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Forgiveness and the Art of Hatred

forgiveness on Articles - The definition of the word "forgiveness" focuses solely on the person being forgiven. It says nothing about the person doing the forgiving. It doesn't say it should be done and it doesn't mention any good or bad that might come of it. This is precisely why the word "forgiveness," and the practice of it, has no place in the process of recovery from abuse of any kind.

Working your way through the myriad of emotions incurred by abuse to arrive at a peaceful place is not forgiveness; it's recovery and healing. Pardoning the crime and/or the criminal is not only unnecessary; it's not a requirement for healing and it can hamper recovery.

Forgiveness is, at its essence, letting someone off the hook - no more and no less. If you've loaned someone money and it's clear they're never going to pay it back for whatever reason, forgiving the loan is a way to cut your losses and move on with your life. Being on the receiving end of someone's abuse, however, is not the same as loaning money - or a car, a power tool, or a cup of sugar.

The transaction of a loan is between two consenting people. This is why forgiveness has no place in physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse recovery. Abuse is never consensual. Even when it looks like it is, it isn't: It's the predator forcing the victim to choose the lesser of two evils. If you don't put up a fight in hopes of keeping yourself from further harm or death, that's not consensual; that's the predator putting you between the worst rock and the worst hard place. It's not his or her right to do so; and whether or not the predator gets caught and is punished, it's still a crime and he or she is still a criminal.

If it weren't for statutes of limitation that continue to apply even after numerous changes in the law, the people who hurt me when I was a child would at least make headlines even if they didn't make it to prison. While there are many who would never insist I forgive a loan of money I made as an adult to another adult, there are as many people who think I should forgive the adults who hurt me when I was a child - including many within the mental health and criminal justice systems.

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