This is a comment by Mike on the post “Some Thoughts on Forgiveness“.
As someone who has worked through a lot of these issues, here is my perspective.
For a long time I was very angry with my abuser. This was incredibly important, and I quite rightly got very angry when people told me to forgive. I was settled in the view that my anger would gradually fade, but in no way would I forgive. Then spontaneously forgiveness started to happen.
To be clear when I say forgiveness, I mean letting go of the anger, and moving on. Not letting the perpetrator back into my life, or absolving her of responsibility for her crimes. So rather than fantasising about murdering her, I took real steps to getting her prosecuted. Not out of a desire for her to be raped in prison, but out of a desire to protect other kids, and a desire for her to get the treatment that she needs. It is forgiveness with her hopefully behind bars, and definitely not working with children. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Survivors will be angry for as long as is necessary. Telling them to forgive is pointless at best, and can be extremely harmful because some survivors will bury their pain and anger in an attempt to seem nice and forgiving. It might take years, but if it is right for the survivor then they will forgive on their own. Some survivors never forgive and that is OK too.
If you know an angry survivor then support the anger as a necessary part of healing. If the survivor makes realistic plans to rape or murder the abuser then point out that this puts the wrong person in prison. If you are fed up with their anger then you can ask them to try and control their anger around you. Don’t tell them to forgive the un-forgiveable.
Photo credit: Flickr / mrpbps