Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Journey of Change-What it Looks Like

February 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Domestic Violence and Christianity

Walking out the 5 “Rs”

By Barbara Jones-Schroyer and Ty Schroyer, (Adapted  from “Changing Men, Changing Lives, A Supplement To Creating A Process of Change For Men Who Batter: The Duluth Curriculum”, Copyright © 2007)

Remorse ♦  Repentance ♦  Restitution ♦  Restoration ♦  Reconciliation

The following information on the “Rs”, we learned and adapted from the work of Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune of the Faith Trust Institute in Seattle, WA. We are deeply grateful to her.

The “journey of the 5 “Rs” is a transformative way to outline what a process of genuine change looks like in a person’s life, specifically men who have been abusive. Whenever we use the 5 “Rs” while facilitating men’s nonviolence classes, it challenges the participants to reflect upon where they are in their journey of change, if at all in a change journey.  The “Rs” provide healthy opportunities for critical reflection and dialogue for the men in class.

We also talk about the “Rs” in domestic violence trainings as a way to inform and educate Christian leaders, abused women and anyone who works with men who abuse. Christians are familiar with the words remorse, repentance, restitution, restoration and reconciliation but oftentimes they are unclear what they actually mean in regard to a perpetrator of domestic violence—especially when he says he is sorry. Having compassion for people and wanting to see individuals and families emotionally healed are basic values of Christianity; assessing whether or not what we are guiding them in is truly helpful is a different matter.

Whether you are a man struggling with abusive behaviors, a woman who is in a relationship with a controlling/abusive man, or a Christian who has been called upon to help others involved in domestic violence, we hope this model is useful to you.


Remorse in the offender is characterized by a sense of guilt or regret for wrongdoing he’s done. He may use words such as “I’m sorry”, or “I’ll never do it again” and may cry. At this beginning stage, no one knows if he is actually going to change and follow through with promises that are made. Remorse alone does not predict if a man will change his behavior, neither does it predict his motivation to do so. It should not be the ending place.


Repentance takes remorse farther. In repentance he will experience genuine  sorrow over his sinful behavior, confess it wholly, then turn 180 degrees away from it.  An abusive man will become willing to do whatever it takes to change his life.


Restitution takes repentance farther. It involves actually doing the right things emotionally, spiritually, financially and physically to begin to repair the harm done. It is characterized by humility and truth telling. This is the stage that has the potential to rebuild trust and it cannot be rushed. For example, if the abused woman wants to be separated, her husband will not fight with her about it but respect her wishes. He will pay any child support, seek help for himself, etc. He will tell others the truth about what has happened and not “spin” a deceitful story.


Restoration is an internal process of repair and healing in the formerly abusive man’s spirit and mind. As he is restored in his relationship with God and himself, he develops a sense of integrity and peace.


If both the abused woman and her partner choose to remain in the relationship, and if he has walked the above journey while continuing in a humble process of accountability and trust building, their relationship might be reconciled. Sometimes, however, the damage is too great for the battered woman and she may choose not to remain in relationship with him, even though he may be genuinely changing over a long period of time. In this case it is our job as Christians to come along side them and help them to mourn their losses.

Well meaning Christian leaders often encourage abused women to forgive and trust because he seems sorry (remorse stage), and they encourage reconciliation when no work has been done on the abuser’s part to change himself. This is potentially very dangerous for battered women and it short circuits a healthy process of true change. The best thing we can do is to help the abused woman to find safety and support, then hold the abuser accountable while assisting him to walk a genuine journey of change. (See our post “Does Forgiveness=Trust?”).

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2


One Response to “The Journey of Change-What it Looks Like”
  1. Well said, Ty and Barb! I really like the way you distinguish these five Rs.
    It is truly Biblical and recognises the deep dynamics of domestic abuse.

    As someone who has witnessed many victim of abuse be stymied by well-meaning Christians who don’t get it (about domestic abuse) your teaching is a breath of fresh air.

    And I love the freedom you give to the victim. No pressure.

    At last we are getting somewhere as Christians, in dealing with this scourge.

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