This is a comment by W.R.R. on the post “Why Forgiving Others Makes Life Better For You“.
Trigger warning: contains references to child sexual abuse and rape.
“This essay tells just one aspect of my many abusers, a “man of God”, who raped me almost every Saturday for years starting when I was five. He paid my father for the chance to rape me, like several other men: https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-good-life-now-i-lay-me-down/2/
“Then there is this, proof to me that forgiveness of abusers can greatly harm the abused: http://m.psychologytoday.com/articles/199907/must-you-forgive
“If somebody stole your boyfriend, fine, forgive them if you feel you want to. For those people you cite, who chose to forgive her child rapist and the murderer of his family? If that is their choice, so be it. There choice does not negate or refute mine.
“You do not cite extreme horrors of your past; you give movie examples. With respect, I will only listen to forgiveness lectures when the lecturer has experienced personal horror themselves and chosen to forgive. Even then, they have no place to tell another person they should forgive. The last person who told me I ‘have to’ forgive, sent me into a suicidal spiral I barely lived through.
“My father and his clients believed they had the right to rape children. They enjoyed it. They made films of child rape to sell. They joked about the pedophiles who were too afraid of prison to rape a child. They called them weak. To them, the children were objects, inhumane. The things that were done to us would make most people wretch. These are not men who ‘didn’t mean it’ or didn’t know it was wrong. These are not men anybody should ever forgive.
“I often say that I will forgive when somebody asks me to only if that person can take away the damage of bipolar and cerebellar ataxia, PTSD, agoraphobia, anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares. Or, can that person give me back what the abusers took from me: the sight of my left eye, the scars deep inside my body, and covering my skin, missing fingers, wholeness of mind, a nearly severed and badly healed tongue and impaired speech, self worth, a face that is smooth and not twisted by hideous scars. Can that person give me back my childhood, before lies, rapes, and torture ruined my world view and left me bereft of the ability to easily trust? Can they erase eighteen years of daily fear and pain? Can they give me back my choice? My innocence?
“When the wrongs are made right, perhaps I could forgive. Yet even then, only if the abusers were sorry and admit that they did wrong. Only if they went to prison for their crimes.
“The person who can do all that, can lecture me on forgiveness. Child rape isn’t a crime that is over after the pedophile leaves the wounded child. The damage, for many of us, will never be over. With respect, no banal plea of ‘forgiveness is best’ will change that.”
Photo credit: Flickr / spatulated