Child Abuse and the Grace of Forgiveness

by Irma
(Michoacan, Mexico)

I'm amazed by the work done in this page by such a wonderful woman. I cannot imagine the amounts of people that have been helped by all it has provided. Therefore, I would like to share something:

Forgiveness is an act of grace, it actually emerges from grace. Grace is a gift that is not deserved, that you did not win, that you weren't pursuing. It was just given to you, as a gift, that you weren't suppose to get, and could never be reached by anything in the world you could do. And also, I think forgiveness does not say "You no longer have power over me". In my point of view, that still has roots of bitterness, and the root of bitterness actually is non forgiveness; once a girl that lives a forgiving lifestyle wrote that forgiveness sets a prisoner free: You, the one who forgives.

What I think forgiveness says is: "You did owe me something, you had a debt with me, but now I and only I cancel that debt, SO YOU DO NOT OWE ME ANYTHING ANYMORE, so the wounds that were left in me, and the pain they caused, are not longer having power over me."

I truly believe that mercy has a lot to do with forgiveness too, and do you know what mercy is? Grace: as I said before, is receiving what you do not deserve, but Mercy is not receiving what you deserve. By that I am not saying that when a victim forgives, an abuser goes straight to his/her arms and now they are best friends. Of course not, that is not what I'm talking about. My point is only about forgiveness. Maybe the victim will never see the abuser again in his/her life, maybe he/she will, but that's not the point of my comment. The application of my comment only takes place in the act of forgiving.

Darlene's comments to this Child Abuse Article titled "Child Abuse and the Grace of Forgiveness" can be found at Comments below this submission. Depending on system activity, there are sometimes delays in comments going live on my site; but rest assured, they do eventually appear. So if you don't yet see them, I hope you will return later to read what I, and possibly others, have written. I thank you for your patience and understanding.

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Comments for Child Abuse and the Grace of Forgiveness

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Jan 27, 2009
Essentially, we've said the same thing...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Irma, firstly, I thank you for your kind words about my site and about me. Yes, I work very hard to offer information, validation and encouragement to abuse survivors, but my visitors add a synergy with their own comments that I must also applaud; it would be difficult to do what I do without them.

I must also say that you've misinterpreted my message in other posts I've written about forgiveness. You've attached bitterness to my choice of words that simply does not exist in the way I've intended them. The written word is so easily misconstrued, because it lacks inflection and the true compassion behind those words. When I use the phrase: "You no longer have power over me" I mean it the same way you do when you say " the wounds that were left in me, and the pain they caused, are not longer having power over me." Had I written it "YOU no longer have power over me", that would have denoted bitterness.

In re-reading what you wrote, Irma, I wonder if you've misjudged my meaning because you believe I'm saying that the survivor should actually speak the words to the abuser. Nothing could be further from the truth. "You no longer have power over me" are words said to oneself, words that don't ever have to be spoken either to the abuser or even out loud. Although, saying them out loud can be very powerful and reinforcing.

And to remove the word "you" from even an internal statement of forgiveness on the basis that it is deemed "bitter" is to ignore that the abuser does exert emotional power over a his/her victim, often times well into adulthood. To do so is to ignore the dynamic of an abuser and an abused child even though that child is now an adult, and the very real emotional turmoil and role that dynamic plays in the day to day life of even the most functioning of adult child abuse survivors.

In truth, the voice of the abuser is often in the head of the survivor. In order to quiet, or at least dim, that ever-present controlling voice, one must first accept that the abuser still has control and power over him/her, both in the form of that voice and in the repercussions that voice has impacted. Once that acceptance occurs, the mind is free to see options; options that might not otherwise come to the surface; options that in time and with processing, can lead to true forgiveness.

Irma, you've equated forgiveness to mercy and grace; I see that as such a valuable healing tool. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with my visitors and me.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Jan 27, 2009
by: Michelle Elliott

It took me a long time to come to grips with forgiveness-over 30 years. I was robbed of something so precious that I will never be able to forget, but I can forgive. So with a hard heart I actually forgave the person the abused me and took away my childhood. I have not seen him in 30 years, I do not know where he lives or what he does. I do know that in order for me to continue with my healing I had to forgive him. So I took the stance of a "clean little girl" not the ugly dirty girl that he made me feel like, and put my hand on his shoulder and forgave him and told him that it was time for me to move on with my life and let go of the grip that he had on my life. My healing is just beginning, my soul is not healed by any means and every day I deal with what has happened to me and how it has affected the person that I am today. But forgiving my abuser was a huge step that I had to take-the first was admitting the abuse in the first place.

Jan 27, 2009
Why should we forgive?
by: Linda

I admire anyone who can forgive an abuser. You can forgive, but not forget. I read your comments about forgiving an abuser and I feel like your giving them something they don't deserve. I became a christian, when I began my road to healing, and I am going to let ,God, deal with the people who hurt me so bad. I don't have that power.

Feb 24, 2009
Giving what they do not deserve...
by: Irma

Yeah Linda! that's exactly what it is. I know it's hard for us when you've been so hurt and you feel so angry, but you know? As I've read that you gave yourself to Jesus, you can ask him for help, and he will definetly help you to forgive and yes, that's the way it is, it's the only way to be healed, the way God told us to do, they don't deserve it. Remember that you were born again, so you have a whole life in front of you, and the Lord will help you to put your past behind, and you will be completly healed, and I'm sure you are going to blessing for a lot of people. I used to be like: why? why did I had to go through all of that, when some people had such wonderful times and i've lost so much and suffered so much, why do I have to forgive if it hurts that much!. But when I remembered all what I've done, and everything the Lord had forgiven to me, I was like: Oh, now I understand, I was so wrong; the healer was in front of me with the cure and I was complaining about the illness, I wasn't remembering that the heavenly father waited for me with a hug and a smile, and didn't blamed me for anything, ask him to remind you what he had forgiven to you; it's just not worthy to hesitate, complain or feel guilty, why not just take the gift? I don't blame you, it is sooo hard to decide to do it, he knows it's not easy, but he will help you if you ask him, he will have you the grace and the power to do so. He has such wonderful things for us, He's the pefect father, perfect friend, He is perfect. There's not a single human being who doesn't need forgiveness,or to forgive, we all have been wounded, but we all have hurt someone. And the most important thing of all: Jesus already gave us something that we did not deserved, He took our place, he took the punishment so we could be forgiven, he was pierced and crushed, wounded so we could be healed. Imagine the pain you went through multiplied by all the human beings that have existed plus being innocent, and by choice. This is why he says: Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, this is the way he saved us. It is also the reason why we are called children of God, you know children look like their parents, and want to be like him; if your parents hurt you, now you have a new one, who will never ever leave you. He will heal your broken heart Linda, and give you a new one :).

Feb 24, 2009
Re: Child Abuse and the Grace of Forgiveness
by: Irma

Darlene, no sorry I didn't mean that, about the "survivor actually speaking the words to the abuser", no, i said that to abviod a misunderstanding about what I shared with you, It could be interpreted as: So now that the survivor has forgotten the abuser, NOW THEY CAN BE BEST FRIENDS AND HANG OUT, nooooo, that's the reason why I said that. Yes I know you have to do that by yourself and say it out loud when you are alone.

Thank you for your time, :)

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