Sunday, October 22, 2006

Forgiveness OR Repentance?

By Patricia Lefave, Labeled, D.D.(P)

The observations of ‘Gil Grissom’ (CSI)

It depends upon whether they are ‘forgiveness’ Catholics or ‘repentance’ Catholics.”

It is the ‘or’ in the sentence above that is keeping the split reality going. If you’re going to be catholic (universal) you really must be both types at the same time, and you must see that also from both sides.

We must be contrite and be forgiven for it


We must expect contrition and be prepared to offer forgiveness for it.

If we are forgiven without contrition, we tend to remain the same and to continue the same way.
If we offer unconditional forgiveness (which seems altruistic) to those without contrition, we tend to support and enable abuse. Since most abusers excuse their own abuse by blaming their victims’ perception and reaction to the abuser, this can be a ‘marriage’ made in hell. It is about boundaries but it is ALSO about that being a two way transaction.

We do not live in isolation; not really. It is an illusion that many like to promote though. We need to get out from under the enormous weight of this brainwashing. It does not matter how much time has passed since the original abuse took place. It is not any less ‘real’ with the passing of time than it was when it was happening.

Society, taught to see it all backwards, harps away at the victims to ‘let it go,’ it was ‘long time ago,’ the majority will tell the victims. They are all advised to ‘get on with (whatever is left of) their lives.’ The victims are told they must ‘forgive’ the unrepentant and ‘overlook’ the abuses done to them. Those who forgive unconditionally are often seen as saints and great heroes for doing so. Many claim we must forgive the abuser for our OWN sakes as otherwise we are offered a choice between living with resentment, OR, forgiveness of the unrepentant. Who put those two polar opposites together and decided we had to choose between them? They are said to be good people for their generous forgiveness. Often, the abuse itself is even denied to have taken place.

Well, you know what? The same amount of time that has passed for those victims who fail to ‘forgive’ their abusers has also passed for those abusers who have failed to show contrition. Yet we do not find as much fault to be found in the abusers or his/her supporter and enablers. Why not? Should we not spend at least as MUCH time harping away at the abusers and boundary violators to show contrition as we do harping away at the victims to offer forgiveness? Why we are not appalled that the aggressor never shows any contrition and why are we not focused on that, no matter how much time has passed? Why doesn’t he own his own behavior and why is society not insisting on it, even just on a verbal level? I am not even talking about anything beyond that as punishment. Punishment is a whole other matter. Why aren’t groups of people engaging in public mocking and ridiculing of the aggressor with all of the same gusto as they ridicule their victims for complaining about them? Is it because we are all so well conditioned to blame the victim for complaining abut the abuse that it has become part of our automatic response to hearing it?

Why is it so often true that we focus on having the victim ‘let go’ of the expectation of any justice or amends to be made rather than focusing on the aggressor with an expectation that he/she will accept responsibility and make those amends as he/she should be doing?

Focusing on the supposedly ‘incorrect’ perception and reactions of victims has become such a standard routine that no one even seems to notice it anymore. It has become a part of everyday language to blame the victim and overlook the behavior of the aggressor. The poor aggressor can’t help being who he is, we are told and neither can the victim help ‘believing’ he or she IS a victim. We must see it all as illusion and accept the psychiatrization of all human thought, emotion and behavior. It is for our own good they tell us. NUTS! We are told we must try to understand the aggressor and frequently that bizarrely twisted psychology is taught to the victims when they complain about the aggressor. We want to rid the world of the ‘victim mentality,’ say the experts. We all hear that every day. Does it not sound strange to your ears though when I say that we should want to rid the world of the aggressor mentality’? Think about WHY that sounds strange.

The result of this is that we have pedophiles getting television air time to ‘explain’ to the world that ‘really’ the little boys and girls they assault ‘want’ that and that it is society’s hang ups and prejudices which are preventing children from the ‘natural’ expression of their ‘love’ for adults who hold such power over them. Then the children who have their ‘real desires’ explained FOR them by their attackers are silenced and frequently sent to ‘behaviorists’ when they can’t cope with the results of it. There they are trained to change THEIR behavior to be more acceptable to society according to its terms regarding what is ‘normal.’ Once again, the victimized child gets the message; ‘it is YOU who have the perception/reaction problem and YOU who must change to be acceptable!’ What madness is this? Why do we not see this and why are we all tolerating this crap?

When this mindless society in which we now seem to be living wakes up to that and decides to switch that back around 180 degrees, we may begin to rescue the children and stop the pedophiles.

Forgiveness and contrition are two sides of the same coin. This is a two way transaction and in case like these, the focus of society should be on the contrition side as the top priority and OFF of the ‘forgiveness’ side. If the victim NEVER forgives the pedophile, so what? What the victim needs is to detach emotionally from the pedophile. Before the victim can do that though, he or she must be ‘allowed’ to FEEL his or her rage at what was done to him or her. AFTER the victim has his or her own power and self control back, in all that suggests, he or she may decide to consider the idea of forgiveness but that is a long way down the road to recovery. Until or unless the victim makes that choice, let God worry about forgiveness and stop handing the responsibility for that to the victim.

If we try changing our focus on victimization/aggression we may find we get a collective benefit for all of society for doing so. If victims get to feel their legitimate rage and actually manage to get past it, there may be a direct resulting attrition in the number of people who currently deal with their own suppressed and unresolved pain by acting it out on surrogates as the next generation of aggressors. We MUST break this cycle.

Whatever the details behind the victimization of those reading this may be: physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or verbal, it is my hope that if all of us who share the experiences, the signs, and the symbols of this trip through hell will, together, find our way back out of it. I also hope that all of those who are still going through it, right now, will get the information they need and be able to connect to others who will really help them to get all the way though it also, and back out in one piece, stronger than they ever dreamed could be possible.


LeAnne said...

Thank you for this entry. So often I've heard the you must forgive the abusers. Why? are they sorry for what they did?

Anonymous said...

Love this! More for you: