Why you should never ask victims to forgive their abusers

Victims of abuse are often told to forgive their abusers.

If you have experienced trauma and abuse, you will know how difficult healing is. Being controlled, manipulated, used, deceived, and/or bullied will leave you with many scars. Unsurprisingly, it can take years for you to completely heal from the pain you have been caused. When the abusive relationship ends, your priority must be you; that is, you must focus on caring for your emotional and mental wellbeing. Those who have not experienced your pain will not know how deeply and strongly it affects you. Therefore, they will give you advice that they think is helpful. More often than not, this advice is to show forgiveness.

Telling someone to forgive their abuser does not help them heal. It just makes everything worse.

When your friends and family tell you to just forgive, they are hoping that it will solve everything. They do not understand that healing is a long and difficult journey. Moreover, it is one that is different for everyone. While some people may forgive the one who has hurt them, others might never be able to do so. Both of these cases are normal. The most important thing is recovering from the pain. Forgiveness will not make this any easier and it should come last (if at all).

Anne Wright commented on forgiveness, Awareness Act reported.

Please understand I’m not at all devaluing forgiveness. I think forgiveness can be a beautiful process that can have a multitude of physiological and psychological benefits for the person who is self-directedly working towards and practicing it. What I find troubling is when individuals, families, or groups send the message to a person who has suffered that they should or have to experience forgiveness before they’ve fully worked through all of the painful feelings of the event or events that may have happened to them. […] When individuals, families, or groups send the message that forgiveness is the end goal and something someone should or must do, it can, in my opinion, often be detrimental and further emotionally damaging to people in pain.

If you are a victim of abuse, focus on healing. Learn to love yourself again and be kind. You deserve to receive the care you have been deprived of. Forgiveness may come and it may not: do not pressure yourself and do not feel pressured by others.

If someone you love and care about is a victim of abuse, be kind to them. Understand that the pain they feel is much deeper than you can imagine. They feel lost, abandoned, and worthless. Do not be the one to inflict further pain. Instead, ask them how you can help and refrain from giving unsolicited advice. The most helpful thing you can do is to just be there and listen.

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