Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant

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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?

258 response to "Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant"

  1. By: DL Posted: 16th August

    Thank you, thank you! What an article, you nailed it! Its how I feel. I was looking for something like this because of the “The Glass Castle” being released as a film recently. I lived a childhood VERY eerily similar to that one. Nothing against Jeannette Walls but not all of us view our parents the way she does. It is certainly her business to evaluate her past and family as she sees fit FOR HER but… the media will turn her into a Poster Child of how to survive and “move on.” One Size Fits All. I am so sick and tired of those of us with these stories being told to FORGIVE like its mandatory! Media, the church, 12 step, Oprah, we are hounded with the message and its pounded in! Being told how we should feel, what we must do and say to “heal”. (This is why I hate movies like “An American Quilt”, “Bastard Out of Carolina”, “the Incredible Mrs Ritchie” because they all have some pat, smug, heartless dialogue in them that implies the victim must “get over it” or go back and rescue the damn lousy family.)(For that matter “Philadelphia Story” has some creepy dialogue too!) I turn 60 this year and while most of my therapy and inner assessment along these lines is done…I still have moments where I have to peel back one more layer. If that happens, so be it. I have had moments of forgiveness –that have even lasted years–but I’m like an onion, layer on layer, I’m not one-dimensional, life is complicated So instead of “forgive and forget”, I choose to “forgive and UNforgive” as the situation demands. I see it this way, when you repair a house, you do the projects one at a time, sometimes in different rooms, all over the house, a little at a time. Not all at once, not even all in the same decade. Improvement is on-going. My parents are deceased but they helped build the foundation and framework of my personality, stunted it and tore it down. I am proud of how far I’ve come. BUT: if I have to be angry at their memory now and then while remodeling a certain corner of my life, well, so be it! You’d have words for a lousy carpenter or plumber who messed up wouldn’t you? No difference! It takes what it takes. But no one who has been abused should be pressured the way our culture pressures us. So SICK OF IT.

    Thank you for your words! And the words of others in comments. This is a subject near to my heart that raised my blood pressure at times.

    PS: I find it interesting in the Glass Castle the youngest Maureen mostly stays away from the family and the media and the little we know of her, she is labeled possibly “mentally ill”. Yet if you really DIG through some postings you’ll find friends and college friends who “knew her when” and didn’t see her as unstable at all! In fact they want to find her. She was loved. She had a violent reaction to an abusive parent and then had to serve time in an institution. Doesn’t matter the form of abuse, you get enough of it you reach a breaking point. There but for the grace of the cosmos, go I! (Almost was me, in one instance! Almost!)(My dad. He threatened to kill me and I stood my ground and threw his own ugly words back at him.And for the record, years later I was genuinely very good to that man in his last moments.) No one locked the parents up, during all that, from what I can tell, just her, Maureen. Why? Makes you wonder, don’t it? I’m not advocating violence at all, just saying her outburst was normal if not legal. But her sister’s attitude to the past is more photogenic, tidy and media approved. A feel good story for the box office. Well, I say, good for Maureen escaping! I had a therapist once tell me there is nothing wrong with running away – from a bad thing.

    Thank you. This post meant a lot to me today.

  2. By: Tundra Woman Posted: 19th July

    Thank you, HH. Indeed this insistence is simply more abuse, another kind of intolerance from (of all people) the most intolerant wrapped in a transparent “Care and Concern” package. I can’t even recall the number of times or settings in which I have also been taken to task by the Forgiveness PC Police. The reality is, “forgiveness” never crossed my radar. That’s right: Never even thought of it. Forgiveness was and still is a non-issue to me. (Let the vapors and/or screeching begin.) And I NC’d *decades* ago. I’ve been pelted with the most simplistic views of the human experience imaginable ex: “If you don’t forgive you’ll be an angry, bitter person!” Really?! Of all the possible outcomes, it is this binary only that inevitably will result?! Deargawdhelphthefools.

    I live in the boonies with a lot of wildlife. So here it is, from an apparently completely morally bankrupt old widow: Would I forgive a bear for being a bear? Likewise, a snake? A deer? A fox. Rediculous, right? That’s just WHO THEY ARE-and every one is a Predator out of necessity. My CB Mugger was who she was and was a Predator out of nastiness and consciencelessness.

    It’s not the victim or the child of such parents upon whom the demands for “forgiveness” need to be heaped: It is the Perpetrators.
    TW

  3. By: HH Posted: 19th July

    I’m tired of being pushed to “forgive.” I’m tired of being told that forgiveness is about me, not the abuser, how much it will help me….. Forgiveness to me DOES mean that you absolve the abuser, and I’m tired of hearing about how wrong I am for not accepting that definition. Do you folks not understand that pushing a victim to do something they don’t accept is abusing them as well, although in a different way?

    I’m tired of victim being a dirty word. “Don’t be a victim.” It was too late for that the moment I was abused.

    Let the victim decide how best they should heal. Quit forcing them to accept your idea of what they “must” do in order to heal. Just be there for them. When you give them advice, you are not listening. When you are not listening, you are not supporting.

    If forgiveness helped YOU – great. Please understand that there isn’t one magic cure all that works for everybody.

  4. By: Mapela Posted: 5th June

    I read this at the right time. Thank you so much. This is definitely helping me with my rage. I did the same thing. Forgave my abusers without validating myself. Tried to understand them without validating myself. I wondered why i was still angry. Why it felt like yesterday. Its because i didn’t validate any of my pain and anger. No more. I am fucking angry. And i will keep being angry until i am ready to let go

  5. By: HH Posted: 18th November

    THANK YOU.

    I do NOT have to forgive my abusers in order to heal, not forgiving them does not “hurt” me as everyone insists, although the pressure to forgive DOES.

    “Forgiveness” is another way to abuse the victim. What is said about people who can’t/won’t forgive? They’re bad people. (Thanks a lot). It’s just another way to take the pressure off the abuser and lay it back on the victim.

    My family thinks forgiveness means you “put it behind you” and putting it behind you means you never bring it up again. If you do, then that’s proof you didn’t really forgive, are holding a grudge, or “dwelling on it.” This gives the abuser a free pass, and the family is free of discomfort and embarrassment. What happens to the victim? They suffer in silence. No thanks.

    • By: Rainey Posted: 27th February

      HH,
      I could not have said it any better, I whole heartedly agree with your feelings as I feel exactly the same way!

  6. By: Kendris Posted: 28th July

    Thank you for writing this because it helps me feel validated. My mother and father both abused and neglected me for years. After a long, long time I feel like maybe I can put my past relationship with my father behind me and have something meaningful with him because he has taken many steps to redeem himself and make up for the damage he did.

    The first thing I was told when talking about this abuse was “oh, you need to forgive them.” To me this is a form of victim blaming. I feel like I was being told that I am unhappy because I haven’t forgiven my abusers yet and if I did all my pain would instantly go away. It is my fault I’m in pain not the fault of the people who hurt me. I have complete control over when the pain stops because I am causing it.

    This is a terrible thing to say to a victim of abuse and not helpful at all. It’s kind of like saying: if you just pretend the abuse never happened then you will be fine. If I pretended everything was fine between me and my parents then it would be like the abuse never happened. I think people ask victims to do this so they can just forget about the fact that the victim was a abused. It makes things easier on other people but it makes it harder on abuse victims who need validation.

    I don’t know if “forgiving” is something I am ever going to do and I don’t really care. What I need to do is make myself okay. I don’t need to worry about my abuser’s feelings. I also tried for years to convince myself I had forgiven my mother but I hadn’t and I recently realized that her abusive behavior started long before I originally thought it did.

    I never really thought I deserved what I was getting until I started trying to prematurely analyze the events in a way that could allow me to be forgiving of my abuser. For me that meant laying a lot of blame on myself and was very harmful. Probably a therapist would have told me not to do that but I didn’t have one. Now I have a lot more feelings of self loathing than I had before but I am trying to forget what people told me and do what I need to for myself.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th July

      Hi Kendris
      Welcome to EFB ~ Well said! (and yes it IS victim blaming!)
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene
      p.s. about your last paragraph ~ I wrote an article once about how when accountability is used in that way it is very damaging.

  7. By: Celine Posted: 19th November

    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.

  8. By: Michelle Posted: 19th June

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th June

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

  9. By: Stanley Posted: 16th January

    Thank you Darlene! <3

  10. By: Stanley Posted: 16th January

    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!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th January

      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

  11. By: Kathie Posted: 11th December

    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!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th December

      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

  12. By: Maureen Posted: 18th November

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th November

      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

  13. By: PS Posted: 27th September

    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 🙂

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th September

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

  14. By: sylvia Posted: 26th September

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th September

      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

  15. By: Krissy Posted: 25th September

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th September

      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

  16. By: sincerely Posted: 25th September

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th September

      “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

  17. By: Teresa Posted: 30th July

    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!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st July

      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

  18. By: Teresa Posted: 29th July

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th July

      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

  19. By: Karenina Posted: 16th May

    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?”

  20. By: Lisa Posted: 29th April

    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!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th April

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

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