I’ll Never Forgive You

Four little words uttered by Victim 4 during the Jerry Sundusky sentencing spoke volumes.

For several days, one sentence has continued to trouble me: “I’ll never forgive you.” Those words were spoken by the man identified only as Victim 4 at the Jerry Sandusky sentencing on October 9, 2012. His words say several things to me.

The most obvious is that he expresses the pain that comes from betrayal. At the trial itself, Victim 4 and other survivors referred to the gifts and personal attentiveness from Sandusky, who became their role model. Then came the molestation. Until it began, Sandusky may have probably been the most trusted man in their lives. His wooing them through seductive actions and evil motives caused an unrelenting pain that still remains.

Perhaps the words are also an unconscious cry to the perpetrator to admit what he did. If I faced my perpetrator and shouted those words, it would signify a plea: “Please tell me you’re sorry for how deeply you wounded me. Help me understand why you hurt me.” When the victimizer is someone we admire and love, the hurt becomes far more intense.

The words also speak of despair. What Victim 4 lost as a boy—his innocence—won’t ever be restored, even if his perpetrator confesses. As a survivor of sexual molestation, I know how abuse affects us for life. We can be emotionally shattered and unable to trust others. We can be suspicious of the motives when someone treats us kindly. We can push away many good people because one bad person took advantage of our naïveté and youth.

Possibly the words are also a threat. It’s as if to say, “You want absolution for your wrongdoing but you’ll never, never get it from me.” They seem like words to withhold forgiveness and that will punish the guilty. The words mean we carry the pain and refuse to offer compassion for the wrongdoer. I call myself a serious Christian, and many of my peers would jump on Victim 4′s words and insist, “You must forgive him.” But if I could speak to Victim 4, I’d say, “Feel your pain. You don’t have to release it until you’re ready. As you move forward in your own healing, perhaps the day will come when you’ll shed your anger and freely offer your forgiveness, even if you never tell him.”

“Number 4, grieve as long as you need to. There’s no need to push yourself toward letting go. If and when you’re ready, you won’t need prodding.”

 

–By Cecil Murphey.

Cecil Murphey is the author of When a Man You Love Was Abused. His follow-up book, Not Quite Healed will be released in February 2013. He is also the author or co-author of more than 100 books including The New York Times’ best-seller 90 Minutes in Heaven.

Photo credit: Flickr / bixentro

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Comments

  1. I don’t want to minimize what this person feels or the weight of what they said. But do you think he really cares. He destroyed their lives, their families lives. Did whatever he wanted to them. And now all they can say is I don’t forgive you… This man should have his hands feet and genitals cut off and be put on a steak in the middle of the city so everyone can see… But all he gets is I don’t forgive you. This is what we call justice.

  2. Stake not steak

  3. Why forgive the unrepentant? Why make your own healing contingent upon being able to first forgive? One CAN heal without forgiving, and a rush to forgive someone who shows no remorse is frankly unhealthy.

  4. “I’ll never forgive you.”

    If I was sitting with Victim 4 now and he said “I Will Never Forgive Him” my response would be “That’s Great”. (Punches Air)

    I find that refreshingly positive and candid. I’m tired of the Judeo/Christian Theological Tropes of forgiveness, because there are a subset of humans to which they simply do not apply. So many have become trapped an imprisoned in their own Binary View of There is Good Or Evil, they keep empowering people like Sandusky to abuse and get away with it!

    There is this whole fairytale line that runs about being a better person if you forgive, and then you get the extra syrup on top of how the Sinner gets with the program when they are forgiven. Schmaltz with sprinkles on top!

    I hate this Victim Blaming Crap – the guy says “I’ll never forgive you.” and the analysis runs to 4 negative projections built upon limited Binary Conception of others:

    1) He’s holding on to his pain (Oh Such a Big No No in the new age tropes),
    2) He wants the Perp to fess up and become that repentant pedo and saved (Hallelujah – Role Credits)
    3) The refusal to forgive makes the person refusing filled with turmoil and confusion and just can’t see why he should forgive for his own good – you need guidance and to be told what to do and you need to be made unsure of yourself and told that you are wrong and others are right – just as the abuser did so they could get into your mind and body and F### You!
    4) The I will not Forgive you is a threat (Oh Boy Please save us all from Amateur Shrinks) and of course Sandusky was quaking in his boots when that Threat was made! .

    Here’s another option, and I have to say it is formed from the experience over 30 years of working with many sexual abuse survivors. The Kid gets it that Sandusky is a Psychopath and so Forgiveness is irrelevant to Sandusky – in fact saying I forgive you is to subordinate yourself to a power abusing Psychopath!

    Victim 4 gets it – but then again he has lived through it – and he knows there is no point in forgiveness or empowering Sandusky more. “I Will Never Forgive Him” is a control measure, a line in the sand and Victim 4 is moving on and gets it!

    The whole Victim Schmaltz is sickening – and is built upon the false premise that There is Good or Evil. Well it seems to me that Victim 4 has woken up and smelled the Triangular Coffee. It’s time for so many more to wake up and get passed the religion addled Binary, because those are the people who empower the Sanduskys and refuse to see that some are not Good Or Evil – they are neither and they don’t give a Flying F### for your views of them, only how they can use your blindness against you and all around you!

    It’s amazing how many victims are abused and told they are a bad person because they state they will never forgive. I would also ask Victim 4 why they would or should ever consider forgiving Sandusky. When I have asked the same question of others and their abusers I have found that they keep coming back with what other people’s views are – will be – would be. Odd but that emotional and social manipulation is one of the biggest weapons abusers use, so I sure as hell am not going to buy into it or encourage victims to re-abuse themselves.

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