Metoo Is Not about Forgiving Abusers. It Is about Honoring Women Who Come Forward
By Dr. Patti Feuereisen
December 17, 2017
With all the #MeToo stories and the recent news on sex abusers from Hollywood to national television anchors, the conversation of sex abuse is finally in the forefront. In the three decades I have focused my work as a psychotherapist with sex abuse survivors I have heard these stories and the stories of fathers brutally molesting their daughters year after year — only to be told by their mothers to leave once they revealed their incest. And the stories of date rape and girls blaming themselves for years because they were told it was their fault. Now that the conversation is beginning from the survivors, there is a lot of talk about how to heal. I can count the times when clients have come to me having been told by a well-intentioned therapist or clergy person to forgive their abuser. They are told that if they can forgive, then they can heal and move forward.
I say NO.
The only person a survivor needs to forgive is herself. She needs to forgive herself for not being able to stop the abuse, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, for not being willing or able to speak out against her boss, her minister or rabbi, her coach — whoever her perpetrator might be.
When you are not ready to forgive, when your anger gives you strength, then be angry. As far as I am concerned, forgiveness is a gift to your abuser. He is 100 percent responsible and you do not owe him a thing.