Today, I read this blog post on Emerging From Broken and had to agree with many statements made by the guest blogger, Pam Witzemann, who posted. (I overlooked the fact that this blogger is in desperate need of a viable editor and simply took the content of her words. Her words were more gripping than her bad grammar and poor (actually, wrong) use of commas. However, I did have to address this in my blog, since I am a writing instructor and many of my readers know this.)
This particular paragraph was especially poignant and prompted the title of this blog post:
"What many abusers want instead of forgiveness is for the abused person to forget what was done to them, over-look it, and not hold them responsible for it. They also need their victims to remain silent and when that silence is threatened, they demand forgiveness and declare that any relational problems are due to the victim’s unwillingness to forgive. These lies cause confusion and abusive people know that causing confusion in others, works in their favor. There is nothing that confuses a childhood abuse survivor more than the forgiveness ploy."
This "forgiveness ploy" works for abusers and they are not silent about it. Last summer, while on vacation with my family, I was confronted in a museum by a man who had assaulted me several years earlier. At the time of the assault, he was not only a member of our church, he was a trustee. He became angry at me for something I said and actually physically assaulted me in the foyer of the church! Other people got him away from me, but I was stunned. I called the police, who instructed this man to find another church to attend and not come near me or the property since I lived on the property.
When this man saw me at the museum this past summer - in another state, by the way - he boldly approached me, along with his wife, and demanded forgiveness. I stood my ground, even as they approached, coming physically close to me (I never, ever back down from an abuser). I asked him what he wanted me to forgive him for and he stated that he'd done nothing wrong. I then asked why he needed forgiveness and he became enraged. He and his wife continued to approach me; I continued to stand my ground. They nearly hissed that they had forgiven me. I asked them what for and they had no reply. Upon their next step closer, I told them they will either back off right now or I will call 911, and I reached into my pocket and took out my phone. They backed off, but not silently. They backed off while saying, "God is a God of forgiveness! You have to forgive!"
They did not want to be held responsible for their actions.
They wanted me (still want me) to be silent about the abuse.
They demand forgiveness, even while simultaneously begging for it while denying their actions which would need forgiving.
They threw it on me, even though they were the ones who approached me, with their demand for my response to "forgive."
The missing piece in forgiveness is often accountability. I've seen and heard counselors tell their "counselees" they "have to" forgive. They even wrap it up nicely and tell them they are forgiving more for themselves than the abuser. This is furthering their abuse because this lays guilt on the abused, causing further damage. It's akin to acknowledging a broken leg, but requiring that someone use that broken leg to do some lifting before it's set to heal. This not only delays the healing, it causes further damage to the leg. The healing will come; just not by demand.
In the blog, the author, Pam Witzemann, also said, "An abuse survivor can forgive their abuser but it is foolhardy and dangerous to continue in a relationship with a person who never acknowledges the personal damage they have caused." This is where many victims of abuse are, and many have been put there by their counselors.
This man, who demands my forgiveness for something he won't acknowledge doing, apparently wants to continue in a relationship with me, hence he approached me. It would be dangerous and foolish of me to continue in a relationship with him since he has already assaulted me once and has continued his threatening behavior ever since.....and now his wife is acting the same way. She, herself, assaulted me on a smaller scale once. They are both dangerous to me. Neither of them will take responsibility for their actions. Pam Witzemann also said, "It’s simple, people who want forgiveness will say they are sorry and name specifically, what they are sorry for. People who are content to abuse and thereby, hold power over their victim, will have no remorse and will never acknowledge the pain and damage they have caused." This demonstrates what this man and his wife are demanding from me, yet denying responsibility for.
So, while Pam's article was directed at victims of child abuse (which I also am), the principles she pointed out apply to all victims of abuse.
To abuse, then remain unaccountable, then demand "forgiveness" is absurd. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who, Himself suffered for our sins - even the sins of abuse - demands more. He calls us to repent, 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19. The Scriptures are filled with calls to repentance. With a readiness to forgive, He stands with His arms outstretched. Repent. Find forgiveness in Jesus Christ. He will see to the rest of the forgiveness you may seek, and He can restore relationships as a result.
This man, this particular abuser, had only to acknowledge what he did to me, own it, tell me he will never deny it or do it again, show me that he had trusted Christ and changed, and our relationship could have been restored.
But, for now, he really needs to stop approaching me in a threatening manner.