Thursday, August 20, 2015

Forgiveness Can Be So Complicated For Incest Survivors

Forgiveness can be so complicated for incest survivors. Some ask how do you forgive someone who hurt you so bad when they were the ones who should have been protecting you from harm? How can you forgive the sense of betrayal by the person who holds the biggest place in your heart when your abuser is your parent or a sibling? How can you forgive yourself when you grew up being told, by your abusers, that the incest was your fault. If you hadn't seduced them, they wouldn't have molested you. If you had been a good little girl or good little boy, you wouldn't have deserved to be sexually abused. How do you forgive yourself when you feel only hate for yourself? 

All of those are questions that I asked myself and every survivor that I know has also asked themselves those same questions. I have also heard survivors say, "Why should I forgive those monsters that took my innocence and destroyed my childhood? Why should I forgive such evil people?" I used to believe that forgiving my abusers meant that I was saying what they did to me was okay. That is never what forgiveness says. I know some survivors who say that they will never forgive their abusers. I can understand that stand even though I chose a different way. When you pressure a survivor to forgive before they are ready, you are adding more suffering to the abuse. Please don't do that. 

For myself, I have forgiven my abusers and myself. Even if you choose to not forgive your abusers, you should forgive yourself and your inner child. You were a child. You were not at fault or to blame for the abuse. Again, you were a child.  You may ask, "What do I need to forgive myself for?" I have written a whole article about that self-forgiveness that I will post at the end of this article. One thing to forgive yourself for is believing the lies of your abuser. You didn't know they were lying and giving your their shame. You didn't know it was theirs and not yours to carry. Forgive yourself for being a child who couldn't protect yourself. Your abusers had physical and emotional power over you because you were a child. Learning to love yourself and letting go of the self-hatred are a very important step to forgiving yourself. You were a child. If you could have done things differently, you would have. You were not in control of your life. Your abusers were.

Before I could forgive my abusers, I had to figure out what I felt and who I was. For years, I turned forgiveness over to God and asked Him to deal with it until I could. I didn't wake up one morning and decided to forgive. Forgiveness was a gradual process over years of healing. Only in looking back did I realize that forgiveness had happened. Forgiveness isn't a one time decision. Each time that a new layer of issues come up, I choose to forgive again. 

For me, the choice to not forgive just means I am still holding on to some anger that I need to feel and work through before I can let go. Once I can let go of the anger, which only happens after working through my feelings, then I can forgive again. Holding on to the anger doesn't have any effect on my abusers but it can hurt me by raising my blood pressure and creating illnesses in my body and mind. When that happens, my abusers win again. I am not into letting my abusers win. They had control when I was a child. As a survivor/thriver, I am the person in control of my life and the quality of my life. 

Related Posts:

Prelude To Forgiveness @

Forgiveness Is For You, Not The Other Person @

What Does Forgiveness Mean To Me @

Forgiveness, Done In Layers @

Forgiveness, Lies And Trust @

Journey To Your Heart - Learning To Love Yourself After Abuse @

Healing Is About Love And Compassion @

You Deserve Your Own Love Guest Post @


Mary Graziano said...

Very well written my friend, and so true. I have forgiven myself, that little girl inside of me is now free. It took a long time to forgive myself, but over time realizing I was a child, and was never at fault, forgiveness came as a closure for me. I still cannot forgive my father. I have forgiven my mother, that happened just this summer. Maybe one day I will forgive my dad, and maybe not.~ Mary xoxox

Patricia Singleton said...

Thank you, Mary. I am so proud of you. I know how hard forgiving can be.