An open letter from an abusive step-dad {or any parent} asking forgiveness when he truly surrenders his heart to Love…Domestic Violence Awareness in October–Day 26


[October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. And while most abusers NEVER STOP, those that truly give their hearts to God can. These words are shared as an open letter to all of us who have been abused, for regardless of what our abusers do or do not do, we must forgive in order to be free and heal. (And if you are in an abusive situation, get out now — CALL National Domestic Violence Hotline  1-800-799-SAFE (7233) ) PLEASE SHARE THIS POST on your social media sites. It could help set someone free. Thank you.]

My dearest child,

I failed you. And I have acted wickedly for years.

Hurting you time and again with words and actions and stupid, extreme punishments that I wrongly said were God’s will.

And nothing can take back all the wrong I did.

I am so sorry. Please forgive me.

I was twisted and selfish and that’s not an excuse, but it is what it is.

And I tried to love and follow God, but didn’t do it well because in my brokenness I couldn’t grasp how very much God loves me. And without really having His love in my heart I couldn’t truly love another.

I didn’t realize how broken I am inside.

You see, I also was wounded when young. By my dad, and mom. And then by a step-dad who thankfully didn’t last too long. Just long enough to add to my messiness inside.

And I let all this pent up rage, fear, frustration, and confusion mix with alcohol and substances, and then it came out all mean and cutting.

And feeling bad and sad, I only forgot my pain when hurting someone else.

When hurting you.

I know it’s all sick and sinful, and half the time I wasn’t fully aware of how dangerous I was, and I am so ashamed of myself.

But God.

For only He can truly heal me. And you, too, my sons and my daughters.

So I have given Jesus my heart and asked Him to forgive me.

And for the first time in all my years of going to church and putting on the Sunday morning face and then coming home and acting out all crazy to you and your mom, I realize just how awful I have been to live with.

And how I have never acted in true love towards any of you.

And it didn’t matter how many Praise Gods I uttered in the pew, or scripture verses I could spout, I was nothing but a stinking, nasty mess behind closed doors.

But God.

He never wastes our hurts but uses them to make us more loving when we surrender to Him.

And somewhere mixed up inside I really did want to give you the life I never had.

One with a mom and dad in a solid marriage, loving God and each other passionately, and this providing a strong foundation that would help you grow into honorable men and women with hearts that long to be good for goodness sake.

But I didn’t hit the mark, leaving instead black and blue marks on your heart and elsewhere. Just like my dad did.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

And words from a former victim helped me see myself in the face of the abuser, God showing me how violent and abusive I have been.

I am sorry. I have been so wrong. Please forgive me.

And I know you don’t believe me today, for I have said I am sorry before, even publicly admitting to others that I can be a brute.

But this time something inside me has changed and I can’t even put words to it for it is all so new.

I know that God loves me. Really loves me. And He’s not like the god my parents threatened me with. Or I threatened you with.

How sorry I am for teaching you about God all wrong.

With more legalism than love, sharing doctrine and rules and church regulations, modeling for you the characteristics of a selfish, wounded man instead of portraying for you the sacrificial love of Christ.

His love that is unconditional and everlasting, gentle and kind, never giving up on any of us.

Because I finally get that He really loves me, my heart feels lighter, full of true love.

I have hope.

And I have forgiven my old man all the times he beat me. My mom, too, for not standing up to him, but she was afraid of him. I choose to forgive myself for hurting you, although I am working through a boat load of self-loathing right now.

But God.

And in trusting God, my heart will heal and I will keep letting go, letting Him have His way with me.

And asking God to bless those who have hurt me, and those I hurt, setting us all free with love that heals.

Big drops fall from my eyes as I write these words. My heart pierced by my sin and abusiveness towards you, my precious sons, my darling daughters.

And I promise that I am a new man in Christ and I will never again raise my hand to you, or my voice with angry hate-filled words.

I beg you to search your heart one more time.

Please consider forgiving me. And then seek God for your own healing.

And if you will, and when time and love allows me to earn your trust, I pray that we can rebuild a relationship that is really what God would have it be.

I cannot change one second of the past, but I can work hard at recovery, receiving His amazing grace every step of the way, and making our tomorrows full of love and healthy relationship.

I ask God to help you forgive me and let go, for when you do the depression, anger, resentment, fear, shame, humiliation, negativity, angry acting out, mean words, hurt feelings, isolation, lethargy, procrastination, lack of hope, will begin to lift and leave you — one day at a time.

And my words may sound trite and only time will prove them true. I provided you an early life of dysfunction, fear, extreme control and abuse. And while I remember what it was like to be scared and hurt as a kid, I don’t know what you went through in your heart of hearts during the chaos I caused.

And my remorse would drive me crazy if not for Him and I will always live with the fact that I inflicted great pain, but because of grace I will not be held back by it any longer. Instead I go forward to help others.


I am so sorry I hurt you.

Like that time on the steps out the front door, and your leg getting hurt when I shoved you.

Or that night of so many when I argued with Mom, and then ran down the hall banging on your door and waking you dazed from a sound sleep. And you so very frightened, crying “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.”

Or the time on vacation, when you were playing and didn’t come quickly enough when called and in my impatience I lifted you up over a stone wall and your tummy scraped.

Or the countless times of extreme punishment for not cleaning your rooms to rubric perfection, and me a dictator over a tiny candy wrapper found under the far side of your bed and you being made to go to sleep an hour early for a week.

Or being forced to finish a second hamburger that you really couldn’t .

Or sent out for hours in the hot sun to rake the woods and clear the back edge of the yard, with me standing over you like a prison guard seeking absolute perfection and ready to punish for anything less.

Or all those horrible words and names I called you, belittling your personhood.

Or making you sit in the punishment chair for hours over some stupid, minor infraction.

It was all so crazy and I was so crazy and I am sorry I hurt you and didn’t protect you as dads are supposed to. I was so wrong. Please forgive me.

And the worst of it was I did it in God’s name, saying that He didn’t want me to spare the rod. But God is not about punishment, but about saving us from our sins and loving us. I defiled God’s good name, pushing you away from Him who loves you best of all.

And I hurt your mom in front of your tender eyes and hearts.

Always screaming and cursing and calling her stupid, and that she must submit to me. And hitting her when she didn’t. And she was broken too, even before we married, and so afraid.

So please forgive her, too.

As a man of God, I take full responsibility for everything that happened in our home. Husbands and dads are called by God to guide their wives and children in love.

But I was such a jerk.

I modeled, son, how to hurt a woman just because a man is stronger and he can.

And I taught you, daughter, that it’s okay for you to allow a man to push you around, using and abusing you.

And then I strutted like a peacock proud when you did something wrong, condemning and judging when I had no right, and myself all the more guilty.

And Jesus, He NEVER wanted for women or children to be abused, or men.

Submission is given in love to a man who truly serves and sacrifices for his family, with love and respect a two way street. Her respecting as he loves, and him loving as she respects, and round and round a healthy cycle goes with more and more good.

And God loves men and women equally, and submission is one to the other out of reverence for Christ. And men are to be servant leaders, laying down their all for wife and family, never seeking to control just because they can wield power over those weaker or smaller.

But I was messed up, my children, and took you along for the crazy ride. And no amount of words will ever change the past.

I am so very sorry. I was so very wrong. Please forgive me.

And this dark chapter cast a shroud over your childhood, impacting your heart with wounds that will linger until handed over to Jesus for complete healing.

Wounds that can make you limp through life – living only a half life – coloring dark your world and marriages and potentially infecting your own children some day.

And only God can truly heal our hearts, using the pain of our past for good purposes.

My prayer is that you will continue to open your heart to God, thinking deep and discovering for yourself who He really is and how much He loves you and will never leave you.

And I pass along to you today some very good advice that an older and wiser man recently gave me.

***Pretend you have never heard a word about God, good or bad.

***Read the gospel of John and then the other three gospels, asking the Spirit to reveal to your hurting heart who God really is and how deeply you are loved by Him.

***Ask Him to fill your heart with healing love, really knowing Jesus.

***Then seek Him for the true purpose of your life here on earth – loving God and others with your whole heart.

As men like me lay down their lives to follow Christ truly, the terrible and repetitive cycles of abuse will end.

So I stand before God and say, “I am sorry, Lord, Forgive me. I want to change and stop abusing. Break the bad of my past with your Love.”

And I pray that no matter what you experienced growing up with me that you choose Love which sets you free to truly live the wonderful life God has planned for you.

For without forgiving you will remain a prisoner. Your life will lack, those you love will suffer, and true joy and peace will be elusive.

You, my sons, and you my sweet daughters, are wonderful and amazing and God has great, good plans for your life. I love you, my children as never before. Thank you for forgiving me.

Now go BE FREE in Him who died for you and bless others with the gift that is YOU.

Your very sorry dad

[October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. And while most abusers NEVER STOP, those that truly give their hearts to God can. These words are shared as an open letter to all of us who have been abused, for regardless of what our abusers do or do not do, we must forgive in order to be free and heal. (And if you are in an abusive situation, get out now — CALL National Domestic Violence Hotline  1-800-799-SAFE (7233) ) PLEASE SHARE THIS POST on your social media sites. It could help set someone free. Thank you.]



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11 thoughts on “An open letter from an abusive step-dad {or any parent} asking forgiveness when he truly surrenders his heart to Love…Domestic Violence Awareness in October–Day 26

  1. Shelia~
    I have so enjoyed and benefited from your First Comes Love Series. Sorry I’ve not commented….I love getting your posts in my inbox; They a re always a treat…….This post is esp moving and I am so touched by you reaching out to others who need help and a way out.
    My husband grew up in an brutally abusive household and I never understood why his mother did not get out . I understand that she probably defended her husband and hoped that he would change…..apparently he told her he would many times and never did. This WAS 50 years ago and I know that there were not places for families to run to then either….also, not being in that situation, I can’t know how she felt actually……Honestly, there are times when my dh’s temper flares,, as it does in all of us but he has never become abusive….he has had counseling but not until adulthood. I hate to say it but everyone reveres my mother in law ( I never met her…she died 10 years before I met my husband) as a saint and a wonderful person but I can’t help questioning why on earth she did nothing to protect her kids for all those years – I know that’s a terribly judgmental way to be, esp not being in her situation. I ONCE questioned my husb abt it and he said, “You wouldn’t understand growing up in the perfect family.”
    Well, very far from perfect, but not abusive…he shut me down b.c any mention of his mom not stepping up to be proactive puts him on the defensive….

    Thank you, Shelia, for this honest insight and I look forward to more posts! I’ve not blogged in a while, haven’t been feeling all that well and in fact was in the hops for part of the week but I’m on the road to recovery.

    God bless

    • Oh Chris…thank you for the kind words re the series. So glad they are a benefit. And I am sorry you are unwell, but glad you are home now. Will be praying for continued good health. I have some thoughts to share on your husband’s family situation, but don’t have the time this morning. But I will get back later. Heart healing for all of us is such a passion of mine. Healing and setting free and going on to live the life God has for us. Anyway, I have prayed for your hubby and you, and will talk with you later. Blessings, my sweet friend.

    • Hello again Chris…hope you are continuing on the mend. Getting back to your comment,I agree with your husband…unless you grew up in a situation like he and I apparently did you really can’t understand the dynamics of the dysfunctional home. And how family members do whatever it takes just to survive. And it’s so very scary all of the time and no one is thinking straight. I have great aunts who stayed and stayed with their abusive alcoholic husbands until they died, and he went on living. In that generation there wasn’t the help or openness we have today. And still today abuse is felt as shame and victims can have a very hard time speaking out. I kept quiet for a long time for a number of reasons, primarily not trusting or knowing God as I should. Your hubby was wounded greatly as a little boy watching his mom be abused. The fact you have a viable marriage is a miracle. Pray for his heart healing. 🙂 I attend an Adult Child of Alcoholics group and find healing and serenity there. Perhaps he might too someday…I hope these humble words help in some small way, giving a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors in an abusive home. Thanks again for stopping by and feel better!!!

      • Shelia,
        Thanks for taking the time to reply….
        The Adult Child of Alcoholics program sounds like just the answer …I brought up the fact that he might want to attend a support group of some sort a long time ago when his father died….( he and his father were estranged for many years—his father’s doing, not my husband’s—- and when he found out his father was dying 10 years ago he went to see him and take care of him) I found the whole thing shocking and was very unsupportive for a time….my Mom, who is deceased now, told me to back off that I really had no idea , nor did she, but she did know about his background, what he needed to do to heal, make amends, etc, etc…… When I brought up something like the prog you mentioned…someone told me about it years ago, he poo poo-ed it.
        When our kids ask him ques about his fam growing up, he tells them only bits of info and I wonder if that prog you suggest is the key? If he goes, he might learn how to tell his own kids about abuse and alcoholism and maybe how to channel his own irrational temper at times instead of retreating….but you’re right, it’s amazing that he has not continued the cycle…He is always aware of alcohol…never has any…very afraid to become an alcoholic. and has told our kids that his father was an alcoholic but he never told them abt the abuse….
        He can also spot ppl he feels w/o a doubt are alcoholics, after getting to know them even slightly, “the alcoholic personality” he calls it. And when we get to know them more, we find out, sadly, that he is right.
        Sheila, thank you for being there for me to discuss this with,,,,,it has become a very small almost nonexistent part of our lives but reading this series has awakened in me the fact that my husband would benefit from this program and from being open with the boys about this part of life.

        The sad thing, which literally brought tears to my eyes is your post a few days ago I think, that had a picture which read “Someone you know needs help.” oh my gosh, how haunting.You just don’t know what ppl are going thru and how you should be there for them.

        Now, I need to get set up to do a few, fun Halloweeni-ish math and etc activities today before we go T and T-ing. Not sure when they will say they are too “old” to go but they’re still wanting it.

        Be well and God bless, friend! Thank you for being there.


        • You are very welcome, Chris. If you would like to continue this conversation in a less public venue please email me at Sheila at Longings End dot com. No one person can tell another what type of healing they need. We each must come to the conclusion as we are lead by God on our individual healing path. Pray for God to speak to your spouse about what he may or may not need for his heart to heal. As wives we can so often feel we know what is best for the husband…and I do that too…but really Father knows better than we. Enjoy the afternoon with your boys. My three sons are now all grown and trick or treating together is a distant memory although here is a post with some pictures…

  2. Dear Sheila
    What an excellent post on true repentance! I have read a quote some time ago that man never does evil so cheerfully than when they do it from a religious conviction. And this submission kind of thing gets preached from the pulpit so often by men who conveniently leave out the part that a husband is supposed to love his wife the way that a Jesus loves His church. I have also been hurt by this lie very, very much and before my husband came to Jesus, I also suffered terribly from verbal and emotional abuse. He also neglected my children and me very much. But praise be to God, He changed my husband completely.
    Blessings XX

    • Mia…I am so thankful that your husband’s heart softened to God and he was one of the very few men who truly leave behind their abusive ways. May God continue the healing between you too and he sounds like a dear heart, the way you speak of him caring for you. And YES…the LIE of submission is propagated in churches that are not teaching truth, and it gives God the bad rap and turns people away from a relationship with the One who loves them best of all. Blessings…xxoo

  3. What a heartfelt and touching post- only God can make changes in our hearts. Only God can set us free to forgive. Only God.

    I know someone I’m going to forward this post to.

    God bless.