Do I Have To Forgive?

I cannot tell you how often I’ve been asked this question, Have I forgiven my abusers?  My response?  Are you kidding me?????!!!!!  But that is my decision, my journey.  Your path is different than mine.  They are your choices and yours alone.  You never need to defend nor explain your decision to anyone.

My thought on the forgiveness issue is this; the only person you must forgive is yourself.  Why do we need to forgive ourselves?  Oh there are a number of reasons.  Do you still feel any guilt or shame? Do you still feel at all responsible?

The simple fact is you were not a willing participant.  It doesn’t matter if you didn’t yell, didn’t fight – chances are you would have suffered even greater injury or even death if you had.  Your body did not betray you; your abuser did.  Our minds know this, but sometimes our soul carries the burden still.

My view may not sit well with religious folks and I may not be politically correct, and frankly I don’t care.  It is your decision to forgive or not forgive.  If you choose not to forgive, I promise you, lightening will not strike you down, you will not shrivel up or become a bitter person.  You can decide not to forgive someone and still find peace.  That peace comes from forgiving yourself.  Allow that little child inside you to be ok not forgiving someone.  Let that part of you which is still hurting to know it’s ok.  But also let them know you forgive yourself.  You did nothing wrong and you know that now.  So you forgive yourself for blaming yourself, for the self-destructive behavior that often follows abuse, for ever thinking it was your fault, and for negative thoughts or behaviors you had while healing.

Once you forgive yourself, you will find a peace you never knew existed.  Don’t get me wrong though, you’ll still have bad days from time to time.  However, you will discover the truth – you have a strength within you that is unstoppable.  You have a beauty within your very soul that shines for everyone to see.  You have an intelligence that is unmatched.  And you are loved.  Even if you don’t have a special person in your life, you are loved.  You are loved by the most important person in the world – yourself.

Bottom line – don’t allow someone else’s judgement pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do.  If you feel forgiveness of your abuser is not right for you, don’t forgive them.  Simply move on.  Forgive yourself, love yourself, respect yourself.  You know what is the right choice for you.


Do you need help?  Please call (800) 656-HOPE  or visit RAINN for more information.

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