TW/CN: domestic violence, r*pe, victim blaming, brief descriptions of abuse
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I use to say I forgave my abuser. I forgave him, I understood him. I was so understanding of his pain I forgot about the pain he caused. In fact I even wrote a post about it when I started this blog.
I was once told that not forgiving someone, not “letting go” is like walking around with a hook in your body. You’ll keep pulling, trying to walk away, but ultimately you’ll be tethered to that hook forever. Unless you forgive wherein then the hook would release you. That very much sounds like victim blaming. Why should the onus be on the abused to forgive? Maybe we should focus on abusers and get them not to be abusive. We’re very quick to want to forgive abusers, but we somehow forget that compassion when it comes to victims. We want to know why they stayed, why they kept going back, why they haven’t “moved on”, “let go”.
“Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive”
I have to say, that’s a lot of bullshit. No one should be expected to forgive someone who beat, raped, tormented and basically made life a living hell. Forgiveness is not required nor should be mandated. My abuser does not have a right to my forgiveness. He hurt me in every way and forgiving him? That would just let him off the hook. That damned hook.
I think one of the reasons I’ve stopped thinking I forgive him is because I’ve realized that he raped me. When I finally left him I had a very hard time admitting I was a victim of domestic Violence. I tried to downplay the abuse. I wasn’t with him for as long as the other women in the support group had been with their abusers. He never beat me to the point where I needed to go to the hospital. In fact he very rarely left marks on me. I was in pain but he knew how to inflict the physical damage.
When I was with him I didn’t know about reproductive coercion.
I still deal with the pain he caused. PTSD is horrible. How then am I supposed to forgive that?
Forgiveness culture is just another way to keep victims/survivors in line. It’s just another part of rape culture. It’s just another part of “boys will be boys”.
I’d like now, to quote a few lines from the first post linked above and explain how utter shit my thinking was back then.
“After being with him I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s still hard, because he’s T Jr’s father. But at the end of the day she’s better off without that type of person in her life. I’m better off as well. We deserve better. I’ve realized none of what happened was my fault. And all I can do now is try to pick up the pieces and raise T Jr as best I can, taking the lessons I’ve learned and turning them to good use for her.”
This still holds true. I’ve picked up the pieces, as it were, and I’ve tried to move on. I’ve had relationships with other men, those didn’t work out but they weren’t abusive. I’ve learned to spot red flags in potential partners and friends.
“I can’t hold on to the hate, resentments, regrets, or what if’s. If I do I feel I’d be consumed by it all. I want to stable in all ways for myself and T Jr. I can’t possibly be a good parent and role model if T Jr sees her mommy is full of hate.”
You know what? After what he did, he deserves nothing but my hate and resentment. There aren’t any “what if’s” about our relationship. The only regret I have is being with him. In the years since I wrote that forgiveness post I’ve come to appreciate my feelings towards him. It’s a righteous and justified anger. I have been a good parent to TJ despite our circumstances. My anger towards him drives me to be the best I can be, because she needs a good parent.
“All I can wish for Jekyll is that he gets the help he needs to work through his problems.”
I would still like him to get help, if he hasn’t already, which I doubt very much. “Through his problems” is a very nice euphemism for misogyny.
“We haven’t seen or heard from him in over a year. All I can wish is that if he ever does get the help he needs, he can one day be reunited with his daughter. That’ll only happen when and only when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he isn’t the man I once knew.”
It’s been four years now. I no longer wish him reunification with my daughter. I do not want him anywhere near us. There is just no way that I could ever trust him.
“Unfortunately I don’t see that happening. In the mean time, T Jr will have love and support to spare. And I’ll still be working towards getting better at forgiving and healing.”
I still don’t see it happening. In the meantime TJ has had love and support to spare. I’m working on being the best person I can be. I have gotten better at forgiving and healing because I’ve learned who is worthy of it and who isn’t. He isn’t.
“All I can say to Jekyll is, ‘I forgive you. And as I heal, I hope you heal as well.’
I don’t think I’ll ever heal fully. Some days are better than others but I still bare the emotional scars.
All I can say to Jekyll is, I hope you always have an itch you can’t quite reach. I hope your videos always get stuck at 99% buffering. I hope you always lose a sock from your laundry. I hope your jelly always comes off the sides of your sandwich. I hope that just when you’re drifting off to sleep a mosquito buzzes in your ear.
Most of all, I hope one day you feel at least just a tenth of what you put us through.
Edited to add: I would also tell him “Thank you.” I hate to use a cliché, but I think of the experiences with him as a “blessing in disguise”. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wouldn’t have been for the shit he put me through. I wouldn’t be as vocal a feminist if it wasn’t for him. Funny, how in trying to mold me into being a perfect little housewife/mother/slave he created (an even more outspoken than I ever was before) feminist.
Oh for fuck’s sake. I was so focused on being a good victim that I preferred to push away and downplay everything he did and thank him? I didn’t need the abuse he put me through to become who I am today. I was so focused on “moving on” that I decided to ascribe whatever positive spin I could to my relationship with him.
Forgiving someone who has hurt you is often touted as strength; as being the bigger person. I think I’m pretty strong because I’ve managed to survive all this shit. Forgiving him has not been needed.