Forgiveness For Perps? WTF?

Grrrrrr. Sometimes Twitter can be a bitch. We were innocently scrolling thru and catching up when we came across two tweets from a therapist who declared that forgiving one’s perpetrators is a vital piece of the healing process. That she has seen miraculous work and progress from many patients when they have walked thru this “step”.

Grrrrrrr. This person posits that forgiveness is a sense of understanding that their perpetrators were very sick people in themselves and that when a survivor recognnizes this that sunshine and candies reign down from the skies.

Grrrr. Forgiveness is a Very complex issue. For some
People we’re sure it is a wondrous thing. If they’re too preoccupied with hatred for these people then we can see that changing frameworks that lead to self-harm would be a grand and exciting thing.

But if is absolutely NOT a requirement for healing that one forgives the people who have done terrible freakish and sadistic to them as children. What we have learned in over twelve years of therapy is that it’s a freeing thing to create space in the mind where one can move on. Stop the repetitive and exhausting preoccupation with those people as introject and go forward to let in new air. New thoughts helpful coping mechanisms.

But don’t dare tell us that we have to adopt any sort of compassion for our monsters. Understanding oh they were just sick so forgive them, poor things. This is a issue of culpability. And they do not deserve to be let off the hook.

We don’t care what led our perpetrators to act in the ways that they did. The behavior is enough for us to address. Don’t imply that there is some magic place that one gets to when they’re “ready”. This is not a required “stage”. To tell us that we are just not there yet implies no responsibility on our part that we’re not prepared for “yet”. It is not a contest.

When we first realized that we did not have to forgive or feel any sor of positive bonding thing toward the people who did such monstrous things to us it freed us from the constant ruminations we felt compelled to feel. We can move forward quite nicely without thinking anything like compassion for those rotten little bastards.

It is naive in the least to believe that all survivors must forgive. It is damaging at the most to criticize another’s individual choices on their personal healing.

Don’t tell me I have to forgive, honey. I don’t care what your interpretations are on your clienfs’ processes. I can only adjudge my own.



  1. February 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Hear, hear. The notion that forgiveness is a ‘required’. process in psychological healing worries me. It’s a slippery slope to victim-blaming, as if we don’t do enough of that ourselves!

    • February 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

      Right??? I see the point for people who are obsessed with their peeps as individuals, maybe. But don’t you dare try to tell me this is absolutely necessary and if we choose to not forgive say well you’re just not ready….this isn’t Disneyland.

  2. tigerbean said,

    February 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    As Serial Insomniac says, the idea that forgiveness is “required” is kind of a scary idea. I mean, accepting that something happened to you, and it may have happened because of _______ . is one thing. Forgiving the person who perpetrated the act is another thing altogether.

    • February 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm

      Totally. Have no compassion for those bastards and don’t wanna foster it.

  3. jo-sexualself-injury said,

    February 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I am one who will never “forgive” my abusers. I’ve explained to my therapist why, and it’s never been brought up again.
    The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as ‘to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offence or debt’.
    I can accept what happened, but will never forgive them.

  4. Karita said,

    February 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Totally with you. However, I have a slightly different view of forgiveness. I do not believe that it is t do with showing or feeling compassion towards a person. I think it’s letting go of resentment towards them. Because resentment is more destructive to us than it is to them. Make sense? Not that I’m saying it is a requirement, definitely not saying that. Just musing on what I think forgiveness actually is.

    • February 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm

      Can totally see what you’re saying. Doesn’t change our mind, but this is a much more palatable view. Thanks.

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