Wednesday night, All-Merciful Saviour Monastery posted a link on Facebook: The Morning Offering. They were referring to the blog for Tuesday, February 28, 2012, “Rejected: When People Don’t Forgive.” [Also on their new site here.]
I need to print this out because it refers to abusive people who live their lives with a chip on their shoulders, taking it out on you–but neither do they forgive you for your “offenses” against them, whether real or imagined, but they refuse to apologize themselves.
Apparently three of the things I did were correct according to the Church, even though counselors may disagree:
- apologizing for what offended Tracy, even though it was only in her own head and she was the actual abuser
- walking away when she not only did not forgive (at least, not without an ultimatum that required me to submit to even more of her abuse and control), but did not apologize for her own abusive behavior
- and praying that she come to repentance.
The thing I haven’t done yet is forgive. It’s a lot harder to do that without an apology, and I’ve still been using anger to distance myself from her and Richard so it doesn’t hurt as much to give up Richard’s friendship.
I still keep wishing he would apologize and we would be friends again, and this disturbs me because I know very well now that he has a violent, scary side.
I don’t intend to go forever without forgiving. But I have also come across blogs and blog commenters who have been abused, and say that forgiveness is impossible until you’ve healed; otherwise, it’s premature and false forgiveness. But I do want to come to forgiveness eventually.
This monk’s blog says that if I forgive the abuser, I will be justified before God, and I am only responsible for my own response, not the abuser’s. It also says that forgiveness is only possible through Christ: It’s not something humans just naturally do.
Reconciliation is a different thing from forgiveness, and is only possible if Richard and Tracy apologize and end their abusive and violent ways–not just to me, but to each other, the children and other people as well.
Currently, I’m going through this blog and its many comments, when I have time: Forgive the Abusers: A Bit of a Rant
I keep going back and forth about whether or not to blog about these things publicly. But I see all sorts of other blogs on the Net about personal abuse stories. It’s one way people are using these days to deal with it. It’s part of that “if you’re silent, the abusers will get away with it” way of thinking.
And songwriters and poets have always done this in their own way as well (i.e., Linkin Park, Adele, Eminem, Carly Simon, Alannis Morissette, etc.).
I do like reading such blogs and finding I’m not alone, whether it’s reading a story of a narcissistic friend, or a note about how hard it is to forgive any kind of abuser, or forum posts about seeing the abuser again at a restaurant or in family get-togethers. It’s far more real than, say, reading some magazine article about what you’re supposed to do to forgive/get over abuse.
And if such a writer can talk about some horrible abuse story and how she was able to get through the pain and forgive her abuser, then I know it’s possible for anyone.
Because while the anger is necessary for a time, if you hold onto it for too long, it can begin to twist you into an abuser yourself.
There’s no way I want to be like Tracy. I DO NOT WANT TO BE ANOTHER TRACY. I must not let her poison work its way through my system until I become like her.
I want to continue keeping my husband happy, and help my son grow up healthy and happy.
And I want that salvation that leads to eternity going from one level of bliss to another, getting ever closer to God–not an eternity of self-imposed darkness as the bitterness consumes me.
As you can see from reading my posts on Richard and Tracy, I have a lot of crap to get out of my system and deal with.
It’s a lot harder when the perpetrators act like their treatment of you was somehow deserved by you, that you just need to “GROW UP” and “stop feeling hurt over the consequences of YOUR behavior.”
When one of the perpetrators even posted on her Facebook wall that she was having a “GREAT day” because she was yelling and screaming at you.
When these perpetrators occasionally show up at your church and, instead of trying to make peace with you and apologize as you had hoped, they freeze you out as if you were scum who still needs to “GROW UP” and apologize to them, and then leave without saying a word of kindness or apology to you.
When one of them was a very close, very dear friend whom you trusted with your darkest secrets.
It doesn’t just go away, and I fear the pain that would grip me if I let go of the anger too soon.
Certain religions, cults and spiritual practices encourage you to avoid emotions, particularly anger. They stress forgiveness and are not likely to support you in confronting your abuser.
These attitudes do not promote healing. If you are involved in a practice that denies your needs as a survivor in an active healing process, you are not helping yourself. —What AA Does for Survivors of Abuse or Trauma
Therapy for abuse survivors will guide them to experience feelings which are 180 degrees the opposite of the ones promoted by the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. (namely anger & rage to name a few) As an example, here’s a checklist of healing stages for survivors of sexual abuse. Note how many feelings run counter to the AA way!
- discarding the wrongful belief that the abuse was somehow the survivors fault (instead of “looking at one’s part! -which is entirely inappropriate!)
- confronting the abuser (if the survivor wishes to); holding the abuser accountable for his/her behavior
- forgiveness at the END of the healing process (NOT the beginning!), and as an option rather than a requirement! Note that forgiveness makes sense in cases where perpetrators have made restitution, have expressed remorse and have demonstrated rehabilitation, otherwise, forgiveness simply excuses perpetrators for harms done. An exception, in the absence of these criteria, is if s/he is dead.
For battered women (or men) who need to break the cycle of domestic violence, counselors will advise them to feel these “forbidden” feelings, which will impel them to leave the dangerous scenario. Acceptance is the WORST advice they could be getting.
They will be guided to feel angry at the abuse and to work toward “rebellion” which will be the motivator for leaving. These feelings and behaviors are temporary, and they serve to HEAL FROM OR TO GET THE INDIVIDUAL OUT OF THE PATTERN OF ABUSE.
Only after s/he has worked through the abuse, or has gotten out of the pattern itself, can a more relaxed personality can be adopted.
It is those individuals who do not respond to mistreatment with the “forbidden feelings” that act in a psychologically unsound way. Sadly, this is the ideal set before the recovering alcoholic by the program itself. Deviation from this ideal is regarded as “not working the program”. —Anger, Rebelliousness and Other Forbidden Feelings
I don’t think those people who tried to sell me forgiveness were trying to hurt me. I’m sure they were only trying to help and were speaking from their own fears. They may not have intended harm, but it was harmful.
Forgiveness is a personal issue and one of the most sensitive in dealing with abuse. Forgiving my parents was one product of my healing, not the means to it. –Christina Enevoldsen, What About Forgiveness?
This post is about discussing the issues of forgiveness within the context of abuse. There is no need to define the type of abuse because all forms of abuse cause the same issues and damage.
It also discusses forgiveness within the contexts of no confession; no repentance; no admission of fault; betrayal; defiance; lies; denials and injustice….
As a victim of crime and a survivor of the most appalling sexual, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and religious abuse I find myself grappling with issues to do with deliberate cruelty, betrayal, lies, denial, play-acting, justice, injustice, defiance and forgiveness.
Forgiveness is hard at the best of times, but is certainly easier if the person admits their fault, confesses and repents, maybe even apologises.
Forgiveness becomes virtually impossible when the guilty are faced with the truth, faced with the legal consequences, but do not respond with humility but with defiance, denials, play-acting and lies.
By doing so they evaded justice. By doing so they evaded exposure of their crimes. By doing so they stuck 2-fingers in front of my face and in front of the face of God. By doing so they showed no comprehension of the way their actions, lies and denials when confronted with the truth tore my life apart.
I’m left wondering how on earth can I forgive when my abusers deny any wrongdoing, carry on their lives hard faced, glorying in their win, going about as if cruelty is normal and as if it is normal to have nothing to do with your daughter?
I’m left wondering how God who hates injustice can allow such injustice to happen on top of all the injustices of all the other abuses. I’m left feeling that my life is just injustice piled on injustice until there is nothing left but injustice and devastation….
Speaking the truth of what they did helps to put the blame and guilt where it lies and that is on the shoulders of the person who did the wrong not on the person who is struggling to forgive and honestly grappling with the hurt and lack of closure. …
It’s very hard when people are deliberately and defiantly non repentant and hard faced – turning up in church as if nothing is wrong and nothing has happened.
Having to cope with your abusers turning up in church whilst deliberately sticking 2 fingers up at God is beyond the capacity of describe.
Having to cope with your abusers continuing to use the church as their cover story is beyond awful and beyond hypocrisy. Having them do all of that on that back of having lied and denied to prevent justice and to prevent exposure is disgusting and distasteful at the very least.
It is utterly appalling for me as a victim, for those who gave evidence against them to the police and for the church leadership who now know the truth about them. It’s totally ghastly and repulsive to be brutally honest.
It is as if they have no conscience at all. Sometimes when people have lied and denied for long enough they actually believe their lies and denials to be absolute truth regardless of evidence to the contrary. Thus they worm their way out of it and can be incredibly and frighteningly convincing in their true lies…
Without confession, repentance, admission of guilt or other things which lead to closure surely it will always be there at the back of your mind.
Having to watch your abusers behaving as if nothing untoward happened and all is normal fuels the fire. When people have been so deliberately cruel to you and are so defiant when faced with the truth where can you go?
How can such defiance be coped with, processed and gotten out of your mind. It is in reality and in all truth extremely difficult.
It’s almost impossible to forgive cruel people who lie, pretend all is normal and do all they can legally to silence you and keep their evil deeds secret. –Princess Fi, BETRAYAL, DEFIANCE, LIES, DENIAL, INJUSTICE, FORGIVENESS ISSUES
Why is it that so many Christians don’t get that you can be a Christian and be in such a mess. Why is that?
Instead of coming alongside me, giving me space to tell my story and helping, it was oh just forgive, forget, move on, it happened so long ago, stop harping on about it, stop dragging it up from the past. WHY IS THAT?
How can I ever forget 20 years of abuse and torture? It may have happened a long time ago, but I live with it every minute I’m awake and then in my nightmares when I do sleep. For me it’s not in the past but very much in the present.
How can I forgive when my abusers deny anything ever happened? How can I forgive when my abusers say anything bad that ‘might’ have happened was because I such a bad person, they did nothing wrong?
Why are churches and so many Christians so closed minded about the realities of living with past sexual abuse? Why are churches and so many Christians so closed minded about the realities of the deep damage of childhood abuse and the complexities of the healing processes?
Why do so many churches have systems in place to prevent abuse happening, but provide little or no support to REALLY help victims heal? Why is it that so many Christians tell you that as you are a Christian, you are a new person so your past is gone, so all the stuff from your past abuse should be gone too?
Why is it that so many Christians tell you that you are doing something wrong if you aren’t healing from the damage of the abuse or if you don’t have joy etc?
Why do so many Christians tell you that if you read your bible enough and pray enough you should be fine? Thereby implying that you cannot be reading your bible or praying enough because you are a screwed up mess!
Why is it that so many Christians think you don’t need counseling or anything; you just need to get over it, forgive your abusers and forget it? WHY IS THAT?” –Princess Fi, Spiritual + Religious Abuse