Is Forgiveness Necessary?

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About David Pittman

As the Executive Director of Together We Heal, David Pittman works to educate the public through speaking and collaborating with other groups to raise awareness and expose the sexual predator's methods. TWH now works with therapists, counselors and groups aiding both men and women in their efforts to heal, grow and thrive. He is also the South Florida Area Support Group Leader for SNAP, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.


  1. “To cease to feel resentment against…”

    “It’s not my job to forgive him…I don’t believe someone capable of such things wants redemption…”

    Wow– very profound essay….I think I need to read this over and over to put my mind more at peace….I struggle with this issue every day….and I know my ex-abuser is still out there (he just moved to another state because I caused trouble at his previous place of employment when he started stalking me a while ago)….

    To move on past the resentment is an incredibly difficult task….to deal with my overall wariness of people is something I have to negotiate daily (and I have been burned badly in the past)….but on the good side, i have cast off people who have been confusing and abusive to me…I have kept a healthy distance from people who try to cross boundaries and I am less afraid to call them on it….and I have finally built up trust with some new and old people just in time to help me deal with my surgical procedures….

    I have finally forgiven myself…I try not to blame myself for the trap he set me up in….and I try to console myself that I received some kind of education in all this ordeal….that there are a lot of potential abusers out there but you just have to stay away far enough so that they can’t trample on you….that my ex-abuser’s puzzling and awful behavior had to do with some kind of re-enactment of some past violence or blame inflicted on him (and really had nothing to do with me….I was just some rag doll or punching bag he needed to rage on)….and that I realize he will never change his attitude or his need to continue to abuse and that it is not my job to contain him or feel responsible for him in any way….

    Thanks for writing this….very brave stuff…

  2. It’s taught that “forgiveness is really for your peace of mind and not the offender” I think when people asked you if you have forgiven your attacker they were really asking: Are you (emotionally) healed? Have you found peace?

    If forgiveness is taught as the most efficient way to heal/find peace in a situation and you haven’t forgiven him, how DID you heal?

    • Hi SC,

      Thanks for reading our article and asking a good question.

      You bring up an important point and one I think is overlooked. You said, “if forgiveness is taught as the most efficient way…”. I believe that is part of the problem. It infers that one must integrate the abuser into your healing process. While,as I said, for some this is important, maybe even essential, I do not believe it is necessary for all. I say this not only because of my own experience, but also because many, many people have written saying thank you to us for articulating their own path to healing. One that had nothing to do with forgiving their abuser. So it’s my hope that all those in the “professional” and “religious” worlds of therapy would reexamine this notion.

      As to how I came to begin, and still continue, my own healing path without forgiving my abuser. As I also mentioned, it’s my belief that one first must be repentant in order to even receive forgiveness. I know, due to others coming forward, that my abuser is neither repentant, nor did he stop as using little boys.

      And rather than restate the how I will simply paste and have you read again how it is… read it a little more closely…Ultimately I believe that forgiveness, with regard to the abused, is the most individual of decisions. For me, it’s not necessary. I have no need of it for my healing. And that’s what it’s all about. No matter which way a survivor goes, as long as they find healing and NOT vengeance or bitterness in it, it’s a positive.

      By doing all I can to keep my abuser away from other little boys, by educating the public on how to better protect their children from sexual predators like him and by assisting my fellow survivors on their healing path, I heal a little more each day.

      I hope this more clearly explains how I, and others, are able to find healing witouth forgiving the one who as used them. Peace be with you.

  3. Hi Leia,

    I recently responded to someone else who commented on this issue and I believe many of the things I said to her speak to what you have and are going through. First let me say how encouraged I am to hear where you seem to be on your healing path. God knows its a challenge but please know we are here for you.

    What I told the other person was this…I truly believe for each person it’s the most individual of choices. And whichever brings you peace is what you should do. As I also mentioned, for myself, it was not then or is it now necessary for my healing to forgive the man that raped/molested me as a little boy.

    I hold no resentments or anger…any longer…but when it comes to forgiveness, that’s up to someone MUCH greater than I to do. If the God I believe in decides to forgive Frankie, then so be it, but I have decided to direct my energies at keeping him away from little boys as best I can, helping educate parents on how to better protect their kids from sexual predators like him and help my fellow survivors and thrivers get to a better place of healing.

    I hope in some small way this article helps you and if there’s anything else we can do, please don’t hesitate to ask. One of the things we do is provide counseling, at no charge, to anyone in need. as I said, we are here to help and may you continue to find an ever better place of healing and peace. My email is [email protected]


  4. Forgiveness doesn’t mean welcoming them back into the community. You can forgive while locking them up for life to protect the rest of the community.

  5. David, thank you for this article. I read it with my guts clenched, afraid you would claim survivors of CSA “must forgive abusers in order to heal”, or that if you refuse to forgive abusers, “God won’t forgive you.” Both are bits of malarkey that I am told far too often. Your article didn’t do that, and it even gives me a place to send those misguided people, next time. I eschew religion of any stripe due to one of my abusers being a preacher, a client of my father’s pedophile ring. The preacher called me a “vessel for his sin” so that he could purge himself of it before church on Sundays. He rented my body most Saturdays for this, to “make himself clean”. He hated my father and called me “the Devil’s son”, told me I was damned; yet insisted I pray for my soul with him after each weekly rape. To have some mindless Christian tell me I “must” forgive these abusers is disgusting, and I never will. Thank you for giving me a place to send them, because you use language and logic they might accept, and I hope they learn not to revictimize other survivors, after reading your words. My essays are findable by clicking my name here on GMP. I wrote about this preacher in a GMP article called “Now I Lay Me Down”. My blog is here:

  6. W.R.R.,

    Like yourself, the abuse I was made to ensure came at the hands of a minister and have been bombarded with well-meaning albeit sorely misled individuals wanting to help me, so I understand COMPLETELY what u mean. That’s the reason why I finally sat down and wrote this article for two reasons. First, and most importantly, for others who have been through what you and I have. And second, for those “good intentioned” folk who think they know all the answers. We all know the saying about good intentions so I won’t bore you or anyone reading with it, but needless to say, some education of what those of us who have suffered this trauma was in order, and telling us who we should and shouldn’t forgive is not their business. I am so glad to hear you found comfort in the words. It’s for my fellow survivors I write, not for those who have no clue. Peace be with u my friend.

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