Forgiveness and Child Abuse ~ When Suggesting Forgiveness is Abusive

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forgivenessWhen 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.

I got assaulted and HE got prayer.  I didn’t realize at the time how much she discounted ME by telling me to pray for him. I didn’t notice that she wasn’t interested in what happened to me, or in the difficulty that I was STILL having dealing with what had happened to me but that she skipped right to concern for HIM. I didn’t even realize that the message that I was getting from her was concern for him. I was used to being discounted in that way so it was normal and familiar to me then. Today I see her directive for me to pray for him and forgive him as abusive.

Forgiveness and child abuse is a difficult combination.

I didn’t respond in any way to her suggestion at first. In my minds eye I see myself “thinking” about this suggestion; considering the best way to “go about it”. As always the compliant victim, I stayed quiet. I even agreed to let her HELP me pray for him.

I remember her praying “with” me or “for me” or maybe she prayed “over me” I can’t remember for sure which method she used. She asked God to heal my heart and to show me the way to forgiveness.

I got assaulted and he got forgiveness?

She told me that I needed to forgive my mother for not protecting me and not believing me. She didn’t even listen to the whole story before she was telling me that I had to forgive them. It was invalidating.

There was no comfort for me. There was no understanding for me. There was no permission for me to be afraid or to be in pain. There was no permission for me to talk about what happened or how I felt about it. I was invalidated once again. The abusers, even when I exposed them, were the ones who deserved the attention.

My mother didn’t love me enough to choose ME over HIM but she got prayer and I had to find a way to forgive. I was ‘encouraged’ to try and ‘understand them’.  I had to try to understand the abusers.

I didn’t know how to forgive so as I was directed I prayed for God to show me a way; I prayed that he change MY heart. I prayed that he show me how to love them with HIS love. I was devastated by the events of my childhood and I was trying to find a way to forgive the people who did this damage without even having had the damage VALIDATED. I had never been heard, I had never been protected. The damage was invalidated as I was invalidated.

I did all the things I was told to do but I never quite found the real answer. I still lived in fear. I still felt dirty, disgusting, unlovable and unworthy.

Whenever I tried to re-visit the difficulties of the traumas I had suffered in life, I was advised to pray for the people who caused them and I was instructed to find a way to forgive. I was told that forgiveness was for “me”. That forgiveness would set me free from the pain. But in reality I was not allowed to HAVE the pain. I was not even supposed to talk about it. I was apparently supposed to jump straight to forgiveness.  I was told that forgiveness was the only way to peace and happiness. I felt so much shame that “forgiveness” wasn’t working for me! I felt like I was the only failure in the world because I could not seem to get over the abuse in my past and I didn’t know how to forgive.

Being directed to “pray for them” and being told that “forgiveness is the only way to peace” seems really messed up to me now. There was a crime committed against me and I was told to pray for this person and all others who assisted him in getting away with it and find it in my heart to forgive them. Even the way that sounds in writing seems to indicate that since I was the one that had a problem. I had to forgive. And the message that I got was that I was the one that had done something wrong. And since that message was the same one that I had received all my life, it slipped into my belief system quite easily and comfortably.

If a seventeen year old girl (or boy) came to me today and told me that her mother’s boyfriend or anyone else sexually assaulted her, I would advise her to call the police and report him or I would ask her if she wanted me to call the police or go to the police station with her and report him. That response might scare her, but it would also validate her worth and the fact that a crime had been committed against her. If she didn’t want to report him I would support her through it and make sure that she knew that none of it was her fault.  I would not advise anyone to pray for the perpetrator or perpetrators of the crime. That would be discounting to the victim of that crime. I would not advocate for the abuser. I would not put the abuser ahead of the victim in this way. That would be invalidating and devaluing.

Suggesting that the victim of a child sexual abuse crime (or any other abuse crime whether legally liable or not) consider forgiveness or the salvation of the perpetrator of that crime even before the damage has been validated and even before the victim has permission to feel all the pain and anger is mean. It discounts and devalues the person who was abused. It puts the emphasis in the wrong place. It causes the victim to be stuck in shame and pain. Stuck. 

This is the way that I was always treated in the old dysfunctional relationship system. I could not heal from damage that had never been validated. It wasn’t even that I was always told to forgive. I had also been told that I ‘misunderstood’ his intentions. I was told that I must have done something to cause this to happen. I was told that HE would never hurt me. But he DID hurt me. Why was it always about HIM?

Telling people to forgive as a priority and as the only path to healing also serves as a way to keep the cycle of abuse active instead of breaking the cycle of abuse. No wonder the victims are the ones hiding and crying in the dark, too afraid to admit that they are still broken from the events of years ago and the abusers are out there using their real names and puffing out their chests, continuing to bully lots of other people. In this messed up system, the abusers get prayer, understanding and forgiveness and the victim suffers in (forced) silence!

Victims of child abuse (or any type of abuse) need to be heard before they are instructed to move on or find a way to forgive the perpetrator of the damage caused to them. People need to be validated and assured that what happened to them was WRONG and that they didn’t deserve it. They need to be told that it was not their fault and that the perpetrator of that abuse is the guilty party and that person is the one who is accountable.

Until I finally saw the truth about my childhood and the trauma that I suffered, I was stuck in the prison of living as an invalid person.  It was in finally being heard and being validated in my pain and my right to be angry at the injustice done to me that set me free to live.

All things healthy grew from this initial validation.  I was able to heal from the pain, hurt, anger and resentment when I finally gave myself permission to justify having those feelings in the first place.  It was only then that I was able to let go and eventually put it behind me.

Please share your thoughts on the subject of forgiveness and prayer for the perpetrator of child abuse or (any other abuse) verses validating the victim of that abuse and encouraging/validating emotions, fears and the anger they have at the injustice that has been done and don’t forget to put yourself and the pain your have experienced into this thought process.  

Welcome to Emerging from Broken where Exposing Truth is the beginning of truly living;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken bookThe Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

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“Adult victims of Child Abuse still need to be heard” 

128 response to "Forgiveness and Child Abuse ~ When Suggesting Forgiveness is Abusive"

  1. By: Kate D. Posted: 14th November 2016

    Thanks Naomi. Me too. 🙂

  2. By: Naomi Posted: 14th November 2016

    Hi Kate, thank you for your vulnerability in sharing your story. I’ll look forward to maybe getting to know you a little better through this site.

  3. By: Kate D. Posted: 13th November 2016

    I suffered child abuse at the hands of my parents. And I suffered years of being told to forgive my abusers. It was always very hurtful to hear. I kept the details to myself though, swallowed the pain and anger and sadness to protect others for no good reason, which ironically included my abusers. I’ve carried all of it for everyone for decades. With family members especially, it’s become immensely painful that they don’t even care enough to ask what happened. They’d rather live in denial than comfort a fellow human who is suffering. Forgiveness is not the first step towards recovery. It truly is validation.

    I’ve always felt in my heart that forgiving abusers has got to be the most inane solution possible. Abusers don’t deserve forgiveness. If anyone deserves forgiveness, it’s the target of the abuse. I deserve forgiveness, for thinking I deserved the abuse, for continuing to think so little of myself even once the abuse was behind me, for repeating self-destructive relationship patterns well after the abuse ended, for internalizing shame around my inability to forgive my abusers, for always internalizing everything as my fault, for being too afraid to have an open heart ever. There is no other option but to forgive oneself.

    It’s hard to stand up for yourself when the world around you is submerged in denial. People are desperately clinging to an idea of their life that never existed, could never have existed in their family. They make the choice to worship that false front over the suffering of a fellow human, child even. When you’re in an abusive situation facing that denial, sometimes all it takes is one voice of another person, to serve as a touchstone that says, ‘Yes! I see you and your truth. You are good and I believe in you.’ This article is that voice for me, even at this late date of 47 years of age. Its bittersweet.

    I’ve sought help and haven’t found it or couldn’t make it manifest in my life. There are patterns of behavior instilled in me that I battle every day to eliminate. I’ve done therapy. Medications. Books. Groups. So much effort and yet, the abuse still stole my life. I’ve forgiven my abusers by acknowledging their inabilities, limitations and flaws. But I also don’t want them in my life. I’d love to have people in my life who don’t insist on denial, but would rather face reality and truth. But as I discovered with forgiveness, and as this article relates about forgiveness, its always first about turning inwards. The healing always starts with me.

    Thank you so much sharing your wisdom.

  4. By: Naomi Posted: 19th September 2014

    Hi Mimi and Pam, I just read your discussion from early on in this comment stream. I giggled and my face is glowing at your statement at the end of your post, Pam. I want to give you both hugs!!! I love that you are talking about the reality that so many people protect and defend perpetrators because they are too scared to stand up to power. How is it that this type of behavior can go on for so long? Honestly Darlene’s site and the words of my boyfriend made me unscramble my brain and start protecting myself and others rather than perpetrators. I was taught~ from a young age~ that I was evil and sinful and that having sexual sensations was also probably evil. It was easy to start believing that what my dad taught me was truth and what I experienced and felt was wrong. That sort of thinking lead me to constantly protect and defend those who are abusers~ even to the point that I considered working with serial killers~ at one point~ because I wanted to show them that they were worthy of love at their core. It scares me now to realize how sick and twisted I was to consider the wants and needs of abusers before my own needs and those of others who were abused and hurting. Speaking out about abuse that happened in my life has been the single most supportive and successful healing that I have ever experienced. All of a sudden I have loads of compassion for others who are hurting. Those feelings of anger now go towards those who deserve that anger~ the abusers~ not to me or to others who have been victimized.

    I want to shout from the roof-tops with you Pam. One step at a time I am becoming more brave. Sending hugs your way. Love you, Naomi

  5. By: marquis (female) Posted: 18th September 2014

    Joy,

    “but when things MUST be done FEW will actually DO ANYTHING! And those are the ones who will tell you to pray. Prayer fixes everything! Well even the people of ISRAEL know better than that. PRAYER ONLY WORKS WITH ACTION! Its prayer…NOT MAGIC!!!”

    Thank you my boyfriend would love that comment! I was always told if you pray, poof it is here! Remember, the Bible is full of actions of what people did right, wrong, or indifferent which is why they sayings go everything is about action, we must not think but act, etc all comes from Scripture. Sounds good to the ears, but like you said when it comes down to actually doing it, nobody wants to do anything. I have said this to my ex-therapist a lot who is a Christian herself. She disregarded a lot of things I said about my parents and always used the “they are your parents” bullshit against me.

    I told her go back and read Scripture then come back to talk to me as long as you still have dogmas, we can’t have a meaningful, adult like conversation about life/people because you’re so self-absorbed on what Society says. Oooh, she was mad as a bull when I got through with her!

    It’s funny, my mom grew up Christian and supposedly “prays” yet “God didn’t bother to answer her prayers because she is still stuck in this useless, miserable, phony, cheating marriage.” She has been waiting for years to people or God to use a wand to make everything go away – that’s how she taught me which is actually a codependent behavior. My mom has been saying for years she is gonna move, move, move to an apartment on HER OWN! When is that gonna happen? She said in 2016 on my dad’s bday in March – always March cuz it’s their bdays! People said why not leave now? She said she still can’t because she needs him to help her move, wow, great teaching for your daughter depending on a jackass to do it!

    She still spends her money uselessly like she has done ever since I can remember. My mom has never rented on her own, neither have I been got my education from boyfriend’s mom and reading apartment blogs. She is still in la la land about how she is gonna move and one time my mom said I don’t need to show action in what I am doing and said yea you do because if you expect to be an example there has to be ACTION!

  6. By: Joy Posted: 18th September 2014

    So typical. It is easier to tell you what to do…like pray for the offender….than to actually DO anything….like turn the offender into the authorities…or confront the abuser…or smite the giant with a stone (david and goliath in case you don’t know what I am talking about). There is a time for prayer and a time for action, and both are often effective!! Everyone talks a good game but when things MUST be done FEW will actually DO ANYTHING! And those are the ones who will tell you to pray. Prayer fixes everything! Well even the people of ISRAEL know better than that. PRAYER ONLY WORKS WITH ACTION! Its prayer…NOT MAGIC!!!

  7. By: JJ S Posted: 18th September 2014

    When I was younger, my step-father physically and sexually abused me. I was removed from the home by CPS at age 12. My brother and sister were not abused, physically or sexually…but there were emotional abuses. My step-father is their real father. My brother and sister both are adult narcissists. You would not think it meeting them…You would not think it since they have such a wiide circle of friends…A few months ago, my sister betrayed me. My brother also helped her. It’s not easy to come out of broken and it’s easy to say forgive or don’t forgive. I feel like I’ve literally died inside. A counselor said, “You allow how others make you feel.” I was like is this dude seriously blaming me?? So I never went back. Two months have gone by since this ordeal (story in poem) and it’s really hard. I make enough to pay rent/utils and we go to food banks for staples. No one really get’s how broken, angry, betrayed, depressed, etc.. because most people just see broken as weakness. And if you’re broken, people don’t know how to respond so they avoid you. Someone told me, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” That was NOT what I needed or wanted to hear. So I just stared at them with a glazed over look and no expression until they left.
    I found writing seems to be the only thing that helps. So I wrote this:

    Manipulation of the Situation no Contribution to the Solution

    The Fa§ade

    Manipulation of the Situation no Contribution to the Solution

    I am who I am and I’m not afraid to let show.

    I don’t pretend or try to impress

    and I ain’t competing with all my friends.

    She lied and stole and sold her soul.

    For what? Opportunity – ain’t that the shit.

    Obvious it was her ultimate goal.

    She twisted the truth and distorted the lies.

    I can’t keep up with her slithering eyes.

    I don’t care who assumes to know

    the bits n pieces of her half-truths.

    Her tainted game

    spiked with sweet vermouth.

    This is the story and I tell it true

    You can believe it or not, that’s up to you.

    She waited for the moment to push me ova the edge –

    Yeah, it hurt me but hurt my kid more instead.

    My mother’s instinct was to react and attack

    but for my son’s sake

    I’m gonna stop and just never look back.

    People said they weren’t surprised

    by her actions to end me – out for my demise.

    It’s ok cause I gave it all back

    left you all holding that vile sack.

    I sent it on to its rightful owners

    Now take your trophy for best award winning actors.

    You all own it now – keep it – no strings attached.

    It fits you all, what a perfect match.

    Bought a house together

    Her goal to use, how wonderfully clever.

    We R gone and we R done.

    Family – to me, there ain’t none.

    Never, never, never again

    two strikes, three strikes – I can’t believe I called you all kin?

    You all spew projectile vile

    Out of your mouths it’s nothing but bile.

    My family once considered – no longer exists

    not even an ounce or moment of reminiscence.

    So don’t push us any more

    with your stupid tricks and slanderous lies.

    I may not have your collegiate crew

    I got my own waiting patiently in the queue.

    They say have compassion and try to walk in another’s shoes

    but that ain’t how you all think

    you just simply accuse.

    Yet you all claim good Christian people are you,

    high on your sanctimonious podium picking only your select few.

    Pastor D.A. said, That ain’t no way to be –

    We suppose to love and care

    but people are blind, don’t you see.

    I stare in wonder then I say to him,

    I feel empty – Show me a God (TECH N9NE)

    He sighs n says people, everywhere, are all flawed.

    I’m seriously immune – this family all whacked

    you’re all alike

    an unfortunate but true historical fact.

    Cut from the same loin cloth of your father

    I seriously have no idea why I ever bothered.

    You all relish in the misery of others

    seriously sad for brothers, sisters, fathers n mothers.

    Reasons unbeknownst to all of you,

    My Doc wanted to explain so sis knew.

    But her ego stepped in – impart betray

    so she could get to what she wanted

    she yelled, I don’t care – DON’T STAND IN MY WAY.

    My out of control scene of action –

    It was partly to blame on a prescription drug reaction. (Chantix)

    See I know the truth how she treats her friends

    1 better than the other

    this 1 or that 1 instead.

    We fought we argued and I said that ain’t right

    but she stood stone cold out of spite.

    For why, I said, do you call them friends

    book smart she is but still, she didn’t comprehend.

    She let them sit and wonder why…

    Oh I see, it’s that same ole lie.

    She never even called her friend

    a week, a month, a year went by.

    Beard the lion in his den.

    The truth would be nice, every now and then.

    Manipulation of the Situation no Contribution to the Solution.

    That ain’t no way to live

    to gamble on who’s the winning $$ bid.

    Pastor D.A. said, That ain’t no way to be

    we suppose to love and care

    but people are blind, don’t you see.

    You all judge me cause I sin differently than you.

    Discard me like someone you never knew.

    You all call me the bad one for speaking truth

    But reality is – you’re all the playas like Babe Ruth.

    Yeah I’m crazy even more today

    I’d rather be crazy than a hypocrite any ole way.

    Lifetime of crazy from regrets of trusting –

    I’m mad at myself for that – it’s all pretty disgusting.

    You all are the wolf in sheep’s clothing

    I was blinded by the blood but now cleansed by the water

    And day after day, age it is bitterly encroaching.

    Sis’s Bro says Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John is the way to a better life

    but he dogs and curses his “loving” school teacher wife.

    He’s preaches the gospel with his forked tongue –

    And passes it around one by one–

    and you all continue to smoke his poisonous dung.

    I ain’t perfect but I ain’t fake.

    I’d rather be this Monster you all helped create.

    I know the things that I’ve done wrong

    I even begged for sis’s forgiveness

    steadily, all day and all night long.

    I told her we had no where to go

    She pulled rank on OUR house

    And didn’t care what we would endure.

    Threw us out with no where to go

    Over asking her to respect us –

    It all turned into a spiraling black hole.

    Gave us only four days to move

    My son stressed out, asked for more time

    She denied his request for just 2 more days

    And treated him like he was a disgrace.

    She called the police and LIED to them

    She hoped they would come and pre-condemn.

    Spiteful action after spiteful action sis and her bro took

    Over my words of not liking her married boyfriend

    Still living with his wife and step-child in a nook.

    The boyfriend he ain’t no better,

    He should be wearing an A from the scarlet letter.

    When I asked him he couldn’t remember where he had met his wife,

    I bet that would cut her deep, sharp like a knife.

    He still came around when we were moving,

    Arrogant demeanor, that’s all that was proving.

    Marriage is a covenant between couple and God –

    And he claims to be Christian, that’s definitely a fraud.

    His daughter asked him while he’s still living with his wife,

    “Daddy, are you going to your girlfriend’s house?”

    Now she thinks it’s ok to have a boyfriend and a spouse.

    Claims he only stayed the year after his wife was caught cheating

    To give them insurance from his job

    but that’s nothing more than lying and stealing.

    I wonder if God is proud of the man he’s become

    the cause of so much negative destruction that has succumbed.

    A sin is still a sin –

    Justification, excuses, and enabling

    Doesn’t make it a righteous win.

    False Christians you all are,

    but God has given us a suit of armor.

    He protects us daily –

    Aren’t we all suppose to live through him with some kind of honor?

    Yeah, you all laugh n poke n tell your cruel jokes,

    But we got what we need and at least we do it on our own.

    I really would have left all this all alone

    had sis not continued to torment and taunt us

    after she forced us to leave OUR home.

    However, that’s the part

    that she n her bro

    failed to confess as they both became so obsessed –

    Hell bent on destroying us –

    Yet you all still claim to be Christian blessed.

    Yes I have it, I got the proof –

    but it won’t raise your Holy roof.

    Bro goes on to antagonize the drama of his baby’s Momma.

    Intentionally sets her up just to hear her holler.

    I bet he doesn’t tell his wife about the pain he causes

    She would never go along or be a subordinate clause.

    You all are a source of undue stress but say you love Christ

    Which is it? Your blood and actions –

    they are all as cold as ice.

    Lies to cover your trails of deceit

    then mad at me cause I ain’t down on that street.

    I ain’t the only one you all torment and taunt

    But true word —

    it will come back on you, guaranteed to haunt.

    The narcissist good at hiding the poisonous arsenic of their true identity –

    you all sit around and all quietly whisper your many cruel obscenities.

    God’s promise to seek his own revenge

    for the broken, the wronged, and persecuted – he will avenge.

    You all broke us down with what you did

    You’re all true narcissists no conscious no remorse

    not even for my kid.

    Picked opportunity over loyalty

    That’s sis’s true character and her twisted identity.

    She discarded my multiple requests to keep her sex and drinking quiet,

    My son and his gf in the house, but she didn’t care

    Her response – a disrepectful “Oh well” as she just flipped her hair –

    My response – I’d had enough, I caused a drug induced RIOT.

    My son said, “It doesn’t feel like our house anymore”

    As she and her boyfriend have taken it over.

    My son’s feelings didn’t faze her in the least

    She continued her improprieties

    Didn’t care of its affects –

    We became a pawn of the beast.

    If it had been your house and this occurred

    You wouldn’t have put up with it either

    and that’s true word.

    But because it’s me and the hate you all hold

    the shear enjoyment of hate you all have is disturbingly bold.

    You all still claim you walk in Christ,

    but seriously how could you,

    including all the others you all negatively entice.

    NO more of the lies and twisted games

    They are both exactly like their father’s sick twisted fame.

    Years ago I should have stayed gone

    Not let you use us like some chess pawn.

    I may be crazy, or sick, or demented

    But I have never lied

    nor I have never treated you all like you’ve treated us

    With such hate, no grace, and such constant family divide.

    Final to the word is to leave us alone –

    No more taunts and no more words.

    I’m Packin9 and Trailing6

    I ain’t playing games

    or want any part of your constant drama and conflicts.

    Just turn around and go the opposite way

    Or you’ll be standing in front of your Judgment Day.

    Like I said, I have the absolute proof

    for both of them so self absorbed and aloof.

    I don’t care if you believe me or not.

    I’ve washed my hands,

    and left you all holding your own vile pot.

    Manipulation of the Situation no Contribution to the Solution.

    “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

    Which you all only apply to those you all feel worthy or best.

    1 Corinthians 13: two

    “To love one another or you have nothing..” does that not apply to you?

    Hey, Pastor D.A.

    I ain’t blind no more, you see

    It’s all clear now

    how false Christians and people can really be.

    I see why people give up

    Alone in the dark, crucified by hate and lies and hidden deceit.

  8. By: Catt o Nine Posted: 18th September 2014

    I really feel that forgiveness is a concept that was introduced to victims by their oppressors in order to retain control over them and keep them submissive. For years, I thought something was wrong withe because I could not “get over” my abuse. Now I realize that demanding that a victim dismiss her justified feelings of anger or even hate toward the perpetrator in the spirit of forgiveness is another way to keep the victim down but most importantly, quiet. Forgiveness is enslavement.

  9. By: martha du'sage Posted: 18th September 2014

    Darlene…I resonate with so much you say, as our experiences have been similar. I have been able to find forgiveness, but only through recognizing that these people are not conscious, aware or awake, and by standing in my own integrity. This is why the word integrity is in my book over 50 times. It’s interesting that you re-posted this blog because as synchronicity would have it, I just found this verse.

    Revelation 21:7-8 ESV / 6 helpful votes
    The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

    I hope someday our paths cross. We are often accused of being negative, when the truth is we are actually quite positive as we are doing our best to change things for not only ourselves, but for everyone.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U842mKjL8yY

  10. By: Tom Maxwell Posted: 2nd June 2014

    What a powerful article. Forgiveness seems like saying its okay but its not okay. I feel guilty feeling anger and outrage… I deserve to feel all that I feel. I just wanted to say thank you for this piece.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd June 2014

      Hi Tom
      Welcome to Emerging fro Broken. I am so glad you are here,
      hugs, Darlene

  11. By: Gigi Posted: 1st June 2014

    I remember feeling the most anger that I have ever felt, when I was repeatedly told by professionals and others that I needed to forgive or pray for the perpetrator for my own sake. This just did not make sense to me and I wrestled with this for a long time. Anger is healthy especially to those of us who were denied the ability to show any feelings, let alone anger. However, at some point the anger may become self sabotaging and no longer serves you well. If you let it overtake the other possible good things in your life, the abuser is still dominating and taking your life away. What finally gave me peace for myself was that I had to reinterpret their misguided advice of forgiving the perpetrator and instead I choose to see it as a letting go or releasing of the anger or constant thoughts that still tied me so intensively to this horrible situation. After much work on this I was finally to work on understanding and letting go of the pain itself so that there was room for better things in my life. When I was able to do it for me, not the perpetrator it finally made sense. In a new found respect for myself,I realize that I had no responsibility whatsoever to forgive someone for what is truly unforgivable; knowing that this ability lies only in the hands of God. It is completely misguided, if not perverted for these individuals/professionals to insist otherwise–continuing the vicious circle practiced in our society where the victim is often put in a situation to be re-victimized.

  12. By: Ray Posted: 30th April 2014

    Expecting the victim to forgive is a subtle form of ‘blaming the victim’. It add insult to injury and is very cruel. That’s why I don’t buy the Christian platitude about forgiveness being the beginning of the healing process. Total nonsense! Closure is the beginning and closure comes from seeing the assailant being brought to justice – NOT forgiven.

  13. By: marquis (female) Posted: 24th January 2014

    Such an awesome read as always! This is how MHPs should speak not the usual bs ‘but try to understand him.’

    “I got assaulted and he got forgiveness?
    She told me that I needed to forgive my mother for not protecting me and not believing me. She didn’t even listen to the whole story before she was telling me that I had to forgive them. It was invalidating.”

    I agree it is invalidating to one’s feelings. I told this to my therapist ‘why should my parents get forgiveness while I am stuck, robbed of a childhood I never had, then they are gonna still terrorize others, yet our self esteems are suppose to continue to suffer? I have seen with forgiveness that the abusers still continue to do what they want to do.’

    She said they are gonna do what they want to do, but it is to release yourself. I have told people my story and they just pick and choose what they wanna hear by telling you ‘understand your parents, try to be a good daughter and may be they will come around.’ What kind of nonsense is that?!? We already know that abusers were once abused some time in their lives, what else is their to understand about them? Very few of them will change and the majority of them don’t give a damn to change!

    Invalidating one’s feelings – people can’t understand why there are still other people out there who won’t come out because they keep hearing other groups of people being denied their feelings. It’s like you already feel like crap already by keeping it in and once you open your mouth to invalidation, you still feel like crap even more! Damn if you do and damn if you don’t! All my therapist did was say ‘oh I am a mother and understand parents’ feelings.’ I told her ‘no, you don’t. You do not speak for all parents – you damn sure don’t speak for mine.’

    I’ve been told to forgive my mother for not protecting us and for not being a better mom to us. I said you must be kidding! My therapist said she stills lives in the past and I said no duh yet you’re the one kissing their asses! She said ‘your mother (dad too) did the best they could.’ I said really? let me help you with that: mom “I never wanted you guys in the first place. You were just born to keep your father around and I hate women – they are nothing but whores especially daughters. Having my first born daughter to my old high school boyfriend was another way for him to get him to love me. I refuse to work with white people and take those women’s programs that are to help women get into the workforce. I am not paying for the mistress’ bills! I never loved my children, you are just assets for our tax refunds every year and basically our little maidservants.”
    My mom worked sporadically in the 70s and 80s as a nurses aid; few months here and a few months there then she found out my dad was cheating claiming it started in 1972 before my brother was born and way before I was born. She isn’t gonna pay the mistress’ bills – was my mom forced to give my dad her paycheck? That we will never know. She gets very quiet when you ask her.

    She starts arguments and couldn’t understand why dad gave her a black eye twice, cops came in Ny, but she never pressed charges. He put his hands on her again in CA, she called the cops and pressed charges and still married in the same household!!! She said money is due to her and made it clear how money meant more to her than her own children, his affairs and dad and mistress frauding the gov was more important to argue with him on than trying to help her own children.

    My parents say it isn’t their job to teach their kids about life or whatever, we were suppose to figure that out as children and my mom always uses race to back up her claims “only white people hang onto their kids by trying to be a parent to them.” WTF?!?!? My mom is extremely lazy and has zero work ethics yet claims she has a lot to show for…spreading her legs to make babies? How is that an accomplishment?

    My dad strongly believes women should submit to their husbands, be their maidservant or sex servant, women have no place in the world (why do you have daughters?), women are taking away the man’s jobs out there. His mother was an alcoholic before she died and my sister said how she treated her and first born half sister like shit yet treated my brother like gold! My dad only wanted children for again tax reasons but he wanted 25+ more so he can be like the rich Arab men and the FLDS Mormons with a bunch of wives. He screws people over big time, has death threats from NY, thinks he can take on people (talks big but is fat, can’t breathe, can’t run at all, so out of shape, etc), thinks he can use his fists when you disagree as he pleases, extremely lazy like mom sits at home wants you to pick something up when it is right in front of him and as always, my mom does nothing just makes you do it then says when he isn’t around how women are not servants but she sure makes a great slave!!

    My dad has worked, people tried to help him and he screwed them over. He has terrorized and threaten his employers/coworkers, almost gotten fired multiple times (they finally retired him in 07), gotten at it with his coworkers, threaten to sue the company for racism (plus shit he started on his own), has stolen from his employers and the Navy Reserve way before cameras were around, never home and still isn’t, tells women he is single with no children, pays for sex, sleeps with hoes, is married to the mistress illegally (married her in Mexico), married to another illegally in the 70s in Canada while married to my mother and divorce that other woman within 6 weeks, runs his mouth couldn’t keep a house that is why they were always moving, has absolutely no feelings for anybody told my mom several years about the gas cans how he didn’t care what happened to us (sounds like a lovely father right?), etc.

    My parents always had to “contemplate” our needs meaning they play these stupid negotiation games whether or not we need help with xyz. For example, if I am seriously sick or injured, they would sit there discuss it or make me care for my own sickness/wounds saying you don’t need a doctor just faking it. Yep, we were always faking it! They would let us lay there and die or if we were disabled or on SSI; they would spend the money on themselves or wouldn’t pay for the funeral. Both sides of the families are hateful, spiteful, liars, nasty, women on both sides married losers, there’s no real love in the family at all, too many lies on both sides, too many secrets, etc.

    Told therapist ‘do I need to say more? What part in their entire statements does that sound like real, loving parents who wanted children?’ She just sat there in silence yet this woman is a mom herself! I told her ‘is this how you advise clients? Forgive them anyway because they are your parents, are you really listening to what I am saying? That sounds like two people who are bought and paid for by the devil!’ We were not wanted as children, what part do you and others have an issue with? Is this interfering with your “white picket fence attitude” that this does not happen everyday? Children have been used as slaves, go read a real history book!! It’s a parents’ jobs to raise, teach, and protect their children. If they don’t wanna do it, then take the kids away and give them to someone who will do it! otherwise, you will always have this problem of these children growing up either lost, living destructive lives, etc – somebody needs to intervene.’

    This is the forgiveness I should be doing huh? I told therapist ‘I am still bitter because of the lack of parents we had, no childhood, no type of family fun or a real family, it’s filled of hatred, constant fighting/arguing, etc what child (or adult) should have to go through that kind of drama all of their lives? That is mentally and physically exhausting!’ I guess you can say that is why I can’t let go and still live at home too. I’d say I could let go right now if I was able to do the things I couldn’t do with friends in the past.

    “There was no comfort for me. There was no understanding for me. There was no permission for me to be afraid or to be in pain. There was no permission for me to talk about what happened or how I felt about it. I was invalidated once again. The abusers, even when I exposed them, were the ones who deserved the attention.
    My mother didn’t love me enough to choose ME over HIM but she got prayer and I had to find a way to forgive. I was ‘encouraged’ to try and ‘understand them’. I had to try to understand the abusers.”

    Agreed. I told people my mom chose to have dead beats to father her children her old boyfriend from high school whose been long dead and my dad the fool she married. I was told not to feel or talk about my parents like speaking ill about them. What??! How am I speaking ill about them? I’m speaking about the truth about them, does the children are seen but not heard still apply today but quietly? I told people and therapist the same thing my mom didn’t love us enough but she chose a loser and that spoke volumes. Being married according to her is an accomplishment, so being verbally abused for life and being hit in the eye twice is something to look forward too!?

    It’s funny when my mom says “never let a guy hit you, you leave the marriage/relationship.” Really?!? I told therapist and other people ‘she says these wonderful things, why? It makes her feel good? She isn’t following her own advice and never has saying ‘it wasn’t meant for the suggestion(s) to be followed.’ What?!? Then don’t open your damn mouth!! I always tell people if Jesus was a hypocrite and contradicted himself, would he be the Messiah? Would He have followers? I told my therapist ‘look around, victims are still being put in the dark while everybody is bowing down at the abusers.’ She didn’t like that comment at all, oh well, she decided to cut me off and tell me how I am looking at it negatively like always. I said I would love for you to say that at the survivors of abuse workshop, you wouldn’t get very far from the women I promise you that!

    “I did all the things I was told to do but I never quite found the real answer. I still lived in fear. I still felt dirty, disgusting, unlovable and unworthy.”

    Agreed. I tried to look at it from what I was told about their parents and I have seen the mistreatment happened to them that they are inflicting on us but it is our fault! I still live in fear and I believe I have found my own answers: these people are not worthy of forgiveness as forgiveness should be done on their end too. It’s like you’re begging your man or woman to be with you when they clearly stated they don’t wanna be with you. Same with forgiveness, they feel they did nothing wrong, we’re liars, blah blah and made it clear they are not gonna admit to something “they didn’t do.”

    My therapist said they won’t change. I said I know that! I’ve had people tell me lies about do this or that for them and they will change, it meant absolutely nothing. Nothing we did meant anything to them and we stopped trying and we stopped caring – which I was told was the wrong approach and told therapist it isn’t your life!

    “I was advised to pray for the people who caused them and I was instructed to find a way to forgive. I was told that forgiveness was for “me”. That forgiveness would set me free from the pain. But in reality I was not allowed to HAVE the pain. I was not even supposed to talk about it. I was apparently supposed to jump straight to forgiveness. I was told that forgiveness was the only way to peace and happiness. I felt so much shame that “forgiveness” wasn’t working for me! I felt like I was the only failure in the world because I could not seem to get over the abuse in my past and I didn’t know how to forgive.”

    It’s true if you weren’t allowed to have pain, how can you forgive easily? This society tells us to never feel/experience pain that it is all in your head anyway. They tried to feed us with “artificial happiness” like a Leave it to beaver life style! When I try to forgive, I get so many knots in my stomach like it is telling me ‘don’t do it, not worth their time.’ Yea, there is a lot of shame and told therapist we got a lot of shame in this world and in this country how we are made to feel shameful for little things that is pertaining to our needs only and not someone else’s – we got way too many mix messages.

    It’s like people tell me ‘sad story, please forgive them.’ Skipping everything else like they didn’t wanna hear it. i always tell people ‘my story is dark, why do you want to hear it? Then, when they hear my story and the stuff I say about my parents, they don’t want anything to do with me because you don’t speak that way about your parents blah blah!.’

    “Suggesting that the victim of a child sexual abuse crime (or any other abuse crime whether legally liable or not) consider forgiveness or the salvation of the perpetrator of that crime even before the damage has been validated and even before the victim has permission to feel all the pain and anger is mean. It discounts and devalues the person who was abused. It puts the emphasis in the wrong place. It causes the victim to be stuck in shame and pain. Stuck.”

    I agree which is why you see a lot of abused victims are still stuck like me. I was told countless of ridiculous crap from people and it is like which is which? My parents are the king and queen of denial, being hypocritical, and contradicting themselves as I couldn’t tell what is true about life/people/work and what wasn’t true. People want to be heard not to have their stories devalued and discounted.

    “Being directed to “pray for them” and being told that “forgiveness is the only way to peace” seems really messed up to me now. There was a crime committed against me and I was told to pray for this person and all others who assisted him in getting away with it and find it in my heart to forgive them. Even the way that sounds in writing seems to indicate that since I was the one that had a problem. I had to forgive. And the message that I got was that I was the one that had done something wrong. And since that message was the same one that I had received all my life, it slipped into my belief system quite easily and comfortably.”

    I agree seems messed up to me as well. I agree about a crime being committed against you yet you’re suppose to have peace already?! Not sure what kind of sense that makes when people say that. They tell me that all the time that I should be living in peace right now at almost 28 years old and yea I should be, but still ain’t there yet! Long ago, I met a guy who hated his father because he abused him and his mom. He did one time hate her for not leaving him and still wished she left him, but he had more hatred towards him. He told me how he is successful, left home at an early age, worked, and put forth his energy towards his own life and work. He told me how he never forgave his father and wants nothing to do with him, but he wasn’t a hateful person. Therapist said you are an angry bitter person if you don’t forgive, but this guy wasn’t like that. He didn’t dwell in the past (like me) and he lived his life just fine. She said he was in denial, no he wasn’t in denial. How would my therapist know? She didn’t have this conversation with him long ago like I did. The guy told me what he worked hard for and that doesn’t sound like an angry person to me!!

    “I would not advise anyone to pray for the perpetrator or perpetrators of the crime. That would be discounting to the victim of that crime. I would not advocate for the abuser. I would not put the abuser ahead of the victim in this way. That would be invalidating and devaluing.”

    Agreed. Again, people want to be heard not discounted. I was told by people to “pretend what my parents are doing isn’t really happening,” now that is really pushing the shit under the rug!! I told people who died and made these abusers God? Could you imagine if they were some deity running the world? Omg, talk about chaos!

    “I could not heal from damage that had never been validated. It wasn’t even that I was always told to forgive. I had also been told that I ‘misunderstood’ his intentions. I was told that I must have done something to cause this to happen. I was told that HE would never hurt me. But he DID hurt me. Why was it always about HIM?”

    I was told by people that ‘I didn’t understand what was going on when I was a kid and didn’t understand adult issues back then.’ Yes, we understood quite well we were no longer children but mini adults! Like hell, we didn’t know what was going on we saw the destructive abuse right there in front of us and my mom told me ‘deal with it, people will always fight in front of you. So what if children sees their parents fight like this?’ She said that like it is normal to do! I knew perfectly well that was going on between 5-10 years old in CA and even when we moved to AZ in 96 I knew too.

    I was also told ‘but your parents would never do that. Parents don’t do that to their kids.’ Really? They DID DO THAT TO US, the keywords are “they did,” did is an action word. Actions will always speak louder than words; I don’t know how love triumphs abuse yet you are still being abused and get told ‘see, your parents love you.’ You said why is always about HIM? I agree, I always ask ‘why is it ALWAYS about THEM (my parents)? I always got told I did something wrong for my parents to mistreat us like they way they do. WTF?!? Who asks someone to “please abuse me, I don’t care!” Nobody on this planet asked to be abuse by anyone and abusers don’t need a reason to abuse you, they make excuses as to why they do it. I can’t believe the people who say I did something to my parents are parents themselves!! That is the scary part but I have had other people who are/were childless that said that crap yet told me they had loving parents. People from loving homes know the difference between real and fake!

    “Telling people to forgive as a priority and as the only path to healing also serves as a way to keep the cycle of abuse active instead of breaking the cycle of abuse. No wonder the victims are the ones hiding and crying in the dark, too afraid to admit that they are still broken from the events of years ago and the abusers are out there using their real names and puffing out their chests, continuing to bully lots of other people. In this messed up system, the abusers get prayer, understanding and forgiveness and the victim suffers in (forced) silence!
    Victims of child abuse (or any type of abuse) need to be heard before they are instructed to move on or find a way to forgive the perpetrator of the damage caused to them. People need to be validated and assured that what happened to them was WRONG and that they didn’t deserve it. They need to be told that it was not their fault and that the perpetrator of that abuse is the guilty party and that person is the one who is accountable.
    Until I finally saw the truth about my childhood and the trauma that I suffered, I was stuck in the prison of living as an invalid person. It was in finally being heard and being validated in my pain and my right to be angry at the injustice done to me that set me free to live.”

    I agree, it just keeps the abuse going and going. As long as these abusers stay in denial, as long as people keep kissing their asses and cotton to them, etc abuse will never end. I told my therapist ‘these abusers are pulling the strings and you don’t even see it. My parents are not even here but they are pulling strings and you will believe everything they tell you.’ Now, I understand why people refuse to go to therapy or just quit – way too much invalidating, discounting, and dismissing people’s feelings/stories. Hell, people wonder why I don’t speak about my parents. My therapist said you’re gonna dictate to what people can and can’t ask you?? I said ‘who wants stones to be thrown at them? I say the truth about my parents yet nobody wants to be my friend. Who wants to hear a dark story? I tell them my parents’ don’t exist – you’d be surprised at the stuff I have told people.’

    ” this messed up system, the abusers get prayer, understanding and forgiveness and the victim suffers in (forced) silence!”

    Thank you for saying that and yea, been saying this all of my life. My therapist totally disagrees with this, I am not too surprised she suffered abuse in her life when she said to me ‘if you ask me about my baggage – watch out!’ Look at these appearances in court on these crimes, like a murderer gets off the hook and the families/friends suffering in silence wondering how could they let him go! People felt sorry for the murderer yet they said ‘the victims need to be quiet, people die so what that’s life (that sounds like my mom right there).’

    “Victims of child abuse (or any type of abuse) need to be heard before they are instructed to move on or find a way to forgive the perpetrator of the damage caused to them. People need to be validated and assured that what happened to them was WRONG and that they didn’t deserve it. They need to be told that it was not their fault and that the perpetrator of that abuse is the guilty party and that person is the one who is accountable.”

    Agreed. Nobody is at fault for the abuse they endured. Abusers should be held accountable not ‘oh they are your parents, uncles/aunts, grandparents, etc’ – family or not they still need to be held accountable! My therapist said they are not gonna be held accountable, I remember how higher authorities told me that’s how parents are aka the cops told me that! I told her people wouldn’t be so angry, hateful, bitter, spiteful, etc if they were all heard, validated, loved, supported, etc. I said to her they should be held responsible for screwing up our lives.

    “You cannot forgive someone who does not feel that he or she has done anything wrong or has not asked for forgiveness.”

    Agreed yet therapist would disagree with that. It does make sense, these people will always be in straight denial.

  14. By: Darlean Posted: 26th May 2013

    You cannot forgive someone who does not feel that he or she has done anything wrong or has not asked for forgiveness. In these cases the best you can do is forgive yourself for moving on and away.

  15. By: Barb Bohan Posted: 3rd November 2012

    Darlene, I see the 17 year old child inside you and my heart aches for her and everything you carry with you to this day. You deserved love and understanding and protection.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th November 2012

      Hi Barb,
      Thank you!
      There is freedom on the other side of broken! That 17 year old is healed and free today.
      Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: Sofie Posted: 20th October 2012

    I just admitted recently that I have not really forgiven my mother, my father and my older sister (who was my guardian at that time- she’s 10 years older) for not protecting me from an uncle who attempted to assault me. Thank God I escaped! The forgiveness thing I agree completely. How can any one tell me to forgive someone who just attempted to assaulted me? WTF was that? Did they say that because it was an easy, safe thing to say? Where they even thinking how I felt? I was so mad, so disgusted, so betrayed. Anyway, that was some 20 years ago but when I talk about it now, I feels like it just happened. So I am angry. I have not fully understood why my mother chose not to protect me. Maybe she did not know how. I don’t know. But I felt she betrayed me as her child, and she condoned the event, and I was silenced by her lack of action to correct it, to defend me, and by saying, I should learn to forgive. I know I should intellectually, but I can’t. What that uncle was wrong, and its not acceptable, ever. Up to now, I stand by this, I will not let anyone do that to any of my kids, nieces, nephews – I will fight for them if I learned of any sort of similar thing happening to them. Thank Goodness, so far there are no other “monsters” in the family.

    Anyway, I can’t say I have forgiven my uncle for attempting to assault me 20 years ago. I am indifferent. I have no feelings for him at all. Zero. No good, nor bad. Which i think sometimes is probably even worse than “hating” him? Not sure about this. However, I do believe what goes around comes around. Life has a way of getting back at people who had been monsters. That’s all I can say. That’s why its always good to be good, respectful and decent, period.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st October 2012

      Hi Sofie
      Ya, the way most of the world regards forgiveness is crazy and makes no sense. People will tell you to forgive things they don’t even believe happened in the first place! It is so important for the damage to be validated and there is no “should” about this topic! I didn’t learn to forgive. forgiveness was part of the result of helaing. Forgivenss for me meant that pain was gone and I no longer lived in the way that the abuse or the abusers defined me. This is such a huge subject!
      Hugs, Darlene

  17. By: Mimi Posted: 1st October 2012

    Holly,
    I think it was your other post you mentioned you felt you were sent her by God. I feel the same. I feel in my heart of hearts, God gave me this website because he knew I was close to death. I was very desperate and I begged him for something…. ANYthing. Within 24 hours, this site was before my eyes. I hadn’t even searched. It was a link on a friends FB page (if I remember correctly, it could have been a link to a link). Anyhow, the point is, I’ve never seen it on FB since. It was that one time, and I’ve been writing and reading here since that time about 18 months ago. I love reading people’s testimonies and the TRUTH about Jesus re: silence and forgiveness, etc.

    Stanley,
    I agree. I can’t do it either as long as I’m living a lacklustre life doused in pain. For 43 years, that didn’t work. Why would I (or anyone else) think it will work now? Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results? Congrats to all of us here who have decided to escape insanity, and find a new way!!

    Peace to everyone,
    Mimi

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