“When we harbor negative emotions toward others or toward ourselves, or when we intentionally create pain for others, we poison our own physical and spiritual systems.” ~ Caroline Myss
Incest and child sexual abuse is an abomination. Even people who have not been victimized have a difficult time feeling any objective compassion for those who commit sex crimes against children, and it is infinitely more complicated for victims and adult survivors to find any shred of mercy in their heart.
Genuine absolution is easier for some people, especially if an apology has been offered, or when the abuser has tried to make up for what has happened. When the perpetrator, or their accomplice, deny the abuse or admit to their crimes but refuse to apologize or take any responsibility, then finding even an ounce of forgiveness can be perceived as unattainable.
Rage is the most suitable reaction to being sexually molested, raped, or tortured. The sexual abuse of children, especially incest, is an atrocity. This is a degenerate and serious crime. It is the root of many of the ills in our society. Sexual abuse contributes to thousands of suicides and can inflict a life-time of hell on the victim. This crime weakens the soul so much that the victim often gives up hope and longs for death. Child sexual abuse destroys dreams and generates nightmares.
The mere silence from the mother who turned away from her child’s screams may seem unfathomable to forgive. It is often much harder to exonerate the mother who did not protect us than to forgive the man who molested or raped us. The mother is a much deeper wound because she is sacred to a child. It is infinitely more complicated to forgive a mother who sexually abused her child. This is a brutal wound.
The True Meaning of Forgiveness
First and foremost, the act of forgiveness does not mean the perpetrator should roam free to continue their crimes against children. Some religious belief systems give the false impression that forgiveness means you don’t turn in a child molester, or that you help the perpetrator to avoid prison.
Justice and forgiveness go hand in hand.
Forgiveness does not mean remaining silent about being abused or allowing others to step on us. Absolution does not mean that a person must uphold or adapt to a lie, or cater to the denial system of those who hurt us. It also doesn’t mean becoming a people-pleaser, being superficial, or allowing someone to further abuse us or another child.
In April 2009, the Dr. Phil show had a few siblings on the program who had been victims of incest at the hands of their father. While under control of the father, the oldest sister had brutally beaten her younger siblings. Dr. Phil made an erroneous statement to his guests about their sister. He told them, “Forgiveness is a choice.”
Dr. Phil made it sound as if a previous victim of childhood sexual or physical assault can simply decide to forgive their perpetrator like a person might choose an outfit. This is a false forgiveness and will not heal anyone.
Forgiveness comes only to a prepared soul, and it usually does not come in its totality until the final stages of recovery. True forgiveness requires a strong desire to do so. Forgiveness is a long hard road, and it must come from within. Forgiveness cannot be forced by anyone or by a religious belief. We can consciously say we forgive our perpetrators in order to feel better about ourselves or about them. We can say it to appease family members or in a faithful attempt to honor God, but if the child within us is not ready to forgive, she will express herself with body memories, depression, or with other unwanted signs of discontent.
Even though a person might truly feel they have exonerated their perpetrator, or anyone who protected the abuser, it is the inner child who ultimately makes the decision to forgive.
The little one inside is the one who suffered, and she needs to feel cleansed through the natural process of driving out all negative emotions. Once this is accomplished, the adult survivor can transform their pain into an objective understanding of those who committed the sexual assaults.
For a number of years I thought I had forgiven my parents, but the child in me refused to forgive because she still felt so much pain, and I had not yet remembered all there was to forgive. When we are still repressing memories that are attached to a deep emotional trauma, we cannot yet release any resentment and anger connected to that memory.
If a survivor of child sexual abuse is able to develop and nurture forgiveness on the outside, then this is wonderful, but it is vital to listen to what our body and emotions communicate to us. If the child inside is not healed enough to forgive, the adult body of the survivor will say “no” to outward forgiveness.
In order to understand this you can consciously say, “I forgive my abusers,” but then picture the child inside you with his or her arms crossed in anger.
The only way I discovered that the child in me was not ready to forgive was by entering the subconscious mind in hypno-therapy regressions, and with each passing year, the hypno-therapy helped me to truly feel what forgiveness means in the purest sense.
Who Can Be Forgiven?
It is even possible to forgive a person who has passed away. Absolution is for the soul, not for the physical body. In fact, even if the person is still alive, it is the human soul that we pardon. We are not forgiving the act, the personality of the person, or their human form.
Some survivors say they aren’t sure if they have found mercy for their abuser. Uncertainty usually means they have not completely forgiven, and it is usually the victims and survivors who still cannot absolve themselves of the guilt and shame, who are hindering their ability to forgive their abuser.
A common belief is that forgiveness is for the victim, not for the abuser—but this is not true mercy. We must forgive ourselves for the shame and guilt we carried, and we need to forgive those who harmed us in order to release ourselves from the bond which a lack of leniency brings us, but we cannot say we forgive our perpetrator only to have it be about us. This is not true forgiveness and is a form of selfishness. Forgiveness is essential for the soul of the perpetrator, and it will ultimately be crucial for ours as well.
Unforgiveness Can Cause Serious Illness and Disease
No one can or should forgive superficially. Cancer, heart attacks, and other illness is often the result of harboring years of resentment that has built up in a person’s conscious or subconscious mind. This is why true healing cannot be done without true forgiveness. This is not an admonition or a religious condemnation; it is just a simple scientific truth. Various books proclaim that forgiveness is not necessary to heal…. That is a nice thought, but also impossible.
One woman wrote on a message board in a sexual abuse recovery forum that she was “not into forgiveness” for what destroyed her life. She didn’t think it was necessary to forgive her father in order to heal. Yet —in the very same paragraph— she wrote that her biggest problem was not forgiveness, but that she still suffered from a multitude of psychologically induced physical problems resulting from the abuse.
This woman could not see the paradox in her own statement. The issue she avoided and didn’t think was needed or important, was exactly what has the power to heal lingering physical symptoms that are connected to anger and resentment.
I suffered from lower back pain every day for weeks at a time until I began to work on it in therapy. The pain quickly left my body with only a few therapy sessions. It was directly linked to my rage over being forced to do things that I should never have had to endure.
Louise Hay, author of Heal Your Life, the best-selling book about the mind/body connection, was raped at age five by a neighbor. When she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the late seventies, she knew the cancer was caused by her unwillingness to forgive her rapist. She refused surgery and drugs. Louise chose to undergo psychotherapy and began the road to forgiveness. She also utilized nutrition and other alternative healing methods, but I am certain that letting go of her resentment was the key to her full recovery from the cancer.
Dr. Gabor Maté, author of When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection, says that the human immune system is like a “floating brain.” He says the immune system has —in a sense— memory and that many common diseases and illnesses, especially autoimmune disease, are the result of repressed anger and unresolved childhood pain.
Leniency is Not an Act of Weakness, But One of Strength
“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution
to the healing of the world.” ~Marianne Williamson
Turning anger into mercy can deliver vast amounts of positive healing energy for ourselves and for everything and everyone on the planet, but it must be authentic and offered from the heart. It cannot be manipulated or intimidated by another person or by a religion.
Genuine absolution —the kind that frees our soul— must be unconditional and without reservation. The forgiveness journey is not a simple one, nor is it painless, but if a person can persevere to the end of the forgiveness road, the reward is like turning poison into a flower.
If a previously abused person truly wants to become free, completely healthy, and to be at peace, they need to remove the black malignant mass that is blocking their heart from receiving healing love. During some of the darkest times of my recovery, a powerful yet gentle voice with no gender, came to me in my sleep and told me, “True healing cannot be done without God.”
God is love and love heals.
Going beyond our pain in order to offer forgiveness is much stronger than if we only love those who love us. What is so special about only forgiving the people who love us, or who have not brutally harmed us as children?
When Love is pushed into a small space of the soul, and is crowded out by anger, resentment, a desire to control, a need for revenge, and hatred, then a person will never know peace, health, and freedom.
When all the negative energies are removed from a person’s subconsious mind, a deep sense of calm and peace envelopes the soul.
Resentment will always attack a person. Love does not attack, it generates joy. Each abuse survivor has the ability to go beyond their pain. Giving the gift of forgiveness to someone who has betrayed and devastated our body and soul, without expecting anything in return, is how we create room inside ourselves for complete healing.
It is in giving that we receive. When we make room in our heart for love, we receive all kinds of abundance.
In my experience, the only way to make room for love is by expelling the detrimental emotions from the subconscious mind. Once the poisonous emotions are eradicated, then PEACE is the only thing left to fill that once-toxic void.
Leniency is not an act of weakness, but one of strength. By forgiving my parents and sisters, I released the power they held over me, but I also freed their souls, and my own, from the contract that would have kept us bound for an eternity.
Dr Phil show, Out of the Cult Follow-up, April 2 2009
Wikipedia Encyclopedia, http://louisehay.wwwhubs.com/
Dr. Gabor Maté: “When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection” in an interview on Democracy Now! Feb. 15 2010