Is forgiveness necessary to heal from an abusive relationship?

Many people believe forgiveness is a necessary step in the healing process. It’s part of our culture and religion, and it’s often encouraged by mental health specialists as well.

But what happens when forgiving someone becomes the equivalent of giving them permission to hurt you again?

In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the reasons why forgiveness isn’t necessary to for you to move on and what type of forgiveness can bring peace of mind.

Misused forgiveness

In many cases of child abuse, forgiveness and hope that abusers will change keeps the dysfunctional family intact.

We’re taught to forgive and move on, especially when it comes to our family members. But anger is sometimes needed for victims of abuse to distance themselves from their abusers.

In later stages of healing, forgiveness is possible but can easily be used against the victim too. Just because we forgive doesn’t mean we should accept or try to dimish the abuse done to us. We’re just giving ourselves the peace of mind and the liberty to discard an emotional burden.

Why simply “moving on” won’t do

Depending on what type of abuse we’re talking about, moving on can mean simply shunning someone from our lives or confronting the abuser by contacting the authorities.

It’s not wise for someone who has been physically abused to just move away and risk being followed or harassed again. Authorities need to get involved, and ignoring the situation leads to more harm.

What is forgiveness?

When we forgive, we extend an invitation of reconciliation to someone.

In many cases, the people who wronged us won’t accept the offer. Worse, they’ll pretend their hurtful words and actions weren’t toxic at all.

Forgiveness is more about getting rid of the emotional burden of bitterness than about making peace with the abuser.

However, making peace with our own bitterness doesn’t mean diminishing the harm done to us and pretending it never happened. It just means we’re no longer locked in the same mental state about what happened in the past.

Final Thoughts

Forgiveness isn’t a necessary step to healing, though letting go of the bitterness can help. In some cases, pushing forgiveness on victims of abuse is downright insulting to their suffering. If you’re unsure about what to do regarding your past or current abusive relationships, or how you should deal with abusive situations, feel free to contact us.