No, not that one…Forgiveness. It’s a touchy subject for many who have been abused.
We hear it from both religious and secular sides. “You need to forgive your abuser“. “True healing and/or salvation will elude you if you don’t forgive“. This recent post on Facebook received over 1,600 comments.
First, there’s an ongoing debate over what forgiveness exactly means. For some, it means reconciling. For others, it means letting go of anger and bitterness. For a few, it means absolving the other person.
Many Christians are fond of quoting the Bible on the topic of forgiveness. Interestingly, most Biblical commandments to forgive others are actually directing wealthy people to forgive the monetary debts that people can’t possibly pay back, not telling the abused and oppressed that they need to forgive the abusers.
So, I don’t believe that forgiveness is a pre-requisite to healing. And, I don’t think that I have any moral or spiritual obligation to forgive my abuser. I think we can all heal without forgiving.
Having said all that, I want to add that I think forgiveness (defined here as letting go of the pain and bitterness) is the natural, eventual, wonderful outcome of healing. My advice is to forget about forgiveness and focus on healing. Learn to love and protect yourself. Reach out to other survivors. Tell your story, with all its anger and bitterness so that others will know that they are not alone.
And forgiveness will find you in its own time.