Societal mandates assert that loss is accompanied by a conventional paradigm of grief, replete with ceremonial rituals and a finite process of mourning. Yet when the loss pertains to more intangible sources of grief such as prolonged abuse and trauma, one size does not fit all.
Adult survivors of child abuse, beset by complex post-traumatic stress disorder often grapple with persistent complicated bereavement disorder. They are plagued by persistent yearnings for the love and normalcy they never had. They are weighed down by innumerable intangible losses such as safety, dignity, belonging and a cohesive sense of self.
Family as Sacrosanct
For adult survivors of chronic child abuse the notion of ‘family as sacrosanct’ is a principle that fosters confusion, alienation, shame and outrage. Within the context of familial sacredness doctrines are explicit. Love thy mother and father and honor their function and authority.
However, when that mother or father robbed that child of his/her birthright, their innocence, their childhood, even their Self, who gets to determine how that child should ‘appropriately’ respond to sundry losses or the most glaringly pivotal loss of a parent’s passing? How is the survivor to measure up to a proclamation that has no bearing on her history or her reality?
Anecdotal forgiveness seems to be the standard advice handed out to survivors of abuse. Survivors are advised to offer absolution to the abusive parent regardless of whether the abuser has attempted any sort of restitution. Ostensibly, this will set the abuse survivor free and concomitantly confer them the designation of good son/daughter. With religious zeal, this approach is considered a crowning achievement.
As you can see from everything written in this article http://pro.psychcentral.com/complicated-bereavement-for-adult-survivors-of-abuse/0011089.html# asking someone to forgive their abusive parent, is like throwing salt into an already extremely painful wound, especially when that parent never apologised or felt remorse.
Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Dr. Judith Herman, refers to the aforementioned construct as the forgiveness fantasy. Dr. Herman states:
“Forgiveness is a relational process. “‘I forgive you’ is the response to a heartfelt apology and request for forgiveness. If the apology is never made, the process of forgiveness cannot take place. And “genuine contrition in a perpetrator is a rare miracle.”
I completely agree with Dr Herman’s words!
Those of you who feel that you have to forgive, don’t!
Inspired by https://bodyelectricweb.wordpress.com/ on expressing anger and the topic of forgiveness. If I were her, I don’t think a perpetrator deserves forgiveness if there is no remorse.