Acceptance/ForgivenessThe final stage of grief is the acceptance phase closely linked to forgiveness. Forgiveness of the abuser and/or the family members/care workers who failed to protect you.

This stage occurs after the victim has been through all of the other phases and has learnt about themselves in more detail. They know how to trust, they know how to believe their own feelings and they can start to work on the more positive aspects of their lives.

Generally, the victim stops blaming themselves for the abuse. They stop seeing themselves as worthless, vulnerable and helpless. They will start to respect themselves and start to show affection. The bottom line is that the abuse will become a scar and not an open wound.

Some people have a problem with forgiveness because they see it as acceptance that the abusive behaviour was acceptable or it didn’t really hurt them. Abuse is always wrong and always hurtful. Forgiveness does not mean you condone the abuser’s actions. Forgiveness allows the hurt to be in the past and doesn’t allow it into the future.

Forgiveness and grief are processes and not events. You will find that you may be in one stage for what you have lost as a child but be in the another stage for what you have lost as an adult.

You may find it useful to write a forgiveness letter to the people who abused you. Do not send it though – remember you are writing the letter to help you not them. You can also write a letter forgiving yourself for the things you did or didn’t do to survive the abuse. See our section on approaching your abuser.

When you find yourself in the acceptance or forgiveness phase you will find a true peace. You will realise that you no longer live your life around the childhood abuse but rather you live in the knowledge that you have survived.

Do I need to forgive my abuser in order to heal?

This question is always raised during the recovery process. In my opinion the only necessity as far as healing is concerned is forgiving yourself. Developing compassion and forgiveness for your abuser, or for the members of family that did not protect you, is not a required part of the healing process. It is not something to shoot for or to aim at. It is not the final goal.

This does not escape the fact that eventually you will have to reach some kind of resolution, to make peace with your past and move on, whether or not this resolution encompasses forgiveness is a personal matter. You may never reach an attitude of forgiveness, and that’s perfectly alright.

6 Responses to Acceptance/Forgiveness

  1. Amy says:

    Do i have tell the abuser that I forgive them in order to heal?

    • HAVOCA says:

      No. Forgiveness takes many forms and can be aimed at many people in the and around the abusive relationship. Personally I would never forgive my abuser – for me it provides the power over him I never had as a child. I know survivors who want to forgive their abuser so that it no longer has a hold over them. I also know survivors who just forgive themselves for any negative coping mechanisms they used in the past. So it really depends on what you ‘feel’ you need to do. I hope these pages give you some idea about the direction you’d like to take.

  2. Sebastian says:

    My question is, what if the abuser has reformed themselves and is getting on with life but is in denial about what they did to you as a child?

    This is a situation I am facing and for one thing I am glad that they have found solace in thier life but I can’t move on due to thier non admittance. I feel robbed in my childhood.

    • Stephanie T says:

      They have not reformed if they never raise what was done to you. Do you want a relationship with them or not? i recommend making that decision and writing an appropriate letter to the abuser. Express what you need to to feel better and get some resolution.

      this next thing is tougher. You may want to consider exposing your abuser if you were a child victim. Abuse thrives in silence, and your abuser, for all you know, may be secretly abusing another victim. Drag the roach into the light to protect others. Forewarned is forearmed.

      I realize this is all just my take. It may not work for or help you, and that’s fine if it doesn’t. You know your needs best

      Good luck and may you find hour peace!

  3. Stephanie T says:

    Forgiveness insults me as a victim and everybody is pushing it at me. “But it’s not for them, it’s for you!” they crow. Forgiveness would be for me if the abuser apologized and asked for it.

    That caca got started in a Chicken Soup for the Soul and now it’s CONSTANTLY shoved at victims. My family actually used it as part of the abuse – it was used to shut us up. We were bad people if we didn’t forgive, and forgiving means you “leave the past behind” and never bring it up again. This protected the abuser and everybody but the victim. It includes not going to therapy, because people who forgive do not need it.

    Folks, please don’t give the forgiveness lecture. Everybody else already did. If it works for us, we will. If it doesn’t, keep your opinion to yourself. Don’t re-victimize. PLEASE.

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