Forced Forgiveness

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

May 28, 2019

By Shelly Bradbury, Peter Smith, and Stephanie Strasburg

Part 3 in a 6-part series

Plain community sexual abuse victims sometimes pressured to take offenders back

Church leaders pulled Kay aside one Sunday and told her she was excommunicated for failing to forgive her husband.

Her conservative Mennonite church demanded that she take a registered sex offender back into her home, that she forgive and forget what he had done to their 1-month-old baby and her sibling who followed.

But Kay had tried that blind forgiveness before, and she couldn’t do it again.

She’d gone to counseling with him, brought the kids to him for supervised visits, eaten meals with him. But this time, he needed to prove to her that he was trustworthy, and in the year since he’d been off probation, he’d ignored her rules and pushed the boundaries and pointed fingers at her for breaking up the marriage.

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