Jaime,

I hear your anger and frustration, and I share much of it. Personally I'd like to see every male abuser castrated (not sure yet what to do with women who abuse children), even though I recognize that such a punishment would not necessarily address the underlying psychosis at play. But, as much as I feel that that is an appropriate punishment, I doubt very strongly that my views will carry the day in a democratic society where the innocence of the accused is an unalienalbe right.

And I think that that is how is should be. The purpose of a justice system is to allow us as a group to rise above the barbarity of "eye for an eye" thinking. If we cannot move past our personal desires for vengence then we are left to fight out endless struggles that will never find a peaceful resolution. Look at the history of Northern Ireland, Palestine, Iraq. The cycle of vengence in all these places holds bak the tide of civilzation, peace, and prosperity for all.

I understand that a necessary step in breaking the cycle of vengence is for the victim to accept the reality of the grievous harm done to them. Not accept in the sense of passively believe that they deserved it, or were too weak to protect themselves (we all know the damage this kind of thinking causes) but accept in the sense of facing and openly acknowledging the hurt and the injuries we carry, and then taking on the responsibility to do the hard work of healing.

This necessarily means that we, the victims, must shoulder a burden that is unjust, that is not of our own creation, and that hurts like hell. It sucks. It makes me angry and sad adn feelings of vengence do flash across my eyes at times. But I feel very strongly that a more powerful response than simply looking to give back the damage done to me is to stop the hurting and break the cycle of vengence. This is at the heart of forgiveness, for me. If I am strong enough to survive this long, I'm certainly strong enough to heal. And so are you, so is everyone here.

Again, let me be clear. Forgiveness is a matter between me and my abusers. There is still a system in place (imperfect though it may be) and a call to hold those who abuse us accountable. To forgive does not mean to absolve the guilty of their guilt. So long as the stain of their sins colors my soul, they will carry the weight of their crime on theirs.

_________________________
"I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self...."
Healing D.H. Lawrence