WAIT! Forgive my abuser? Are you kidding me? I’m still right in the midst of being abused on a daily basis. How do you expect me to forgive my abuser?
To forgive my abuser does not mean to forget the abuse he/she dished out. Jesus said, “To be forgiven, you must first forgive.” He did not say, “Forget everything the jerk did to you.” That’s not in the Holy Scriptures, nowhere in red letters. Jesus knew that forgiveness is one of the greatest forms of therapy and healing for a victim of abuse.
Those who read this blog frequently know how determined I am to keep it real. I am not going to blow smoke up your skirt (or slacks). I hated my abusers, especially when the abuse was raging. How on earth could I be expected to forgive something that was intentional and ongoing? For me, I had to get out of the abuse before I could forgive my abuser. It wasn’t easy. First came the molestation for so many years during my childhood and youth. It started when I was about eight years old, and continued for about seven years. I did not reach a place in life where I could forgive until I was in my 30s, and then the perpetrator was dead. How do you forgive a dead guy? You release them. You take that chain of power and control they had wrapped around your mind and spirit, and remove it. You say, “I release you from the power I have given you over me all these years. You are free to go. You will not bind my mind or spirit anymore.” Sounds easy, huh? Yeah, well, not so much.
It was not until I got past the years of domestic abuse and violence that I was able to forgive my abuser. Those same words kept coming back, and they were in RED for goodness sake! What’s a girl to do? Denouncing my faith was simply not an option. I fully believed in the one who had spoken those words, so I supposed it meant I had to believe in the message they held, as well. As I wrote in my first book, Orange Blossom Wishes, I cut a deal with God. Yeah, pretty pompous of me, wasn’t it? Amazingly, I was not struck down dead, although I am quite certain He did get a good chuckle out of my absurdity. “Son, watch this girl. She thinks she has all the answers. You’re not going to believe what she’s about to try and pull on us. . .”
Right there, sitting at my dining table, I clearly remember looking over and over again at those words, “To be forgiven, you must first forgive.”
“Okay, God, here’s the deal. There is nothing within me, not one single scintilla of a hint that wants to forgive them for the wicked mean awful terrible things they did to me. I am doing this against my will (DUH! It’s about HIS will, yes?), but here goes. I give you permission to plant a seed of forgiveness in my heart, and cause it to grow.” I was giving GOD permission? Yeah, now that I look back on it, I’m pretty sure He was having quite a jolly good laugh at my presumptuousness. But, He met me where I was. Over a period of many (many, many) months, it was my daily prayer. “God, plant a seed of forgiveness in my heart and cause it to grow.” At first it was merely rote and verse. My heart was nowhere nearly in it. It was probably in another state somewhere, wondering what I was trying to pull on God. But, each day I prayed. And finally, one day from out of the blue, I found myself saying, “I forgive my abuser.” BOTH of them. I got it. I mean, I really got it! My unforgiveness was a prison, and I was the prisoner. By releasing the power I had allowed them to hold over me, the forgiveness was a key that unlocked the cell. I was free at last. Freedom from anger, bitterness, guilt, being constantly suspect of every motivation of over person was a place I had never visited. It was cleansing. It was great, and has continued to be great ever since then.
Have I ever backslidden? Oh, yeah, on many occasions. It’s not common for me to refer to the one who perpetrated sexual molestation during my childhood as “that nice fellow.” I’m never quick to call the man who verbally, emotionally and physically abused me a scholar or a gentleman. But, frankly, I don’t think about either of them very often. Nope, not much at all. That’s the greatest part. When you can say, “I forgive my abuser,” you cut them loose from the power and control they have held over you, even after their death.
It’s not easy. It never is. But coming to the place where I could forgive my abuser was like a bridge to a rich and fulfilling life, and a future that is well anticipated. Try it. And if you have questions, write me. There is a Contact section on this page. If you have experienced another form of finding forgiveness, please share it. We all need it!
Watch Carolyn’s interview on Fox13 News regarding the Jerry Sandusky trial: CLICK HERE
Carolyn S. Hennecy recently received a certificate as Designated Victim Services Practitioner through completion of a 40-hour course conducted by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Florida. She is recognized nationally as an expert survivor spokesperson on domestic/intimate partner abuse and violence, sexual assault and child molestation and abuse.