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#164708 - 07/04/07 05:12 AM Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum)
VN Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 723
(I am copying this here also, because I think perhaps there would be different thoughts or opinions from friend/family members, and your views are importent to me also, and you can not respond in male survivor forum)

The other online support group I belong to, it send out daily questions, to help us focus on aspects of our grief, our healing, to help us to release some pain and emotion, and also to learn more about ourself and each other.

There was this one that come through, about forgiveness. It tell a story of a Holocaust survivor who forgive Dr. Mengele for the abuses toward her in her time there. I thought it was rather powerful, and it was something that I write much more in response to then I usually do. I know that forgiveness discussions can sometime become difficult here, with people sometime taking it on themself to tell others what they must or must not do. But in this way, the manner of responding to this, everyone respond individual, of how they feel on it, and all the other members respect their differences. I thought I would share it here, along with mine own answers of it, because I am still searching in my mind and heart of what I feel to do, in forgiveness, and to who.

So, I do not post it here to cause debate, or argument between people who are of different thoughts on the issue. But, to see what it is people think for themselfs on it, and why. It is meant to be respectful sharing, and I am hoping I can learn from it, and see other peoples thoughts and points of view and opinions, things perhaps I have not thought of before myself.

VN

_________________________________________________________________
Dear Friends,

Someone posted a message about a documentary called Forgiving Dr. Mengele on
the Suicide Grief Discussion Board. For some reason, I knew I needed to watch
it, so I ordered it, received it yesterday, and I watched it today.

The video was about a woman named Eva Kor. She and her twin sister were two
of the children that Dr. Mengela, the notorious Nazi doctor, experimented on
during the Holocaust. He treated the children in his 'research' as if they were
animals, rats to test things on, and he answered to no one.

Anyway, Eva managed to survive, and later on, she married a man and raised
her children. Then, she decided that she needed to go back to Auchschwiz to see
the place she'd been.

While she was there, saw things that brought flashbacks to her and relived
painful memories, But in the end, she made the decision that she needed to
forgive Dr. Mengela and all of the others who had murdered the Jews and her family.

Her view was that as long as she did not forgive them, she was held hostage.
In forgiving them, she liberated herself.

Needless to say, this is not a view shared by everyone. Most of the other
Holocaust survivors disagreed with her, and they seemed to resent her attitude
that forgiveness was important. They could not forgive Dr. Mengele or any of the
Nazis.

We've talked about forgiveness here in the group from time to time, because
it is an important issue. The truth is, though, that there is no
one-size-fits- all when it comes to forgiveness.

This time, rather than discussing whether you should or have or will ever
forgive anyone who may have hurt your child and/or contributed to his/her death,
I thought it would be good to consider times we have forgiven others in the
past. So that's what the questions are about.

QUESTIONS

1. (not necessary at this forum)

2. How do you define forgiveness?

3. Have you ever forgiven anyone who has done something terrible to you, or
to your children or someone you dearly love? If so, who was it?

4. If you have forgiven someone who has done something terrible, can you tell
us all about what the person did that was wrong or hurtful?

5. What made you decide to forgive the person? How did you reach that point?
How long did it take to reach that point?

6. How did you forgive him/her? How do you know that you truly did forgive?

7. Did you communicate your forgiveness to the other person, or not? Explain.

8. How did YOU change after you forgave the person?

9. Do you agree with Eva Kor, that forgiving liberated you?

10. Do you have any other comments about forgiveness?
_________________________________________________________________
I have had to pass this one, and return to it. At the other online group I belong to, this is an issue that come up often, and is almost always a very much argued debate, on whether forgiveness is necessary for healing, and if the forgiveness is for the one forgiven or the one doing the forgiving, such things as that. This is a group for abuse survivors, specificially of male sexual abuse survivors. So you can imagine that there is quite much the emotional debate there on this issue.

Both my roommates, they also are survivors of childhood sexual abuses, both of them have one of same abusers, which is crazy coincidence, but I suppose not so much (it was a well known and respected sport coach in our country, and it is not such large coincidence that elite athletes would train with him). One of them, he have abuse at home also, and he do not forgive no one. Nothing. And he say it do not bother him, that it is justified that some things do not deserve forgiveness, and as he do not see it is to help him to forgive, he do not. He have no problems of that. The other one, he is rather softer personality in general, and of the several persons who have done abuses at him growing up, he have forgived 2 of them. He make the point of how it is more for him then them, that he feel it give back to him the power of his emotions, and take away the fear of these men for him. So it is issue that is been personally discussed at times among us also, as we are quite good friends. I just say all this because, forgive me, I had to think much on these questions and answers, and they will perhaps be quite long, as I am still in deciding for myself of the issue, of what is best for myself.

QUESTIONS

1. What is your name and the name of your son or daughter?

V; O

2. How do you define forgiveness?

I do not truly know. I think it is to grant grace to someone, and to release anger toward them for what wrong they done to you. But for other persons, like my friend I mention above, it is something more of to take back emotional power for yourself. So I am not full sure of it right now.

3. Have you ever forgiven anyone who has done something terrible to you, or
to your children or someone you dearly love? If so, who was it?

First, I do not know that I would been able to ever forgive anyone who harmed my child. I just do not know if that would be possible for me. But, for forgiving others, I have not, but am considering it, toward my mother (my father is now dead, so I do not know it is such an issue with him).

4. If you have forgiven someone who has done something terrible, can you tell
us all about what the person did that was wrong or hurtful?

Growing up, our family was one of much abuses. My father was very physically violent man, and I think for so long, I held so much fear of him, I did not even hate him. Even after he died, for some months, I still would have fear of him, bad dreams and such. As I have think more on forgiveness of issues, I have thought of whether I feel I could ever forgive him, although, as I say, he is now dead. I think, because he abuse also my sister and mother, I would have difficulty to say 'oh, it is all all right now, that you harm us so much'. I am not sure if that is something that would be something good to me. My mother was abusive sexually, all my time growing up at home. And I have before tried to talk with her of it, and she would not admit to doing wrong, or accept that it is not proper, what things she done. I do not know full why I wish to forgive her, because she do not have regret that she done wrong. But I think, there is always to be some connection with their parent, more specially to their mother. She create me, she give birth to me, and I feel just I must release the anger and hate to her. I just do not know full well if I feel I must do that because I want to, or because I feel it is what is expected I do toward mine own mother.

5. What made you decide to forgive the person? How did you reach that point?
How long did it take to reach that point?

I have had considering of this for several years now, and as I say before, I have talk with her of the issues growing up before. I am not sure if I can do it, to forgive her or not, I guess I am still not at the point of knowing if I can or not.

6. How did you forgive him/her? How do you know that you truly did forgive?

7. Did you communicate your forgiveness to the other person, or not? Explain.

I am not sure if this is necessary. It depends on whether the forgiveness is for you or for the other persons mercy. I think it depend on the individual person to decide if this is a step they feel they must do or not.

8. How did YOU change after you forgave the person?

9. Do you agree with Eva Kor, that forgiving liberated you?

I think it is possible, and I have great respect for people who are able to..., however...

10. Do you have any other comments about forgiveness?

I am very strong in believing that forgiveness is NOT necessary. If a person is not trapped in anger and hatred. If their emotions of events are not affecting negatively their life. If they do not lose time and life opportunities by dwelling on their feelings toward that person. Then I think forgiveness is not necessary. I do believe that there is some things that can not be forgiven, and I would think Mr. Mengele's actions would be as that. That this woman choose forgiveness, that is her grace. It is not a command that all other survivors of those traumas must do the same to be whole and decent people. There is 'person' who almost kill me once, when I had run away of home when I was teenager. To say that there was torture from this man, it is to make it less then what it was. He is now forever in prison for killing at least 3 other boys off the street, and torturing them before he done so. Is he insane, yes, probably, and as someone who is crazy and mentally not competent, I suppose he deserve some sympathy and mercy for such. But forgiveness of what things he done to me and who knows how many other boys, no, he will never receive that from me, either to speak it to him or just to do it myself. I do not feel at all that it is necessary, and I do not hold in myself anger and negative feelings of it. I just feel that I am importent enough, my experience and pains, they are importent enough to be respected. And to respect myself, and my survival of it, to forgive him, to me, would be to minimize it, and I will not do that.


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#164710 - 07/04/07 07:23 AM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: VN]
indygal Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/06
Posts: 439
VN,

i forgave my father for all the pain he caused me in my childhood - including standing before a judge and telling the judge to "just take her i don't want her" - later i was offered by social services to be placed in a new home with an adoptive family but they gave me a choice because by then i was 16 - i turned them down and always wondered - maybe things would have been different for me - but you know - they could have also been worse

i consider myself lucky because my father is still alive and i was able to do this before his death - and altho we are not best buddies we can have conversation which is sometimes something we went many years without because i chose it to be that way

i think forgiveness can help one heal but only in a certain direction - it doesn't mean one isn't healed if one doesn't forgive and i think that's where a lot of confusion and argument comes from.

i held on to the anger because it was necessary - it gave me strength and energy to seek vindication - i let go of it when i no longer needed it - and forgiveness came later - when i was ready - i did it - not out of guilt, or because others persuaded me to (and they did try) but because i wanted to, plain and simple.

did it change me? of course it did - i'm human and human beings grow and change constantly - we just don't always acknowledge it - did it change me substantially? maybe - it let a lot of the bitterness sort of fade away - and i was glad to see that go -

so maybe what forgiveness does is replace the bitterness and anger and just help you find a different kind of peace -

i wasn't sexually abused by him, tho, and i just don't know if i could ever forgive something like that - i think what's important for survivors to understand is forgiveness is very much an individual act; it is never required, nor necessary. it just is something if one can do it, i think one will. i didn't work towards it deliberately, or aim for it, it just sort of came up one day when i suppose i was ready, is all.

i also think some confuse personal growth with healing - they are truly 2 different concepts - one heals from wounds, whether of the psyche or the body - one grows spiritually and in the body but physical growth stops at a certain age and only becomes a maintenance sort of process as our cells take care of themselves. spiritual growth however can continue indefinitely, slowly sometimes, faster at others.

i think forgiveness comes more at the level of personal growth than healing - but because healing and growth can be intertwined - especially for survivors who lost so much of their childhood and now need to experience that growth - the forgiveness issue becomes caught up in there also.

if you cannot forgive your abuser it is not a fault of yours, by no means, it is just the way it is. do not choose to do so before you are ready, and do not think you have to ever be ready, you don't. it is your choice, always, it is your choice.

all the best,
indy

_________________________
my avatar is one of the Battle Angel characters, fighting the good fight.

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#164735 - 07/04/07 12:32 PM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: indygal]
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16265
VN, Indy,

Very powerful, both of you.

For me, I choose not to make the issue of forgiveness a big thing in my life currently. I don't really hold any true anger or bitterness toward the abusers at this point in my life. It would be a waste of good emotion! If that means I've forgiven, that's OK by me. If I haven't, that's OK as well for now.

For me it's just part of the journey, the growth, life. What is supposed to happen (whatever that is) will happen in it's own place and time, when I am ready. Till then I am at peace with it.

That's where I am. I expect no one to be there. It's a very personal thing and for me to tell another he must do it this or that way in the realm of forgiveness would be arrogant of me.

Lot s of love,

John

_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#164868 - 07/05/07 08:49 AM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: WalkingSouth]
shadowkid Offline
WARNING from ModTeam, September 2013: user "Shadowkid" was exposed as a hoaxer. His entire online persona and stories of sexual abuse were fiction. We encourage you not to become emotionally concerned by anything you see in any of his posts. Thank you
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 2437
i had no choice ,the abuse the way my dad was ,it was all out of my control ,i control if i forgive or not, fuck that i aint ever gonna forgive any of them cause i dont have to. they could make me do lots of things but they cant make me say it was ok ,forgiving means understanding and i wont ever understand how people can do stuff like they did to me. its the only thing thats truly mine and i will not give it up. forgiving has nothing to do with healing for me. shadow

_________________________
its not hard to fall
when you float like a cannonball - damien rice

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#164873 - 07/05/07 09:17 AM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: shadowkid]
shadowkid Offline
WARNING from ModTeam, September 2013: user "Shadowkid" was exposed as a hoaxer. His entire online persona and stories of sexual abuse were fiction. We encourage you not to become emotionally concerned by anything you see in any of his posts. Thank you
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 2437
well that and my anger are my most treasured things ,im keeping them both

_________________________
its not hard to fall
when you float like a cannonball - damien rice

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#164952 - 07/05/07 05:47 PM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: WalkingSouth]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Hi everyone,

Originally Posted By: walkingsouth
For me, I choose not to make the issue of forgiveness a big thing in my life currently. I don't really hold any true anger or bitterness toward the abusers at this point in my life. It would be a waste of good emotion! If that means I've forgiven, that's OK by me. If I haven't, that's OK as well for now.


Well put and I'm with this one all the way. I decided about 17 months ago that I was through fretting over the abuser, who died in 1994. I wrote him a letter telling him I refused to waste any more emotional energy on him and I was writing him out of my life. Then I burned the letter and scattered the ashes on his grave.

I subsequently learned that anger, like other emotions, can't be just turned off. I did continue to fret over him but that letter was a landmark for me. I feel it eventually freed me from the abuser's grasp and allowed me to get on with my other recovery issues better.

I don't have plans to forgive the bastard - why should I? If I don't forgive him that doesn't mean he has hold over me, quite the opposite! It means I stand by my total rejection of him and everything he stood for.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#165034 - 07/06/07 12:39 AM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: roadrunner]
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
I have always had a hard time with the idea of forgiving 'for yourself.' I think it is very possible to make peace with a situation or to stop wasting emotional energy on a person... I think you can come to an understanding about why someone did what they did... but to me, forgiveness is a package deal. It means that the person who has wronged me, is able to acknowledge that their actions placed a burden on me. It is them asking to take back some of that burden and me, having come to a place of peace that is sufficient enough for me to literally *give* back some of my grief and burden... to let it go back to them. I think this can be hard because it's easy to feel close to our burdens of hurt in the way that Adam describes.

Now, if I just release those feelings without anyone there to take back the burden, have I forgiven? Some might say that, I say I have just made forgiveness obsolete for that situation.


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#165065 - 07/06/07 06:13 AM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: SAR]
indygal Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/06
Posts: 439
Originally Posted By: SAR
forgiveness is a package deal. It means that the person who has wronged me, is able to acknowledge that their actions placed a burden on me. It is them asking to take back some of that burden and me, having come to a place of peace that is sufficient enough for me to literally *give* back some of my grief and burden... to let it go back to them.


i think this is very important what you've said, sar. my father and i sat down and i told him - as well as asked him - so many questions about my life - he's in his mid-80's and has punished himself probably most of his life grieving over what did he do wrong - a lot of his actions were based in ignorance, plain and simple. even tho i knew of his guilt and wanting to make peace with me, i never came close until i was ready.

that's why i think it's so different for survivors of csa, where maybe the person who hurt the survivor just doesn't show contrition - how can one forgive that? i don't see it as possible - it's hard enough when they do and for me, it wasn't even sexual abuse - tho certainly it was bad for me, very bad.

but in all aspects of life people wrong us and don't blink an eye about it - sh-t happens, as they say. some of us are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. i think in this instance we just have to learn to accept what happened, happened and not worry about forgiving those who don't deserve it, so much as accepting that if it hadn't been us, it would or could have been someone else - in this situation it's not about forgiving the perp as much as forgiving ourselves for thinking even for a moment that we were to blame.

i know i'm not the only survivor of physical abuse who also blamed herself for so many years, thinking that deep down inside i was a terrible person and surely must have deserved what happened - just as i read how so many survivors of csa once felt - maybe some still do. learning to forgive oneself for thinking that way is important; that one is wrong and DIDN'T do anything to create the situation, and certainly never deserved the violence that was enacted on my person so many times.

some years ago i started observing how often women say "i'm sorry" - so many more times in their conversation than men do - and when my bf started sounding off the "i'm sorry's" like there was some kind of unlimited supply of them - well - i knew then something was up.

who are we sorry for and what are we sorry for? this is where the forgiveness starts - forgive yourself, stop apologizing for what exactly? unless it's really something you've done in this time and space, not yesterday or yesteryear.

indy

_________________________
my avatar is one of the Battle Angel characters, fighting the good fight.

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#165066 - 07/06/07 06:46 AM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: indygal]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
SAR and Indy,

Originally Posted By: indygal
some years ago i started observing how often women say "i'm sorry" - so many more times in their conversation than men do - and when my bf started sounding off the "i'm sorry's" like there was some kind of unlimited supply of them - well - i knew then something was up.

who are we sorry for and what are we sorry for? this is where the forgiveness starts - forgive yourself, stop apologizing for what exactly? unless it's really something you've done in this time and space, not yesterday or yesteryear.


Now we're getting somewhere. One thing that just sticks in my craw is this screwed-up idea that if I'm a good person I should be able to just wave off the fact that the abuser started on me when I was 10 and raped, humiliated and shamed me for five years, the last year together with my best friend in all the world. Quite apart from the fact that the bastard has been dead since 1994, where's the reciprocity in this? What? If he were alive I should give him a pass for what he did to me and my friend, plus who knows how many other boys? That's bullshit.

I simply don't care about all the arguments about how I should "let go" and "forgive" as if that's a priori good for me. Maybe that works for someone else, but who decides what's good for me where my abuse issues are concerned? I do! I can see the merit of letting go of my anger: raging against a jerk who's been turning into bad compost for the past 13 years is just a waste of emotional energy. As I give that up I save those resources for positive relationships with people I genuinely love and care about.

John comments about not being in a place where forgiveness works for him, and that's how I see it. Maybe I will one day - who knows. But don't hold your breath possums! I'm going really well without wasting a second on forgiveness and I don't see any reason why I would ever change that view. In fact, I hope I don't.

There! Rant over. I feel soooooo much better now. \:\)

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#165171 - 07/06/07 08:55 PM Re: Post on forgiveness (from Male Survivor forum) [Re: roadrunner]
indygal Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/06
Posts: 439
Originally Posted By: roadrunner
One thing that just sticks in my craw is this screwed-up idea that if I'm a good person I should be able to just wave off the fact that the abuser started on me when I was 10 and raped, humiliated and shamed me for five years, the last year together with my best friend in all the world.


i only spoke in this thread of whom i have forgiven; i never mentioned those whom i have not.

sometimes i even think it is a righteous act to hold on to our right NOT to forgive - it keeps us strong, even past the anger. we are acknowledging our RIGHT not to forgive; we are no longer the victim but the survivor.

i know people think they mean well but sometimes i believe others want us to forgive because they want what we went through to be over, to be in the past and forgotten - in their minds, whether or not it is in ours. i think sometimes these same individuals have difficulty accepting just how terrible some acts really are and how much damage can be done - especially if it was by a member of your own family.

i also believe a lot of guilt is involved, about not having done anything when asked for help (not believing, etc.), or having failed to act in the past (not becoming involved for whatever reason) - that if they knew the survivor at the time - the survivor's act of forgiving the abuser also extends to forgiving the person also for not having acted appropriately by stepping forward and extending help.

if that person wasn't around at the time it can also come from an event in their own past they are somehow recalling, either consciously or unconsciously - they want to know they are forgiven even if no effort on their part has ever been made to seek forgiveness. this is a kind of arrogance, as i see it, brought about partly through organized religion's concept that no matter what you do in life, you will be forgiven if you just ask god - meaning what? you don't have to face the person you turned away from when you could have helped them? huh?

forgiveness is such a personal issue - which makes it a right, your right, my right - and we all have the right NOT to fogive, if that's what we want. relinquishing that right too soon to make someone else feel better is doing something for them, not us, and therefore one should make sure if one decides to forgive, it is what you want and if you don't, then others need to accept it.

indy

_________________________
my avatar is one of the Battle Angel characters, fighting the good fight.

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