Oct
28

Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant

By

Forgive the abusers?

A whole book could be written about this subject. There is so much “baggage” around the whole concept of forgiveness that I hesitate to even go there, however…. there have been a few discussions lately on the facebook page for Emerging from Broken; some to do with my last post “Emotional Healing and the Will to go forward” and it is time for me to post just a little bit about this huge topic for forgiveness. Please remember that this is just one blog post. One little snapshot of truth; one little view in to a very large subject. 

  • First, a note about blame: In my view, blame is about placing the responsibility for the trauma where it belongs. In my recovery, blame was necessary and part of the natural progression on the journey to wholeness. I am not suggesting that we need to stay in the emotional part of blame forever, just that it is an important stepping stone in this process of emerging from broken.

So, fasten your seatbelts because I feel a rant coming on. I hope that you will join in and express your own feelings about the kind of invalidation that we and so many others have suffered.

Forgiveness; What I am suggesting is that we are taught to skip a step in the whole forgiveness arena. We are told to forgive before we are even validated that we have something to forgive.  Some examples of this are when we have been abused emotionally, physically or sexually; (abuse is abuse) and we are ignored, not heard, discounted, not given a voice. Our trauma and our grievance is invalidated.  I have heard people told in for example, church situations that they must not take an accusation outside of the church but that it must be settled in the church ~  and then the situation is swept under the carpet. These are just a few of the stories that I hear over and over again; I have heard wives told that they are being beaten by husbands because they have failed to submit. I have heard of wives who have been raped by spouses being told that it is not rape and that it is a husbands right. I have been told when a husband is cheating sexually that it must have something to do with the wife not meeting his needs. This is all abuse. And then these same abused people are told to “get over it already” and that they “must forgive” Something foundational is missing in the forgiveness advice. These people were invalidated by the abuser and then re-invalidated by the ones they sought help from. And this is not at all unique to the church. I am just using that example because it seems like most of the people that tell me to “just forgive” come from that background.

Children are equally devalued. As children, IF we even realize that it is wrong to be called dumb, stupid and useless, IF we even realize that being beaten on a whim or because someone else is in a bad mood is wrong; IF we somehow figure out that adults having sexual relations of any kind with children is illegal, and IF that victim child tells and is ignored, called a liar, OR anything else other than protected and validated, then the child has an extra layer of abuse to deal with. When this child grows up IF they ever disclose the abuse, they are SO OFTEN met with more invalidation and unhelpful instruction such as “you must forgive”.

Are you getting the picture about why so many people DON’T tell? Many keep the secret in the dark recesses of their minds ~ so convinced that the guilt and shame are theirs to bear and that they must have somehow deserved this kind of mistreatment and added on to that is the whole insistence that forgiveness is the only answer which makes many of us reluctant to disclose abuse least we be seen as unforgiving!  

SO let’s just say we finally DO talk about it and then we are told to jump ahead to forgiveness. HOW the heck is that supposed to be possible?   This ticks me off. It isn’t possible to “just get over it and forgive”. I tried it for years! It didn’t work this way for me.

When we are encouraged to try to understand the abuser, it is worse. Why should we try to understand something so incomprehensible? WHY do we need to understand them when we have not been encouraged to understand our own feelings yet? This is so backwards. I spent years trying to understand them, even fooling myself that I did understand, and that I did forgive, and looking back I realize that in doing that before I even validated myself and the abuse that I survived, I became my own abuser. I became the one who discounted myself, picking up where they left off… oh it is so twisted how this all works.

I was told that forgiveness was for me, and had nothing to do with the other person, but I was told that as though forgiveness was just an easy choice. No one offered me any assistance on HOW to do it. (just do it ~ duh)

So why all the panic about forgiveness in the first place? This is a HOT topic all over the place. I had to stop and think about that one; right off the top of my head; I had this idea that if I suddenly died, and I had not forgiven (my abusers and oppressors whom I didn’t even realize were abusers until much later) that I would instantly be cast into Hell.  I think that was where my desperation to “forgive” came from. I had this anxiety about it and today I don’t believe that anymore; I see it as ridiculous.

So my point is not to put the blame where it belongs in order to stay there in that anger or resentment, but rather as a stepping stone to healing. I have no resentment anymore. I am not angry about my past because I have worked my way through it. But I HAD to go through the stage where I was really angry, and where I did not think forgiveness would ever be possible or necessary. I had to give myself permission to be angry, permission to speak, to have a voice, to vent and rage and FEEL all the emotions that I was not allowed to feel before as a victim.

Forgiveness for me came as a result of the work I did for ME. It came as an unexpected bonus ~ it was something that I didn’t consciously “work on” and I actually put the whole concept of forgiveness aside and tried not to think about it when I was in the depth of my process. Not forgiving had its own guilt and shame attached to it…none of which was MINE and in the healing process I had to get a really good grasp of what was mine to deal with and what wasn’t. 

It is with mixed emotions that I hit the publish button on this ~ for the most part “unedited” rant.

Love is my biggest motivator..

Darlene Ouimet 

One of my readers sent me this great video by ex-psychotherapist, Daniel Mackler  on You Tube, about this subject of forgiveness.

Related post: What about forgiveness?

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness

248 Comments

1

[...] Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant [...]

2

Amen, sista. What you said. This is what I’ve tried to communicate in a few recent posts, but I think you say it so beautifully. Mercies to you and your healing and blessings on your brave, brave soul!

3

Darlene,

I guess I should read the rant first. However, the title alone brings something up for me. Simply the answer for me is clear. NO, Never. I cannot and will not ever forgive people who have hurt me or my daughter. They are not deserving of my forgiveness. I know people say forgiveness is for yourself but my heart tells me it is not my place to forgive such horrific events. I think the people who do these atrocious things to others should suffer in their own hell of sorts. I have so much anger when society or people in general imply that the victim should forgive the abuser. It is like a group mentality of people protecting the abuser and brainwashing the victim into believing that they should be the “saint” and forgive others for raping and using them as a doormat. That is bullshit and I don’t buy it and there you have my rant :)

4

Jenny,
I think you might find comfort in my rant then! LOL I hope you end up reading.. but you know I understand ~ I have had 3 emails from people in this last half hour telling me they are afraid to read the post! (afraid that I am going to lecture them that the should forgive perhaps? That same old lecture that we were all brainwashed with?… well not me! =) So glad that you posted Jenny, AND that you admitted you had not read the rant yet! LOVE IT.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Amy,
There must be a forgiveness thing going around in the air or something! Thank you for your encouragement Amy!
Hugs, Darlene

5

I’m all too familiar with the “Just get over it” ACCKKKK!! Or rather … GRRRRR! :) No one in my family gets it. Of course, no one even wants to listen as to why I can’t ‘just get over it.’ It makes me angry that I am not heard – and I’m not the one whose a habitual liar. Go figure.

Forgiveness in the sense of not holding a grudge or desiring revenge is the forgiveness I gave, as my abuser is not someone who would ever repent, much less that merely admit what she did. She is convinced in her own mind that she’s done nothing wrong. It doesn’t surprise me at all.

It took several years for me to finally let go, or so I thought until two months ago. When I learned the characteristics of a narcissistic mother is when I could finally let go completely and wholeheartedly. Narcissism is a condition of someone’s soul and I know now for sure that her abusing me is not my fault. It’s not my guilt and shame to carry. It should be hers if she knew that how she’s treated me was wrong and abusive.

I choose to step into my life without the guilt and shame of the abuse. I am amazed at how often victims will carry the shame of their abusers, and its sad as its not ours to carry.

6

Darlene,

I have forgiven some of my abusers, but not all. But, it has taken me years to do it. I needed to heal me first and like you said, validate me. But I had to validate my abuse with each one individually. It’s not a package deal where we can just say, I forgive them. No, it was one at a time and it was when I was ready. Not to erase blame, but because I had no more bitterness toward them. I dealt with the anger and the whys and why nots of how their abuse affected my life. I dealt with what was taken from me and what I took from them.

I have one more to forgive, if I do and feel the need to. I am not afraid to say that I am still bitter about him. I am still ticked and angry and upset. He is the one who molested my children. There is more to deal with concerning him, because as he was making me feel like I had no worth, he was sexually abusing them. When I was at the hospital fighting for my daughters life of leukemia, he was home sexually assaulting my children. you bet I am bitter. And that is ok. Although others tell me that I need to forgive and that I have bitterness….. I don’t make up excuses, I tell them the truth. I am bitter and I am still angry. And that is ok.

I hope your blog brings the message to everyone, that it is ok if you don’t forgive or if you aren’t ready to forgive. Quit allowing forgiveness as a weapon to abuse yourself. Quit beating yourself up. Let it go and if the time is right, let it happen.

I’m proud of you… You are a brave woman tackling this, but it is needed and much appreciated.

(((hugs)))

7

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Darlene Ouimet, beverly jackson. beverly jackson said: RT @DarleneOuimet: Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant (also highlighting blame as a neccessary key to healing) http://t.co/5eO9rqx [...]

8

This is very good of course I had to comment!:) Just to be helpful to those who are struggling with this the entire issue of family dynamics forgiveness what it really means and how to truly forgive an abuser and what that means and how it actually looks in reality which is sometimes cutting ties it is addressed in the Book Bold Love. Every thought expressed in the blog is in the book by Dan Allender.
http://www.amazon.com/Bold-Love-Dan-Allender-Ph-D/dp/0891097031

I give it to all who have a warped twisted view of forgiveness. Not everybody gets it or wants to get it though. But I 100% agree with you Darlene!

NOTE from Darlene:
Readers; I do not agree that every thought in this blog is expressed in the book by Dan Allender and I do not endorse his work.

9

When I first opened this blog to read it I broke down in tears and immediatly shut off my comuter bc I felt fear and blame. I’m really going on a limb in sharing my experience of forgiveness…it is still so raw and real in my life right now and this is why. I was so badly abused from as early as a baby. My mother, oldest brother and grandfather that lived with us all abused me sexually, physically and emotionally everyday of my childhood. This went on for years up until I was 13. There were some other extended family that sexually abused me as well. I was always told by my abusers “DO NOT TELL” folling with if you tell I’ll kill you, they will never believe you, and YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGIVEN. To make a very long painful story short when the abuse did come out it was done in a very wronful way. My parents did not believe me and my mother who KNEW she was abusing me and that my brother was abusing humiliated me. She called me fucking liar and said many hurtful thibngs. I will never forget the day I told. I was brutally beaten by my parents. They made me get pull my pants down and whipped me several times on my bottom leaving welts on me. My mother punched me in the face giving me a busted lip and through me up against the wall. Threatening me that if I ever made up nonsense like this again that she would kill me. I will never forget this night. It feels so real to this day. I had to go to school pretending that I was a liar and that no one would believe me and I felt so guilty. I began to think, it is my fault. I turned all the hate anger towards myself and became my own abuser to me. I just picked up where they left off. Once the abuse was out, DHR got involved but I had to lie straight to there faces…my parents were sitting at the kitchen table with me. I was terrified! DHR fucking DID NOTHING!!!!!!!! They could see the damn bruises, busted lip, tears filling my eyes and they DID NOTHING! My parents were told that I was to never be left alone with my grandfather. That was bullshit! My mother would purposely leave me with him, take his laundry to him, bring food to him knowing in her twisted fucked mind that these were opportuniy’s for him to abuse me. She not only contined to abuse me but allowed it to go on in my family. It did one day come to a stop…a year and half later. (that’s a whole other fucked story!) I have carried all this for so many years…now in my 30′s for the first time working through all this. It’s painful, it’s so painful…I still cry myself to sleep many nights. Being told over and over that I was a liar, no one would ever believe me, I will die in hell for what I did….this is what I today have to work through! Forgiveness for me….one day may or may not happen. I can’t even imagine it right now. I still have too much damn hate and anger that I’m in the process of working through. Slowly healing my cold, black heart.

10

Darlene,

Just read it…Bravo!!! Again you are so right on when you say forgiveness comes as a byproduct of healing you. I get that. I just haven’t hit that point yet. I am still mad as hell…it brings to mind a scene from the movie Forrest Gump when Jenny is throwing rocks at that house of hell from her past. I actually have a hard time watching that part, it is very triggering for me. I also have a house in town I would love to just burn down. I will hopefully overcome the trauma someday….I truly aspire to one day be where you are…hugs.

11

Same feelings as yesterday. lol. Forgiveness in the realm of being related to the abuse in anyway still brings on a surge of anger even though I have done much work on the anger/rage. My peace comes with believing anyone who hurt us will be dealt with after death.

12

What really pisses me off is that my brother who raped me my entire childhood…moved on. Never got help, My parent’s worship the damn ground he walks on!!!!!! It’s always, Mike this, Mike that. I lived years with them not giving a shit about me but praising him everyday. He got married and has two little girls the exact same age as mine. I learned a year and half ago that he was abusing his daughters. He is in prison now where the ASSWHOLE should have been a long ass time ago! I’m still not believed and are begged to forgive! Fuck that!

13

Darlene,
I love how you explained blame. I was pressured by others and my myself to forgive and had the false belief that forgiveness meant that I couldn’t blame my abusers. That left ME with the blame and I acted out the punishment on myself that I thought THEY deserved. I had no idea at the time that I was doing that, but I acted in for years until I finally faced the truth and placed the responsibility where it belongs. Thanks for ranting! So much good stuff comes out of that! Hugs, Christina

14

LOVE this!! HATED hearing this for so long, all the crap about forgiveness, which they don’t know anything about because they haven’t been through it. You are the only one who knows the sorrows of your own heart, anyway. “Forgive” in other words, “be perfect” is an abuse tactic to shut you up and keep you in line.

15

Hey Darlene–My opinion here will be no surprise I’m sure. It has taken nearly 15 years in therapy to get that I have the right to be angry as hell about my childhood. I despise the notion that I’m somehow never going to heal until I have “forgiven” my pedophile’s and mother’s abuses. My therapist said to memthe other day “how in god’s name could anybody forgive the shit that you went through?”. I said something like well how else can I get over it and she said that there is no “getting over”. That there is only healing. She also reminded memthe my healing pah is mine, nobody else’s.

I

16

blame and responsibility go together! Christina, loved you comments!!

17

getting over and healing are not the same thing. Interesting how many twists of language there are to further the abuse

18

Sorry iPhone acting up. I can say that if this is Important to someone else more power to them. But as for me, I don’t see it. And some things just shouldn’t be forgiven. Certainly he was one sick fuck and thru my Buddhist path I have compassion for his soul. But frankly I am way too busy forgiving myself. Good one here

19

Kathy,
your heart is not black or cold, (I haven’t been through what you have been through and I don’t know what you mean by cold and black) but you sound to me like you are alive, amazingly so, and thriving…keep going, just the way that works for you…

20

Kathy,

I have yet to read your entire entry but I applaud you for speaking out. Your courage is inspiring.

21

Thank you Patty,
for your encouragement and for your contribution to this post. Yes it is okay not to forgive. I spent way too much time thinking about it in the past in the first place, energy that could have been used on healing! I also want to say thanks for highlighting the point about each abuse has a separate forgiveness issue. Yes… it isn’t all one lump thing ~ I had to validate each abuse too, and look at the healing that way.
Hugs!

Hi Kathy,
Thank you for your willingness to share your pain. Your story is a tragic one and unfortunately, so many can relate to it. When we have been used, abused and disregarded for so long, it is very hard for us to validate ourselves ~ and that is what we have to do, and that is what you are doing by sharing your story.
Be gentle with yourself and I applaud you for coming back and reading this post!
Hugs, Darlene

Yeah Jenny!!
Glad you came back! Being “mad as hell” is just FINE and in my opinion, a necessary stage to healing! It is real and real is truth and the truth will set you free. !!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Christina,
How fun to share this forgiveness rant platform with a post from you on your blog today! Good point about acting out the punishment on yourself that you thought THEY deserved. Very nice point!
Hugs, Darlene

22

I had to walk away from this article for a while because when I read the thing about children and IF they even know that it is wrong to be called dumb and stupid, etc., well that got to me because my mother told me that I was stupid, didn’t have a brain, and could not learn…in the “end” I home schooled my four children (which I never should have been able to have since I had severe PID and std’s with my one and only) and my firstborn was National Merit Winner, yeah, that was a real boost for me, the one without a brain.

And last year, my naturopath told me that my body chemistry was right for producing a brain tumor, and that they don’t usually see chemistry that messed up unless a person has been tramatized. Imagine. Yeah. I now have a husband who listens to everything about my life and provides for me so that I have reversed that bad body chemistry with nutrition. I am healing.

23

That part got to me too! My mother never called me by my name…I was referred to as her bitch. I have carried her emotional abuse for so long and it really eats me up inside! Darlene, I’m glad you said that it’s okay if we never get to a point where we can forgive. How could I? Why would I? Do I want these asswholes to have control over me anymore…NO…I was told that in order to fully heal you have to forgive. That just does not add up to me! The only control I have over my abuser’s is NOT forgiving them. They could care less anyway’s if I did or if I didn’t. What is the basic reason for forgiving? So, I won’t die and go to Hell? That’s what they taught me and I hate that I feel the pressure to forgive such wrongfulness. They are NOT deserving of anything from me, not even forgiveness!

24

Kathy,
I think that forgiveness only makes sense when it is being requested. No one is genuinely asking for your forgivenes.. I think that the Bible’s admonitions to forgive are in that context. In other words, I think that the bible is saying, “Don’t be abusive to others by not forgiving when they are repenting of their sin.” The larger context is recognizing abusive and healthy relationships and knowing how to function in or out of each. Many, many people take all the Bible’s admonitions and assume that all relationships are healthy, (they deny the existence of abusive relationships).

25

thank you for posting this article and also the link. This is a God send..

26

Sheryl, you have got to be kidding me. Are you saying (in ur last comment to Kathy) that per The Bible all my pedophileof ten years had to do was to say gosh I’m sorry? Of whatever sorry form that you imagine as truly repentant? That by not forgiving him I am being abusive? How dare you. Compassion for this kind of Bible thumping is dangerous and directly harmful to millions of people.

27

Splinty,
In my opinion what Sheryl is saying is that Repentance is different then just saying sorry. There is no bible thumping going on here, that I can see.
Not forgiving is a valid choice, and it is not abusive to not forgive. I took this a whole different way then you did.
I realize that this is a very sensitive subject.
Hugs, Darlene

28

Seriously Sheryl? Are you telling me that I’m being abusive by not forgiving? Forgiveness is a choice and not one I could possibly be condemed of whether I do or don’t forgive. I know the bible preaches on this but do they refer to sexual abuse and how it takes a whole different meaning! I can forgive my friends and own family…it’s a daily thing, but when we are talking about those that have so wrongfully hurt us. The message’s I was taught were wrong! I just got that…but it’s MY CHOICE what I do in result of forgiveness and that is NOT in any way a abusive act on my part!

29

Kathy and Splintered ones and all the readers.
Sheryl is NOT saying what you think she is saying!
Please RE-read her comment in the loving way in which she has presented it. There is a difference between GENUINE REPENTANCE and just saying “I’m sorry” and NO ONE is repenting in your situation Kathy. Nobody is repenting in your life or about your abuse. This is a really big misunderstanding that I encourage everyone to take a step back from and re think your reactions.
Hugs, Darlene

30

This is not meant to weigh anyone down with anymore burdens nor am I trying to be religious about this but instead I just wanted to share about my own journey.. (and please understand when I use words like “we .. our” etc. it is my way of conveying what I am talking about not to lay anything upon anyone)

This is a very weighty topic simply because Forgiveness is an individual choice and should never be used as a means to manipulate a person nor demand them to comply too. As you said there is a huge step that is totally missed when we are demanded to forgive in such a manner.. however we must not forsake forgiveness in this process for without it we are left in unresolved bitterness and forgiveness does come about during the process but just as we can’t force ourselves to love someone (for love is to be pure and true not faked) neither can we force ourselves to forgive in such like manner.

I read an article that has been insightful and helpful to me about the process of forgiveness. Though the ending of this article doesn’t always happen this way yet the reality is that when we do go through this process then the one who has abused us God can deal with, it is left up to them if they allow themselves to see the truth about what they have done the link to the article is http://www.gotquestions.org/honor-abusive-parent.html the title of the article ask a question “How do we honor abusive parent/s?”

here is a part of that article that truly helped me
“There is no need to be afraid to admit to God a total inability to forgive because it seems to us to come under the heading of sin. It is true that unforgiveness is sin, but that is only deliberate unforgiveness, where we have set our hearts like flint and vowed that never again will we ever consider forgiveness for those who have hurt us so badly. A child of God going to his Father for help with something he cannot do for himself will find not an angry, threatening God with a big stick waiting for him, but a Father who has only a heart full of overwhelming love, compassion, mercy and a desire to help.”

In my own situation the abuse that was done to me lead me to believe that God was the same way as my abuser/s so it has been hard for me to go to God. But what I have realized is that my perception of who God is was based upon only a human perception, God can not be compared to any of us in this manner whatsoever. In truth it has been hard for me period to forgive. I could not do this alone and anyone demanding me to forgive was a total insult to me in many ways. The problem with those who demand us to forgive leave out or dont realize that forgiveness of such like abuse is not often a simple matter of “Just get over it” there is no such thing as “Just get over it” when we have been through such abuse. However we do need help in being able to work through it because often we are met with the inability to forgive our abuser, and in times past I pretty much marked myself as hopeless in this area however I did not quiet understand that I could go to the Lord for His help in such matters.

Did forgiveness happen over night for me? I wish that it did because honestly the anger and deep bitterness within me was suffocating me to death literally. It was as though I was grieving myself to death.

Another thing to we cant honestly forgive unless we are willing to honestly deal with what has happened otherwise we are living in denial. We must first realize that we have a reason to forgive often we are convinced that we deserved the treatment we received thus jumping to forgiveness when we are not validated in our own feelings to what has been done is like having a screen door on a submarine in other words it just doesn’t make sense. Just as you said about being told to forgive when we have not been validated for something to forgive. (thus this does leave out a huge step in the process)

For those who tell us not to talk about it have no concept to the reality of the need we do have to confess such things. When we don’t talk about it we are not dealing with it. Whether we choose to talk about with God alone or God and a therapist/counselor, or a trusted friend is our choice however if we don’t include God in this process we will be stumped on how to resolve this matter. Simply because we can’t do this on our own strength. When we work through our emotions in honesty whether it is anger, rage, etc. then yes we can come to a point of healing but healing in of itself is not something we manifest from a feel good philosophy this also includes just memorizing scripture yet not seeking God in the process instead it has to take God who is capable of healing us within. I had to learn this the hard way. I tried every venue that is out there except actually going to God over this matter. Oh I had people who prayed for me to be helped but I would not go to God on my own and that right there left me defeated within myself in many ways because I was not dealing with the anger and fear rightly within myself neither was I helping myself. The one thing I know about God is He is big enough to handle our anger. A huge part of my anger was at God. And I have been going through the process within myself to express to Him why I was angry with Him, with each confession of this I have gain ground in my own healing and in my own life.

Understanding why our abusers did what they did may help to some degree though it doesn’t excuse anyone from abusing another person. The only understanding that we can gather from that is to realize that they themselves obviously did not deal with their own abuse and in turn repeated the actions thereof or they chose to abuse us for whatever reason or purpose. Anytime we don’t deal with such things we are liable to repeat the process. In other thing about understanding why someone abused us is to be able to see that they are human just like we are. Just as we have been made to feel demonized about speaking the truth what I have realized in myself is I as demonizing those who abused me when I don’t see them for who they really are. Don’t get me wrong what they did was totally wrong it was evil however by demonizing someone we are taking away their own accountability as a human being and creating a whole new set of problems. Many don’t want to see their abuser as humans because then we feel as though we sympathize with our abuser/s truth is realizing that our abusers are human beings helps us to see the reality much clearer. When we put people in the right perspective we are able to see them for them and to see God for who He is which puts a whole new light on the situation. I try to avoid demonizing anyone no matter the situation simply because of this. Plus this keeps me from doing the very thing I despise others to do to me an that is to have a judgmental attitude. Judgmental attitudes never just stop at the one we have judged but we judge life through that lens.

Just like you said Darlene “I spent years trying to understand them, even fooling myself that I did understand, and that I did forgive, and looking back I realize that in doing that before I even validated myself and the abuse that I survived, I became my own abuser.”

This happened to me as well. I was putting the cart before the horse. I was trying to take on the sins of others and I could not I can only answer for my own actions not theirs.

Another misconception about forgiveness is really honestly its not all about our feelings. This is why when we go through the process of dealing with our emotions that we do find ourselves being able to let go, simply because as long as we think that forgiveness is based upon only our emotions then it is easy to stay stuck in the anger and bitterness mode. It becomes a viscous cycle. Each time I have had those deep boiling anguishing emotions to come up I have had to reach out to the Lord to help me otherwise I would have continued to drown in them. This doesn’t mean that I pushed or suppressed my emotions it means I expressed them, I got down to business about them. often times when I would hear about going to the Lord over such matters I assumed that I could not go to Him with all this junk in me that I had to put on a show for Him too or else He would not accept me. Simply because I did not realize that He was not like we humans are, instead He desires honesty from our inner self and if that honesty is anger, rage, bitterness then who else better can we go to but Him.

However what I have learned about leaving issues unresolved is that they do become monsters within us and though we try to hide them they come out in our actions and in the way we view life in general. Often those of us who have been abused has a lot of repressed anger that doesn’t come boiling out all at once but in different phases of the journey and thank God for that because if my anger had of come boiling out all at once I would have exploded like a bomb literally and at times I thought I would. However with each phase of this I have been able to bring up certain events and deal with them rightly.

Another thing the only thing that sends any one to hell is not accepting salvation. Yes it is a sin to not deliberately forgive however God’s grace through Christ covers our sins. There is a huge difference in relationship with God and fellowship with God. Just as we may be related to those who abused us yet we may not have fellowship with them but that doesn’t mean we have fallen out of relationship to them (we are still related to them even if we deny that) when we deliberately live in unforgiveness we do fall out of fellowship with the Lord but not relationship .. when we can’t HE can ..

I wont ever forget the story I read about the little missionary lady Corrie Ten Boom who survived the Nazi concentration camp in Germany in WWII .. it was after the war had ended and she was pretty much the only one left of her family because the rest were murdered by the Nazi’s she had devoted her life to going around sharing the love of Christ with people and the story of how God had not forsaken her in the midst of the most darkest place of her life inside that concentration camp. At one such event after she spoke a man came up to her and identified himself as the head commanding general of the concentration camp she had been held captive in. At first she was taken a back almost repulsed however the man continued to explain that he had truly changed that he had accepted the Lord into his life and that he was seeking her forgiveness for the wrong he had done to her and her sister and the many women in that concentration camp. Corrie ten boom said that at that moment she could not fathom forgiveness. The man even offered her his hand with tears in his eyes and still she could not of herself grab a hold of his hand. The only thing she could do at that point was to call upon Jesus .. She said “Jesus I can’t do this you are going to have to help me because I can’t” after she pleaded her cause silently to the Lord the wounded part of heart that kept her from reaching for that man’s hand seem to let up and before it was all said and done her and that ex-nazi commander who had seen to the death of many women in that concentration camp including her own sister were hugging and crying. This may sound crazy I know, when I read it I thought to myself how on earth?? But what I do know is when we seek God’s help over these things then yes we can heal and even get to the point that our bitterness, resentment, and anger don’t plague us.

A verse that is very dear to me is found in Hebrews 4 verse 15

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but with no sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

31

Sheryl, I apologize. I see now what you were saying. This blog just really stirred up some emotions and I had some misplace anger. I recongize that now…

32

Kathy and Splinteredones,
Uh, yeah, the emotions can be really intense…for me, too, makes it hard to keep very many thoughts together when writing, and stuff can get all confused!
let’s see, I was trying to say that the only way I can see to take the Bible’s admonition to forgive, “or your Father in Heaven will not forgie you” you know, that type of thinking, the only way it makes sense is in a situation when someone who sinned against you comes to you and actually tells you that they sinned, STOPS sinning against you (the word sin could be exchanged to abuse, or whatever) and asks you to forgive them. I will admit, I do not know if this has EVER happened to me, so not a very common occurance. The kinds of details that would comprise an exchange like this are spelled out in detail in Chapter 14 of Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He DO That? on abusive men. It can happen, but it is not very often. But in the event that a person truly does ASK for forgiveness, I think God wanted us to not be abusive, by not forgiving , to someone who is truly repentant, not just in words, but in actions as well.

Yes, the emotional roller coatser can be overwheloming and I do not do a good job of writing to explain myself. I am thinking that when I am in my fifties, it should get better from what I understand about the phases of life.

Hope that helps!!

33

The word forgiveness really makes me angry. I keep coming back to this blog bc this is just what I need. I remember laying on the bed as my brother and his friends were taking turns raping me and laughing as if it was a big joke, and in the back of my mind I said God please forgive me. That’s SICK! I was so manipulated that I did what they wanted, believe there lies and accuse myself. Going to school as a adolescent carrying these secrets thinking in my head that I deserved every bit of what was done to me destroyed me! ( I am really feeling this right now, crying as I type.) I tried taking my own life several times. It just got so over bearing I couldn’t and didn’t want to face another day. How in the world I got through all that is beyond me. That part is blank. Funny, that I remember the bad things but can not recall a single good thing. What was it I did to survive? I ask myself this question all the time.

34

And some situations can be so devastating that to “forgive a repentant person” in one situation could look quite different than it might in another situation. No one can tell you what the forgiveness should look like in your own situation, if their is forgiveness at all.

35

Kathy,
I hate the word, too, and am sorry to bring it up in relation to your situation. I only mentioned the viewpoint to try to put “forgiveness” in its place, so to speak, as the theory comes out of the mouths of the ignorant. Forgiveness only belongs where it is working, not where it doesn’t work.

36

Sheryl, Thank you for clarifying. I have to say, that I am in the beginning stages of my healing. I’m striving to take baby steps each day and some days I take a couple steps backwards. In my situation, if one of my abuser’s were to confess there sin to me and ask for forgiveness, HELL NO, they are NOT deserving of that. But understand this is where I am today. I do not believe that we have to forgive nor is it abuse on are part if someone asks for our forgiveness and we don’t do it. You oviously believe different and that’s okay. You are further along then I am. I imagine everyday driving an hour and shooting my mother cold turkey dead. Will I ever do it, NO, but having that much anger in my way am I ready to take a step towards forgiveness. NO, I’m not, nor should I be expected to or required.

37

I was on the colonics table for the first time a year ago, had the tube inserted into my rectum, and water started running into my body to cause my colon to clean out (doing this to try to get rid of the tumors in my body) and the colon therapist looks at me (not that I don’t already have enough PRESSURE at that moment,) and wants to know if I have forgiven my ex-husband, and you know what? It is none of her business!!!! Talk about sabatoging your own business, that of colonics! Talk about making it hard for people to detoxify their bodies when you are constipating their emotions!! The emotions do not detoxify until you have been doing colon cleansing for a few weeks anyway!!!

38

Sheryl, you are SO RIGHT, forgiveness only belongs where it is working, not where it doesn’t work. That I can say a loud AMEN to!

39

Kathy,

I hate to come across like I have a different view on forgiveness than you do. I struggle with a lifetime of religious people guilt tripping me with ignorance of my real ife.

IF one of your abusers came to you and asked forgiveness, tell them to go talk to God and leave you the hell alone. It wouldn’t do you any good to try to fabricate some sort of healthy relationship with that person anyway.

I just get sick of people acting like forgiveness is something that you can give to someone who isn’t EVEN asking or SORRY, and somehow if you don’t do that then YOU are the problem.

40

Sheryl, I so agree with you! I have to forgive everyday in my life now…raising children, having friends, a loving husband. We are not perfect. But that is completely different then ABUSE. My parents to this day expect me to forgive and forget…I have cut all ties with them bc of this. They refuse to see or admit the HELL I’ve been through. My husband and I once got in a agruement and he said he was sorry only to end the agruement and I could NOT forgive him. He was saying he was sorry to just say it and that really pissed me off even more. Once I called that to his attention we were able as a couple to work it out. But I agree, people in my life see ME as the problem because I can not forgive such terrible things other’s did to me nor the person who was in the wrong doing. This is SO TWISTED it’s makes me want to puke!

Thank you for your understanding and being willing to talk this out. Hugs!

41

Jenny, I know exactly how you feel!

I’m not sure where I’m at in this process, it’s complicted. I just had this conversation with my mother the other day, She is not my abuser but rather religious. She asked if I forgave them. I said HELL NO! She started the usual forgivness and the Bible etc. etc.

I don’t take any blame for what happened to me. I wondered for a long time I suppose, but concluded it wasn’t anything I did. They were the perverts with the probelms. Reading lots of what all you other survivors have written has helped me more than anything. I have a peace about things that I never had, things are much better and the anger has slowly deminished. I have no urge to forgive. I don’t really feel I should have to forgive them, that is between them and God. Maybe I’m still just at the beginning of my journey, and silly and I’ll get it one day when I have become un-broken. Can you heal without forgiveness. I told my mother that maybe one day I would forgive them, but it isn’t today.
Confusing isn’t it!

42

Kathy,

YES, your relationships now are totally different than abusive ones.

Your parents may SAY what they expect you to do, but even if you did that, what would they SAY you should do next? What would it accomplish? It is just more abuse to tell you to do anything.
Not trying to rub salt in the wound, so to speak, just trying to put their words where they belong.

And for anyone judging your response to abuse, that is none of their business. that is why it makes you want to puke. Their opinion is a boundary problem.

43

Darlene, I really love it that you started this topic today!

44

Forgiveness doesn’t have to be about forgiving the abuser and that’s what gets everyone “ranting”. What about forgiving ourselves for what we went through? Practise being gentle and less angry with ourselves. The journey is about learning to live alongside the abuse and not blaming ourselves for what happened. Forgiveness is about forgiving yourself for being abused, not forgiving the abuser.

45

I too have struggled with forgiveness, especially in the face of the fact that those who abused me and those who choose to remain silent were not interested in being sorry, did not seek my forgiveness or even acknowledge there was something to be forgiven.

Personally, I was able to start to forgive when I started understanding that wounds won’t heal if I keep opening them. Emotionally, and in a way physically, if I stopped opening up the hurts, the wounds became scars and scars told me that I survived long enough to heal. I didn’t need the constant re-injury or proof of hurt know what I was abused and they were silent.

My scars showed me that was true and more true was the reminder that the scars told me the injury was in the past. I wasn’t forgetting but I was letting myself not have to be reminded in order to heal. Anger, bitterness, hurt, rage, frustration, humiliation, grief and many many tears washed the wounds, cauterized them and gave me scars.

Many conversations which had me being told who and how I was supposed to be left me wondering why and where I was so wrong, so worthless and so wounded. I kept going back to it again and again, then something happened that made me see some things a bit differently.

I was able to do a near death bed confrontation with someone who admittedly hated me my whole life and wasn’t apologetic about it at all – and I learned she truly despised me from birth because of my gender, hair color and mother. I had no chance – I was not given one single opportunity to be anything else to her. It was then that I realized by keeping the wounds open I was letting her keep hurting me, each angry memory let her gouge me again. I didn’t forgive her that day and she died cursing God and everyone around her shortly after.

I was able to, however, stop opening up the wounds to ‘see if they were still there’ and let them heal in to the scars I have now. I stopped actively giving myself up to that hurt and when, through my faith, I was ready to leave them to God I could step away and really start walking down a healing path. I could see what I didn’t see before. That is just my experience with one example of forgiveness.

I’m not ready for forgive all but I’m working on it. I won’t forgive and forget – that isn’t something a the scars will let me do. I don’t think that is expected of me either. I’m letting go of the active hatred and anger, the bitterness and that’s some place for me to start. I won’t forget – and I’m working on forgiving but first I had to learn to stop reopening the wounds.

Thanks Darlene for another excellent post, and to everyone for your comments. It’s an honour to keep company like yours.

46

I wonder why these listeners who can’t stand hearing about abuse and feel the need to come up with a quick fix don’t ever ask, “Has he ASKED for forgiveness?”

47

This from Christina’s blog from today on the same subject:

Your comment “In fact, the word ‘forgive’ as it’s used in the Bible actually means ‘to divorce or send away the offense.” In my mind, if the abusive person is so committed to remaining in that behavior, they become married to the offense and have to be sent away with it.” sort of puts a new twist on the whole subject!

Maybe we don’t have the right idea in our minds about what forgiveness even is? It could be letting the person go? It could be cutting the person off? Staying away? So there is no more opportunity for the offense to continue? MMMM sounds peaceful!

http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/10/28/what-about-forgiveness/comment-page-1/#comment-560

48

Please forgive me for not being able to answer all the comments individually! I wish that each post had a like button like the one on Face book.
This is an amazing discussion.

Sheryl, thank you so much for all that you have contributed towards helping others to understand what you were getting at in your definition of forgiveness. I really appreciate what happened on this blog as a result of the interactions between both you and Kathy; we got to see some healing happening! This is what it is all about! Survivors supporting each other in truth, and helping each other heal. Hugs!!

Lisa Marie,
It is fine not to know where we are at in the process on any given subject. Whey do we have to always know? This whole journey is complicated! I am just happy to be on the path!
I like what you wrote; I get it. Keep going forward, you are doing fine!
Hugs,

Shanyn,
I was particularly struck by some of the things that you wrote in your comments today. Especially in this line “Personally, I was able to start to forgive when I started understanding that wounds won’t heal if I keep opening them. Emotionally, and in a way physically, if I stopped opening up the hurts, the wounds became scars and scars told me that I survived long enough to heal. I didn’t need the constant re-injury or proof of hurt know what I was abused and they were silent.” Oh yes, I really get that… and I appreciate what you have posted; Thank you.
I see so many changes in you Shanyn… it is like watching a beautiful flower bloom…….

Hello Survivors Rock
Welcome to the blog. Self care and self love is very important, yes.. and self forgiveness is a huge point. Thanks for being here.
Hugs to everyone,
Darlene

49

Okay… with D.I.D. – Isn’t it just a little more complicated? Which one of us should be the forgiver? There is the empath one of us who is the caretaker, and the self sacrificer… she has “forgiven” in the past, but then it threw our entire system into chaos when the main abuser’s last words to us were, “I’ll pray for you.”

Could it be a matter of semantics? Can we at least look at the definition of “forgiveness”, or maybe we could substitute another word for “forgiveness”, and see how it feels? This could be interesting…

Susa/all
.

50

Susa,
As a person who has survived DID and no longer have fragment issues, I can tell you from my own experience that I did not pay attention to any of that stuff in my healing journey. I concentrated on healing.. I did not think about forgiveness or “who” should do it or think about it or any of that. As I concentrated on my belief system development, and broke that down, corrected the lies from the abuse that caused me to fragment in the first place, I began to heal. As i began to heal, I came back together… and like I said earlier, forgiveness was a result or an unexpected bonus, that I received as a result of healing. That is how I look at it today.
Hugs, and thanks for your comments. I hope this helps or makes some sense to you.
Darlene

51

Lots of really heart felt things going on here, and that’s a good thing! We all need to be able to express our thoughts and feelings about the kinds of admonishments we are confronted with all the time, whether from within ourselves or from those around us. And it wonderful to have a safe place to do this, a place where we can be real and not be judged. I love the survivor community that is growing here and on FB for this very reason, you just cannot find this kind of interaction and support anywhere else from those who share such deep pain, and just as importantly, want to heal from it. This is priceless to me. :)

I shared quite a bit yesterday on this topic on Darlene’s FB page (EFB page) and in reading everyone else’s thoughts, I of course have more to add to the discussion!

It seems to me that forgiveness is a word that really doesn’t adequately describe what can or should take place in all the different scenarios and all the different outcomes. It is too general. There are so many layers and this word is too general to use in what we as survivors deal with. I think of my own life and how many different kinds of hurts and abuses I have endured, from many different people, each of those people having different levels of intention in what they did. And so, as I am going through my healing process, I am not really feeling the same way in every circumstance, and I am not healing in the same way or through the same path for all of the different kinds of wounds. And I have to say that I see this forgiveness business is going to look very different in almost each area I am working through. And I can venture to say that I don’t really see it taking place in every area when I am finished. Not in the way that most people envision that word.

Because I am unique, as are we all as living beings, and because our abuses are not exactly the same, with the exact same affect, we are all going to have to just concentrate on getting to the healing of our souls first and foremost, and the rest will take whatever course it takes. And to hell with anyone who tries to admonish us in any way as to how that should look or feel in the end. They have no right, they have no secret inner wisdom or insight into our souls, our hearts and our path to healing and freedom. When we get to the place where we are free to live our lives without the chains of the old abuses binding us, we will know we have done well. And more than well, we have won back our lives, and no one out there with some opinion that speaks against what we have won in such a hard way can take that away from us.

Hugs to you all and blessings on your journey to freedom. :)

52

Hi Darlene,

I’m glad that you no longer have fragment issues. I prefer, however, to think of D.I.D. as having helped me to survive rather than being a survival issue in itself. However, having said that, long after the abuses have ceased – it can present some very daunting obstacles. Unfortunately, there are people that were in my life (and some who still are) who are well versed in knowing how to trigger out certain parts of me. This can be a problem with the abusers triggering out the “empath, caretaker” part of me to get what they want from me. I have absolutely no control over switching still at this chronological age. I, Susa, can focus on healing, and I do that through my art and making videos, but most of the other parts of me who come in and out spontaneously, do not have much interest in that. I am working on a new video which is providing even more clarity for me.

I would be interested to hear how other define the word, “forgiveness”. I, personally, use other words in describing my healing journey, and moving on from the repercussions of the actual abuses.

All best,
Susa/all

53

For a long time, I asked God to handle the forgiveness thing because I couldn’t do it. I still had too much anger toward my abusers.

I have discovered that most people who tell me “To get over it.” have unresolved issues of their own that I remind them of. They want me to shut up because what I say stirs up their stuff and they want to stay in the safe and unfeeling place called Denial.

Because of my own journey through the pain of incest and finally after many long years into forgiveness, I truly believe that forgiveness is an individual choice that each of us can choose to make or not. One choice is just as valid as the other. I don’t have the right to make your choice for you. Only you can do that and not making a choice is a choice.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It does not mean that what was done to you was right. Never in a million years will the abuse be right. Abuse in all of its horrible forms is wrong. It does not mean that your abusers will give you validation or even care that you forgave them. It does not mean that your abuser will ever say he/she was sorry for what they did. Most are not. Forgiveness means that you have taken away the abusers means of controlling you through your emotions. When you forgive, you cut the cord that binds you to your abusers. You validate yourself and your feelings, you don’t negate them by forgiving. You stop hurting yourself.

I have written a number of blog posts on my journey to forgiveness on my blog Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker. I will also go and post them on my Facebook page right now. Thanks to Darlene and to Christina for starting this discussion on forgiveness.
(Edit by Darlene; Here are the links to Patricia’s blog posts)
http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2007/09/prelude-to-forgiveness.html
http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-does-forgiveness-mean-to-me.html
http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2007/06/forgiveness-done-in-layers.html

54

Hi, I have been reading your blog for a little while now, and I am truly glad I found it!

I have long struggled with the whole concept of forgiveness. I think it is part because I feel that to forgive means I have to pardon them, and does that mean I say what they did is ok? I know its NOT ok.

Also do you forgive someone who is clearly not sorry? Its a tough one for me. i feel as though I have dealt with many of the self harming behaviours I developed as a result of anger stemming from the abuse etc, so in that sense i feel as if I have ‘let go’ of a lot that was damaging to me. i used to think that was forgiveness but now i don’t really know!!

55

This is a very good discourse! All of my life I was taught to “forgive and forget”. You all are right in that to forgive should not be a “magic wand” to which the abused are demanded and required to wave at every instance of abuse that occur in our lives. I won’t go into what I believe the Bible teaches on this matter. I will say, however, that God knows my fears, my pain, my passion, my needs (as I perceive them to be) and He, not man is more than able to embrace all that I am and seek to be (anger included). For some 40 years now I thought that God couldn’t love me because I “must have” done something dreadfully wrong in my life. I thought that there is NO WAY God could forgive me for my sins and for being so damn inadequate. I carried major guilt because I finally accepted the fact that I had been abused by a woman who took care of me but never knew who she was. I looked at every woman who had ever been in my life as a potential suspect. What guilt. Finally I was able to identify my abuser two years ago at a family funeral. Her name now stays in my mind and I can’t cope with what she did to me because I blocked most of it out of my mind. I remember bits and pieces of events, like being in the same bed as her and other sick things. Shall I forgive her? My mind tells me that I should but I know that I have not forgiven myself yet. I try to think of what the hell my life would look like had I not been with this woman… I can’t conceive of it. All I know is this…I need to heal my heart so that I can finally live my life (whatever that is) and learn to love who I am. I don’t want my abuse to define who I am. I want to not think about killing myself. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and truly be happy that God let me live to see another day. The truth, for me anyway, is that I am not there yet. Not by a longshot. I have yet to experience all the anger for the losses that I have endured or for my pain or for my deep depression and self-lothing. I am, however, holding on to the only thing that I do know for sure and that is God does have plans for my life. For now that keeps me going.

56

actually I really like comments 45 and 37

57

Patricia, thanks. I have taken away the abusers means of controlling me now that I’m aware of what it has done. I still can’t forgive. I will read more of those forgiveness blogs. I forgive myself, and for today that is good enough for me, and God :O)

58

I have tried to forgive and I think in most cases I have but I will never forget what has been done to me. Also I have found when someone has stood in accountability asking for my forgiveness it is much easier to forgive. But not to my surprise one of my abusers has never taken accountability for what he did to me and still in his mind I caused it all, needless to say if I even see a car that is the color of his car I become sick inside. Anyway in the end of will never forget

59

Forgiveness is NOT doing something for the perpetrator. That is not forgiveness. Forgiveness is releasing ourselves from our own self torment. It is letting go of the vengeance within. It does not mean we are telling the perpetrator that what they did was okay or that we want to reconcile and sweep it under the rug. Here is my testimony about how I came to forgiveness after many years of CSA by multiple perpetrators.
http://cherie-lalanne.blogspot.com/2010/09/compassion-my-journey-to-forgiveness.html

60

WOW! what a wonderful rant/blog…and by wonderful I mean insightful and thought provoking – notice I didn’t say positive or negative, just thoughts. I am tempted to write an entire book here about my particular situation…but I’m not going to…because I choose not to :)

What I am going to say is that my struggle, probably not unlike many of yours, with forgiveness went back to my faulty belief system that I developed beginning with childhood and purposely given to me by abusive people to keep them safe. I had to realize, and continue to be aware of this, by constantly challenging my own beliefs and in order to do this…I have to keep constant and intentional AWARENESS – if it makes me squirm and feel funny and tempted to react poorly…it needs RESPECTFUL challenging!

Forgiveness…what does it mean to me, and why, where did I get that? Some of my family likes to say things like my God is not their God and apparently I need to learn forgiveness. To them, and in the past to me, forgiveness means absolving them of their abuse (sins), again so that they feel better….NOPE…sorry :) That kind of forgiveness is not mine to give…they better ask someone else, and I hope they ask the right “person” or it is still just a deniable facade…but not my problem. And to me, if they are really sorry they’ll face their own guilt/shame/fears and stop trying to hide the truth…just bring it on…put it out there, and accept that I don’t have to have a relationship with them and don’t really want to – I am justified in this and in truth, even thinking I need justification is faulty – I can hang with whoever I choose to hang with. I have already forgiven them for past offenses in that I understand and no longer spend my days resenting them or feeling like I owe them anything; but do not agree or approve or absolve them of what they did. I do understand how all this stuff comes down…how the cycle gets perpetuated…by faulty belief systems that allow all of us embedded in the cycle to pretend we are “over” something while our anger seeps out and attacks innocent people…or other people even if not innocent. That doesn’t make us feel any better….

My biggest issue with forgiveness is that I honestly feel I have forgiven my abusers of past wrongs to me, and this came after I was angry and started creating my own belief system, and began to understand the faulty one that I had and that they have…but some of them insist on trying to keep me in the cycle…trying to continuously convince me I am wrong in what I am doing (keeping distance). As long as they keep TRYING to attack (and I mean by trying to emotionally deny me my past and feelings and continue to try to influence my present and future feelings and actions) I cannot honestly say I have forgiven them…they are still doing it. They need to let me go…then I can forgive them and actually be thankful that although they are to weak to validate me…at least they will set me free. My father was my actual sexual abuser, and tough as it was, he disowned me (so to speak) once, and I crawled back and he stood firm…I know it was for HIS safety to have me gone so his new family could not discover HIS secret…but it allowed me to see what was really going on…catapulted me into awareness regarding his abuse to me. It is the silent, or emotional, abusers (the ones that say they did all they could and like to remind me that they never hurt me – they love me – but still won’t hear me…won’t even let me speak of what I am wanting to speak of)that won’t let me go…won’t admit to any wrong doing…and won’t let me move on…they have to keep me right there, right where they want me. I’m not going back…but honestly I can’t quite say I’ve forgiven the few of them that won’t BACK OFF already…give up…they need to get over it!

Sooo….how did I get here? I just meant to say…challenge your own belief of what forgiveness is. AND challenge your own belief of why you need to forgive anyone…and even challenge who it is you think you need to forgive… First I had to ask for forgiveness from myself for trying to pressure myself into doing what I didn’t even understand…and ask me to give me a break and just handle what is before me and see where that takes me. Once I accepted me…it didn’t matter who said I needed to forgive (or anything else could be put here)…what someone else thinks I need to do is really not my issue; on a bad day I might just smile and say in my head “whatever”; on a good day I might actually challenge their belief system in the same way I do my own…and I did not reverse the good and bad days there…we are all lucky if I am strong enough that day to stand up for me rather than being silent and appearing as if I agree.

61

Wendi – I like where you are in your journey and how you have worked this through! And what you have said beautifully, we all need to really think about where we are getting our ideas of forgiveness and find out whether it rings true to us and our circumstances, and do what is best for us in the here and now.

There’s a saying: Why worry about tomorrow, today has it’s own troubles. And we have to take the attitude that we need to do what is going to work for us in this day, and not worry about what is going to work for us tomorrow. I first priority as survivors heading toward being thrivers (which is our goal!) is to be in a safe and healthy place on all levels. And whatever gives us that right now is what we need to be about on this day. Hugs.

62

Wow! This started a crazy amount of comments!! I don’t have time to read them all now but will try to get back on and read them all this weekend. As usual, much of what was said in your original post resonated with me, Darlene.

“I spent years trying to understand them, even fooling myself that I did understand, and that I did forgive, and looking back I realize that in doing that before I even validated myself and the abuse that I survived, I became my own abuser. I became the one who discounted myself, picking up where they left off… oh it is so twisted how this all works.”

This is where I am stuck. And have been for years. I want to forgive, not because they deserve it (if they deserved it, it would not be forgiveness, but justice), but because my anger seems to be tearing me apart. Maybe it is not my anger per se, but the inner conflict about being allowed to feel anger. I certainly have been feeling it for a very long time, and it seems to come out all wrong…at the check out clerk at McDonalds, at the person who (very responsibly) slows down in front of me when I’m running late, at my co-worker, etc. etc. I would like to stop spewing my rage at all the wrong people. I would like very much to be free of it. THAT is why forgiveness sounds so good to me. It sounds peaceful. It sounds calm.

Anyway, happy to see such a lively discussion. Thanks as usual for posting.

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Lisa,

“picking up where they left off…”

Now there is a title!! Isn’t that the temptation??

And this next paragraph of yours, I find to be a good description of the sentiments of many people on the same subject, at least that would be my guess!! Be patient with yourself. When anger at anytime, think how you would feel if you heard that what happened to you had happened to someone else, THAT anger! It is OK!!

WE are conflicted at feeling anger about these things, and for some of us, going to church on Sundays and pretending that everything is ok! Reminds me of a Proverb that says something like, “When justice is not quicly executed, people are at unrest…” Talk about situations where justice is NEVER found and it drags on for an entire lifetime.

“This is where I am stuck. And have been for years. I want to forgive, not because they deserve it (if they deserved it, it would not be forgiveness, but justice), but because my anger seems to be tearing me apart. Maybe it is not my anger per se, but the inner conflict about being allowed to feel anger. I certainly have been feeling it for a very long time, and it seems to come out all wrong…at the check out clerk at McDonalds, at the person who (very responsibly) slows down in front of me when I’m running late, at my co-worker, etc. etc. I would like to stop spewing my rage at all the wrong people. I would like very much to be free of it. THAT is why forgiveness sounds so good to me. It sounds peaceful. It sounds calm.”

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Wow 62 comments this is a great article, really it is. I will not ever forget what my abusers have done. I was a child after all, Forgiveness though for me does not come into it. Maybe I am avoiding it but I have no contact at all with my abusers, I do not wish them harm but they are not in my life I am now safe and that is what matters to me for the moment. I have rendered them insignificant.

Mind you I do like what Justice Writer has written.

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Chris,

Your comment that you have not forvien yourself really struck me. I feel the exact same way when it comes to forgiveness. But why do we feel this way? It was NOT our fault what happened to us. I was always told that I was the one at fault, I deserved sex, I deserved to be beaten, I deserved to be humilated…But in fact I DID NOT DESERVE ANY OF THIS SHIT!!!! I struggle with forgiving myself everyday but I’m realizing that this is a old message that was brain washed in me for so many years. I wander how I get past this? Is it possible to get past it?

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Carla;
You bring up a good point ~ One of the most helpful things that I have found on my journey has been to look at the way that a word or concept has been defined for me. So in this case, looking at what I “think” or perceive forgiveness to actually be, vs. what it actually is. That is a large part of why this is such a hot topic. I didn’t realize that I HAD to put the issue of forgiveness aside in my healing process, until I looked back and realized that I had put it aside. It was like my brain was overloaded in the first place, so I just HAD to put some of the stuff like that that caused me to “spin” on the back burner for quite a while. Most of the things I had to put aside were things I had the wrong understanding of in the first place.
Thanks for your wonderful contribution to this discussion Carla,

Patricia,
You have also added a way that many people use to put an issue aside ~ by asking God to take it over. Thank you for the points that you bring up about forgiveness being an individual choice.

Hi Michelle
Welcome! I struggled with that same thing for a long time.. that to forgive is to say that it is okay that this happened to me. But it isn’t okay and it never will be okay. And it is a process, and it sounds to me like you are in that process. =)
Glad you are here!

Hi Chris, and I am also going to respond to Kathy’s comment here too:
I think that we struggle with self forgiveness, (well in my case anyway) is for several reasons, all of them or just some of them;
~because of any kind of response we may have had to the abuse itself, being forced to like it or say we liked it. a body responding to sexual abuse (which is just physiology) is huge cause of guilt and inability to forgive self.
~because I thought I deserved to be emotionally neglected
~ because I believe the lies that were told to me by the abusers ~ (unlovable, not good enough, etc)
~because as Chris said ~ I didn’t think God could love me so how could I forgive me.
~because I didn’t realize for a long time that the guilt and shame WERE NOT MINE to carry.
I could go on and on.. this is all part of the process of healing, to realize and uncover these deep down beliefs and then correct them.

Hi Diane,
Forgetting is a whole other topic in my view. I will not forget but I don’t think forgetting is important anymore. I might expand on this in another blog post.
Thanks for being here!

Justice Writer ~
Thanks for your link and for your contribution. Yes. Forgiveness is NOT doing something for the perp.

Wow, this is really an amazing conversation!! Thank you to everyone!!
Hugs, Darlene

Patricia,
You have also added a way that many people use to put an issue aside ~ by asking God to take it over. Thank you for the points that you bring up about forgiveness being an individual choice.

Hi Michelle
Welcome! I struggled with that same thing for a long time.. that to forgive is to say that it is okay that this happened to me. But it isn’t okay and it never will be okay. And it is a process, and it sounds to me like you are in that process. =)
Glad you are here!

Hi Chris, and I am also going to respond to Kathy’s comment here too:
I think that we struggle with self forgiveness, (well in my case anyway) is for several reasons, all of them or just some of them;
~because of any kind of response we may have had to the abuse itself, being forced to like it or say we liked it. a body responding to sexual abuse (which is just physiology) is huge cause of guilt and inability to forgive self.
~because I thought I deserved to be emotionally neglected
~ because I believe the lies that were told to me by the abusers ~ (unlovable, not good enough, etc)
~because as Chris said ~ I didn’t think God could love me so how could I forgive me.
~because I didn’t realize for a long time that the guilt and shame WERE NOT MINE to carry.
I could go on and on.. this is all part of the process of healing, to realize and uncover these deep down beliefs and then correct them.

Wow, this is really an amazing conversation!! Thank you to everyone!!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Wendy!
Yes, the belief system has been the key for me too. For the abusers and controllers who won’t give up already, I had a decision to make about that, that had nothing to do with forgiveness, but rather about the quality of life I wanted to live. People say “I love you” but what does that mean?? I have a new definition of love today along with all the other new definitions I have ~ all of which contributed to setting me free. Thank you for your wonderful comments Wendy!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lisa
I spent years trying to understand “them” and all that happened is that I made excuses for them. When I put the blame where it belonged, the responsibility where it belonged, and stopped trying to understand “them” that is when so many things for me changed. Today I think of it in two parts.. Sick people did that stuff to me, and other sick people treated me like I was nothing, defined me as unworthy, BUT today, they don’t get to do that anymore! I don’t care WHO they are, I deserve to be respected just like everyone else. No one gets to abuse or devalue me anymore. Period. My anger disolved, AFTER I went through so many processes of finding the truth, taking the blame off myself and not trying to make excuses for them anymore.

Hi Clare,
This whole thing about forgetting has got me thinking. Patty Hite from OSA pointed out this common thread of forgiveness going with forgetting… and I am not sure that forgetting is really the goal!
Love what you said about being safe! yes!

Hugs to everyone, I wish I could answer ALL the comments! Just know that they are all appreciated!
Love Darlene

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Lisa, I remember being where you are now. The people that saw my rage were safe people that weren’t going to hurt me—usually my husband, sometimes my children.

I grew up in a home where it wasn’t safe to get angry. The threat of violence was always there coming from my dad’s rage which he always let out all over my mother, my siblings and me. He got physically violent with a belt just often enough to keep us scared of him. This was one of the experiences where my belief that anger was violent came from.

My mother came with the threat that if my dad ever hit her again, she would shoot him. She did the first and only actual time he hit her. The miracle was that she didn’t check to see if the rifle was loaded. It wasn’t. I grew up hearing that story of one incident from before I was born. I was terrified that she would one day get mad enough to really shoot him and then I would have no parents. This is the other experience that taught me my belief that anger was violent. I was afraid of my own possible violence. This belief is why I stuffed my own anger deep inside where it built to rage.

The threat of violence can be just as emotionally damaging as any physical violence that you might experience. Those were my reasons for stuffing my own rage deep inside. The problem for me was that the rage would build and build until I couldn’t keep it stuffed inside any longer and the safety value on the pressure cooker that I had become would explode all over my husband. I knew he wasn’t going to hit me or shoot me if I did something he didn’t like. Because he was safe, he got a lot of my rage.

This was another area of forgiveness that I had to do. I had to ask for his forgiveness when I got healthy enough to make amends to him for my own abuses to him. I think that this is where most abusers fail their victims. They never take action to change themselves or their abusive actions. Just saying you are sorry but never changing your actions is not asking for forgiveness. The words, “I am sorry.” are worse than useless when the abuse continues to happen. The words, “I am sorry.” teach you to not trust anybody’s words. Abuse of trust is another form of abuse that most of us have gone through as children.

For me asking my husband to forgive me also meant stopping the verbal abuse, the sarcasm, the belittling when I was raging. To stop raging at my husband when the pressure cooker valve burst was changing my behavior for the better. Learning to channel the rage into non-detructive ways of being experienced rather than verbally “putting him in his place,” or “taking him down a notch” as my dad did when he was raging when I was a helpless child. You see I learned rage from my dad.

Constructive ways of letting the rage out was to talk about how angry I was or to talk about how fearful I was in a calm voice to my husband when I would feel the angry before it had a chance to become rage. For me this was all a part of the forgiveness process when I was the one doing the abusing. This is one of the things that I had to forgive myself for doing—becoming my dad and raging in the ways that he did when I was on the receiving end of the abuse. Recognizing that behind my anger, every single time that I looked, I found a fear of something or someone hiding because it was safer to get angry than it was to admit that I was afraid.

As a child, I was taught that anger was powerful and fear was a weakness and you didn’t survive in my family if you were weak. You didn’t cry because crying was also a weakness. Feeling wasn’t safe because that brought out my dad’s rage. He was the only one allowed to feel and that was always rage.

Forgiving really is a process. There really is nothing instant or quick about it. Because of the many layers of abuse, there are also, of necessity, many layers of forgiveness. Forgiveness did not happen, for me, until I could accept that I was continuing some of the same abuses that my parents passed down to me—generation to generation. Every bit of my healing always comes back to me—my insides, my feelings, my behavior, my beliefs. Those things I can change. I can’t change my abusers. Only they can do that for themselves. Most of them don’t want to. I changed because the hurting became too much and I was hurting others who didn’t deserve to be hurt any more than I did when I was a child. Awareness is the key to change.

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DO NOT EVER FORGET ABOUT THE ABUSE. Sorry about the shouting but I feel very strongly about this. Forgetting is what keeps the abuse going to the next generation of children. Forgetting is just another form of denial. When you forget, you can’t change what needs to be changed. Child abuse, in all of its many forms, needs to be stopped. If each generation of the abused doesn’t remember its own abuse, how can we stop it. We must remember in order to STOP CHILD ABUSE. We owe it to ourselves and to our children.

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I agree Lisa! However, if I even wanted or tried to forget it’s just NOT possible for me! It’s my childhood, the only thing I remember from my childhood. I was the one in my family that broke the silence and because of that I suffered even more. But because of that…a year later the abuse came to a stop and the cycle’s were broken. I have two younger cousins that use to visit us twice a year and because I told, they were able to come out and say that my grandfather that lived with us (who daily abused me) also abused them. I had no idea! I have to admit…I still punish myself for telling. If would have known the hell I got after telling I would have kept my mouth shut! Breaking my silence has defintely added MAJOR forgiveness issues for me!

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Thank you for putting into words and feelings just what forgiveness looks like as I have struggled with this for a long time. I realized after reading your post that I have forgiven the abuser but still struggle with my ‘church’ friends telling me I must ‘honor’ my parents. What exactly does that mean? Even they cannot explain it.

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I very much agree that forgiveness can’t be hurried along or forced. And those day-long workshops focused on forced forgiveness: they never worked for me. For me, it took time to forgive my mom for all she did. It also took me trying to understand why she hurt me. But that didn’t happen until I’d worked through the anger and pain. Forgiveness was a happy byproduct of all the work I did. And I am so much freer, as a result of letting go of all my anger.

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Patricia, I love that you posted this and I am re posting it because it is really importnat ‘Forgiving really is a process. There really is nothing instant or quick about it. Because of the many layers of abuse, there are also, of necessity, many layers of forgiveness. Forgiveness did not happen, for me, until I could accept that I was continuing some of the same abuses that my parents passed down to me—generation to generation. Every bit of my healing always comes back to me—my insides, my feelings, my behavior, my beliefs. Those things I can change. I can’t change my abusers. Only they can do that for themselves. Most of them don’t want to

And about your comment “do not ever forget the abuse” this is very valid as well. I am going to do a follow up post on the whole concept of the words and expression “forgive and forget”.
Thank you so much for your contributions to this conversation!

Hi Kim,
The honour your parents thing is a whole other huge topic! (that I might take on one of these days too.. I combat it with scripture verses such as “let the dead bury their own dead” in other words if anyone is interfering with my walk with God, then I need to walk away from them because I can’t be who I am as long as I am being oppressed and if I can’t be who I am, then how can I make any kind of difference in the world, OR serve God in any way? Like I said, a whole other huge topic; and also this is used as a major abuse tactic if you ask me. AND when people say this kind of thing, I always wonder if they are afraid to stand up to their own parents. I wonder why they react this way. I wonder if they are also oppressed or controlled by parents…. just my wonderings…. LOL
Thanks for bringing this up Kim!
Hugs, Darlene

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Wow. what a fantastic and wise collection of voices.

Everyone here has a waelth of experience to share and it all helps me.
For that I am grateful.

Its very difficult to forgive those I don’t and will never trust.

I look at animals who have been mistreated and see that it takes a long long time for them to trust humans again. If they are around their abusers they run, or attack. I realize we are humans but I respect their instincts.

Only humans tie themselves in knots worrying if we have misjudged others, are being unfair, unforgiving, unchristian, etc.We have been told if we don’t forgive, we will be poisoned internaly.

I think we all come to terms with how to live with our feelings, with love and compassion from other people.

I certainly have wanted to be the bigger person even as I was being shredded into pieces emotionally.But maybe ‘forgiveness’ is a moot point. Maybe as Darlenes said forgiveness of some kind is a by product of healing.

I like the term ‘detachment’ better. If I am detached emotionally then I am in a better place to make choices about forgiveness.

Howver not one abuser in my situation has EVER come to me and asked for forgiveness, or even tried to ‘explain’. I did have one person say ‘OK! I’m SORRY!’, very hatefully and hurriedly as if I were annoying her after I confronted and asked her for an explanation.I don’t call that asking for forgiveness, or amending the relationship. I call it being swept back under the rug.

I don’t quite know how or really want to forgive; I just don’t want to be around those people anymore. I want them to mean NOTHING to me.Later on maybe I can remember things and see how pathetic they are and feel detached enough to ‘forgive’. I don’t know; I am not qualified to know how to forgive a psychopath- I am not sure ‘forgiveness’ is the right word.

We were hurt by others without our permission, against our will; mostly deliberately by others.They didn’t ‘accidentally’ abuse us in most cases. I was shushed up, treated like a nutcase, and discreditted, all so the abusers could feel comfortable and be in control. It would not have mattered to them if I had self destructed – It would not mattered to them if I had died, or my child had died.

I am not Jesus, Muhammed, or God. I leave the issue of true forgiveness to them.

I was trained to se everyone else’s point of view above my own. That is how I became the mat everyone wiped their feet on.

No, ‘for me, ‘forgiveness’ isn’t the right word.Acceptance of what happened is the right word. I come to accept that what happened really happened. I accept that these are not safe people for me, and that peope who share their characteristics and behaviors are not either.

I’ll explore forgiveness later maybe.

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Hi Ellen!
Absolutely! I agree with all of what you have said! Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Elizabeth,
I love the way that you share yourself and your thoughts. You add so much to this blog, and you enrich my own way of thinking about things and you challenge the way that I write about things. I love that. =)
Once again, I am reminded that we react to this topic the way that we have learned (have come to believe) what the word (forgiveness) means. It always amazes me when I realize this about myself and about others. When I talk about forgiveness today (not in the past, just today, because it was different back then) I don’t think about knowing how to do it. I don’t forgive the events, I think I had that mixed up before. As though I was trying to say “I forgive you for destroying my life” Forgiveness to me now is that I no longer have anger or resentment. I don’t have to “re-live” or “re-feel” the situations that I had been put in, the horror or the fear and terror. I don’t have to question anymore if it was really my fault, or if I deserved it. I don’t have any doubt that these people were warped. I don’t own them anything. I don’t need to mend the fences; I don’t need to have relationships with them.
For me it isn’t about knowing “how”. It is about moving forward with MY life. It is about saying that they were wrong and not having to prove it anymore. They can say it was ME till the last day of time.. and I will never believe them because their opinion ceases to count.
I like the word acceptance, and I really like the way that you have defined it here! YES that is what I had to do too.

I am stunned at the depth and the angles being discussed here!
Thanks for your contribution Elizabeth!
Hugs, Darlene

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This comment contains much of what will be a new post on my blog about forgiveness, following up an earlier blog post I wrote a week or so ago about my struggles to forgive. I’ve been grappling with issues of forgiveness when you’re met with a wall of sheer defiance, denial, lies, no confession, no repentance and no admittance of fault. In my exploration I’ve realised how abused, misused and badly represented the issue of forgiveness has been throughout years of church teaching and comments/judgement/bad counsel from other Christians. I’ve realised too that in order to forgive one must define what forgiveness is and what forgiveness isn’t.

When I’ve spoken to Christians about being abused, tortured and disowned by my family many have responded with “have you forgiven them, you must forgive them”. Thus inferring that if I’d forgiven them then I wouldn’t need to talk about them or talk about what they did and how it’s affected my life. Other Christians have pressed upon me that if only I forgave then magically all the hurt and pain would go away, impressing upon me that you cannot be a real Christian if you’ve not truly forgiven from your heart and sought all paths towards reconciliation. This infers that you cannot forgive and not want to be reconciled to the people who so hurt you. Many Christians told me that as they’re your family you have to forgive and forget and act like it never happened because they are your family and as a Christian I was sinning greatly to not do that or to not want to do that. Some Christians have forced me into praying prayers of forgiveness towards my abusers which weren’t so much about me forgiving but more about them feeling they’d done their Christian duty in making me forgive and the rest was up to me complying. Much of what was said to me implied that all the hurt and damage would just vanish from my life if only I could forgive and because I was so hurt and obviously damaged then I could not have really forgiven even if I thought I had. The hurt and confusion such comments caused me was immense.

There were so many different definitions and understanding about forgiveness in the many things said to me. But none of them worked because each of them was a phoney forgiveness. A forgiveness that forgives, forgets, acts as if the wrong never happened, ignores the hurt and pain, pushes it all under the carpet. That is not real true forgiveness. My understanding of true forgiveness in the context of Christian understanding is that it always happens within a framework of confession, repentance, admittance of fault, apologies, and so on. A making things right with the person wronged in some way – either through reconciliation or making good in some meaningful way.

I do not believe outside of that framework true meaningful forgiveness can occur; only partial forgiveness. True forgiveness involves laying the blame where it lies – on the shoulders of the wrongdoer – which involves confrontation but does not necessarily have to lead to reconciliation. Reconciliation should never be the aim of forgiveness. Reconciliation may be a by-product of forgiveness but is not and cannot be the main reason for seeking confrontation in order for forgiveness to occur. Only admittance from the person who wronged you enables true forgiveness. A person who will never confess or repent, but continue to deny, defy, lie, refuse to admit any wrong cannot be truly forgiven nor is deserving of forgiveness.

Forgiveness in itself does not heal a person. However, it may be a catalyst that kick starts the process of healing. In redefining forgiveness for myself I’ve come to see that forgiveness is not a one-time event but rather a process of letting go your hands from around the neck of the person who wronged you and keeping them by your side.

I’ve had to get go my dream that my abusers would one acknowledge something was wrong, which they’ve never done. All my life there’s been this great pretence of normality and nothing is wrong. Any acknowledgement of wrong would have made a huge difference to me but it never came. When confronted with the legal consequences of their behaviour a wall of defiance, denials and lies prevented their exposure and caused me immense anguish. Letting that dream go was immensely agonising for me. As I let dream go I let go any other hopes I’d ever had of them ever apologising. I also had to let go my hopes that one day they’d relent and recognise my existence as their daughter. By accepting that it was possible to move on to no longer expecting, wanting for hoping for anything from them. I moved from being totally overwhelmed by pain to a place where I can begin to believe there is a way through to healing. For me forgiveness is a process of letting go day by day. As I do that a door is opened, allowing healing and soothing to come into my wounds so I can have hope and a vision for a future that is no longer captive to my past.

By understanding forgiveness in this way I’m able to take my life back and free myself of those invisible ties to my abusers. I know I will continue to over the days, weeks, months and years to come.

Each time I speak out the truth of what happened I take a little bit of my life back.

Every bit of my life I take back the more I win and the more my abusers lose.

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Oh I omitted to mention the ‘honour your parents’ thing. If I could have a penny for every time that’s been said to me I’d be a very rich person indeed!!

I’ve really struggled with that over the years.

I’ve come to understand honouring your parents when all they’ve done is abuse, torture and disown you – and behave as if that is all normal and nothing is wrong – is actually speaking the truth about what they did, confronting them with the truth, giving them the opportunity to repent but expected nothing back from them. By not doing that all I do is continue the incestuous collusion. But by doing that I believe I honoured them.

That’s where I’m currently “at” on that very difficult and painful issue!

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When Forgiveness gets lumped into god and religion it carries so much negativity. also who’s brand of Forgiveness is the right one?

For us as Jews we have to consider the question of forgiveness during the High Holly Days. Tradition says we are to forgive someone if they come openly, honestly and makes amends to hold back is an affront to g-d since really only g-d can do the real forgiving. On the other side of that is the person seeking forgiveness having down all that must make 3 valid tried and if still not forgiven it is then left to g-d. The idea is that no one is to have to crawl for forgiveness. Still there are studies in Talmud on what humans can forgive.

Personally I feel the above tradition works for regular stuff. Abuse, torture and murder have a different place. But that’s my own thoughts.

I, personally believe there are things that are not within my grasp to forgive. I can learn to accept that they happened and move forward, hope I can move forward. The whole idea of giving our abusers forgiveness when they’ve never asked or will is offensive to me. Like you said Darlene, it makes me feel like I’m reabusing us to make it “okay” for the abusers. That’s wrong and I don’t believe that is what was Ever meant as forgiveness.

In my book forgiveness is earned, just like trust, it’s not a free pass. Forgiving ourselves seems much more helpful and healthy. The truth is my abusers don’t want forgiveness, they believed in what they were doing was right and good. Many of them had the sanction of our Country because the good of the many out weigh the few, that the means justify the way or however that goes.

Forgiveness the way it is presented and pushed it nothing but another way society says, “SHUT UP, WE DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR ABUSE.”

Ravin

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I personally don’t like the way forgiveness is presented. I read some of these comments of those of you that feel so “free” for forgiving your abusers. WOW! I have no idea what that feels like….Makes me think? Can I forgive? What would that look like for me, feel like? I can’t grasp it. Maybe because I’m just on the road of my recovery and there’s so much hate, anger, confusion, shame, and saddness I still have to work through.

I always felt like NO ONE wanted to hear about my abuse, to shut up and keep it a sercret. This blog as shown me different. It’s okay for me to share, it’s ok for me to be angry, it’s ok for me to cry, it’s even ok that I can’t forvie those that wrongfully hurt me. I have accepted that and I think accepting my right to heal was the first step for me. The blame and shame is what gets to me so badly now! I have to re-tell myself after every thought of my abuse that I am not to blame…I’m still trying to understand the shame. I literally say this is not my shame but really it still feels as if it is. In time I believe I will heal from that.

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Kathy, I hope I didn’t come across as saying I was feeling ‘free’ because I’m not. I’m very much in process with all this stuff. Yes it is ok to share, to be angry, to cry. It’s ok to not forgive and it’s ok to not want to forgive. I know that shame so well, not it’s not your’s but it sure feels like it.

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FI,
I was saying that in general from many of the post. YES, the shame very much feels like it’s mine. I understand that the abuse was not my fault but shame of it I really don’t understand and that goes with me not being to forgive myself.

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Kathy, for myself, I had to do exactly what you said. I had to feel every bit of the shame, the anger, the hurt, the tears before I could even begin to heal. The shame is not yours. The shame is the abuser’s. As a wonderful friend of mine says, “Feeling is healing.” If there is some other way out of the pain, I never found it and believe me I looked. I did not want to feel the pain of incest—the betrayal of love, trust and abandonment. I kicked and screamed for awhile because I was resisting so hard the feeling of all that pain. I did not want to do it. Finally some 12-Step friends made me listen and realize that going through the pain and feelings was the only way to heal.

Addictions are all about avoidance and denial. They don’t work. The only thing that works is feeling. I talked it out and cried it out for so long that I imagine even my best friends got tired of hearing about my pain and incest. They had the patience and love so that they never said it.

I had so much rage and hate inside of me, so much sadness that it colored my world. Even as a very young child I remember the sadness being there like it was a part of me. Feel every bit of it as much as you can because that is the only thing you can do or die of the pain—from the illnesses and depression that we ourselves create by ignoring our body and mind. We all deserve to live without the pain of abuse on our backs, or in our hearts, or weighing down our shoulders, or curling up our joints in pain or causing so much stress that our blood pressure rises too high and causes a stroke or heart attack. We deserve to be loved and loving adults.

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Feeling safe feels more important than forgiving.

I know that in time I can find a way to move on, and live with my feelings. I like the idea that if forgiveness is necessary to move on, then I give that to my God, inner self, higher power, to work on.I do not dwell on what happened most of the time.I forgive myself for trying to trust untrustworthy people. I forgive myself for my confusion, I forgive myself for not understanding exactly what was going on at times because the abusers did not WANT me to understand, i am working on forgiving myself for not paying as much attention to what was going on with my daughter as I should have.

I kinow my intentions were never to hurt anyone, or cover up for anyone,or frighten anyone. I know my intent was to protect, and to get to the truth. I never to my knowledge scapegoated anyone to make myself look better.Can the abusers say that? For any of us?

I have to come from a point of gettting to the place where people who mattered to me in some cases, did not treat me as if I mattered at all.

So its acceptance I am working with, and feeling safe. What I am left with I will deal with later.

I read a Peta article about a cattle farm in Ky that allowed a cow to lay in the dirt over 24 hours, after dragging it out of a transport truck. The cow fell out breaking her hind legs and pelvis. The men did not give her water, or help her.She dragged herself with her front legs to defacate and urinate in clean areas through the day. She cried all day long.

An activist came and gave her water which was later taken away.She was attacked by dogs. She was not euthanized by medication because they wanted her meat.Later after police were called she allowed to be shot. The workers laughed about her.She was less than nothing to them.

I would NOT, could not, forgive those workers. They knew what they were doing and they didn’t care about her pain or suffering. There are alot of people in this world with the same mentality about other humans.Do some people deserve to be hated? Maybe. But its too much energy taken from trying to heal, and be an advocate for other victims.They literally are not worth the energy.It could be a hard place to get to deciding that…really hard.

Forgiveness for ignorance and a later willingness to change is one thing. Forgiveness for deliberate cruelty is another.That is just out of my realm.

Deep inside, survivors know the difference eventually between callousness cruelty, sadism, and unintebntional wounding or wounding out of ignorance. Its inside those survivors that is the only legtimate place for deciding about forgiveness resides.

84

Elizabth,

“Feeling safe feels more important than forgiving.”
excellent!!

I think that there are word traps in our communication, language can be inadequate, and it can be a tool or a weapon, or a stumbling block. Language/word traps can come from various places and exist for various reasons, and I do not think that they, the reasons, sources or actual words are all that important. Forgiveness that is not being requested is one of those traps. Yes, for those of us who are hurt and trying to find a better life, we all want to feel better, whatever that is, be it safe, free, loved, etc. Consider the source when the word forgiveness comes up. If it is not an abuser/other ASKING for forgiveness, then is likely none of anyone’s business in the first place–feel free to ignore. It is enough to know that the very question makes you uncomfortable ,and if you want, you can say that the question makes me uncomfortable and I don’t care to discuss it.

85

Elizabeth,

Feeling safe feels more important than forgiving.

In other words, reality (my feeling safe) is more important than something that can’t be seen, felt, proven, etc., in other words, “fantasy”.

86

So well said Darlene!!

I have been over this topic many times with people.
Seen so many people live years in a lie the reason is exactly what you said, because most try and do it out of being told it must happen in order to move on. I have always seen it more as, it will really help the rest of us out, if you just forgive and move on. Forgiveness isn’t out of a rule book. It has no right or wrong, it only has you and what your heart tells you is right for you.

Great Job!!

87

Agree! Feeling safe feels more imortant to me too then forgiving! It’s so hard for me to feel safe though knowing that some of my abuser’s are still a live. I have this fear that any day now one of them are going to track me down, rape me and kill me and possibly hurt my 2 little girls. It’s a TERRIBLE fear and I hate the weight that is on this! FUCKING HATE IT! It’s NOT fair that I have this fear. They always said they would kill me if I told…well it’s out there and it sure as hell has disturbed my family on both of my parent’s sides.

88

In a society with endemic boundary problems glaore, is it any surprise that those who have suffered the most severe baundary violations (abuse)also then continue to suffer when these violations are discussed with others, by the others?

89

I agree, feeling safe is the most important thing. They told me they would hunt me down and kill me if I ever told. It’s a horrible fear and I’m hyper-vigilant when out and about, and will be until I’m able to legally change my name. Then I’ll feel a bit safer!!

90

What I don’t get is why other family members that are learning about the TRUTH back my parent’s up…calling me and my other two brothers liars! This is fucking twisted! It HAPPENED DAMN IT and I’m no longer going to let them control me in being silent about it! What the hell are they thinking. People in my family stay in denial and it really strikes a nerve in me! Speaking of forgivess, How do I forgive outside family members that think my brothers, cousins, and I are liars? I just don’t get it!!!!!!! DENIAL? That’s a HUGE thing that my family knows more about then care, love, and support! MAKES ME SO DAMN ANGRY!!!!!!!!!!!!

91

I’m really feeling this…to go with my last post, it kills me inside that I am very close to my husband’s side of the family and they all know the truth of what happened to me and accept me with love and support. My side of the family will NEVER do that. I’m in tears…it’s just the way it is and it hurts, it hurts really bad!

92

Hi Raven,
I have never heard the Jewish tradition.. thank you for sharing that, it is quite different!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts today,
Hugs, Darlene

Patricia,
thanks again for your healing words about the shame not being ours ~EVER~ it is not ours to have. But as you say, it is very important for us to acknowledge that we have it (and all other feelings) before we can let them go; we have to know what is in the harbor before we can clear it out.

Elizabeth, sometimes the animal stories really get to me because they get more attention then the people stories do!

Hi Kyle,
So great to see you here! Thank you so much for the encouragement and kind words and for adding your voice to this conversation!
Hugs, Dalrene

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Kathy and Fi
Feeling safe is such a big part of recovery. Feeling safe for me was another bonus of doing the work to heal.

Everyone;
Thank you so much for all your thoughts, and for sharing your lives and pasts truama and horror so honestly and so deeply. This helps all the readers who can’t comment for whatever reason. I appreciate your courage and your willingness to share yourselves this way.
Hugs and love, Darlene

94

Darlene, I just posted my own Rant about forgiveness and started a series of posts on the topic. I ready have a second post partially written. Here is the link to my post:
http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2010/10/forgiveness-is-not-forgetting-child.html

95

I just have to say that this blog has really stirred up some emotions. I’ve been going places that I did not expect to go. I typically don’t blog as much as I have on this one….it’s been good for me but I feel so overwhelmed and ANGRY! The anger is boiling hot right now! Maybe I went too far today and yesterday with sharing? I have been broken in tears…I just want to crawl in my closet and hide. I hate feeling this way…it’s a terrible place to be in!

96

Thank you, Darlene, for this post that hits a very deep nerve with me. I was the daughter of a pastor when my mother would fly into rages and pull my hair (sometimes out), scratch me with her long fingernails as she grabbed me to pummel me, followed by beating me with the metal vacuum cleaner hose until I was face down fetal position, covering my head with my crossed arms. As all this was occurring she would curse me in Finnish, calling me Satan, Devil, and Satan’s shit face. She would not let up until she was physically exhausted.

As her footsteps went up the stairs I was too weak to get up. My father, if he was home would tell me that I had to forgive her or God wouldn’t forgive me, quoting the passages that said so. I was to forgive immediately, completely, from the heart…..or God wouldn’t forgive me. I was to “put away anger” because that is what the Bible instructed me to do. So I did just that……cutting it off and burying it deep within my subconscious.

If I ever expressed anger, hurt or pain I was told that those feelings were evidence that I had not forgiven deeply, from the heart. If I had truly forgiven, then I would not feel bad in any way….only love and joy. I wore a perpetual smile. I have a yearbook full of comments from my friends to never stop smiling. My smile lights up the world. Even today I get those comments. Very few people have ever seen the deep recesses of my subconscious.

Needless to say forgiveness is a very tender issue with me and has been a huge hurdle in my recovery. I still struggle in this area….after years of therapy.

I was told that God put my parents over me so they had the authority given to them by God to “discipline me” to make me a good human being…..for my own good…..all motivated by their love for me. I was well “disciplined”! Oh, yes, I had to ask permission to think (as I was told what was permissible to think), to feel (again I was told what I could and could not feel, want (I was not permitted to want anything….as we are to “die to ourselves”), ……you get the picture.

Am I warped and twisted inside? Recovering……but not there yet….will I ever be…..healing is a life-long process.

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Arja,

I feel your pain and can so relate. My mother did the same things to me…she called me Satan’s child all the time, said I was born a devil. She not only sexually abused me but physically abuse me. She threw china plates at me…I got a piece of glass stuck in my head and had to have 26 stiches. She punched me, threw me up against walls, dragged me by my pony tail down the hallway, burnt me with cigarettes, the list goes on. My mother absolutely HATED me and showed me day to day. Makes me wander why she even had me. I wish she hadn’t!

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Hi Kathy,
Facing the pain is very painful, very tough. That is why we try to avoid it for so long. The anger is a necessary part of healing. You have shared a lot. You have looked deeply into the pain of your past. It does hurt. I know. Please be gentle with yourself, call a friend for support or do whatever it takes for you to feel supported in this journey.

Please remember that this is only a blog, and If you feel that you need live support, please call a professional, a therapist or a support line.
Please be gentle with yourself, all of you who may be in this vulnerable place because of the sharing here.

Hi Arja,
Welcome and thank you for your comment and for sharing so honestly the awful things that happened to you. I have written a lot of blog posts about how our belief systems form from treatment like you have described. When we are told lies like the ones told to you, we start to believe them. We are children and those teachings from our parents become our truth. I found real recovery by discovering those lies, realizing exactly what they were, and replacing them with the truth. You are not warped and twisted, but they were. What was done to you and taught to you was a lie. There is no way to comprehend the sickness that makes adults convince children lies such as these. None of this is biblical, none of it helps anyone to become a good human being… oh my gosh I am overwhelmed with horror when I hear stories like this. But there is hope and that is why I write. I found hope and recovery. I live a beautiful full live. I thrive. I make a difference. And this is my hope for everyone.

Your story reminds me of a book that impacted me deeply in my recovery; It is called “people of the lie, the hope for healing human evil” by M Scott Peck I am so glad that you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

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I read a post on facebook that said that the greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; its the illusion of knowledge.

What would the greatest obstacle to recovery be?

Not knowing your own feelings? Your own pain? The loss? What was taken from you? What would keep you from knowing your own feelings? What gets in the way? Abuse? Religion? “Right” answers? Other peoples’ answsers? Busyness? Lack of support from others?

When I was first married at age 21, and discvoered a husband with pot and porn, an addictions (also a pastor)counselor told me that I needed to realize how much my husband’s actions had hurt me. But I felt numb. It was like he told me the answer before any questions were asked. He could have guided me with questions. But as it was, I felt even worse for being told I needed to do something that I didn’t know how to do, which was to know my own pain.

He had me read a book, Tough Love, by Dobson, and told me that if my husband ever drank again, I had to leave him, and I had to give him that ultimatim. He never asked me if I had any supportive friends or family should I decide to leave my husband. “Do you really think that you could leave your husband?” “Would you want to stay wiith a person like this for the rest of your life?” He didn’t ask about my beliefs/church background on that subject. It was pretty disconnected counseling. How about, “Are you comfortable in this relationship?” “What would make you comfortable in this or any relationship?”

It may be a different kind of sexual abuse from what we’ve been talking about here, but repeateed adultery and the std’s that go with it are abusive in my understanding.

100

Darlene, and everyone else,

I am in therapy and it helps and I have a fantastic support team….friends and my church family. I understand that this blog is just a blog, a safe place for me and I LOVE THAT! But I am seeking help elsewhere!

101

This blog topic has help encourage me to be able to look at this in my own time, thank you for that. The comments here have all really helped gain so many perspectives and to not feel so lost. :)

102

Someone mentioned the book “Bold Love” by Dan Allender. I tried to follow that before I left my abusive husband of many years. But what that book recommends contravenes the principle that feeling safe feels more important than forgiving. It actually implies that you have to take risks because you love and forgive. Instead of encouraging you to detach from an abuser, it proposes that love tries to reach out and risks getting hurt.

So what that meant for me was engaging him and not withdrawing from the relationship. Boy that cost me a lot! While I tried to set boundaries by limiting our difficult conversations to no more than half an hour (unless he stopped badgering, accusing, etc.), he wasn’t prepared to engage civilly and instead was manipulative, blaming, etc. Eventually my mind was so worn down if I didn’t leave the relationship I wouldn’t have survived. Not to mention the kids who were also at breaking point. The book should have made it clear that while forgiving like Christ did means releasing and not harming the offender, it shouldn’t translate to having to do anything with him. Of course, not engaging enrages my ex, who accuses me of being hard, cold, bitter and unforgiving. My friends try to tell me to forgive, but the question I have for them is, how do you know I haven’t – is it because I don’t want to be with him? If that is the case, they are only parroting the abuser’s warped opinion.

Someone also mentioned the gotquestions.org site. Their answer on divorcing for abuse is very misleading – the advice it gives may sound Biblical, but following the advice keeps you engaged with the abuser and that’s where the damage is done. Forgiving doesn’t mean being willing to injure yourself and as long as you are living in hope, he will find ways of engaging you, even if you don’t live together.

Yes, my ex has asked to be forgiven, but only in front of the pastor where he could shed tears. He hasn’t been able to detail what he has done wrong or what attitudes drove such actions. In fact, I suspect that his asking for forgiveness is simply another ploy to win the game, by showing that he is repentant and I am a cold, hard, villain.

103

Krissy,
I got my psychology degree on the sampus where Larry Crabb was just launching a new counseling program. Dan Allendar was an associate of Crabb. I know ALL TOO WELL exactly what you are talking about. I am fried that I paid for a four-degree from the setting that thought the way that you just explained. I watched people that I knew and loved turn into zombies emotionally! I didn’t understand what was happening. And thank you for putting that into consise words. They don’t acknowledge abusive relationships! (I never read Allendar–couldn’t get past Crabb)AFter having that experience, of Crabb’s buzzwords, concepts, phrases permeating the ENTIRE campus, our chapel services, many of the churches for miles around, it was years, and 20 years in an abusive marriage, and NO help from them, no help practically or in understanding as to what was happening. Ican’t tell you what a nightmare those names are to me. The main thing I remember is anytime you would talk about your life, their favorite thing to say was, “But you’re angry…” like it was a sin, and they would teach that most people were angry, so it was a trap they used.

I never saw such brainwashing

104

Krissy,
I am feeling like the boogey is after me now…
Crabb was a master manipulator, abused us as a group

105

Really, Sheryl, no way!

I used to LOVE Crabb and Allender. They were my favorite authors. I just revelled in their books when I was trying so hard to find my way out of my marital problems. I read the reviews of Allender’s Bold Love and didn’t find anything to warn me that it would be detrimental to follow his advice. I also couldn’t quite understand why Crabb’s Marriage Builder book, while great as a building tool for marriage, couldn’t address how you were to put the other person’s needs first and truly listen to the heart while the person was attacking you abusively.

The other books I loved were those by Cloud and Townsend. They helped me with boundaries and dealing with my issues. But again, following their advice to keep engaging by starting off with conversations, followed by limits, etc. kept me engaged. And I couldn’t apply judgement as to whether the response to my limits needed tightening or loosening of those limits, simply because he was psychologically abusing me and my mind was not in the right shape. And he kept questioning my observations, as well as my right to observe and apply consequences. As long as I had to have conversations about consequences, I was kept in interaction with him. As for calling on outside help to reinforce those limits, well, he was able to manipulate any friend or pastor and because i listened to people who were not trained in abuse, I suffered by following their advice.

Their principle was that a marriage partner can set limits, and that if those boundaries were violated, more action should be taken and that finally the offending spouse would divorce, not you. Well, that doesn’t happen with an abuser because an abuser apologizes and repents as part of the domestic violence cycle. So you loosen the limits and take him back in (forgive and reconcile) only to find it happening again. He would not want to initiate the divorce because without you he would have nothing to control. That’s what people don’t understand – that these people will appear very family-oriented and that’s why even now, people don’t see why I can’t forgive and take him back in when he is so keen to make amends. They forget the cycle and that it is NEVER safe as long as the abuser is not transformed.

106

Krissy,
” I also couldn’t quite understand why Crabb’s Marriage Builder book, while great as a building tool for marriage, couldn’t address how you were to put the other person’s needs first and truly listen to the heart while the person was attacking you abusively.”

What a nightmare for you and I lived much of the same trial and mostly error type of thing!

These authors live in a sheltered part of society regardless of what they write. Their experiences are limited; out of neccessity, because their income MUST be there for them. YOu sort of learn to distiinguish real help from writing which mostly ends up being entertainmetn, at least in my estimation.

And yes, the pastors and untrained counselors add to the abuse. WE were excommunicated and it took two years of harrassement beforehand for them to get the job done! Legally, I should have filed a restraining order.
Then I was driven away from two other churches. While my parents came to visit, my dad went to the one pastor, while I was going t hrough a divorce, and “asked him where I stood with the church.” (the very words make me want to vomit) the pastor told him I was fine if I did not talk to anyone in the church about what was going on in my life, othewise they would have to excommunicate me! And my dad jst tells me that like it is the weather report. And today, he still has the nerve to ask me if I am in church!!

107

Krissy,
The reason why a “great building tool for marriage couldn’t address” abusive situations is because the author does not acknowledge the EXISTENCE of abusive relationships. That an author can get away with this,…!!! What does that tell us??? We have been so conditioned by our religious environments to accept abuse, by the church, by anyone, that it isn’t even considered a factor or addressed at all!!!!!!

108

Krissy,
I was told 20 years after college graduation by a former classmate from that college, that NONE of our psych professors had any experience in the field, They all went from being students to teaching students!! This is why our education at that school was so out of touch with reality. I don’t know about Crabb’s previous experience, but I am guessing that these are people who have lived in a cocoon, a religious cocoon, and they wrote books to win the religious war. We heard more in our psych classes about Jay Adams and how wrong he was and how Crabb was so mcuh better, etc., and the whole time I am thinking, “I am paying for this? I am paying to be part of an audience–get a good seat–for more religious warfare.” But it was not an education that prepared me for anything. And then I ended up on my own with four children and could not support us. $8/hour for case management in the county where I lived!!! And I had no work experience or skills, just that damned degree.

109

Sheryl, thanks for the added insight. I read 30 books on marriage before we got married – I had grave doubts and asked a lot of people, including pastors of the church we were at who knew him quite well. Not one person warned me of red flags and not one book talked about domestic abuse and dealbreakers.

Last Christmas, I came across TD Jakes’ book “Before You Do” and in the “before you divorce” section he mentions dealbreakers – why hadn’t any Christian authors mention it before? And he also talked about divorce being inevitable where safety, sanity and survival were at stake.

The message that was drummed into me was that you throw the word “divorce” out of your vocabulary. I was shocked that in our first year of marriage, my soon-to-be-ex mentioned it when I told him in the middle of a heated argument that I still loved him no matter what (actually, I didn’t feel love, but was committed to unconditional love) and he spat back “Well I don’t and I would divorce you if weren’t Christian”. He actually never recalls saying that, or doing a lot of the things he has done.

When he finally agreed to counselling (I was overjoyed) he only went to manipulate the professional Christian counselors and I was shocked that they could be manipulated. They could not detect abuse, even when I brought it up. Or they thought that abuse didn’t mean that we couldn’t go to counseling together or that I could leave. I was told many times I couldn’t leave – we had to work it out with love and forgiveness.

I am so sorry to hear about your experiences. I am still in my church and the pastors are supportive. That doesn’t mean to say he can’t find allies there and it is awkward to see him there with his allies. Maybe one day, we can increase the understanding in churches – it is so not fair that Christian women have to suffer more just from belonging to a community of faith.

110

We’ve been conditioned by our religious environments to not “believe” in, or practically acknowledge, or be able to recognize abusive relationships at all!! WHY?? My husband always says that the reason is that if the church explained abuse to us, the church would be exposing itself, because the church abuses us to secure income and power.

111

It makes me upset when people get hurt more/again by people “helping” when they don’t have a clue. Speaking of excommunication, I gather that’s Catholic? I’ve had my own bouts with them, and the spiritual abuse of my 8 year old daughter. I’ve never been driven from a church, any spiritual group that practices this is as un-Christ-like as you can get, and I wouldn’t have any part of it. But like you said that is how they condition you. People in power sould always be scrutinized to the fullest, whether it’s politicians, church leaders, teachers, or even parents. No one has a right to abuse you no matter who or what they are, but most people trust authority without question and never even know they are being abused. And if they do, they ignore it like it’s not happening, for the “greater good”.

112

not recalling what one has said is an abuse tactic
see Why Does He DO That by Lundy Bancroft

The Verbaly Abusive Relationship, Evans

The Brotherhood of Betrayal, Arthur

I have no hope for church environments; they function the way they do to keep income and power

Divorce: A Gift of God’s Love, Callison, goes along with the 1901 American Standard Version of the Bible, putting away and divorce are not the same thing, and why you won’t read about putting away in modern translations, what they don’t want you to know…get ready for freedom!

113

Lisa Marie,
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America is the church that excommunicated me.

114

Sheryl, I don’t know anything about the Presbyterian denomination. I’ve never been to one of their churches, and fear that I never will now. I don’t think God cares what denomination we are. I agree with your husband, it’s all about keeping the in-flow of finances. Great list of books, I will look them up :O)

115

Krissy,
The whole limited exposure/experiene thing became real clear again when I reread Understanding the Mind of a Woman by Nair. He literally said in there that he asked 1,000 different women at all of his seminars (asked them one at a time and watched the looks on their faces–pervert) if they had a sexs drive, or perhaps it was more like, “women don’t HAVE a sex drive, do they?” And he is already regarded as an expert, and so there they stand feeling inferior and AGREE with him!!! We are reading this book, thinking, what a loser! Adn the fact that he can function this way tells me that his audiences are all fro mthe same type of churches/mindsets.

Religious entertainment is about the best label I can give it.

116

Krissy,
Welcome to my blog!

wow… I have been trying to catch up with the wonderful discussion going on here this morning ~ I am thrilled with what is being talked about! These are exactly the things that I found out on my way out of the darkness. The bottom line is always the misuse of power and control. And the cycle that you speak of Krissy, is present in ALL abusive relationships, not just in domestic violence. My husband wasn’t even what the rest of the world would call abusive at all; He didn’t hit me or call me names but he didn’t regard me as an equal to himself. He didn’t see me as equally valuable ~ his dreams and goals were all that mattered, and I was just his back up program, doing the things that kept him able to pursue his own interests. I had been groomed all my life to submit to this kind of relationship; I had been taught that I was not important my whole childhood. It was a natural progression for me. I didn’t even know that I had any problems with my marriage, because I was too busy looking for my faults. This same thing happens to women in the fog of a violent relationship too. They begin to think they deserve it. I could sit here and write for hours on what you ladies are discussing ~ all of it!
I just want you to know that I am on the same page; this is the foundation of my blog ~ all this ‘revealing’ of the lies we have lived with or continue to live with ~ and that as long as we are trapped within the boundaries of those lies, there is no emotional healing. This is the truth that set me free.
Thank you so much Krissy and Sheryl ~ what a great read that I am having this morning.
Hugs, Darlene

117

http://www.facebook.com/sheryl.senterhackettmatters#!/notes/sus-an/my-journey-into-hell/170417062971083

see if this link works

written by a mom, a FB friend

people can manipulate and control with any good or right sounding words, you know the words or the way that “seemeth right unto a man…the end thereof are the ways of death.” Not eternal damnation death, but separation from your own self in this life

118

Sheryl
That was the death that I was dying… the separation from my own self. That is why I write this blog, because I understand how it happened, and because I understand how to come back to wholeness, recovery, and fullness of life.

The link your shared only goes to your personal facebook page ~ if you would rather it didn’t send me a note in facebook, and I will take the link out.)

119

When someone is being kicked and keeps coming back for more that is an abusive cooperative relationship

When a person is kicked and leaves; that is health

120

When someone is getting kicked and leaves, separates from the abuse, causese the kicking to stop, that is forgiveness, at least how I read what Christina wrote on the definition of forgiveness

121

http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/10/28/what-about-forgiveness/

When a person is getting kicked over and over and keeps coming back for more, that is an abusive relationship. When the kicked person leaves, thereby ends the abuse, THAT is health, that is forgiveness!

“I like your idea of the divorce from your mother. In fact, the word ‘forgive’ as it’s used in the Bible actually m…eans ‘to divorce or send away the offense.” In my mind, if the abusive person is so committed to remaining in that behavior, they become married to the offense and have to be sent away with it.”
See More

122

You know, Sheryl, those books you mentioned is what he calls the “secular” and “feminist” books that have influenced me. So he goes round telling others that my problem is all these books that I read. Wait till he finds out about Not Under Bondage by Barbara Roberts that goes into a Biblical analysis for divorce for abuse.

Why do Christians endorse the the abuser’s thinking that as long as he is willing to change or convinces himself he has changed, that the partner must take him back because the abuse obviously has stopped and the relationship should be restored. In fact, a friend of mine who was physically abused was told by a pastor that she would be given help to separate, but only if the end goal was reconciliation. She herself believed that, so she agreed and she went through hell and high water for 5 years before he apparently turned around and came back to her. She says he doesn’t raise his voice anymore but I don’t get how he could have changed when he never went through any course or read any book! She said he simply ran out of steam and realized that he was heading down the wrong path.

123

Why do christians do what they do? Good title for a new book.
Why Do Christians DO That?

The loyalty patterns are to organizations, the income and the power.

124

you have to step back from what is happening, stop listening to words and watch what is happening

125

Krissy;
Much of the work that I am doing here in this blog is about this very subject; Everything comes down to the misuse of power and control. These dynamics effect everything.
You asked “Why do Christians endorse the the abuser’s thinking that as long as he is willing to change or convinces himself he has changed, that the partner must take him back because the abuse obviously has stopped and the relationship should be restored.” This problem is not just a Christian problem; it effects the larger part of the worlds relationships because it is the misuse of power. How WE come to accept it as normal is because of the world that we grow up in. We are raised to be comfortable with that misuse of power. We don’t start having relationship problems when we are married. We start having them because we are not raised understanding equality or the real definition of mutuality or mutual respect. Although this problem seems more blatant in the Christian world, (possibly because of the divorce issue) it is in fact all over the world. Abusers easily convince victims that they MUST stay with the abuser in order to survive.
Hugs, Darlene

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Many people, not just church members are fooled by the abusers because many abusers know how to be charming with other people. So many people don’t want to look beneath the surface of the charm. Someone being charming makes those around them feel good.

I saw my dad charm so many people outside of our family with his smiles and good humor. Even his brothers and sisters didn’t see the abuse that was happening in my family after the doors were closed to the outside world. As one of my dad’s brothers told me after he read my Dear Family Member letter, “As his family, you just don’t want to think that your own brother is capable of doing this kind of harm to his own daughters.” I found out from an aunt that my dad’s own mother thought something might be happening and chose to ignore it. My grandmother was a very codependant personality who lived most of her life raising 13 kids while living with a raging, practicing alcoholic—my grandfather. People hide from things they don’t want to see or acknowledge. We as the survivors pay a terrible price for their denial of what is.

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Darlene, I get what you are trying to say with the misuse of power and control – that is the what my DV worker keeps reminding me domestic violence is all about. I find the difference between women in the world and those of the church is that in the world there is the concept of “too little, too late” or “three strikes you’re out” – you can decide enough is enough. In the church you are encouraged to always place restoration or redemption as the end goal (as expressed in books by Allender, eg). Somehow the responsibility for that falls on the non-abusive person because obviously that person is more mature and has a sense of responsibility. So the abusive person gets away with abuse (remembering that remorse is part of the cycle and shows that the person is still in the abusive mindset and power games) and doesn’t take responsibility while the victim is expected to forgive and redeem the other person by being there, as long as there is a glimmer of hope. The only time they support walking away is when the abuser continues to be overtly physically abusive and walks away himself. (And even then, you are meant to support and hope for restoration from afar.) That sort of overt abusive behavior doesn’t happen in the majority of cases because it doesn’t serve their interest.

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I have two things I need to get off my chest. At first I thought it did not apply to forgiveness but YES IT DOES! I HATE Halloween. I have to enjoy it for my girsl because they love dressing up and doing the trick or treating thing. But my brother would dress up in very scary outfits, and come into my room at night wearing his costume and scare the SHIT OUT OF ME. Being 8 years old and having someone with a scary outfit come in and I knew who he was…but then to rape me with this Scary mask on! I will NEVER forget that.

Also, this is really going on a limb. I’ve never come out about this. My brother and his friends that he allowed rape me gave me genital herpes. I have 2 lazer surgerys done, but to this day still have break outs. I oviously have passed it onto my husband but he handles it really well. When we have a breakout we just get treated. Please do not shame me for this. I wish to God I never got this, but it was NOT my fault but inside I feel it was and that I gave it to my husband. There I said it….it’s off my chest and I’m going to hit submit comment and leave it here.

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Kathy, I would hate Halloween too if I was frightened and used that way as a child. You did nothing to deserve it and have absolutely nothing to feel ashamed of. Those boys, including your brother, were bullies of the worst kind. Anyone who would make you feel ashamed for a condition that you were given when you were raped should be ashamed of themselves. You were a defenseless child.

I am going to ask you to do something that I asked a friend of mine to do recently. Stand up and hold out your arms and hands in front of you. Now take those arms and hands and wrap them around yourself. That is the hug that each of us here reading this are sending to you. Be sure to hug very tight as long as you need it. We are here with you. Most, if not all, of us know what shame feels like. It is not ours. Sending (((Hugs))) to you and your inner child. You have every right to be angry.

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Hey Kathy, I’m with ya!! It took guts to hit that submit button and I’m so glad you did. You’ve done nothing and have nothing to be ashamed of. The shame and the blame lies with the bullies not with you. It wasn’t your fault, it really wasn’t!!

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Thanks Patricia and Fi for being here for Kathy,

Kathy ~ I don’t blame you for being triggered by Halloween memories. That is a terrible thing that happened to you. As far as the herpes, that was not your fault at all. I know that these are tough things to get through but getting them out of your head is the first step to processing them.
Hang in there,
Hugs, Darlene

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Agree with Ravin. Guess I do feel that way. Someone wanting me to “forgive” feels like “I don’t want to hear your story”. It’s received internally as a rejection of our truth.

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***This is my own Ambien induced rant***
I have not nor will I ever forgive the countless people who ruined my life to the point where day to day I don’t even know who the hell I am. I will hope to one day love them for their ignorance and pedophiliac group sexualization of me and others. But I will never forgive them. Part of me stepping away from such groups is to work on forgiving MYSELF. Forgiving the years of running and hiding and denying truths I either suspected or knew all along. Forgiving “myself” for not paying attention to my needs. Forgiving myself for not walking away when I could and forgiving myself for prolonging all this pain. Ive come to realize this is just pain I will live with the rest of my life. Yet its about how I choose to live with it and how I can free myself from it. I don’t want to be labeled a victim or a survivor today. I don’t know what label I want but I just want to be me. I very trouble woman, sometimes girl, sometimes teenager that is simply trying to forgive herself as a whole and learn to live life without all the extra baggage some people call their persistent family. My new approach to my healing is my own. Embracing the light and stop obsessing about all the things I know of and yet to fully understand that happened in the dark. I’m sorry right now I am medicated and should go to bed soon because I am emotionally “on the edge” lately but I still wanted to stop by and say something… even if its just a rambling of nothing very important. I still watch you ladies and send you my loves and *hugs* send good thoughts my way… we can chat tomorrow.

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Chalet, what you said could have come from me. I know exactly what you mean, word for word. Hugs!

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Chalet, what you said is very important and adds to much to the conversation. Thank you.

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Hi Darlene,

This one is such an emotionally charged subject. Having been hurt in such ways, I remember wondering how I could ever contemplate forgiveness to those who did it. How could I forgive a rapist of my body? A pedophile who used me his own sick desires? A physical abuser who broke my spirit? Or someone who left me with a daily physical reminder of the neglect that I carry to this day? All of these people brought pain into my life and left me to survive it in my own way. And that way was filled with days of shame, guilt, self-loathing, near suicide, and overall brokenness. But I found that through the years that turned to decades that my life became consumed with remembering the pain, consumed with still living in their shadow and allowing them to continue to exert their control over me. I came to a point where I was under their thumb being squashed until I could no longer breathe, even though physically that had left me decades earlier.

Coming to that point was where I found that I could no longer live that way. It was suffocating. Hatred had consumed me inside, hatred for what they had done to me, and it was crowding out the rest of my life. I knew that to set myself free from the control they had over me, that I couldn’t simply just “forget it”. And I couldn’t keep harboring the hatred. I choose to forgive them (and that forgiveness actually came at different points for each one), and to see them as the broken people that they were as well. Seeing them in that light has been a turning point for me. It doesn’t mean that I need to be in a restored relationship with them — it couldn’t be anything further from that. It just means that I let them go and no longer harbor the hatred — I see that as forgiveness, some may call it something different. But it’s been restorative to me, and has helped me heal.

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Chalet,
I feel that way about some events in my history. I would bring this up repeatedly to a counselor and she would say something like, “You feel guilty about what…What else could you do, you were just a kid!!” It didnt’ really help how I felt at the time, but I have thought anout it some since. I was either a kid, or growing out of the abuse patterns in my life.

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“I choose to forgive them (and that forgiveness actually came at different points for each one), and to see them as the broken people that they were as well. Seeing them in that light has been a turning point for me. It doesn’t mean that I need to be in a restored relationship with them — it couldn’t be anything further from that. It just means that I let them go and no longer harbor the hatred — I see that as forgiveness, some may call it something different. But it’s been restorative to me, and has helped me heal.”

Thank you for sharing this!

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Honestly at this point in my life I have a VERY BAD TEMPER. I’m hoping to extend the lease on my townhouse so that I can fix the results of my very bad temper before my landlord sees them. (if for some strange reason my landlord is reading this “i love you, i’m sorry and I will fix it all”) This all came to a huge climax over the summer when a now former therapist who I no longer have a grudge against FORCED ME TO FACE MY TRUTH. I’m stepping away completely from traditional therapy because I’ve decided my healing will come from another source. My faith. In all actuality I really just need a huge break after 16 years of constant forced talking and strategic avoiding. In this “break” I’ve learned I have what I need inside me to “heal” and maybe eventually “forgive” or else I wouldn’t be alive today. I’ve gotten better and worse since I’ve stopped therapy and although I won’t deny I have “issues” that may really require professional attention in the future at this very second I am laughing and I can say I love me me. Inside my head I’m thinking that above rant was true, I really hate the SOB’s that screwed up my life from approximately 1 and a half years old till i was 15 and barely 6 months of age.
Hell they still screw up my life and I’ve completely disowned them. But I only feel that way because I think they still have control. I may not be able to control what gets done TO ME. But I can control how I respond TO WHAT IS DONE. I have to remember all day today and forever more that I am sunshine and I am worth good things.
Oh, I guess I can say I have forgiven some people that have done me wrong. I just can’t get around to forgiving my family yet. Those effers started it all and none of the other crap would have affected me so terribly if I wasn’t already completely shattered.
Its way early and I’m ranting again. Close to tears at this point… I must have something inside I really need to say. It’ll come out, somehow.
Thanks for reading…again (I totally want to delete this but I’m going to hit “submit” anyway)

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Before I run and hide for the day and at least pretend I’m not sitting here staring at a computer screen, I want to say thank you to Sheryl, Lisa Marie and Patricia for your responses to me. (I also thank anyone who responds henceforth) It takes a lot for me to actually comment (or two Ambien) and I really appreciate being noticed. Lately I feel so invisible…

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Chalet,
Thank you for hitting that send button!!
Good for Ambien if it got you to the point of detoxing your emotions and mind!!
Therapy can be quite something?!!!??!!! How long were you with that therapist?

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Hi Chalet,
Everything is important, I am shocked at what I realize about myself when I am “rambling” so it is all good! Please feel free to write what ever you like, when ever you like! This whole thing is such a process, and each area has a mini process of its own, and they just sort of come together along the way. I had to stop even thinking about forgiveness, it was really in my way. I had to get angry, and give myself permission to be angry, to feel it, and to tell my story ~ and at first as I was telling my story to another, really I was telling it to myself for the first time.
Thank you so much for sharing. I know it is hard, but there is so much healing for all of us when we do this.
Love Darlene

Hi Eddie
Thanks for sharing how it worked for you. I can relate to your process even though the way that I see mine is so different.. there are so many similarities. And those feelings that you describe, yes, that was me.
Thank you so much for contributing.
Hugs, Darlene

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I was with that particular therapist 8 years. She was awesome. However the last time I saw her when I “quit” I told her I never wanted to see her again. I lied. If I ever see her in public or in her office, which I’m sure either is very likely, I plan on giving her a huge hug. She was awesome and I tend to be a brat at times. Yet she knows I will come around and at least have a proper goodbye. We both deserve that. Its been a hellish 8 years if not a entire life for me. *hugs*

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Chalet, I so remember feeling invisible, not as an adult but as a child suffering from incest silently with all of those silent screams buried in my head. As a child suffering from incest rapes on a weekly basis, I disconnected from my body and just lived in my head. I had silent screams that even today I am still afraid to release. Believe me when I say that I have thought about it and have even talked about it but the actual physical action of screaming terrifies me for some reason.

In the same way, for many years, I was terrified of my own rage. I haven’t gotten physically violent except for 3 times that I tried to slap my husband and later had to explain and apologize for my behavior. Those 3 attempted slaps I still feel deeply ashamed of. I took action with pure feelings of rage, no thinking before hand. I haven’t done damage to a house but I did damage to someone that I love very, very much who had done nothing but light a fuse that I didn’t even know was there. My reaction was so intense and so unwarrented that it scared me. I would much prefer to repair walls in a house to the wounds of a person’s mind and emotions. In those moments, I became my dad and I hated him and me. To me rage = hate = violence.

It took me about 4 years of actively working on my issues at 12-Step meetings and in my writings to finally learn to control the rage and to stop it from becoming rage. Anger is managable and can be used constructively. My rage was pure destruction. I learned to walk away from people rather than hurt them with my rage. I learned to write out what I was feeling on paper so that I could better see it and learn that I could express it without it hurting others or myself. I could see where the rage was coming from. The rage had nothing to do with my current life. It all came from my feelings of helplessness and fear as a child. I discovered that all of my anger came from unexpressed fear of something. Anger and rage were just coverups for deep fears from my childhood. the main one fear of dying, fear of always being invisible, the fear of never being able to leave the incest and its destructiveness behind, the fear of losing myself to other people or to insanity.

My husband and I will both tell you that those 4 years were pure Hell and our marriage almost didn’t survive but it did and the other side was much better. How did we make it to the other side? I learned to write out my feelings and to talk to my husband about what was going on. Talking was the hardest part, keeping him in the loop as to what was going on. I didn’t like sharing those dark thoughts and letting others see that I was falling apart and that I could be a real Bitch rather than the nice, charming, loving wife and mother that the world saw me as. Letting others see the shadow parts of me was not easy in the least. Learning to accept and acknowledge those parts of me was not easy for me. It completely destroyed my “goody two shoes image” that I worked so hard to keep in place so that everyone would like me. The sad part is that I really believed that was who I was too. It was another lie that I believed in and had to forgive myself for believing. Lies can do harm to the believers, especially the liar.

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Darlene,
WOW, thanks for sharing all of that. It is amazing to have lived through so much and get to the place of putting all of that into words! What a blessing to read!

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Patricia,
I goofed. I meant to thank you for your last post! I appreciate Darlene as well!
Sorry!!

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Sherryl, you are welcome. What is amazing and miraculous is that any of us survived at all. What is amazing is how we all are such beautiful and courageous women in spite of the abuse that we survived. (((Hugs))) and Blessings to all.

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Chalet,
I appreciated that story about you and this therapist. It reminds me of a friendship that I had. We reconnected after about 25 years. We exchanged stories of this nature that were truly so much alike and it was just life-giving to me. I literally felt restored by much of what she shared. We talked a lot for months. Then one day, there was some part of her that she was talking about and I said that I guessed that it had to do with her being adopted. And she said that is what her therapist had also said. (Oh, and by the way, she was very mad at herself for having staed in a bad marriage for many years, so a “forgiving of self” issue that drove her to therapy.)
Anyway, that was the last time she would ever talk to me!!

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Thanks Fi, Patricia and Darlene (and everyone else)!

Today is Halloween! I hate Halloween…I fucking hate it! But my girls love it. I have to suck it up for them and let them have a great Halloween! It has a bad meaning for me and really hits some nerves but I CAN NOT let it be a bad thing for my innocent little girls.

I just want this day to hurry and fucking me over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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[...] it. I was way too young to ignore it, or to refute it or reject that statement.  Just like in my forgiveness rant, when I said that there is a missing step in the whole forgiveness arena, this message also leaves [...]

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Thank you as always Darlene for you blogs.. you all give me courage. In a totally unrelated rant guess what my new legal first name will be in less than a month? Genesis. Cool huh? Thank heavens for new beginnings…

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Kathy, its not really Halloween. Yes, I am making this up in part but its Sunday. I kind of effing HATE SUNDAYS… just didn’t want you to be the only one with a reason to not like “today”. I hope its okay you share your sadness and frustrations with “me”.

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Chalet,
What a great name! “Genesis” I love it and yes it is very cool! I love new beginnings and this is a great new beginning.
Hugs, Darlene

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Halloween isn’t good for me either cos of the satanic abuse and witchcraft rituals that took place around some of my earliest experiences of abuse and that I was forced to take part in by my grandparents.

This is also a totally shit time of year for me with so many birthday and anniversary dates that I wish my mind/body would not insist on remembering – there’s something about having to re-define certain days, somehow!!

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Chalet, good on you for changing your name, I’m legally changing mine in January – all the best with your new identity, new start!!

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Genesis,
I happen to also HATE Sundays!!!

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Unfortunately I’m on the edge. I need to be more prepared to read something that will eventually trigger me. I don’t like to be reminded of things from others sometimes.. life has its way of letting you know that you can’t always have things your way. Yet I can make a choice. That is to stop reading this now. My sympathies to the one who survived more ritualized abuse. Just know that you are loved and others share your pain. I have no further comment here. Thanks to all for sharing with me.
*hugs*

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Kathy, one way that I have found to ease the pain of bad memories is to create new, better memories with my children. For me, Christmas is a really good example of this. Every single Christmas of my childhood, my dad would get drunk and make an ass out of himself and ruin the holiday for everyone esle. My dad was a mean drunk. I took the Christmas holiday and made good memories with my husband and children. I kept creating new memories each year until finally the hurt eased and the sadness was replaced by happiness with my family.

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Hi everyone!
I love what you said Patricia, about redefining holidays, and creating new memories. That is what I had to do too! AND it is possible. It does take time, for sure! It is a big part of the overall process.

I hated Christmas the most… I volunteered to work every Christmas (I worked in a hospital so I was the hero to all the folks that actually wanted the day off!) I am glad that I began to create new memories with my kids (this is part of re-parenting and re-wiring stuff) because I sure would feel bad if they hated Christmas too!

Great post Patricia!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Everyone, The blog is having a Glitch and Fi is not able to post her comment, so she has sent it to me:
Here is what Fi has to add!

“Wow, yes that redefining holidays and creating new memories does work. I know from experience that it really is possible.

I do it at Christmas too. I used to hate Christmas and absolutely dreaded it coming knowing I’d be alone no matter what I did. I tried everything including voluntary work but nothing really worked.

Then in 2006 I discovered a holiday company that makes going away at Christmas affordable. The last 4 Christmasses I’ve been away to Europe with this company and will be again this Christmas. I’ve begun to look forward to Christmas now rather than dread it. It’s taken a lot of time to begin to get past the trauma and begin to create new good memories that no one can ever take away from me. I spend the whole year planning, saving and going without to be able to do it, but it has transformed Christmas for me!!

It’s not easy to do but it is possible to transform a crap/horrible time of year into one you can look forward to/get through a bit easier.”

Fi

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Patricia, thanks for sharing about your rage and how you worked through it. I felt so guilty for displaying so much rage at my kids, the ones I was supposed to protect, after we escaped the abusive relationship. But then, my abused kids also displayed rage at me (which they never would have in front of their dominator). They will not go for counseling, so I will have to be patient there.

What you have shared also confirms to me that there is a difference between having childhood trauma and having violence-supporting beliefs. Friends of my ex would have sympathy for him, trying to trace the cause of his woes to childhood trauma (which he angrily denied and never looked into). I myself used to think that if I helped him through it (maybe that was my life mission) he would change.

A person who has horrendous childhood experiences is scarred and obviously this affects all adult relationships. But if that person doesn’t have violence-supporting beliefs (that he/she is entitled to dominate, control, etc) that can be worked through and the person feels bad for how it affects others. I mean, your husband could have called the police and you could have been labelled a woman abuser and he a male victim. And of course, there are those. But in your case (and in the case of other male perpetrators who are labelled abusers), your actions didn’t sit well with you and you were able to confront it and talk about it honestly. So it seems to support the theory that childhood abuse is not really the root cause of domestic abuse.

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Christmas is loaded for me too. I have learned to love other holidays-particularly Thanksgiving, in my case – because I’ve learned to really treat myself well. But Christmas still knocks me out every year. I know it’s a process, but I always feel guilty about not enjoying Christmas…like it only comes once a year, and why do I have to be such a Scrooge anyway?! I’ll try not to do that to myself this year at least…it would be a step in the right direction!

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Chalet / Genesis, your comment about your therapist makes me think of how angry I felt when I realized that it hurt the first time around and now reliving it I had to go through the pain again…….so not fair! So wrong to have to suffer twice or three or more times for the same thing. My therapist just let me verbalize this, not responding with anything more than an I’m sorry look.

He has told me more than once, for sure, that the only way past the pain is through it. You can’t avoid it and heal. You can’t go under it, over it, around it. You have to go through it to get to the other side. It hurts so bad you think you’re not going to make it…..and you often don’t even want to make it if it means feeling that level of pain. Yet, somehow you do. You come out the other side. You look gratefully at the treasure of a person who was willing to sit with you through those tough times and support you through it all.

I know that your therapist is that kind of a treasure of a person. I think you know it too.

Hugs to both of you.
Arja

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I’m so glad you hit the send button too. I have been following this discussion and have been gaining a lot too……especially from you, Chalet.
You have a lot to contribute to all of us…..and even though you might feel invisible, you are not.

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Krissy, You are very welcome. For the first time, probably because of the comments here that I have been reading and the fact that October was Domestic Violence Awareness month and the shows that I watched on Dr. Phil, I have actually thought about my actions toward my husband as incidences of domestic violence, also my sarcasm that I used to let out my hatred was a form of domestic abuse. I never before realized that words could be domestic abuse too. I know that emotional abuse can be more damaging than physical abuse in many ways. Threats of hitting without the actual hitting can also be domestic violence because they produce fear. I grew up with a lot of threats. Yes, I carry guilt about the 3 hitting incidences and about the sarcasm. When I heard my children starting to address their dad with sarcasm, I realized it was time for me to stop. Sarcasm teaches disrespect. I wanted my children to respect their dad so I stopped. I wanted to respect my husband so I stopped. He deserved my respect, not my sarcasm. He was not my dad or my mom. He was himself, the man that I loved, the man who taught me to laugh and to love.

I have never agreed with the abused children grow up to be abusers in domestic violence cases, as an excuse. It does happen. Yes, some do grow up to abuse, but so many, many others don’t. Many more abused children grow up to stop abuse in their lives rather than carrying it on as adults. I think conscience is the difference. As you said, I felt guilty about my 3 times that I tried to slap my husband and I learned to control and release the rage so that it would never happen again. I don’t think my dad ever felt guilt, if he did he didn’t express it. My husband didn’t silently stand by and meekly allow himself to be abused. He blocked the slap all 3 times. I thought I had broken my own arm one time because I hit his arm with such force. I have never been proud of what I did. This is one of the few places that I have ever talked about it. Rage is never an excuse to hurt someone else. My husband and I have talked about all of this and healed it between us. Secrets have to be acknowledged and worked through to heal.

Working with my anger, acknowledging and feeling it before it can build and become rage is how I learned to stop raging. Tackle the anger before it becomes rage. One of the most difficult parts of healing, for me, is acknowledging how I did some of the abusive patterns from my childhood when I became the adult. Seeing those patterns of behavior is how you change. Until you see – awareness – you can’t change.

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Arja, over the past few days I wrote another post of my own about forgiveness in which I wrote that you can’t just “get over it,” that you can’t go “under, over, or around” the pain that you have to go through it instead. I love the similarity of our thoughts on the subject. I worked on my post over the past 3 days before finishing it early yesterday afternoon. The post will come out on Tuesday morning (Nov. 2).

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Not proud of what I did, by the time I was a teenager my abuse was an every day ordeal when I turned 14 I had about enough and I beat my mother nearly to death in a fit of rage. She was in the hospital for about 6 weeks and my uncle tried to discipline me for doing that but I told him that if he touched me I would kill him, he left me alone had to go to court and they sent me to a residential treatment center for anger issues for a long time after words I went to live with my grandparents and my grandfather was a pervert. He tried to touch me one night and I told him to get out of the room. The next night he tried again only this time I was ready I stabbed him in the hand they kicked me out of the house and told every one I was possessed.(my grandfather was a deacon in the church) The pastor tried to talk to me about forgiveness I told him to fuck off! My grandparents have since then past away and I have absolutely no contact with my mother. My older brother, he is 10 years older, raised me and he provided a good home for me and made sure that I got the help that I needed to survive. Many years have past I am now married to a wonderful loving husband and my in-laws are absolutely the best!!! I determined in my heart when I was about 20 that I WOULD NOT let my past predict how I was going to be as a person in the future. After many stumbles and falls along the way I am really doing good I have alot of love and support from my family. I had lot of questions over the years like why didn’t anyone help when they could see the abuse but since no one could truly give me an answer I did not have to come up with one of my own. I would like to say that I have forgiven them but honestly I don’t think I really have totally maybe some day I will have a definite answer and then I AM A SURVIVER!!!!!!!

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Tegan and Patricia, THANKS so much for your comments. It really gives me hope for my kids too. When I left my abusive relationship, it was not just my rage that came to the surface, I saw the same thing in my teenagers and it wasn’t pretty. Downright scary. I realized then that they had only poor role-modeling and none of us knew how to express our anger except through rage. It was when my counselor helped me see that we had a lot in common and that I should come alongside and work through that common ground rather than see them as abusers in the making that needed to be rejected, that things began to change.
I will never figure out why some people are aware and want to change and others, like my ex, refuse to look at their behavior and just make excuses, project, blame, deny, etc. Not to say he didn’t keep me hoping by being remorseful once in a while and saying that he was going to change. Then he would do nothing to initiate the process, and I wouldn’t dare to question him or he would explode again. He kept me trying to figure it out, doing all the hard work and blaming myself for a long time before I realized that it had nothing to do with me. Now I can see that it is not just his actions that need forgiving, it is his lack of will and his deception that he really really wanted to change that need forgiving too, because it is that deception that kept us with him. People who really want to change eventually end up where you are, Tegan and Patricia.

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Hi Tegan,
Welcome and thank you for sharing this piece of your story. Another story of how the victim is labelled as the problem. These kinds of stories always stun me, no matter how often I hear them. I guess this is partly why I write a lot about that missing link between being abused and being responsible for your own life as an adult.. when all we ever know is being punished for both compliance AND for retaliation. We just can’t win. Thank you for shedding light on another aspect of this whole thing.
Hugs, Darlene

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As my husband and I had children, my oldest son was about 9 when he started to show some very aggressive behavior and had problems in school, at the time I seriously thought it was my fault that he was that way come to find out that the teacher was being abusive to all the kids and he thought that if he told he would get in trouble and not the teacher because she is an adult (I thought that way too!!! see the pattern?) Anyway we switched schools and he did fine after a little counseling too! he told his dad that it made him feel good that we believed him when he finally told us about the abuse, at 17 he is a joy to see him growing into such a excellent young man. Its all about girls, his truck and sports!!! LOL school is definitely in last place.I am not big on holidays but I tolerate them because I love my family and they help through those times. You folks are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Krissy, you are very welcome. Helping someone else to see something in themselves and the healing that I get from telling my story are the only reasons that I choose to be so brutally honest about my own journey. Helping each other heal is such a blessing.

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[...] Forgiveness @DarleneOuimet Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant (via @DrKathleenYoung) [SEO: This resonates strongly for me, and apparently as well for people in [...]

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To me, forgiveness has no meaning. It’s like asking, “How big is orange.”

The therps like to tell you how good it is for you. Few of them have experienced anything like you have. While they preach forgiveness, they never tell you exactly how you do it. All the talk is this vague stuff about “letting go.”

I will never forgive because I’m not capable of forgiveness. All it sounds like to me is handing the abuser a free card to do it all over again.

And I’m sick and tired of being lectured about it.

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Hi Nordy,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I put the whole concept of forgiveness aside while I sorted out my life in the process of healing. There is no reason why we can’t just do that. Who gets to say what we HAVE to do? I did forgive in the end, but it was nothing like the word or concept that I had come to understand my whole life. It was more like I just stopped being controlled by the people who hurt me. I just didn’t have all the anger anymoe. But as for the how part, it was something that came as a result of doing the healing work. So just telling ppl. to forgive is really not helpful at all. They don’t say HOW to do it because they don’t KNOW HOW to do it.
Hugs, Darlene

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Nordy, forgiveness does not mean “handing the abuser a free card to do it all over again.” My journey to forgiveness meant making the abuser accountable for the abuse and meant removing myself and my children from within his reach. It meant telling others about the abuse so this person could not abuse again.

Forgiveness is not denial of what happened. It means no longer blaming myself for the abuse. It means getting angry, sad, and grieving for the loss of my childhood and my innocense. It means not continuing to attract other abusers to myself.

In feeling all of the rage that I carried around inside of me, I was able to finally feel everything else that was getting blocked from my life as well such as joy, laughter, happiness and love for myself and my family. As long as I was holding on to the rage, there wasn’t room for anything else.

I was finally able to see how unhappy I was and learn that I could change that, if I wanted to. I used to think the rage was powerful. What it was was destructive to me and my body. I used my rage to hurt others and myself. I was afraid for many years that if I let the rage out, I would kill someone with it.

I was afraid of my own feelings. I used 12-Step meetings to talk out the rage and found out that I didn’t have to hurt myself or anyone else with it. 12-Step meetings were a safe place for me to do the work of reconnecting with myself, my feelings and my body. Today, I thank God that my dad was an alcoholic or I might never had found out how to do my own work of growing and changing into the person that I love today.

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Thanks for posting, Darlene and Patricia.

Unfortunately, I loathe groups. That means groups of any kind, support, therapy, 12-step, whatever. Talking about my personal life to a bunch of total strangers creates an inauthentic intimacy of which I want no part.

I’ve been in enough groups to understand that despite the endless hugging, I don’t care about any of the members and won’t come to care as the group goes along.

I do care about how groups make me feel violated.

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Patricia,
thanks for sharing what worked for you. =)
Hugs, Darlene

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[...] Darlene Ouimet shares one of my favorite blogposts as well.  It’s a hot-button topic and one that puts me up on a soapbox quite often, too.  TITLE Forgive The Abusers?  A bit of a Rant :: Emerging from Broken [...]

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This is such an important post to be included in Carnival Against Child Abuse so that others can read the post and the comment discussion. Glad you shared it.

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Wow. Darlene, your ‘rant,’ and the many varied comments it has generated… this is awesome. I completely agree with you, Darlene. Once again, you have so beautifully articulated a very deep truth.

Several years ago, someone I thought of as a friend said something very rude, devaluing, and hurtful to me one day. I knew him through a 12-step group we both belonged to. As we were leaving at the end of a meeting, he made his hateful comment as we were going out the door at the same time. What he said was completely unwarranted. I was so hurt and shocked, that I didn’t say anything back. I couldn’t. Then I went home, brooded for a couple of hours, and finally called him and said, “Tom, what you said to me as we were leaving the meeting… that really hurt my feelings. It was rude, and untrue, besides.”

Tom replied “I’m sorry. Now, get over it.” ~!

I got over it, all right… I got over thinking of Tom as a friend!

Although that incident was very minor, it is a good example, I believe, of the Absurdity behind the demand that we Forgive, immediately and completely, any and all abuses. “I’m sorry, now get over it.” Or, in most cases, there isn’t even an insincere-sounding “I’m sorry,” it’s just: “Get over it.”

How utterly absurd.

Lynda

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Hi Lynda!
Very good example. And I like the conclusion that you came to as well ~ very healthy. And here is the strange thing I have found. These same people ~ if you were to reverse the whole interaction ~ he would have been outraged and certainly given you a lecture about it, but when “they” do it, it’s all fine. Well this is not always the case, but it is so often. I can think of many examples like this one where I could not win or come out even close to equal, ever!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene

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Absolutely, Darlene, it has also been my experience/observation that those who dish it out are rarely able to take their own medicine.

I’ve been wanting to tell you how much I admire your diplomatic, respectful, yet utterly straight-forward, honest, and assertive way that you deal with the comments some people leave on your posts, with which you disagree. I wish I had your talent for coommunicatiing the way you do. I do have that gift, but only up to a point… that point being when I am “triggered,” and then I either go completely passive, clam up, roll over and play dead, which has historically been my usual response, OR ELSE I go to the opposite extreme and become ballistically agressive, and blast the person right out of the water with my biting words… yikes.

I’m so glad that you are getting these comments on your blog, and I’m not getting them on mine, because I am not able – yet – to handle them, but you most definitely are. I am gratefully learning from you, how to do what you do. I hope that by the time my blog starts getting a lot of comments, IF it does, that I will have learned from your example how to respond in a healthy, affirming, healing way, for ALL concerned.

Lynda

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Hi Lynda,
I spent over three years working with a brilliant therapist in his therapy/seminar company as the director of client relations, support and I was also a speaker in the seminars. I learned so much from him about healing methods ~ and also developed a deep compassion for people who are not strong, so when people say things that I don’t “agree with” I rarely react anymore. I used to say some “not so healthy things” too. Here is a rule of thumb for me on this blog that might help you out. Most of the comments that I answer when I have an issue with the content of the comment I answer keeping in mind ONLY the health of the other readers. (again, I learned this from my professional work with clients)
Hugs, Darlene

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Lynda, When I get a comment on my blog that I just totally disagree with, as long as it is respectful and not abusive in any way to myself or others, I will post it. If it is mean or disrespectful, name-calling,abusive, or the occasional advertisement that has nothing to do with my topic, I don’t post it on my blog. I reserve the right to decide whether to publish or not publish comments on my own blog.

I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. They make me think about other people and other ways of seeing a situation. I like that. It helps me to see beyond my own way of thinking. It sometimes opens doors of opportunity for growth for me that I wouldn’t have opened otherwise.

One saying that I learned in 12-Step programs that I use when I disagree but don’t want to argue over the topic is “Thank you for sharing that.” It works really well in that it acknowledges what the other person said without agreeing or disagreeing with them and it is respectful of both parties involved.

I love Emerging From Broken and Darlene for the way that she handles and addresses so many very complex topics of healing. I am so far behind in my reading of blog posts because of being sick with the pneumonia for a month and then Christmas and New Years. I need to spend one whole day soon catching up.

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Thanks Patricia;
for your compliments and endorsement, and for your contribution to this blog.. not just to this post but to the whole blog! I have missed you while you have been ill, but I am so glad that you are feeling better now.
Hugs, Darlene

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[...] Ouimet is an abuse survivor who has some powerful things to say about forgiving our abusers on her blog Emerging from [...]

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[...] to it. If I ever do reveal those secrets, I am no better than the one who did it. Also see the forgiveness rant that I wrote a few weeks [...]

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[...] Related posts: click any title to read Forgive the Abusers ~ A bit of a Rant [...]

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There is a new post about forgiveness on Emerging from Broken,

You can read it here: The confusion Created around Forgiveness Issues
http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-confusion-created-around-forgiveness-issues/

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Darlene, perfect timing for me. Thank you for sharing. I’m having some struggling with anger and forgiveness myself. I thought I got past this once before, but it keeps resurfacing.

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Hi Donna
Welcome to EFB and thanks for sharing. You are not alone on this one! It was certainly one I revisited many times before I moved past it more deeply.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi, I haven’t posted for a while, been quite unwell with endometriosis, and had a hysterectomy 4 weeks ago… The whole of this year been pretty painful and miserable with this disease.. Well I guess if it’s not one thing it’s another hey??

To the point; I don’t know what it means or how to handle it when someone says ‘ please forgive me ‘. Please WHAT me? What does that mean. I can’t say ‘that’s ok’ is that what they are asking for when they ask forgiveness? The concept of forgiveness has me stumped, time and time again. It may have something to do with the fact my abusers (biological mother and step father) are clearly not sorry, they still live their lives in denial, they have shown time and time again they are not remorseful, the only time they even look like being remorseful is when is affecting them, and they need our ‘forgiveness’. And they used to get it, or so I thought. When I realized (it was a gradual, painful realization) that they were not only un-remorseful, but they still harboured feelings of blame towards me, and minimization if their own actions.!! It seems my abusers only want my forgiveness to make them feel better. How selfish. Sociopathic narcissism???? ( by the way HE has never even asked for forgiveness, so how to forgive someone who’s never asked for it????) Hmmm tricky one.
Love to all xo

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Hi Michelle,

very sorry to hear of your illness (I had to look up endometriosis). I’m male btw & not pretending to have a clue about what it’s like for you, but another blog I read was talking recently about the author having a hyst. & a huge wash of emotions which came up (along with the physical side) so at least have more idea than I would’ve before reading that. Feeling a bit ignorant for asking, but I’m not real sure why hyst’s are done – assuming it’s to protect rest of the body from something? (Hope you don’t mind me asking). Anyway I hope that having had it done that you’re healthier now.

I can relate to the confusion re forgiveness. I was raised (and identified myself until prob. early 20′s – early 30′s now) as christian, so the “other F word” was a pretty common topic as I grew up. Darlene mentioned in the post about guilt/fear re not forgiving; I can DEFINITELY relate to that!!

I think I kinda feel like forgiveness should be more for the person who was wronged, then the one who committed it. (As in, if you feel able to forgive, and it helps you, then great; but if the person as you describe wants it to feel better about themself, then f**k them – particularly in the case you describe of blaming you & minimizing etc). But then, I’m a pretty bitter person in a lot of ways, so my view probably isn’t very balanced.

The way you said “please WHAT?” seems very insightful to me. It’s kinda like forgiveness is thrown around so much as what you have to do to heal, or to be a good christian or whatever, but as I think about it, it’s a very hard thing to define. This kinda flows on to me in regards to things I’ve done that I find very hard to deal with. For example, I took part in bullying a girl at school when I was maybe 11-12. Felt guilty about that (on and off) for years. (Sometimes I just forget about it).

Not long ago (probably around the time I found this blog, as I think about it) I googled her name, thinking vaguely about apologizing. Found her facebook page with a link to stopping bullying among kids. Then I was googling stuff about “how to apologize for bullying”, and found of the pages I read, it seemed about 50/50 for people who had been bullied between a) feeling that an apology would really help them and b) never wanting to see/hear from the person/people again. So I got a bit stuck; couldn’t think of a way to easily broach the topic without making it worse if she was in the 2nd camp. I did think of trying to msg one of her friends and asking them to try and casually ask if she’d appreciate an apology from a bully or not, but haven’t tried yet.

Feeling a bit guilty now for talking about my own s**t here. It’s been bothering me for quite a while now I guess. (Decades, in some ways – if not constantly). I guess I hate having to know about myself that I’ve caused a lot of pain, as well as having been on the receiving end of a s**tload of it. Life is very strange.

Anyway enough from me. Hope that your health is much more stable now!

Take care

J

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Hi Michelle
Great to hear from you! I LOVE this “please what me?” I would as that question now when someone says please forgive me. I do ask those questions like “what does that mean?” and “forgive you when you never admitted guilt, so ‘forgive you’ for WHAT?? I want them to say it. I want them to know what they are asking forgiveness FOR.

About forgiving someone who has never asked for it, I found that forgiveness is a RESULT of the work I have done on my own healing. It isn’t sometihng that I did, it is something that happened… but I don’t think of it in terms of that word “forgiveness” I think of it in terms of the “energy” that the event took up in my life was gone once I had resolved it. (that it was not my fault, that I was not AT fault and that what they did was wrong ~ period. No question about it, no accountability on my part)
Love your points!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Darlene, thank you so much for this post. It’s been told to me many times to get “over it”. Even by a sister who’s father had his way with me for three years, which seemed like a hundred years to me. She not only asked me if I was telling the truth, she took care of him in his old age up until he died. Validation, apparently doesn’t apply to me and I am so angry about a lot of stuff that to let it loose I’m afraid. Afraid of what I might do or even afraid of dying from letting loose the anger. I mean my heart might not be able to handle it as I already have heart disease. Any suggestions of how to release the anger would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi Denise,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
Invalidation is something I have written tons about in this website! I totally get how damaging that is. It is at the root of the damage that happened to me. Anger is good. I had to embrace my anger. Although I don’t have a heart condition, I was terrified that I could not handle the pain if I allowed the anger. But I did. And it was a big part of what set me free. This is a process and releasing the anger was a part of that process and it came when I looked at the truth about what really happened to me; not what I was taught to believe happened (which was invalidating) but what really happened. I can only suggest that you read more of the hundreds of posts I have written here about the healing process.
Hope that helps,
Hugs, Darlene

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I am learning to forgive those that truly caused me harm. If any one of them would come to me and ask forgiveness because they have taken ownership of the deed and feel some remorse the forgiving would be easier.

I’m learning it is okay to forgive, actually for me I find it refreshing not to harbor the anger any longer. I forgive and walk out of their life.

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Hi Holly
Welcome to Emerging from Broken.
Hugs, Darlene

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I’ll be damned if I ever forgive them. Ever. And I am 110% fine with that. My abusers no longer provoke any reaction in me but indifference. They are dead to me. I will never forgive them because they didn’t earn it. They never repented, never owned their actions and the ‘gift I give myself’ is that I give them no reason to do it to me again, like forgiving the unforgiveable. That something I can not and will not ‘learn’ to do. No, ‘healthy unforgiveness’ is possible and can be quite fine. Torturing yourself over the ‘nice crowd’ telling you to ‘forgive’ is B.S., imho. I don’t forgive them. No.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199907/must-you-forgive

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Wow…just wow. There is so much here.

Patricia, I hope you are still around but anyway, what you said resonated with me SO MUCH. Your dad sounds just like mine. Thankfully I had a good mother, although she was silent and not very nurturing. As the oldest of 7 kids in a “Christian” family that looked perfect, there were a lot of expectations on me. Everyone outside of our family used to think that dad was this GREAT, wonderful Christian man, with a great heart, etc. But the abuse that occurred at home was pathetic.

This particularly resonated with me:

“I grew up in a home where it wasn’t safe to get angry. The threat of violence was always there coming from my dad’s rage which he always let out all over my mother, my siblings and me. He got physically violent with a belt just often enough to keep us scared of him. This was one of the experiences where my belief that anger was violent came from.”

YES! I had rages from the time I was 6 months old. My mom says she remembers wondering why, and being worried about it. Although I have not gone through some of the horrendous things you all have gone through especially with the sexual stuff, I was still abused badly, especially emotionally and mentally, but in my earlier years, quite a bit physically too. I had horrible horrible rages, nearly every day until I was in my late teens. I married when I was 20 to a very passive, quiet man who unfortunately got the brunt of my leftovers. I had been working on myself for about 5 years with a counselor at that point, but had so much to work on.

What angered me so much (and still does to a point) is that my feelings were invalid just because I was a child. He was allowed to get angry, yell, scream, cry, throw things and throw children, hit, spank, have his rages, everything and yet when i overloaded, I was treated as though it wasn’t ok. Talk about contradictory behavior! Hypocrite!!!!! When he spanked us, it was often bare bottom and often out of anger, and then when he stopped hitting us (after 5 hits), he would tell us we couldn’t cry. If we cried, we would get another 6 hits (5 hits for another spanking, plus an extra 1 because we cried). If we still cried, it would be an extra one added on to each spanking. I am sorry, but if my butt has welts on it and is stinging, plus I am angry and he is angry as well, how am I supposed to not cry? Not feel? Not hurt? Not respond? I wasn’t some lifeless doll that was his puppet. And I refused to accept that I was just a peon. Yet I was so so hurt.

This resonated with me too:

“As a child, I was taught that anger was powerful and fear was a weakness and you didn’t survive in my family if you were weak. You didn’t cry because crying was also a weakness. Feeling wasn’t safe because that brought out my dad’s rage. He was the only one allowed to feel and that was always rage.”

Exactly. You were weak if you cried. If you were afraid of anything (the dark even!) then you needed to “face your fears” and not “be afraid” because we had the “perfect love of Jesus” which casts out all fear. But I was always scared of the “doll” that lived under my bed as a child. No one believed me, and not everyone believes in that kind of thing but I am telling you, this “doll” came after me every night and just haunted me. The actual doll was sitting on my mom’s dresser…a very very old porcelain doll she was. Even when I went to my grandparent’s house 6 hours away, she still haunted me. I named her June. Don’t know why. But I wasn’t allowed to be afraid of even that. And worse, I wasn’t allowed to be afraid of getting spanked, or anything like that.

The times I was dragged down the hall or thrown up against a wall, or when I was throwing up from being so upset (from multiple spankings/beatings with a rod) were innumerable. And yet all he ever said in those times (even when throwing up!) was that I shouldn’t have been so rebellious, because then I wouldn’t be feeling this way.

It was always “you reap what you sow” and “honor your father and mother” and “God will pluck your eye out and put you in outer darkness”. There was no empathy for how I felt. I wasn’t respected. My feelings weren’t respected or heard. At all. AT ALL. Rage was my safe place. Rage made me feel powerful when I really was not. When I raged, I could yell as loud as I wanted, say whatever I wanted, and it was a way for me to get it out. Of course, it never accomplished anything except making dad’s rage worse. But what did I hear yet again? “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”. ANd that was twisted to say “don’t get angry”. And yet dad could do it whenever the heck he wanted?? Really? Just didn’t make sense to me.

Now that I know he is a narcissist, I stay FAR away from him. I have not seen him in months. I almost threw up when he walked me down the aisle 4 years ago. I didn’t want him there. And I don’t want him in my life ever again. Even if he was to choose to change, it would take YEARS, perhaps NEVER, for me to let him back into my life. He was NEVER a safe person to be around, why would I try to force myself to believe that he was again? He has said “sorry” so so so many times and then twisted that to say “well I said sorry so you HAVE to forgive or you won’t be forgiven of your rebellion and other sins”.

I can truthfully say that I have forgiven him. But BOUNDARIES are in place. So that I do not get hurt. I will never ever forget. I don’t need to forget. Those things that I do remember, I use to strengthen me and help others as well. God is the only one who forgets our sins. He does not expect us to forget what was done to us.

Oh yeah, the other thing that I heard a lot was “Jesus forgave the men who were killing him, so we should forgive men of everything because we’re to be like Christ.”

Yes. We are to be like Christ. But that was also his destiny. He was destined to die, FOR US, so that hey, guess what, we could sin, and there would be GRACE and forgiveness towards us. And everyone else. But he could have stopped them. He had the power to stop them. If it was not his destiny, he probably would not have allowed them to kill him. Since WE do not have that sort of power, the best thing we can do is put boundaries up. It is NOT our destiny to DIE or to get HURT by “forgiving” as Christ did. CHRIST did that, FOR US, so that we would not HAVE TO. HE DIED for ALL of it. So it is OK for us to set emotional and mental boundaries!! We need to!

I have forgiven my dad. I actually feel sorry for him. Sorry that he lives such a miserable life, and sorry that he is going to have to face some awful judgment. His choice, YES. But I wouldn’t wish that sort of judgment on my worst enemy (and he really is my worst enemy). Forgiveness to me does not mean that we allow them back into our lives, or allow the hurt back into our lives. For me, forgiveness means that I accept that what he did was wrong, and that I am not responsible for that, and so I let it go because what goes around does come around, and that is a promise in Scripture. No, it is not easy. I still allow myself to feel anger about what he did. Does that mean I have not forgiven him? Absolutely not. Anger, hurt, etc are natural emotions that are part of a natural process and they are OK. It does not mean I haven’t forgiven! If I hadn’t forgiven, I think i would be out to kill him. I have forgiven to the best of my understanding, and yet allow myself to still be angry about it, allow myself to be real with myself. I hope that makes sense.

I have let him go. I don’t care what happens to him now. That sounds heartless but he never cared what happened to me unless it was making him look better. So now, I have myself to think about, and my relationship with my God, with my husband, my family. I have repaired so many relationships now that I am away from my sperm donor. The healing I am getting is incredible.

I may write more later…I need to go to bed! I just love all the conversation here! You all are so inspirational and stronger than you know, you really are. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable…it helps me so much, and probably helps others too. Please don’t stop…you’re doing great!

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Christina, I am still around. I haven’t visited this particular post in awhile. I am wowed that there are 203 comments. That is great. Thank you for letting me know that my words resonated with you.

I can understand your anger at being invalidated as a child. I was too by my mother and my dad. From the sound of what you shared, you went through a lot more physical abuse than I did as a child. The worst of my abuse was the incest and being made to feel that my only value came from being a sexual object for my dad and a housekeeper and babysitter for my mom. Even though I was the oldest child in my family, I would watch what my brother and sister got into trouble for and I wouldn’t do those things. I faded into the background as much as possible as a child. If I didn’t attract attention then maybe I wouldn’t be hurt by anyone.

I agree with you about setting boundaries and that forgiveness doesn’t mean keeping company with my abusers. The last 10 years of my dad’s life, I only had contact with him a few times. I refused to take care of his retirement stuff when he got older. I would never have allowed him to live with my family for the protection of myself and my children. Setting boundaries are healthy.

On Sunday, my husband and I are leaving on a trip to visit our daughter and her family in Idaho for Christmas. I will have very limited access to the computer during that time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to those of you who celebrate those holidays. I will be back around the new year.

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Hi j. Thanks for reading and responding to my post.

Endometriosis is a condition where the inner lining of a woman’s uterus (womb) somehow starts to grow in other areas inside the abdominal area. In some cases it can also penetrate the inner linings of the womb ( a few linings there) With each monthly cycle comes changes in the womans hormone production so the cells multiply until they become larger and can form tissue which causes painful cysts, stretchy bits of tissue ‘gluing’ organs together, and if you are unfortunate enough to have it inside your uterus( as I did) it is extremly painful as each month the uterus has to contract (yes contractions as in childbirth) in order to shed that first lining that has built-up waiting for a pregnancy- no pregnancy, it sheds, (periods). I had it in my uterus, it was twice it’s normal size, and extra strong contractions because my uterus was trying to expel the growths but the have nowhere to get out so stronger contractions each month :’( pain progressed to every day of the month, not just at time of menstruation. The reason to have the hysterectomy is to stop the periods, therefore stop the pain (and get off the huge doses of oxycontin omg how hard is that talk about emotional meltdown.. Withdrawals are dreadful). I am 38 and already have three gorgeous girls so I don’t need any more kids… I kept my ovaries otherwise i would go into menopause and there are lots of risks associated with going into early menopause (cancer, oesteoporosis). When the surgeon took out my uterus he had to cut it off my bowel as it was ‘glued’ on, (an adhesion) and he he also found my left ovary is stuck to my bowel.. He had to leave it there as I had already lost a lot of blood during the surgery, and I also have something else stuck somewhere else I actually just can’t remember!! Phew!! What a long explanation.. Hope I didn’t gross u out..

I feel for u in your current predicament, re: the bullying you did when you were young. I really hope you are learning to not beat yourself up over it as you are clearly quite sorry for the pain you caused etc. We all make mistakes, and it’s my guess that there were obvious reasons you bullied. Thinking back I’m pretty sure I come close to bullying as a kid as well. Kids act out (or react) what they are exposed to. I’m not saying if you were sexually abused (or any other abuse or neglect for that matter) that you will then turn to do the same. (some do obviously) just that you will react in some way, everyone copes differently. Humans were not made to be hurt and abused. But then humans have failed miserably in caring for each other on the whole scale. We start out an empty vessel and develop according to what’s put into it. I certainly wouldn’t rule out contacting the person you spoke about, just give it time, only you can decide how to and whether to do it. Do u have any expectations with it? Will you be hurt, and are you up to coping if you get a negative response? Whatever you eventually decide, it sounds like it’s tormenting u, hopefully there is some way you can find it in yourself to FORGIVE YOURSELF. You know if u are truly sorry, and it may be that’s all you need to do to stop your torment. If you want the person to know u are sorry then like I said maybe if you forgive yourself first it won’t matter as much what their response or reaction is. But please don’t beat yourself up over it anymore, life is life. It’s being honest with yourself that counts.

Love to all.. I’d love to keep chatting but it’s midnight here and I gotta get up early.. No mean feat when I still got a massive abdominal scar and everything else going on.. Oh dear, sooking again!!

These caring, insightful little (sometimes massive!) pockets of wisdom in the world ( such as this blog ) are what keep me going at times that’s for sure…

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Hi Michelle,

Well I understand it a lot better than I did from my brief bit of research – that is crazy! The body does some weird things hey. No didn’t gross me out (pictures would have!! I’m a softy like that), but did blow my mind a bit re how painful it must have been! I really hope that part of it’s better now (sounds like it should be if I understood your description properly).

Also really hope the withdrawals are improving (just had a quick google about them too). I had withdrawals once coming off an anti-depressant (to try another one) and it sucked hard – I just felt like a zombie. (Actually, felt like I wasn’t even here on this earth really).

That’s really great to hear about your girls! The other blog I mentioned before, she’d wanted more children & that was obviously really painful for her too. Will you need to have more surgery to fix the “stuck” bits when you’ve recovered from this one? (That was the impression I got).

Thanks very much for your kind words re bullying. Much appreciated! Your question about expectations is very insightful. I’ll have to think about that some more. (Also re dealing w/negative response).

I think I’m struggling with it due to the fairly recent realization of how much my parents emotional/mental/spiritual abuse has messed with me. Also the process of shifting blame for so much of how I am now from myself to them. I guess I’m worrying about other people that I’ve treated badly over my life laying blame on me in a similar way. (Or something). Meh.

Well I’ve pulled my usual trick of late (leaving this here for hours before finishing last paragraph) so I’m gonna post now. Once again really

Ok, not quite done…. just saw the part you wrote about forgiving myself. I tend to be extremely unforgiving in a lot of ways. Especially to myself. Probably a lot better than I used to be though. I don’t know if this is related to my mother…. I think she’s similar. Maybe it’s to do with the whole cluelessness on her part (at least I hope it’s that, rather than knowing but ignoring/not caring). But then, if I think about cutting off from family & few remaining friends, (or at least getting the courage to say things I’d want to say to them, and then choosing to cut off or not based on their response to me doing that) it seems like it’s not about not forgiving, but rather about not being willing to tolerate their shit anymore.

Of course, as soon as I say that, my brain thinks “well, they’ve tolerated all mine”. But, what do I really mean by “mine”? I guess I’m judging myself for being a financial drain on them most of my life — but I could try and see it as, due to the abuse, I never believed I was capable of holding down a job (instead of just laziness/stupidity etc as I’ve tended to most of my life). That’s probably really the main thing. Right now feels like the ONLY thing (only big thing anyway). Everything else feels like THEIR own reactions to things that are none of their f**king business (eg my life choices, relationships, sexual activity etc).

Like, I am all too aware that I am anything but perfect. But I used to see myself as basically the most worthless, useless piece of shit walking the planet. Had times when I felt I’d be better off dead/never born (for everyone who’s ever known me as well as myself). But sometimes I just think, I don’t try and make THEM live their lives the way **I** think they should…. so why the F**K couldn’t they have just left me alone to live mine?!?!? (pointless thought, I know. But hey. Feeling f**king pissed off about it right now).

Like, my mother had a habit at one stage of sticking her head in if she got up during the night to angrily tell me how I “wasn’t helping myself” by being awake/eating/going on computer etc at night. (I know it’s true for the last two. But still, I’d do nearly anything to distract myself from the shit in my skull that’s tormented me for years when I go to bed and can’t sleep). On the occasions when she can’t sleep, I noticed how I’d be sympathetic to her. Is it really so f**king hard???!?!

Ooookkkkk…. deep breath time yet again. Very late (as usual) and apparently pretty negative again, so this time I will sign off.

Thanks again for all the info, and really hope your health is improving!

take care of yourself

J

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Hi Barbara,
I agree, torturing yourself over ANY of this stuff is B.S. I tried to forgive in the way that it was presented to me in the past.. it just made me sicker. I tried to forgive people who still denied that they ever did any harm.. and it contributed to the emotional mess I was already in BECAUSE of them in the first place. I don’t think forgiveness is mandatory either.
Thanks for sharing.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Christina
I don’t think it sounds heartless. Great comments. Thank you for sharing all of it!
Hugs, Darlene

Patricia, have a great time!
Hugs, Darlene

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Michelle,
Excellent comments to J. Thank you so much for posting and I hope others read your comments as they apply to many!
hugs, Darlene

J.
I constantly jumped to “oh my gosh, what did I do to people” I had to put that aside and heal from the damage caused to me before I jumped to the damage I may have caused. This is hard, but it was so important. I had lived in the cycle of self blame for so long that it was second nature and I could not see clearly about anything I DID until I faced the truth about the damage they did. Once I did that, I understood WHY I had done some of the things that I did that were not so healthy and was able to stop beating myself up and make amends where necessary.
Hugs, Darlene

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Thanks Darlene.

I guess my head jumps to “how can I treat myself that gently, when I’m thinking about treating my mother so harshly?” (or, something like “why should I treat myself so gently when I’ve treated others so badly in the past?”)

Hmmmm. Any thoughts?

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J
What do you think you are doing or thinking of doing that is so “harsh”?
And about the past, like I said, don’t go there until you see what happened to YOU first. I used the whole “I am so bad” thing as a way to keep from facing the pain of what happened TO ME.
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene,

The “harsh” thing = thinking of cutting off from her/family. Which would potentially force her to face the fact that her view of our relationship is a complete joke.

I think, as you mentioned for yourself, my brain has latched back on this “I am so bad” thing as a distraction from focusing on my own pain. It seems almost interesting in a way, because it doesn’t feel like I’ve been bothered by that kind of thought much since I’ve started reading/posting here. (DEFINITELY used to be bothered by it a whooooole lot!!)

I think since finding EFB, it’s the first time I’ve really been able to see & self-validate the extent of the abuse (not to mention actually seeing it as and naming it “abuse” for the first time) and see it as the cause for so much of what I’ve spent my life blaming myself for (eg not being able to hold down work for long, not caring, depression/suicidal thoughts etc).

Maybe this current lapse is to do with the fear of acting on my thoughts of cutting off completely (or at least, drastically changing my long-time habit of never saying anything/standing up for myself etc). Also the flow-on effect I strongly suspect would come from “family friends” (not to mention extended family).

In looking at my last post, I didn’t really explain what I was thinking, so I’m going to try now. Re my mother, I think what I mean is that she could argue that HER mother did similar stuff to her, and then be gentle with herself. But I think my brain is conveniently skipping the point that my mother is not (as far as I know) doing any kind of self-awareness work for herself. In fact, she seems to be actively trying to avoid it. So I guess my brain is trying to stop me helping myself, by blaming me for the fact that SHE doesn’t seem willing/able to try and look at herself/change etc.

(Does that make sense? And does it seem… I dunno, “right” to you? Very very late here again, brain is struggling bigtime)

Also re my last post, I’ve long been afraid of having things I did to others in the past come back to haunt me somehow. (This gets extremely confusing/triggering for me to think about, so I think I should probably stop here). I guess it’s my brain playing the card of “you caused pain/grief to other people, therefore you deserve to feel like shit forever”. And also, a card along the lines of “if you choose to act in ways that will hurt your mother/family/friends (eg cutting contact; standing up for myself etc), you will somehow bring upon yourself actions from the people you hurt in the past”
(as in, they’ll be trying to heal themselves, and I’ll then be to them how I view my mother now, and I won’t deserve any sympathy if they do things that harm me now in trying to heal themselves).

Hope that makes some sense.

Thanks again for the comments

J

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J.
I look at this “harsh thing” differently. If the truth is what set me free, then it can set my family and everyone else free to. My choice to face and live in truth, is not harsh at all but rather based in the true definition of love.
Good work in these comments.
Hugs, Darlene

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Patricia, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your daughter and family.

“Even though I was the oldest child in my family, I would watch what my brother and sister got into trouble for and I wouldn’t do those things. I faded into the background as much as possible as a child. If I didn’t attract attention then maybe I wouldn’t be hurt by anyone.”

This could describe my middle sister. She did that, and ended up being the “good child”. I was always compared to her. “If you just were quiet and respectful like Hannah” or “If you just had straight teeth like her, guys would like you” or “if you weren’t so rebellious, and were more passive like her…”

It was like suddenly, once she was born, I was no longer the pretty or good girl. Before then, I was a pretty helpful little girl. I did have my rages a lot, but they got worse as my mom had more children. There were two boys between me and Hannah, and she was born when I was 5 and a half. Later in life, I asked her how she ended up not getting in trouble and she said what you said…I watched what you guys did, and I learned what not to do.

She did fade into the background. I was the one being “rebellious” and loud, crazy. I was called a control freak but now I know that while I do have some similar characteristics, I am not one but I was merely struggling to stay on top of things, struggling to be heard, struggling for justice to be done. I am a fighter, a VERY, very strong willed person. When I want something I will do anything to get it…that can be good, and bad. And most of the time it was bad because what I wanted was for dad to stop “disciplining” us out of his anger but the way I went about trying to get that to stop got me in worse trouble. But I was just a child. I had no power over that, no choice as to what happened to me. So there is a way to excuse my behavior, simply based on that fact. Besides…had I been loved and nurtured appropriately, and had my sensitive yet strong willed nature been made into a positive thing, I don’t think I would have been having those rages!

In fact…I used to tell my counselor that I “didn’t have time to think” when I got into my rages. It felt true. I did not feel like I even had a choice. You know what it reminds me of? This is going to sound a bit TMI, maybe sick, but it reminds me of when someone is raped, and forced to orgasm. It’s like, if you stimulate (negatively or “positively”) a certain area enough, it will react out of pure instinct. So in this case, I was emotionally raped, negatively stimulated to the point of over-reacting, and exploding. It wasn’t my choice…it was something that was forced upon me.

I know this doesn’t have a lot to do with forgiveness so I apologize if this is going a little off the subject. I guess talking about it with others who understand feels good. So i guess I don’t really apologize. lol

I also have a hard time with forgiving myself, just like the rest of you. I don’t know why, but it is just so difficult. Even if someone says they forgive us, and they mean it, and we know they mean it, it’s still so hard to ‘believe” it heart and soul. Totally get that.

Have a good weekend everyone…

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Christina, thank you. You sound a lot like my baby sister. She was the family rebel and scapegoat. She was always getting into trouble. This is a good place to talk about the topic of the article or whatever we need to say to feel better or to think our way through a subject. This is a safe place to talk and figure out things. It is a safe place to be yourself and to find out that you aren’t alone. Have a great weekend yourself. I need to get to bed now since I am getting up around 5:45 in the morning.

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Hope you had a good night’s sleep.

Yes, I was definitely the rebel and scapegoat. When I was 13, I got a horse, and I remember bushwhacking through our horrid woods and swamp to get to the road so I could escape. Before I had horses, I would run into our woods and just stay there even though I was deathly afraid of the woods. Sometimes I’d just go wandering down the road. Eventually I came back because I got too scared or too cold.

I never tried to get into trouble…it just happened, usually when dad returned home from work. He was never a drunk, never smoked, but what he did was emotionally and spiritually abuse on a consistent basis and then he backed up his physical abuse by stating that the Bible said to discipline your children as such. The amount of Bible verses I know by heart as a result of dad doing that is pretty shocking.

It is pretty sad, really, that anyone would spiritually abuse so much. It is a wonder I still believe in God and even want a relationship with Him. I always knew in my heart that God wasn’t REALLY like that, and I was determined to stick with God. I have never, ever blamed God and never even thought about disregarding God. It’s kind of weird, but it is a good thing, because that has been the key to me getting through all of this.

I am doing better about forgiving myself. I used to say to my counselor and close friends “I was such a bad kid!” and they all looked at me in disbelief, like they couldn’t imagine me being so bad. After explaining what I meant, they would all tell me that I really wasn’t a bad kid and I just was poked and prodded and provoked to get to that place. I WANTED to be a good kid but it wasn’t really possible. Nothing I did was right. And even when I did the right thing according to what dad said was the right thing, it could still be wrong because his mind could have changed. One day he might be ok with drums being in music, the next, he could take that away…because he was the dad. So I wasn’t just a bad kid. Yes, I had a rebellious, stubborn streak and I made the choice to yell and scream horrible things at him (well, at both my parents really) and I made the choice to abuse my siblings as well…but I need to forgive myself for that because I HAVE repented from that, I have realized there are things in my life that I need to clear up, I have realized the effects of the abuse on me, and I have made a choice to stop it, to put the blood of Jesus over it on a daily basis, to stop the cycle. I cannot do any more than that.

But even now, if I do something wrong, I will remember the pettiest little thing, and not forgive myself for it. For instance, a couple of years ago, I went to meet my best friend in Australia. While I was there, we went to a bra shop so I could get professionally fitted. I’d never had this done before and well frankly very few fit me properly because not a lot come in my size. Anyway, when the lady handed me a bra to try on before I had undressed, I put my arms out, as if to indicate to put the bra on over the clothes. In my head, that is what I thought the lady was indicating, but I didn’t think that could be right. I brushed it off and life went on (and I got some great bras LOL). But in the back of my head, I am still embarrassed about it, even though I did nothing wrong and it was all ok.

Another instance, my best friend and I were driving somewhere, and a lady started to cross the street in town. I did not realize that my best friend saw her, nor that the lady stopped in the mid-section of the road which was specifically for that purpose. Instinct rose up and I calmly said “watch out” because I thought the lady was going to walk in front of us or something. My best friend got triggered by that, and it scared her, and she told me not to ever do that. Which is fine. But it was instinct…I didn’t do anything wrong, per say, but it was still “wrong”. Part of that instinct comes from my little brother being hit by a car when he was 7 and breaking his femur, and another of my brothers died in a car crash. But just the same, I still feel/felt bad about it, and can’t seem to forgive myself.

Lately, I have felt the need to get rid of my fear, because it is a big wall in my life…that is stopping me from doing what I really WANT to do. I really WANT to jump up and down at church when singing fast praise songs. I really want to study more psychology. I really want to just do what I like doing, and like what I like, and most of all, I really want to have a relationship with God, a connection…but my fear is stopping me from doing all of that. “What if I let go?” It feels so weird to be without fear, and when I go to let go, I just freeze, literally. Then I fight myself and ask why I won’t let go…and then I have to forgive myself for taking so much time, for all this stuff.

Thanks for letting me talk stuff out.

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I was in the church and the same thing happened to me at a few different churches. It’s like the church doesn’t want to deal with individuals. They want you to go back in group formation where you belong. They pretend to care, but when it comes down to it, your tithes and offerings don’t cover counseling, besides, there is nothing wrong with YOU!!!

I think about this often.

Also the way, when I was Severely Abused by my ex-husband, the pastor told me to that I needed to submit more…

I was so desperate to remove myself from shame that I clung to the church, but in the end (15 devout years later), I find that the people in church are no better than those outside of it.

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Hi Jenna,
Welcome to EFB
I too found that people in the church or anywhere else are just people. (and I seemed to be more comfortable with the ones that didn’t have much regard for me)
I did all kinds of work. About shame work, the biggest key for me was to find out exactly where the broken started; I looked at the source off all feelings and figured out where they came from. I looked at why I had so much shame. It was in doing that that I finally was able to see that it wasn’t mine to carry. Just saying it was not enough to overcome it. I had to find the roots and see the lies.
Glad you are here.
Hugs, Darlene

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This is a topic close to my heart and I thank you for take on it.
When I went no contact with my narcisstic mother and enabling step-father, my step-father wrote to me and said that I had to forgive, otherwise God would not forgive me. (ie I would go to hell) My parents have been spiritually abusive for a very long time (not just towards me) In fact at the height of my depression I had the recurring thought “I am going to hell” such was the extent of the abuse. It is very difficult to find hope when you think you are going to hell…I digress
I pondered this issue of forgiveness when I received his letter and realised that there was no acknowledgement of what I was supposed to forgive (in fact he deemed it “appalling” that I had outlined some of the abuse he had sustained, denied, gaslighted, projected etc etc) there has never been any affirmation or validation of any of my experiences or feelings, no insight, no empathy, no attempt or desire to change, (no repentance if you want to put it in biblical terms) and yet I was being criticized for not being “loving and compassionate” Huh?
Whereas once, his letter would have cut me to the core and provoked extreme anxiety (as it was intended to do I guess), now that I am out of the fog and have clarity, I no longer believe that he is right. The onus should not be put on the victim by the abuser or others to immediately forgive in the absence of any effort on the part of the abuse and any healing on the part of the victim and I do not believe that the scriptures he has quoted have been used in context.
You have articulated the thoughts that I have had on this topic well.

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Ps just read some of the old comments on here, those by Arja and Christina regarding their spiritually abusive parents eerily sounded so familiar…it is almost as if there is a handbook of bible verses they all use to terrorize their children

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Hi Marianne
The manipulation is crazy! Telling people that they have a choice between forgiveness or hell.. and when I think about it, all abusers use FEAR to control and manipulate in all instances. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people tell me that they believe that God will not forgive them. EVEN though the bible is very clear on this.
When someone says you must forgive, but then don’t even admit guilt, isn’t that a “truth leak?” If I am lying about what they did, why do I need to forgive? Perhaps they should “forgive me” if they think I am lying. But they never see it that way. Why would they lecture on forgiveness if they didn’t do anything wrong?? Today I lecture back; I say that the offender must ASK for forgiveness. They must admitt their guilt and repent. People shut up pretty quick, but they also don’t talk to me anymore.. LOL
Thanks for sharing. hugs, Darlene

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Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is part of my journey where I have been struggling for a long time, always getting different advice and never seeming to be able to figure out HOW to forgive, both in recovery rooms and then in church settings. I will be bookmarking your site!

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Hi Lisa!
Welcome to EFB
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you in the future!
hugs, Darlene

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I told my mother, “Forgive and forget? I can’t forgive because you CHOOSE to forget. Even God says you have to confess to be forgiven. And surely you don’t think I can do better than Him?”

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My mom says she was sexually abused as a young child by her dad. Now he is 80+ years old and in a nursing home. She never fails to tell me how she has ‘forgiven’ him and she is now trying to “honor him” by making visits to him and spending time with him – how she has “turned the other cheek” so to speak. She says he “just wants his family back”. When she says these things to me, it is to insinuate and imply that I should do the same towards my father who was physically abusive. At times my father could be loving and very kind, but the older I got, I realized his fits of anger and rage were full of threats and abuse. He insisted on controlling my every move. First of all, it was not allowed that I should leave home without the marital companionship of a man. When that didn’t work out – because we lived on my parents’ property and my husband worked with my father everyday – I had to move back home. Again, it was not permissible that I should leave home without being married – this left me feeling invalidated as a woman and as a complete person – for what am I without a man?! So, my mother made known to me the person I should marry – a student in her fist class after getting her teaching certificate. We did marry and after 15 years and 3 children, he found someone new and we were divorced. Having never lived on my own – now what was I to do with 3 children?! My parents did me an injustice by not allowing me to make it on my own in my teens and twenties. So, I moved back to their property. I did live in a separate residence, but still they could monitor my every move. When I finally had enough of their manipulation and control in my adult life and enough of their violent and physical abuse of my children, I made a decision to leave. Before I could get out the door with my suitcase, my father stopped me. I went in my house and locked the door. He had a key and came in anyway. He pushed me down on the couch. He threw the suitcase to the side. When I called 9-1-1, he snatched the phone out of my hand. When 9-1-1 called back, my mother “explained” the situation to them. She “welcomed” the deputy to come out to confirm. When the deputy arrived, my parents “explained” how I was out of control and they were afraid for me to take my children and leave. They suggested to him that perhaps I wasn’t “taking my medication”. The deputy spoke with me and asked me to stay put for the night. He said my parents were not going to come in my house and they would leave me alone. Being naive and vulnerable – not wanting to be a “bad” person and wanting to please those in authority, I agreed. As the deputy was leaving, my parents left as well, saying they were going to go stay at a hotel so I would not feel threatened and things could calm down. Within an hour, the deputy came back and advised me that my parents had gone to the judge (who was my mother’s friend) and had an order for me to be taken for psychiatric evaluation. I was mortified! The deputy called DFACS to come stay with my children while he took me in his patrol car to the emergency department of the local hospital. I was evaluated and deemed stable. I returned home around 2 a.m. My parents had called my ex-husband ( 2 hours away) to advise him of the children’s circumstances and that he may need to come and get them. I later spoke with him and told him what was going on and that he did not need to come get the children. He agreed. I say all this to say this is how things can get turned upside down by an abuser/manipulator. My father has hit my son (who was about 10 at the time) so hard that he left a purple hand print in my son’s back for days. He did this because my son was swimming in the above ground pool and ‘maybe’ tearing up a float – which he saw as something that could damage the motor in the pump. One day my father came out of his backdoor with a pistol in his hand saying “I’m gonna blow that whore’s brains out”. He was referring to my oldest daughter who was about 21 years old and a college student. He was raging about her because she had caused some rift between my mother and father when she asked for an explanation of some of their actions. My mother “just wanted to get her family back”. Where have I heard that before? That is still my mother’s main goal in life – she says we should forgive – my father didn’t really know what he was doing. He was under the influence of vodka, he had a bad reaction to some anti-depressants, or maybe his body chemistry was changed by too much sugar. She says he is the way he is and we just have to accept that and love him. She says if we wait too long he will die and we won’t have the chance to set things right. I say “NO”! To forgive would be to allow this unacceptable behavior to continue. My two daughters say my parents (their grandparents) are dead to them already. My son does make contact but probably will not allow such behavior again since he is a Marine and now has a healthier understanding of himself. Dad,you made your choice and we have made ours.

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Teresa!
Thank you for sharing this! My mother constantly told me how she still loved her mother even though her childhood was hell and I realize today that her motive was about demanding me to excuse her from any accountability. That is the spin and the fog storm that I had to work so hard to get out of. Your father was a grown man and your mother is an adult woman. YOU were a child that was unprotected and abused. That is the bottom line of all of it.
Thank you so much for your courage in posting. This is very very clear and really highlights some of the insanity that we talk about in this site!
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene,
Thanks for acknowledging the feelings I shared and validating my belief that I was abused/controlled/manipulated. Not many people have ever had the nerve to do this. I get so tired of being the “one” who is wrong/lying/a trouble maker/destroyer of family ties/etc. You have given me a green light to continue my journey to heal from past offenses and “emerge from broken”. :) Validated – so happy!

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Hi Teresa
Yay for getting the green light! That is how it was for me too; someone heard me and validated my pain. It was the first bit of hope that I had and part of why I do this site is to inspire that hope in others!
Hugs, Darlene

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New Article on EFB related to this one
[...] Forgiveness and Child Abuse ~ When Suggesting Forgiveness is Abusive By Darlene Ouimet When I was about 17 years old and had escaped the difficulties associated with living under the same roof as my mother, I became friends with a neighbour lady whom I eventually sought mentorship from. (Or perhaps I was actually just looking for someone who would love me and mother me.) She was a nice lady with a couple of children and she seemed to be interested in me. When I grew comfortable enough to tell her about a problem that I had with one of my mothers boyfriends, she told me to pray for him. PRAY FOR HIM! She told me that I needed to forgive him. [...]
http://emergingfrombroken.com/forgiveness-and-child-abuse-when-suggesting-forgiveness-is-abusive/

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I don’t take issue with the fact people need time to get througb their anger but when someone asks me ‘How can I possibly forgive?” And I attempt to explain, and they don’t even try to hear me because they choose to hold on to years of resentment and stay angry until they have so much resentment that they can’t listen to anyone else try to explain why they should at least not let others tear their heart up for the rest off their life, I don’t like it and I think they’re being unfair and too selfish. We all get deeply hurt throughout life. No one enjoys it. I’ve been through enough pain by others that I could resent most people I’ve known or even met for a lifetime,, or I can choose to at least acknowledge that depending what’s been done to me the offender will either suffer now or later in the afterlife. And If I spend many hours wasting my thoughts on them while they can’t or won’t change their behavior I can get caught up treating others bad due to resentment. For me,, it’s not worth it. Someone raped me, someone abused me, etc. the list goes on, I didn’t deserve it!, but why should I dwell on them? I shouldn’t unless I can actually do something about it that changes their future behaviors. Even so dwelling on anything too long is counter productive and unhealthy if nothing is being done about it. I can’t say forgiving is always neccessary instantly, but over time in order to feel peace in a persons life I believe it really needs to be considered. It may take me longer than possible but I know I need to for my own sanity even if I don’t desire to or they really don’t deserve it. This is why I pray for those who consider me an enemy or that I feel are at war with me spiritually, emotionally or physically for God to correct hearts and minds if they are making dangerous choices toward themselves or others.

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“Sincerely”
I realize you are new on this site, but did you even read this post before you commented? From the beginning I said “First, a note about blame: In my view, blame is about placing the responsibility for the trauma where it belongs. In my recovery, blame was necessary and part of the natural progression on the journey to wholeness. I am not suggesting that we need to stay in the emotional part of blame forever, just that it is an important stepping stone in this process of emerging from broken”

You have discounted that with your comments.

And then I wrote “Forgiveness; What I am suggesting is that we are taught to skip a step in the whole forgiveness arena. We are told to forgive before we are even validated that we have something to forgive.”

And again your comments do exactly what I am talking about in this post. I think you missed the point. In this site we are talking about healing from the damage. It is no comfort to me to think that the abuser might pay for what they did in this life or in any other life. The damage needs to be validated before forgiveness is suggested.
Forgiveness is a result of the healing process.
Darlene

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Darlene, when I first read “Sincerely”‘s comment, I squirmed and wondered if you would reply. It just sounds so much like the types of comments I have received – and still receive – for much of my life. Lately, I have begun to verbally reject them and call them on it, because they are missing the whole point. Of course, if it simply the words of a perpetrator designed to hook me in, I ignore it, but if it is some bystander or survivor who thinks she/he can direct others, I am not going to take it any more, and others don’t need to keep hearing this sort of message that does nothing to validate the abuse. Sincerely, forgiveness has its place – I think most people instinctively know that – but not in the way that people use to cause re-abuse.

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Hi all,

I struggle with the concept of forgiveness. So many times, I have had “well meaning” people urge me to forgive my abusers because it would make ME feel better. How dare anybody, without walking a mile in my shoes, tell me how to feel better! What MAY have made me feel better, was if the abusers had made a sincere and heartfelt apology for what they had done to me. Strangely enough, I never saw the well-meaners urging the abusers to do that, in order for THEM to feel better! When we are deeply and devastatingly wronged, especially as children, and no-one shows regret or remorse, we feel responsible for our own abuse. We internalise this as toxic shame.
An example of this in my own life, was when at 15 yrs old, I was beaten up by my 33 yr old alcoholic SIL. She had become completely deranged after a drinking binge. She was told, by my mother, that she had to apologise – TO MY MOTHER. Not me, the victim, to my mother!. SIL came to our house and told my mom how sorry she was – and completely ignored me. When, later, I asked mom why I hadnt been apologised to personally, I was told “Dont be ridiculous, I cant ask a grown woman to grovel to a child.” Hmm, if you ask me, that was a let-out clause for her own abusive treatment of me. And of course, mom made every thing about HER. It was all about how upset SHE was, how magnanimous it was of HER to forgive. And of course, there was no question of the police being involved and thus bringing shame and scandal to the door. It took me 35 years to process, and recover from the damage that incident, and others like it, inflicted on me, and I dont just mean what was done to my mind and body, it was the fact that my mother forgave somebody on my behalf, without me having any say in it. When an individual realises they have been abused, there is so much anger, and this anger must be processed, discharged and VALIDATED before forgiveness should be even considered. Otherwise, where does the anger go? As I have already said, it is internalised as self-blame. In her book Toxic Parents, Susan Forward talks about the innapropriateness of even suggesting forgiveness before an abused person is ready – IF they are ever ready. Forgiving those who tresspassed against me isnt top of my priority list. Healing the wounds caused by it, is.

Love, Sylvia x

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Wow Sylvia!
That story gave me a creepy feeling ~ it was so familiar! It really highlights the way that children are regarded as ‘nothing’. I am stunned almost speechless about what happened to you! And yes, the anger is valid! This story makes ME angry too!
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Krissy!
Yes! I used to answer all those comments after I published them. Now I ignore them although a few times I have not published them but replied with a comment that I don’t publish comments designed to judge and shame people with a reminder that this site is about abuse and abuse isn’t welcome here! Thank you for your take on this!
Hugs, Darlene

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I’ve decided if I ever run into any of my relatives again and any of them give me the whole spiel of trying to invalidate my childhood traumas, then tell me I “have to” forgive my parents and brother for what they’ve done, I’m going to ask them, “Wait a minute. Why are you telling me I have to forgive them if you believe they’ve done nothing wrong?” Then I’ll just stand back and watch their noodles bake :-)

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Hi PS
Awesome! I want to hear the reaction! (in my exp.their mouths just hang open and they are speechless… )
Hugs, Darlene

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Why Forgiveness is Over Rated

If you’ve spent any time reading/listening to psychology, self-help books or gurus, you’ll probably have heard it mentioned.

The F-Word. It’s the answer. The key to enlightenment. A necessary part of becoming a better person.

According to these books, if we don’t forgive, we eventually turn into balls of rage and seething anger, trapped in a life of inner turmoil and destined to self-implode in a spiral of selfishness and stubborn self-destruction.

Well, I should probably get moving on all that, because: I Don’t Do Forgiveness.
Well, I do do forgiveness, but only for the right people. The people who take responsibility for their actions, the people who will take action to make amends, even if it means facing some tough stuff within themselves.

Even then, there is a ‘forgiveness line’. Once someone crosses that, there’s no going back. Abusive behaviour crosses this line.

By Abusive, I Mean: Verbally abusive: name calling, swearing directly at someone (e.g. fuck off) or mocking.

Emotionally abusive: demeaning remarks about someone’s height/weight/ethnic background, demeaning remarks about someone’s abilities, manipulation and coersion.

Physically abusive: hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, hair pulling, dragging, shaking. Or, to rephrase it, touching in any way that isn’t affectionate or for someone’s protection.

Sexually abusive: inappropriate hugging, kissing or touching, inappropriate comments, violation of someone’s privacy.

(Of course, there are many more subtle forms of abuse but the above is a basic list.)

None of these behaviours are acceptable to me. And that’s why I don’t buy the ‘forgiveness for all’ approach. There are some people I just don’t want to forgive.

What Forgiveness Is

Forgiveness is saying ‘Hey, you did something, I was wronged. But it’s ok. I don’t hold you responsible for your actions now, and I don’t feel upset about it anymore.’

Every adult is responsible for their actions. Forgiveness only comes when they have shown that they recognised their actions were wrong and have taken steps to make amends.

Sometimes, Forgiveness Is Dangerous.

Why?

Because it’s a way of letting ourselves pretend that things weren’t really so bad, that we didn’t really feel that hurt, or that scared or that angry.

Here’s the thing: undeserved forgiveness is not only cruel to you, it’s cruel to the perpetrator as well. By forgiving, we are condoning their actions, saying it’s OK for them to behave that way. If we don’t forgive, if we raise our standards and expect more in retribution; that affects their standards too.

The Bottom Line: Forgiveness has to be earned and it’s totally OK not to forgive someone. There is no ‘should’ – you can choose to forgive or not, whoever is concerned.
There is such a thing as unforgiveable. Pretending there isn’t is doing ourselves a disservice.

A Few Words From My Pit Of Seething Self-Destruction…

I’m not saying don’t forgive anyone ever. There are very, very few people I have chosen not to forgive in my life. These decisions have been deeply considered and very difficult.

However, contrary to popular belief, I’m not dwelling on the decision every day, listening to heavy metal, painting my walls black and spouting rage-filled epithets concerning said people at anyone who will listen.

In some ways, I’ve achieved what those self-help writers are talking about – I’ve let go of the bad stuff and I feel good about that. It’s just that instead of forgiving, I chose not to forgive. I’ve moved on with my life, they’ve moved on with their’s… we’re just not doing it together. And I’m a stronger person for that.

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Hi Maureen
welcome to efb!
In my own life ‘forgiveness’ has been a result of healing and not the solution to healing and it just means that the anger/pain/resentment doesn’t rule my life anymore. I don’t give much energy to forgiveness at all except to exposing the false things about it that I was taught. (much like you are doing here!) Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

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I think the people who so freely demand that the victim merely “forgive” the abuser, speak about something that they do not fully understand because often times they have not lived through it, but also because they want to be percieved as a “good” person and merely telling others to forgive provides them with a false sense that they are a better person because they can forgive. Implying that the victim simply forgive, does not validate the victim. Forgiving is possible in time, but it is never EASY to merely forgive the abuser. First and foremost, the healing process is about forgiving so many people, starting with oneself. Even as an adult, the child within us must be comforted and consoled. I believe that victims do not have to forgive the abuser in order to heal. Healing may or may not include forgiving the abuser, that is to be solely up to the victim, no one else!

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Hi Kathie
Welcome to EFB
I agree with your comments! Thank you for sharing. I too believe that healing is a result of healing but not a necessary part of healing. Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene, I had not seen this post until today and I must say your “ranting” is very powerful. I have been struggling with the idea of forgiveness for a long time. I even thought I had obtained it one time. I probably did but it was for a brief time but I must say I have held on to that time as proof that it is possible. One difficulty I have is my sexual abuser committed suicide about a year after he was disclosed that he was an abuser. So he is not here and I wonder if he is remorseful or not. Probably not since the circumstances surrounding his suicide were so selfish and ugly that I knew it was his way of punishing everyone who had been abused. I have not spoken with my father, my emotional, verbal and physical abuser for about 30 years. He is in poor health and I currently have no plans to visit him. Also he has never reached out to me, his son in all those years. My siblings have a relationship with him and have told me many times that I need to forgive him. That’s not going to happen right now but at some point I will. I have had a hard relationship with my mother as she did not protect her children from this abuse. She wouldn’t listen to me when i tried but couldn’t find the words to tell her I was being sexually abused. To me she didn’t care enough to face her own fears and stop the abuse. I have been accosted by her sisters, my aunts demanding that I forgive her and move on. I have been ambushed by family members. The called to ask if they could come over to our house and I was elated that they wanted to re-build a relationship. It turned out to be an “intervention” aimed at both my wife and myself for not being a part of the family. My brother even arranged an “intervention between my mother and myself in order to convince me to forgive and forget. I should point out that he was also abused in much the same way as I was. I feel I have forgiven her though the relationship is very strained. I am slowly releasing the blame from me to them for my pain and in doing so beginning to love myself. When I can finally do that then I know forgiveness will come because I will love myself enough to no longer let the past run my life. Not forgetting but forgiving. Thank you Darlene!

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Hi Stanley
Something that helped me was knowing that I didn’t HAVE to forgive, I didn’t even think about it in my process. Another thing that helped me was realizing that MY overcoming had nothing to do with the abusers. They are not sorry, they went unpunished, and that is not an issue for me anymore. The solution was in validating the abuse for me. and surprise surprise~ forgiveness was a result of my healing and all it means to me is that those abusers no longer have the power to keep me down or to spark the pain of what they did to my person. I have all my power and my life back!

Thanks for sharing, Hugs, Darlene

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Thank you Darlene! <3

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If my abusers never took responsibility for what they have done, and they are clearly more concerned with their own welfare and peace of mind, then there is no room for forgiveness. It is inappropriate under these circumstances. So then I hand the forgiveness over to Jehovah God, and he will deal with them accordingly. So really, I have forgiven them. its out of my hands now. i no longer need to struggle with the unnessecary burden of guilt, because it is not mine to bear. I have come as far as i can, given their inaction to my pain. That is my current understanding of forgiveness.

Michelle

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Hi Michelle
Thanks for sharing, This makes perfect sense to me!
Hugs, Darlene

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[...] Related Posts:  Forgiveness; A bit of a Rant (Click Titles) [...]

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When I saw the word FORGIVENESS, my throat immediately squeezed in a lump. Anger raced through my body like a tsunami. Every fiber of my being felt under attack. Even before I started reading, I heard a voice say “in order for you to be free, you have to forgive. Why are you still letting them have power and control over you? It’s time to let it go”. Is it fair to tell someone who’s been through hell as a child and throughout her life, to just let it go and forgive? I’m still not even clear on what having a CHOICE in life in general means yet. Is it really a choice we make to forgive? Or is it the result of hard work done with oneself to get to that point. When I hear that at the end of the day I have the choice to do either what’s best for me or not regardless of the situation, all I hear is that all this time I was the one to blame, which once again validates my feeling of not being worthy.
There is a difference between forgiving someone who stole something from your house, and someone who stole your childhood. One can be replaced, while the other is gone for ever. Grieving a loss is a process that I wish we were given the right to go through at our own pace. I would much rather someone ask me, where are you in your grieving process? It would then give me a fair CHOICE to answer without feeling pressured.
That said, My dear Darlene, you once again nailed it. My anxiety faded away as I was reading. Someone has to show us how to validate ourselves before we can do it on our own. You are showing us the way. Thank you.

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[…] Currently, I’m going through this blog and its many comments, when I have time: Forgive the Abusers: A Bit of a Rant […]

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