“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 are 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, so 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, completely 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 lifetime of hell on the victim.
Child sexual abuse and child rape 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 usually 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 protected the rapist, or molester, over her own child -or who sexually abused her child. These are brutal wounds.
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.
Forgiveness is about offering mercy and compassion to the soul of another person. This, in no way, implies that we condone what happened, or that we allow someone to abuse us again, or that we must pretend that nothing ever happened.
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 will 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 the child inside is the one who suffered, and she or he 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, and even somewhat compassionate, understanding of those who committed the sexual assaults, betrayal, breach of trust, rapes, torture and psychological abuse. YES. These things are all possible to forgive.
For a number of years I thought I had forgiven my parents, but for so long, 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.
Basically, we cannot forgive what we have not yet remembered.
If someone is still repressing a traumatic event, or years of sexual abuse, or rape, then they will also unknowingly harbor every emotion connected to those experiences, including unforgiveness.
Who Can Be Forgiven?
Everyone. For everything, and anything.
It is even possible to forgive a person who has passed away. Absolution is for the soul -not for the physical body.
Even if the person is still alive, it is the human soul that we pardon. We are not forgiving the act, or 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.
We must forgive ourselves in order to find a TRUE place of total forgiveness -the kind of forgiveness that equals the highest possible spiritual place.
A common belief is that forgiveness is for the victim, not for the abuser—but this is not true mercy. Forgiveness is for BOTH victim and perpetrator.
We must forgive ourselves for the shame and guilt we held for years or decades like a suitcase attached to our ankle, but we cannot say we forgive our abusers only to have it be about us. This is not true forgiveness and is a form of selfishness. Human beings must forgive those who harmed them in order to release ourselves from the bond which a lack of leniency brings us.
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 her lingering physical problems that are connected to anger and resentment.
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 Louise 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
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. It is like climbing three, five, or sometimes ten thousand feet up a steep and winding mountain path with your bare feet and sometimes you are on your knees.
The climb is painful and can take your breath, and you will have to stop and rest countless times while wanting to turn back.
But if a person can persevere to the top, then the reward is like turning poison into a beautiful flower in the sunshine
If a previously abused person truly wants to become free, completely healthy, and to be at peace, then 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 our friends, or those who have not brutally harmed us as children?
When Love is pushed into a small space of the heart, and is crowded out by anger, resentment, a desire to control, a need for revenge, and by hatred, then a person will never know peace, health, and freedom.
When all the negative energies are removed from a person’s subconscious mind, a deep sense of calm and peace envelopes the soul. It is an indescribable peace. It surmounts any human emotion or pleasurable human experience one can have.
I can now attest to the fact that this euphoric experience is possible and I can tell you that it is the most beautiful feeling in the entire world. It makes you cry tears of gratitude, and you get down on your knees for being so fortunate to be able to have such a deep and intense experience -a profound connection to The Divine.
Resentment will always attack a person. Love does not attack, it generates joy.
It is in giving that we receive. When we make room in our heart for pure LOVE, we receive all kinds of abundance. 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 abusers, I released the power they held over me, and I freed my soul from the contract that would have kept us bound for an eternity.
Today I am in the happiest, most peaceful, most beautiful place of my entire life.
I am grateful to be alive.
My beloved Guardian Angel Dog and myself, on my birthday 2016.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia, http://louisehay.wwwhubs.com/
Dr. Gabor Maté: “When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection”
© 2008 Alethea Marina Nova All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author. Photo copyright owned by author.