6th September 2021 at 6:39 pm #131112Wants To HelpParticipant
What a ridiculous question you may ask?!
Having lived in Recovery from my abusive relationship for many years now I am still keen to learn about relationships, abusive ones and healthy ones, and I read, research, watch videos regularly in order to keep reminding myself of what to avoid and what to look for.
I am still in touch with the people who were there for me many years ago and supported my leaving and Recovery journey, one of whom is distinguished in their field of work, and they continue to support me and help me learn. Recently, they recommended a book to me, so I bought it straight away, and OMG! This book, along with what we know about abusers, makes so much sense when you put the cycles of behaviour side by side.
I’ve recommended the book in responses on a few other posts. It is
The Book Of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho TUTU.
It is not a book about Domestic Abuse per se, but does include ways of forgiving those who have harmed us in any way. Do we choose the path of forgiveness or the cycle of revenge?
Our abusers will choose the cycle of revenge. When we have done something that annoys them, hurts them, causes them ‘pain’ in whatever way they feel we have caused pain, they will choose to harm – reject our shared humanity – choose revenge / retaliation / payback – which leads to violence or cruelty. If you put this cylce over the top of the cycle of abuse you can see that our abusers continue to live in a life of revenge, which will never lead to peace.
This book is about how we can take steps towards peace, and either renew or release a relationship.
It talks about what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. It talks about how we can release ourselves from a victim role. A paragraph that stood out to me was
We are not responsible for what breaks us, but we can be responsible for what puts us back together again.
I highly recommend this book, I have learned so much from it this past few weeks.
6th September 2021 at 8:20 pm #131118ISOPeaceParticipant
Hi Wants to help, I’ve actually thinking about this myself. I’ll definitely look up that book.
I think it depends on what you think forgiveness is and why you might forgive. Before I give my thoughts, I want to say that I feel strongly that nobody should feel any pressure to forgive. That would be invalidating the feelings and experience of the survivor and would be very damaging. Like with pretty much everything in life, you can only do it when you’re ready and I honestly don’t know how many people get to the point of feeling ready to forgive – I know I’m not there!
To me, forgiveness is for the benefit of the person doing the forgiving and is not about letting the other person off the hook. I don’t see forgiveness as something you do out of some sense of duty or because it’s the “right” thing to do. It’s about letting go of feelings that are no longer serving a helpful purpose for you. Of course feeling anger/resentment etc to an abuser is natural, normal and healthy. But those feelings are there to call us to act in our best interests. When we’ve done everything we can to get ourselves and our loved ones safe, we’ve done enough healing and we’ve learnt how to protect ourselves from further abuse, what purpose does the anger and resentment serve? I think there comes a point when it’s healthy to let the feelings go (in theory at least). I’ve heard someone say that holding onto resentment is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
I think in theory you can forgive someone and maintain strong boundaries/zero contact, although I have no experience of this with an abuser. But I feel very strongly that you can only do it at the right time, when you have done enough healing (not that I know when that is!). Trying to do it earlier would likely result in burying feelings and would get in the way of healing.
It’s early days for me but at the moment if feels like two things would get in the way of me forgiving my ex:
1. The feeling that it would look outwardly like everything is ok and people won’t realise what he’s done. Even as I write this one I know it’s not that big a deal. I can explain things to people who are important to me, and it doesn’t really matter what others think.
2. After years of not being allowed to be angry or act like there’s anything wrong, I don’t want to confuse genuine forgiveness with suppressing how I really feel and minimising how bad things were. I think the anger/resentment at the moment is telling me I’ve still got a lot to come to terms with.
I’d be really interested to hear if anyone has found peace with what happened to them and let go of the hate/resentment while keeping their boundaries strong. Do you feel anywhere near ready to forgive Wants to help? Xxxx
6th September 2021 at 8:43 pm #131122EggshellsParticipant
This is an interesting one. I’ve had alot of discussions with those closest to me in my support network.
I know that my anger is hurting me but that it won’t even touch him. He’ll be far too busy wallowing in self pity to even consider that I have anything to be angry about. My anger doesn’t touch him but it makes me bitter and I don’t want to be bitter; its not healthy. It feels like a weight around my neck.
I do want justice but I know I’m highly unlikely to get it. What is the difference between justice and revenge anyway.
I don’t want to be bitter, it’s not a good feeling but how do you find your way to a place where you’re ready to forgive.
From what you’ve read, do you think the book might help please?
6th September 2021 at 8:48 pm #131123nbumblebeeParticipant
That quote “we are not responsible for what breaks us……” wow what a quote I love that.
I am in no way anywhere near acceptance let alone forgivness so excuse me dor jumping in but that quote is amazing thank you for sharing it. X
6th September 2021 at 9:21 pm #131125iliketeaParticipant
Interesting question – I think it depends what your definition of forgiveness is and what you think its purpose is. For some it will be to enable them to fast track to better places. For others it is to cleanse their souls of the abuser. I think also it depends whether who that forgiveness is for. Is it for the abuser to know? Like those families who visit death row and forgive the murderers of their loved ones. Or is it just for your own peace of mind, and sanity, and to help move on.
First up I think no. Because I feel the purpose of forgiveness is to enable a relationship to continue in some form or other, or for my own memories of someone not to be tainted going forward – i.e. if someone had died who had abused in some way but never understood or had a chance to face what they had done. If someone is living though, they have abused, there has been some form of accountability, meaning they know what they have done, then no, I don’t think there is any point, abusers don’t seem able to change, if they did, then maybe forgiveness could happen. I think its an obsolete action if its for yourself only. I would rather forget than forgive, and I think that would be the bigger more important action. Forgive feels it has tinges of condoning, accepting and right now I have nothing in me to do that, I can pity him, feel sorry for him, but he’s a grown adult and fully able to take responsibility for his actions, so forgiveness – uh uh – (that’s a shaking head). I can heal, understand, learn, educate myself, not think of him, be no contact, completely ignore his existence, all those things seem bigger to me than forgiveness. Not sure I can find a point to forgive.
But I will sleep on it, and maybe read the book, add it to the pile of DA and other books by my bed!! Thanks WTH nicely thought-provoking. x
7th September 2021 at 12:52 am #131130Wants To HelpParticipant
Thanks for your responses ladies 🙂
@isopeace – yes, you have the idea of this completely. The book talks you through the path of forgiving and it has to be in your own time and when you are ready. The act of forgiving is for the benefit of yourself and has to be unconditional. So only forgiving someone if they acknowledge how they have hurt us and they say sorry is not what the book is about. It mentions that holding on to resentment etc is like wishing for a better past, but forgiving allows us to move on and wish for a better future.
It has helped me finally forgive my ex. I actually thought I had to some point (basically because he has not been in my life or had the need to communicate with me for years and I have rebuilt my life to a better standard than when I was with him), but until I read the book I realised that even after all these years I always had that grudge against him that he ripped me off financially. I have finally found peace with this, as by being resentful about it was never going to change the fact that the money was gone years ago. I mean, he’s never going to give it back to me and he probably doesn’t even think about it that way (probably feels he was entitled to more and that I’ve ripped him off!), so the only person that resentment was affecting was me.
@iliketea – the book defines the definition of forgiveness. It clearly states that forgiveness is not being weak. It is not about forgetting, or letting someone off the hook or escaping justice, it is not about accepting that what they did was okay and you’re now alright with it. They don’t even have to know that you have forgiven them, you certainly don’t have to tell them. The forgiveness is for your benefit not theirs. We know our abusers will not ask for forgiveness. In order to ask for forgiveness you have to be totally honest and acknowledge that you have caused harm. You have to want to say sorry and mean it. We know our abusers won’t do that.
The book mentions that EVERYONE can change who they are and be better people. On this forum we will often tell ladies that abusers never change. Both statements are true. EVERYONE can change themselves to be better people IF THEY WANT TO. In order to do that it takes recognition that what you have done is wrong, how you have behaved is wrong, and you have to put the work in to change yourself. This book gives some examples of people who have done that (murderers and terrorists), but domestic abusers rarely acknowledge they are wrong so therefore, they never see the need to change.
In order for us to forgive unconditionally we have to be willing to acknowledge certain things about ourselves (the book explains all of this.)
The part about renewing or releasing the relationship is also very good. This is about relationships with anyone, not just our intimate partners. ‘Renew’ doesn’t mean you pick up where you left off and it stays the same, it means you have talked to the person who caused the harm and they acknowledged the harm they caused and you both work on starting again afresh. Releasing the relationship is when the person who has caused the harm does not accept they have hurt you, or they have died, or you have no idea who they are so you have no idea who you are forgiving.
Had I have seen this book on a shelf without being recommended it then I wouldn’t have read it. I would never have associated it with domestic abuse and I certainly never considered that I needed to forgive anyone, but it is about so much more than that. I think it may help a lot of us see our relationships and post relationships in a different way and help us on our journey, especially when our ex’s continue to make life difficult for us after we have left them. We can clearly see that they are remaining in the cycle of revenge, and by this, they are remaining in their own cycle of destruction, which means they will never really be happy in life, whoever they are with.
7th September 2021 at 4:14 am #131133LookToTheLightParticipant
@wantstohelp @iliketea: first I think that quote is a powerful reminder that we have to take back control of how we feel, deal with our situations & find ourselves again. But while forgiveness is something that we in some way or another need to access- not for their sake but for our own it is hard to do so when their final act is to carry out the threat to end their life, blaming you & in doing so regaining control. This is what I have been dealing with for the past (detail removed by moderator), I can’t confront him with the facts I know know to be true in that he did abuse me, this creates a limbo affect as you also now deal with guilt because of his actions. I am not so much looking to forgive him or others who perpetuate his reasons for this action as I feel that I have to place my efforts in helping Me to deal with & move on from the trauma I suffer because of him.
Some people will find it easier to forgive when they reach a point in their recovery; others may never be able to forgive what has been done to them. But whatever way we choose to move forward from this must be our own choice & not what is expected from us.
Everyone has a different story to tell but we are all alike & share a bond.
7th September 2021 at 11:16 am #131144beachhutParticipant
I have been reading this post with much interest, and given it a lot of thought. And my conclusion is Yes and No. I am learning to forgive myself for the mistakes I have made for ever going into the relationship with my ex partner, for my lack of foresight, action and for allowing him to treat me the way he did. I cannot however forgive him, he chose to take the actions he did, he was an adult and had every opportunity to stop what he was doing and was in no way made to insult, assault or behave the way he did. He was eventually arrested for his actions. I have had no contact with him since our house was sold, and there is no reason that I should have to ever again, so my main priority is the work I need to do on myself, forgiveness is something in my mind he does not deserve for me.
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