old Corvette was important to him, he’d figure out how to do it. If going golfing was important to him, he’d figure out a time to go.   

Therefore, if he shows no initiative in problem-solving or figuring out how to make restitution for damages or repair a broken relationship, his inactions are showing you it’s not that important to him and he still has entitled thinking. He (or she) believes he’s entitled to forgiveness and entitled to your trust, love, respect, and care without having to make any amends for the damage he’s caused you or your relationship.  

Here are some additional verses that may help you understand that just because someone says the right thing, you still may not be able to believe or trust them. Paul warns us in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you.” Why? Because it will hurt you to believe their words.

Peter tells us, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do other Scriptures. You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” (2 Peter 3:16  ).

Paul also warns Timothy about people who pretend to be believers but have a completely entitled mindset. He says, “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

And, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 says, “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” Idleness is laziness, refusing to do one’s own work or carry one’s own load. We are not to over-function for such individuals which only fuels their entitlement thinking.  

Friends, what are examples of other kinds of restitution that people who are genuinely repentant would initiate?


  1. Jennifer on July 3, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    This is SO good Leslie! Spot on! Thank you!

  2. Ann on July 3, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Thank you, Leslie. That clarifies restitution for me. It also clarifies why I feel crazy when he demands my trust because he says he has changed but claims restitution confuses him. Without willing restitution, repentance is shallow if genuine at all.

    • Nancy on July 3, 2019 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Ann,

      I spent years ‘educating’ my husband on how to behave towards me. Part of my own recovery involved me telling him that “it’s not my job to educate you on how to be a husband”. One of his favourite lines was “I just don’t understand! I need you to explain it to me”. I’d fall for that each time, giving him all kinds of ammunition against me.

      Stop explaining. Let him struggle. Emotional growth involves personal struggle and soul searching. As long as I kept giving him ‘the answers’, it short circuited his growth.

      This is where ‘standing firm’ was essential for me.

      • Ann on July 3, 2019 at 4:44 pm

        Thanks, Nancy. I think I am finally at that point. I have done what you described. I am done with that.

        • Aly on July 3, 2019 at 6:27 pm

          Glad to hear that you are no longer in the place. So where now are you with your next steps?

          • Ann on July 3, 2019 at 6:33 pm

            Aly, I am working through that. Right now, I have put more boundaries between him and I. I feel myself detaching emotionally more every day. I want to get completely out of God’s way. I really want to live as Nancy advised and step away from getting caught in carrying his load. I have a lot of prayer and learning to do.

      • Connie on July 8, 2019 at 12:00 pm

        One of his favourite lines was “I just don’t understand! I need you to explain it to me”. I’d fall for that each time, giving him all kinds of ammunition against me.

        Oh dear, how often that has happened to me too. He wants me to make it all right for him, to basically be his saviour. That is why they are so angry, because they think of she only would………
        And that is why all this drives us closer to Jesus. Because we have to let go of, “If he only would ….” And, ” If I could only explain it better…. ”

        I’ve been rereading “How he Gets Into her Head” by Don Hennessey. He says that after many years of counseling abused couples, he still gets fooled into believing the guy.

        • Free on July 8, 2019 at 10:35 pm

          Excellent book Connie! I have read it too. There is a radio interview to google of him as well. You can see the compassion in his facial expressions and hear the frustration in his voice as he shares his experiences working with victims and abusers. If only I lived in Ireland to participate in the programing his organization has designed. His insight is spot on!

        • Nancy on July 9, 2019 at 7:45 am


          This was my interpretation too – that. “He wants me to…..basically be his saviour”.

          Sometimes I even felt as though he was using me as a soother!

          When I read Leslie’s book, I immediately identified with when she talked about dependence being abusive. (there was a section on the various types of abuse:financial, etc….when I read that dependence could be abusive, I was immediately both shocked and relieved).

          My mother also looked to me as her saviour.

          Do you think that all types of abusers want their spouses to be saviour? I can certainly see this with dependence….

          • Connie on July 9, 2019 at 4:45 pm

            Nancy, I don’t know, but it makes sense. They are always very immature, right? They look for someone with strength, even though they try to destroy that strength. They are definitely confused, because I think they have a lot of stuffed emotions, and they abuse partly to try to get you to express those emotions for them. It’s like they want to steal our strength so that they don’t have to work for it.

            Last week h told me that when he became a believer, he thought it was like his mechanics. The young neighbour farmer brings him a tractor to fix, h fixes it and gives it back. He thought that when he gave his life to God, God would fix it. Like now. I said no, God was more like a Father. When our son wanted a car, h bought him one with the motor blown, and an owners manual, and helped him find the page for the next step, but son had to build it himself. That didn’t seem to be what he wanted to hear.

            Last week I gently called h on something disrespectful. The last few times I did that, I then called him on his excuses, so this time he tried a different tack. He said nothing for a while and then went into a deep funk. Said he was so weak, so depressed, that after quitting porn he just didn’t have anything to fill that hole with, and I’m afraid I’m going to kill myself, and how do you do it, Connie, when things go so badly, and maybe I should start going to a 12-step? I actually fell for it. Another version of, “I don’t understand”. They really really love a pity party. I gave some advice and comfort, and well, all was good again. They bait us with a grain of ‘hope’ and as soon as they think we’ve forgotten the offense and are back into ‘help’ mode, they think all is back as before. He really hates to be called on anything. The ‘depression’ is actually rage with a mask. For a few days I didn’t even realize that this was connected with what I’d said to him, I thought it was random. Part of the gaslighting, I guess.

            This is why I reread that book. I’d forgotten that most abusers use threats of suicide quite regularly. And self-pity.

            The Boundaries people would say I was interrupting gravity, that God is trying to get him to the end of self and I’m trying to ‘help’, so God has to try again.

          • Nancy on July 13, 2019 at 8:19 am


            I can relate to getting caught by the ultra-covertness of his self-pity tactic.

            The problem is that a refusal to admit deep seated brokeness lays at the root of a lack of growth; and so when he starts to talk about his brokeness,it’s like an answer to prayer! It’s so easy to get roped in.

  3. Nancy on July 3, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Thank you, Leslie 🙂

    I like how behaviour / action based restitution is. It’s kinda like, “put your money where your mouth is”

  4. Bibi on July 3, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    “When a destructive person feigns ignorance on ways to initiate restitution, and yet shows competence in figuring out other matters of importance in his or her life, their repentance is suspect”
    This is spot on
    My hubby has had 5 affairs over the 17 years we’ve been together . He went through a 2 year cancer battle and I was by his side whilst he was still communicating with 3 women on his sick bed . I discovered a few months ago that he had had a 6year affair with one of the women and a 2 year with the other and claimed it was over he was just friends with them . Mind you he is also friends with another workmate he had an affair with in 2012 (they still work together )
    After years of fighting for this marriage and separating and coming back (prematurely on my part ) crying and begging I’ve finally given up .
    He’s said sorry like all other times, he’s paid for my Counselling and says he doesn’t need Counselling he will meditate his problems away and he’s refused to engage in any change of behavior …still claims he is entitled to his privacy and won’t give me his passwords because according to him I cause problems when I go through his conversations. Mind you I’ve always found out about his affairs through emails and texts .
    Your response Leslie has assured me I’m not crazy . When it comes to his work and his health he researches and engages in further education and institutes changes in his lifestyle and diet to give his body and work the best . But when it comes to us he says sorry and expects me to shut up and get over it . Like Leslie said if this relationship was important he would have done his research gotten help and changed his habits but he’s never done that and won’t do that now . I realised I can’t force him to want to change and I have to realise he is who he shows me he is not who I wish or want him to be .
    I asked for divorce and he said ok and has not said or done anything to show he doesn’t want a divorce . It hurts and sometimes I feel like giving up on this road I’ve chosen coz I’m afraid of losing him
    But when I think of the him I’m afraid of losing I realise it’s the person I’ve always dreamt he could become that I’m afraid of losing not the person he is . So I remind myself of who he really is and when I do that my resolve is strengthened.
    Thanks Leslie because you’ve also made me realise I’m not crazy or giving up on a good thing because It’s been heart aching pain for the past 17years and no change in behavior .

    • Nancy on July 8, 2019 at 7:57 am

      HI Bibi,

      The fact that you figured out that you were afraid of losing ‘the person I’ve always dreamt he could be’ and ‘not the person he is’, is HUGE.

      What is it that makes victims of abuse so detrimentally good at so persistently creating a life of fantasy?

      Grieving will also be a key in staying in reality, I think.

      Praise God that He has enabled you to break through the wishful thinking, into reality!

      • Aly on July 8, 2019 at 8:56 am

        Nancy, JP,
        “What is it that makes victims of abuse so detrimentally good at so persistently creating a life of fantasy?”
        Such a great question!
        Maybe, Leslie will add this to a weekly discussion to better unpack.

        I think one thing that kept me circling versus facing reality for several years was certain feedback from people I trusted as mature Christians and family of origin (mantras):
        JP mentioned something on July 5th about her husband getting feedback from his family (foo) that their problems are just as much as her and the additional guilt of her staying home with the kids and how she needed to be appreciated of this.

        I heard this word for word in my journey anytime I had 1 complaint or concern for our marriage. And the mantra came from my closest friends and especially my family of origin which reinforced my husband’s attitudes.

        My husband and I both needed biblical truth to come into our minds& hearts like surgery. Transformative.

      • Aly on July 8, 2019 at 9:03 am

        Nancy and others,
        I would like to also mention that there is an extensive podcast available that brings awareness to domestic violence and some of the fantasy thinking is depicted.
        The story & disappearance of Susan Cox on COLD.

        • Nancy on July 9, 2019 at 4:32 am

          Thanks Aly, I will try to find this.

          The fantasy thinking is also, I think, fuelled by the fact that the reality of the relationship is excruciating. Denial helps a person avoid pain. Like you talked about below- there is a fundamental lack of respect. This is crushing to realize and perhaps only possible to face with Jesus. I did not have Jesus until 7 years ago and would not have been able to face the reality of either my marital relationship or my FOO without Him. Being consistently disrespected crushes the soul when you don’t have The Lord telling you otherwise 🙁

          What struck my h and I when we spoke to my mother last Christmas about not joining the rest of the family fornChristmas was that our asking for basic respect was perceived by the family as us asking for the moon. We were being highly unreasonable in asking for so much. By not allowing ourselves to be disregarded, WE were the difficult ones! On the surface, that’s what it looked like though. They all gathered for Christmas and we refused. It was US that chose to ruin it!

          It looks like we will be facing this again this summer as my brother and his wife are coming into town.

          No matter how many times it happens, it’s still very painful 🙁

          Praise God that He encourages me to stand up for myself, and for destroying the lie that I must maintain relationships at all costs.

          • Aly on July 9, 2019 at 9:07 am

            Hope you can find it:
            Cold is the audio program, Susan (Powell) Cox is the story.
            (Caution though as I get further into the program it is not for all audiences)
            Also the FOO becomes a vital element of the destructive course.

            I’m very sorry about the next event and all the pain that gets compounded 😩. I can relate closely.
            You said it clearly and I think it’s at the root of these destructive dynamics whether married to one, or related to one, or even close friends:
            “there is a fundamental lack of respect.”

            I believe this is born out of an attitude of a person(s) believing that they are superior over another.
            Add the Christian (sounds bites) and many unhealthy twists of scripture of loving another even while they are mistreating you, you have quite a disparaging setup.

            I agree that denial does play a significant role in avoiding reality. I experienced this much from my mother and some of those coping skills were passed down to me.

            I also think in these destructive dynamics that the (survivor/victim) is the one who is SO invested and many times OVER-invested that the fantasy thinking is part of the cycle from the get go.
            It’s hard for one to face reality when one has so many Years of ‘wishing/hoping’ without Evidence of change.

            Praise that the Lord can continue to be truth for our healing.

    • JP on July 8, 2019 at 8:12 am

      Bibi, I’m sorry you have been through so much hurt. You are not crazy. I would say you were hopeful. In her book, Leslie is clear that a marriage cannot be healed when only one spouse is willing to work on it. I agree with Nancy and would add that we might create “fantasy” because of hope that our situation could change. However, our hope is unfortunately misplaced.

  5. Barbara B on July 3, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    Yes, fake confusion. I am sure he would understand restitution quickly enough if he wanted some, like in the examples Leslie mentioned of someone wrecking your car. I have heard young people talk about “Sea Lioning.” Apparently it’s a tactic used in social media to stir up trouble. I found this definition:

    Sea lioning is the process of killing with dogged kindness and manufactured ignorance by asking questions, then turning on the victim in an instant. “In this, the perpetrator endlessly nitpicks and relentlessly pursues the topic, but oh so very politely and, when the target finally gets annoyed and retaliates, the sea lion takes on the wronged victim of abuse role,” says Hardaker.

    The solution is a simple one: just don’t engage with the troll in the first place. However, this can be difficult to do – a suspected sea lion may in fact just be a genuinely curious individual looking to learn more. So rather than ignoring them outright or devoting precious time to discussing the individual merits and drawbacks of a point with them, courteously directing them to a third-party resource – a couple of links to news stories about the matter at hand – can help nullify their attempts to derail your day.

    What to say: “Here’s a peer-reviewed, academically rigorous link explaining all the information you need. Have a great day!” *Block*

    • Barbara B on July 3, 2019 at 5:39 pm

      I meant to post this in response to Ann’s comment (July 3 at 3:35) about her husband saying that restitution confuses him.

      • Ann on July 3, 2019 at 6:20 pm

        Thanks Barbara! I am seeing more clearly where I have enabled the feigned helplessness by explaining things to him. These posts of Leslie’s and people’s responses are helping me to wake up.

      • JoAnn on July 5, 2019 at 10:01 am

        Barbara, that’s excellent. Thanks for posting this definition. “Gas Lighting,” “Sea Lioning,” My! What destructive behaviors are depicted by such innocuous sounding terms. I had never heard of the sea lioning one. Those manipulative techniques come straight out of the pit. Subtle traps to keep the victim in bondage. We all are now a bit wiser, thanks to your research.

        • Sarah Brandon on July 7, 2019 at 9:27 am

          Wow. This is so true to what happens in a “discussion” with my husband. To have an actual word for it makes me feel less crazy and validated. I started to feel nauseous every-time my husband wanted to have a “discussion”. They could last for hours. When I would become upset and frustrated from the endless nitpicking and questions that I always answered wrong- I was told I was immature,to sensitive and had a temper. I have also heard “I don’t understand. Please explain. I just want to know you better” or “Please explain so I can be a better husband”,
          And “ You need to understand that my motives for our discussions are to understand you better”. Never again.

          • Ann on July 7, 2019 at 5:41 pm

            As I continue reading the comments on here, I am amazed at how many people are quoting my husband word for word. The last part of your comment Sarah is exactly what I frequently hear. Thank you.

          • Free on July 7, 2019 at 6:20 pm

            Oh, my! I have never experienced the sea lion form of abuse. Just reading the quoted sentence your husband said to you makes chills run up my spine! How deeply, evil and creepy! Then to read that Ann experienced the same thing just breaks my heart. How horrible!

            I do know the greatest benefit I received from group counseling with other victims of abuse was to realize that my husband was not unique. He had behaviors and mantras that I thought were unique and specific to his particular life situation. Only to learn later that his words, actions and behaviors were predictable and common among abusers. You could have knocked me over with a feather! Really? The exact same comments, word for word!

          • Aly on July 8, 2019 at 8:32 am

            Sarah Brandon,
            I’m glad you are on this thread and seeing those areas of clarity. It can make someone feel beaten down and some of our natural tendencies are to continue to ‘explain’ out of a high level of tolerance and respect for others.
            I have found that it’s not so much that a person doesn’t understand, but that they don’t agree!
            Also mix that with a person who baseline lacks RESPECT for (you) and your freedom to have your own opinion or personal needs. It really won’t matter what the subject is they don’t see you as worthy of this space, which isn’t true.

    • Nancy on July 4, 2019 at 11:33 am

      Barbara B.

      This is very helpful. This is the culture in my FOO – sea lioning! They ask questions from a place of trying to entrap, not from a genuine place of curiosity and love. It’s horrendous.

      The other day The Lord told me very clearly that I have no place justifying myself, He has justified me. I am to stand in Him. That was really big for me because I become so insecure around anyone from my FOO because of the ‘sea lioning’ culture. But I need not be afraid unless I am open to being questioned.

      Praise God that He has clearly told me that I am no longer to explain or justify myself. Already, I am more confident 🙂

      • Nancy on July 4, 2019 at 11:49 am

        I do have to confess though, that I have a problem with getting feedback. I think this comes from me having developed extreme defensiveness (because of sea-lioning) and then carrying that over into other relationships.

        I pray that The Lord enables standing firm in Him, in all my relationships, instead of being defensive in some relationships and an ‘over-sharer’ in others!

        • Sarah Brandon on July 7, 2019 at 8:38 am

          What is sea-lioning?

          • Nancy on July 7, 2019 at 9:13 am

            See Barbara B’s comment from July 3 for the definition of sea-lioning.

    • Nancy on July 9, 2019 at 7:56 am

      Sea-lioning is what was happening with a certain blog member here, for a long time. This person would feign ignorance, confusion, ask questions and get us all endlessly educating them.

      I’m relieved that Leslie put a stop to it.

      • Aly on July 9, 2019 at 9:24 am

        Yes! You are correct. That person also used the deception of being severely abused by a mother (mainly)
        This took my guard down completely. I learned a lot about my own naiveness, and not realizing just how dark some people are.
        I still have to work on the pound in message from my own mom of how to think the best of everyone-regardless of their behavior.

        • JoAnn on July 10, 2019 at 7:03 pm

          Aly and Nancy, Yes, I also remember that “sea lioning” person, and it was so frustrating because nothing we said ever got through. Glad that’s over.
          Aly, perhaps instead of trying to “think the best of everyone”, you could change that to realizing that everyone is acting out of their woundedness. This is a forgiving attitude without ignoring the negative effects of the behavior. Maybe that doesn’t help you, but it has made a difference for me. Makes it possible to not take things personally: that what they did/said was about them and their pain, not me.

  6. Free on July 3, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    I keep thinking about the book, “He’s not that Into You.” Remember the lessons from that book/radio broadcast/movie? If the guys wants to be with a girl he will bend over backwards to find ways to call, block out appointments, figure out where she is and try to get to spend time with her. Because if he is into her, he shows it.

    The parallel between the lessons in the movie and our restitution discussion is that repentance doesn’t need to be coached out of someone. The repentant person is deliberate and compelled to act. They have sleepless nights, their conscience is burdened and they dive into action. Humbleness and truth resonate from their every word and deed.

    I like the comments of giving up being the coach and mentor for a grown man. It is so easy want to help, but now I realize it is just an avoidant behavior on the part of the difficult person.

  7. Autumn on July 3, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    I think this topic applies to men and women as well as friends and family. I recently discovered a friend I have had for a number of years has Narcissistic Personality characteristics. She just asked me to mentor her. I spent three hours in her kitchen speaking biblical truth into her problems with jealousy and feeling wronged by people. He public persona is so very important to her and anyone who doesn’t praise her is a problem in her eyes. She sees any correction as abuse and is often frustrated that her family doesn’t stop, drop and roll when she has a whim.

    To the discussion of knowing when to stop, I think I finally get it. Now, I can pick out the behaviors very quickly. I cancelled any further lunch dates with my friend. I told her God will reveal truth to her, I don’t think I should stand in the way of her seeking help from God directly.

    Yup, one visit. I picked up the clues and got myself out of that relationship ASAP.

    • JoAnn on July 5, 2019 at 10:06 am

      Good move, Autumn! The Lord gave you the insight and wisdom to know what to do.

  8. JP on July 5, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Great blog this week! Thanks for asking the question last week N!

    When married I would explain how I was feeling and my h would admit he was wrong and that our destructive marriage was much of his fault. After talking with his family though he would come back and tell me that I was just as much to blame and that I should appreciate him more for the ability to stay home with my kids for as long as I did. It was an exhausting cycle. I stayed home because his inability to care for our kids and my low self-esteem.

    This is what true repentance and restitution would look like in my situation. After divorce.

    My ex would apologize for hurting the kids and me, both emotionally and physically.

    He would stop posting things on social media to build himself up and posting that I need to put on my Christian hat and give him what he believes he deserves, money, time with the kids, and to point out me lying to him in our last months together.

    He would recognize he needs help in order to repair the damaged relationships by his words and actions.

    He would be aware and apologize to our minor child for the things he said and did to her that hurt her greatly. He wouldn’t demand to see her according to his timing, but wait for her to be ready to see him. He would offer to pay for her therapy. I encouraged him to keep sending messages and cards/letters in the mail to show/explain how much he loves and misses her, but he hasn’t sent anything meaningful. The birthday card he sent only said he wanted to see her soon and his “I love you always and forever” line he never said to her in person – ever. He would send Christmas and birthday gifts as an act of love. He would wait patiently for her to respond. He would say sorry for not being a better dad. Same goes for our emancipated child he has not tried to connect with. No birthday card, no I love you, no contact. Granted our son “blocked” him, but his dad could still put things in the mail, but hasn’t. However, he posts online that he misses him so much. If so, then show it!

    I know this impacts our kids greatly and it breaks my heart.

    His anger would dissipate and he would drop the appeal, so the kids and I can get our own place to live and begin to heal.

    If he is following me he would stop.

    I think that would be a good start.

    • Autumn on July 6, 2019 at 6:50 am

      I think it is a great exercise to record and document for yourself what should happened after someone harms you. I think the reflection process is a form of reality that I would recommend for any person trying to recover from an abusive relationship.

      Of course the offending party should apologize, make restitution and stop the destructive behavior immediately! Of course, that is just common sense! Large over sweeping, vague apologies don’t count.

      On the few occasions that I was able to speak to my abuser about a traumatic injury he said he didn’t remember. The position that an abusive person “doesn’t remember” can be because of their own self absorption or an out and out lie. Anyone else hear the reply, “I don’t recall that?”

      • Free on July 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

        JP, if he is following you around, that is called stalking. Do you have a restraining order filed against your abusive spouse? You need to report his behaviors to authorities. Ask your lawyer what action needs to be taken..

      • JP on July 6, 2019 at 7:59 am

        Autumn, writing it down does help me see more clearly. I heard “I don’t remember” all the time! I thought to myself maybe he really doesn’t remember because of his Asperger’s. After reading Leslie’s book and this blog post specifically I realize whether he has difficulty because of Asperger’s or not, he is still responsible for his behavior. I was so lenient with him. Our oldest child also has ASD, so I know the struggles are very real and painful. However, if a person is aware they have difficulty remembering, or if being told they do, they are responsible for figuring out a solution. Willingness or willful. It was easier for him to fight back than it was for him to problem solve for his family, but he would problem solve for monetary gain. I see this much more clearly now that I’m out of the storm. He has a heart of stone.

        Free, I haven’t been able to prove him following me. I’ve taken a few looks under my car, but I didn’t see anything. I’m waiting to hear back from my attorney on this.

        • Free on July 6, 2019 at 10:45 am

          Does he pay the cell phone bill? This was one of the ways I was trapped. My abuser had all the passcodes and was the owner of the account. The cellphone company would not grant me access to any of my own cellphone information. He on the other hand, tracked my every text and phone call. I had to get a lawyer involved to break his grasp on me through stalking my phone use.

          Having said that, the first thing I did was get a safety phone at a reduced rate from the service provider. I registered as Jane Doe and paid my bills in person for cash. It was a flip phone and was very helpful. Verizon, Sprint, ATT helpful at providing very cheap phone service for those in domestic abuse situations. They just are not smart phones.

          • JP on July 6, 2019 at 11:54 am

            Free, good information! I wish I knew of these cheap phones before. The kids and I are all on a family member’s plan now. Something happened to my phone months before I left and since my h didn’t want to help me with the problem, he gave me access to make changes on his cell phone account. This wasn’t something I could change right away though because of the cost.To simplify the story he sent screenshots proving he was following the kids and I. This was last year. I don’t have any new evidence, but maybe I don’t need any, I don’t know (except seeing him in his car on our street in May and maybe his mom showing up at our son’s second day of a new job a week ago, which could be a coincidence). While he was tracking our phones last fall two items were taken out of the home where we are living. One item was something he really wanted and asked for as soon as he realized I took it with me. I did call the police, but since there was no forced entry and he owned the item, the police couldn’t do anything. I am suspicious of him because I know he wants to know where we are. He lost control and can’t have what he wants anymore. We have a security camera inside the house and security poles for the windows and doors. The only way he can follow us now is a tracker on my car. Does anyone know if the police can check for these? I would like to see what my attorney thinks before I do anything.

          • Free on July 6, 2019 at 11:49 pm

            I have a good tracking device story. A woman I know found a tracking device on her car that her abusive husband placed on it. He had used the garage door entry code and placed a device. ( Another heads up piece of advice- change the garage key codes!

            Anyway, she removed the device and asked a friend who was a long distance trucker to attach it to his truck. What a nice chuckle she had when her crazy spouse thought she was bopping from state to state to state.

            Kept that rascal of a man off her trail! Ha.

          • JP on July 7, 2019 at 8:21 pm

            Free, our house was sold and now my car is parked outside and is easily accessible. The kids and I live with a relative, so he knows where we are. He lives less than 10 miles away from us. If I do find a tracker and placed it on a different car, I think my ex would notice right away. In my state it’s illegal to place a tracker on someone else’s car without their permission (I wouldn’t want my ex following my friends or family and it would only provoke his anger). If I found one and could trace the purchase to him I would have that evidence, certainly enough for a restraining order and maybe even a protection order.

            For me it’s scary. I’m always looking over my shoulder. I’m near a panic attack anytime I hear a motorcycle like his or see a car like his.

          • Libbie on July 9, 2019 at 4:25 pm

            JP– you can buy a tracker sweeper from STI Inc.trackers. I found some purchases on a credit card from this company, and found out my husband was tracking my vehicle. I eventually found it under my steering wheel. It was a little black box, with a blue light flashing when the car was running. Good luck, and I hope you find it if he is. It is like a slap in the face when you find it.

          • JP on July 10, 2019 at 9:35 pm

            I’ve read about those sweepers online. I question the more affordable ones, but I will keep it as an option if I can’t find an alternative.

  9. JP on July 5, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    “When a destructive person feigns ignorance on ways to initiate restitution, and yet shows competence in figuring out other matters of importance in his or her life, their repentance is suspect. If getting a fishing license was important to him, he’s figured out how to do it. If repairing an old Corvette was important to him, he’d figure out how to do it. If going golfing was important to him, he’d figure out a time to go.”

    Thank you Leslie, I so needed to see this! So many things my ex has figured out how to do to get what he wanted, all but a happy, loving family that he said he desired. His therapist even told him to read books on parenting. He never did, instead he would go to the library and check out motorcycle magazines, workout, and diet books. Life with him was so hard.

    • Moon Beam on July 6, 2019 at 10:49 am

      I liked reading life with him was so hard. Which means in comparison, life today much be so much better! Hurrah!

      • JP on July 6, 2019 at 11:19 am

        Thanks Moon Beam, your comment made me smile! As the mediation looms nearer, my anxiety is getting ahold of me again. I sometimes need to remind myself that life IS better!

  10. JJ on July 6, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Leslie, this was SO helpful. Thank you!

  11. Autumn on July 9, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    JP, I wanted to respond to you saying that you have a near panic attack when you hear a motorcycle. That is PTSD or PTSS. I have found that the fear and extreme sensitivity to certain triggers has taken years and years to decrease. For me, it never goes away. Everyone is different, but I would just encourage you to not be hard on yourself if these thoughts, feelings and behaviors linger.

    • JoAnn on July 10, 2019 at 7:10 pm

      JP, I would add to what Autumn said that with PTSS, counseling does help, and especially if you can find someone who practices EMDR, which has been proven successful for trauma. I pray that you will be freed from the effects of your traumatic relationship.

      • JP on July 10, 2019 at 9:55 pm

        Thanks Autumn and JoAnn, I’ve been told that I have PTSD. I haven’t done much reading or research on it and its effects on me yet. I still have court stuff to do, but will start to focus on getting well. I see a therapist once per month for now, attend a divorce class with other women in a similar boat, and I also have my support group. I find the most difficulty when I’m alone. Sometimes I don’t need to see or hear anything and I just get a heavy sensation in the pit of my gut. I can’t quite describe it. I have nightmares that come and go and I think about what my ex was thinking at the time and what he thinks about all this now. I know my physical body doesn’t handle this well either, but I’ve been in the fight or flight response for quite some time, so I don’t expect it to go away without extensive work. I haven’t heard of EMDR, but I will bring that up at therapy.

        • JoAnn on July 11, 2019 at 1:20 am

          JP, it is really important at this time for you to really lean on the Lord andantes into a deeply personal and intimate relationship with Him. Reading your Bible before bed, especially the Psalms, will help to put your heart at peace to sleep. When that heavy sensation comes, just invite the Holy Spirit to come into that dark place and fill it with His presence. Spend time in the word of God, so that His truth erases the lies that have been planted into your mind by your husband. It is the Truth that frees us from so much darkness. Let Him shine into your heart. Peace will come.

        • JP on July 12, 2019 at 1:55 am

          Thank you JoAnn and Ann! Amen to what you both said! I am reading God’s truth several times per day. On days where my anxiety is very high I’ve ask Him to take it away and He is faithful! On nights where I wake up in a sweat He is there! I see God more now than ever before! I’ve kept a prayer journal in the past to see Him working in my life and I really should do that again, but there is so much to write down.

          Ann, I’ve had the same feelings with the men I was working with. They would lean over me to get things on a shelf above where I was working. I ended up quitting because I was too uncomfortable. I’m in a much “safer” work environment now and I have no doubt God placed me here because it literally fell in my lap within days after searching for over two months! Praise God!!!

  12. Ann on July 11, 2019 at 11:43 am

    JP, I agree with Joann. Jesus and Holy Spirit’s presence make a huge difference in PTSD and CPTSD. I went through a season where just being near any man caused my gut to wrench and fear to grip me. Pulling up to a gas station where guys were filling their trucks triggered panic attacks. Jesus has healed that . His presence is the best help you can find. Therapies have their place but Jesus is the foundation to your healing.

  13. Sarah Brandon on July 13, 2019 at 6:12 am

    A book I have found profoundly helpful to me in dealing with anxiety and fear of the future is called the The Red Sea Rules. You can get it on Amazon for $5. The chapters are really short which helps when dealing with PTSD as you might struggle with concentration.

    • JP on July 14, 2019 at 12:16 am

      Thanks Sarah, I have the book on request at the library. I’ve found that reading Christian books really helps soothe my anxiety 😊

  14. Aaron on March 22, 2024 at 10:06 am

    What if the couple has now divorced? Should the ex husband or ex wife find a way to make restitution for the sins that led them to the divorce? If so, what could be done?

    • Leslie Vernick on March 22, 2024 at 12:01 pm

      Great question Aaron,I think a lot depends on your current relationship with your ex and what was the harm done. Is restitution even possible other than a full apology and taking responsibility for the dissolution of the relationship because of one’s sin? Readers, if your ex wanted to make restitution for the harm he caused you, what might that feel like and look like to you?

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