Accept Responsibility

I have the privilege of working alongside my friend Kim as a Batterer Intervention group facilitator. We lead groups every week encouraging men to evaluate their beliefs and behavior in hopes that they may experience real change, replacing abusive thoughts and behavior with healthy alternatives. We encourage men regularly to accept responsibility for their abuse. I thought I’d try and share some bits of truth I share with men and eventually parts of the process of change we look for.

A Word to Men Who Abuse:

There is a section of the West Point cadet prayer that I recite in our classes occasionally and perhaps it will be a help to you today, “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.” I know you want me to understand your point of view. I’m sure you’re desperate to have someone hear ‘your’ side of the story, but I want to challenge you to slow down for a few moments, to listen and choose the more difficult but rewarding road of responsibility. If you’ve been confronted for your behavior I know the temptation is to throw out the thousand and one excuses for what you’ve done, but that’s not going to help you and only adds to your partner’s suffering. I want to challenge you to take a break from defending your position and acknowledge a simple truth. Your behavior, attitude, words, and/or motives have hurt your spouse. True transformation requires accepting responsibility for you alone without the clutter of excuses, or justifications. Let’s begin by putting aside the tactics that tend to trap us in the way of easy wrongs. This may be hard to hear and you may find it difficult or painful to look in the mirror, but if you stick with it and take these words to heart there is hope. No, taking responsibility will not fully restore what’s been broken, it will not get you what you want and may in fact be painful, but it can be a step in restoring your soul, and possibly your relationship with God.

Final Thought:

After David’s sexual assault of Bathsheba and subsequent murder of Uriah it was the sharp words of a friend who was willing to say, “Thou art the man!” that pointed David down the difficult road of admitting his sin, the harsh reality of the consequences he’d created and finally a spirit of humility. It was in that spirit that he penned these words in response, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” I pray you’ll choose the more difficult right today by accepting responsibility.

Peace, -Chris

What do you think?

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9 Responses to Accept Responsibility

  1. healingInHim says:

    Thank you for this posting. Encouraging men to accept responsibility is so vital.
    I had never thought of myself as being in an abusive marriage or relationships for that matter because the ‘c’hurch always seemed have the Scriptures in place which required me to ‘carry my cross’; be ‘more sacrificial’; ‘always forgetting and forgetting’; … After many years, my emotions and a now my health weakened. I became concerned as I found myself becoming more defensive.
    Thankfully, over the past year, the Lord finally guided me to ministries like yours, A Cry For Justice, etc…. Leslie Vernick’s counsel also helped explain what I was playing out in ‘my behaviour’ … I was beginning to display “reactive abuse”. I was so bothered at how I was becoming hardened. I kept studying the verses on putting on the whole armour of God as I truly felt I was in a battle.
    My husband would not fully acknowledge his responsibility. He would verbally say that he knew he was responsible for the breakdown in our marriage but then he would not really do anything to change or bring healing; the trust factor was totally broken.
    We all have a responsibility for our actions, however, the downtrodden sadly appear aggressive as they attempt to survive!

    • Brenda R says:

      This is a good post. The former husband tries to act as if he is repentant and has taken responsibility, but it is only to get what he wants. When it doesn’t work he reverts back very quickly. Last week he told me that he had ran into some people from the church that I now attend without him and told them that the divorce was completely his fault. Within a 20 minute time frame it had gone from being all his fault, to it was both of us, to if I wouldn’t have done this or that he wouldn’t have done what he did. So much for taking responsibility. The whole thing was to try to get me to have dinner with him. He must think I am completely without any common sense at all. I left 13 months and 7 days ago. I am not turning back.

    • I often encounter guys who will acknowledge responsibility without accepting it. As you’ve experienced they’ll use what I call the “big buts” saying things like, “I know I should never have _______, but she pushed my buttons, or she did such and such first, or she blah blah blah. I’m happy to hear how well you’re doing and pray for continued growth. Peace.

  2. Tony says:

    Good post. Good read for abusive men to read. Keep up the good posting.

  3. HisEzer says:

    Thank you, again, Chris, for taking on areas which for so long have remained untouched in church pulpits…
    Thank you also for the correct characterization of David with Bathsheba – his abuse of power. I recently heard the story preached from the usual viewpoint – that Bathsheba was a willing adulterate participant… even to the point of claiming her grieving (2 Sam. 11:26) was all feigned just to help cover and protect David…. Ugh…

  4. Forrest says:

    Really accepting responsibility is the only way that works. Sadly, abusers don’t tend to go there. They will say the right things but won’t do them.

  5. cm says:

    I also want to thank you for your words in reference to Bathsheba’s rape. The first part of the narrative doesnt explicitly say “rape”, but what the Lord says about David’s actions through Nathan makes it clear that this was not “an adulterous affair” with a “seductive woman” who was out to “ruin a good man”. And a few minutes of thought can easily deduce that give the situation, the times, the nature of the King’s power and women’s position in society, Bathsheba actually had no possibility of turning down the King short of suicide.

  6. Karri H says:

    Fantastic! Thank you for this post…

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