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Survivors of Abuse - Seek First the Truth  

forgivenessWhen it comes to abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, neglect), especially for adults who are dealing with past issues of abuse, society, for the most part is doing them a disservice by expecting or even demanding that they forgive. Making forgiveness a priority or putting some kind of deadline on it is unreasonable and at times, destructive. When it comes to forgiveness and child abuse, society for the most part, has it wrong. And it wouldn't be the first time.

For those who have a wounded inner child from abuse, responsibility has to go somewhere - either within or without. Someone has got to be responsible. Tragically, many blame themselves. So, shifting the responsibility is very, very important.

When you forgive your parent(s), or think you forgive them, it halts your ability to release pent up emotions such as rage, grief, fear, and shame, dead in its tracks. How do you acknowledge, for example, your anger, at a parent (or another) whom you've already forgiven? You may acknowledge in your mind or say to your parents (or whoever) directly that you forgive them, but in the end you may end up hating yourself all the more. Forgiveness may be appropriate only when parents do something to earn it. However, almost all will deny the severity of it to the grave.

Parents are responsbible for the abuse they have perpetrated (either intentional or unintentional) against there children. They are also responsible for the abuse a child has endured at the hands of siblings as well. Good intentions on the parent's part is irrelevant. And it doesn't matter if they were just doing what was done to them. The buck stops here - with each one of us. Just because they were unable or unwilling to deal with their own issues, doesn't get them off the hook. As aforesaid, someone has got to be responsible (whether living or deceased). If we don't place the blame where it belongs, we will blame ourselves!!! And haven't we been through enough already?

The five year old little girl or boy inside of you expects someone to be held accountable. This child, the inner child, the one that never goes away, is expecting the adult to rescue that little child as well. He or she is out there all alone, scared, broken-hearted, lonely, and... ANGRY! The anger is often rage and it has got to be directed in the right direction - towards the perpetrators (symbollically), and NOT projected onto our wives, children, friends, co-workers, store clerks etc, etc. If you don't know who you are angry at, the anger will go to the easiest target - your wife, children, co-workers.... So, you need to know the truth. And know this: if you haven't discovered the whole truth, felt all the emotions, gone through all the heart-wrenching pain of drudging it all up again and again, wrestled it on the floor and then got up and did it all over again and again over the course of sometimes, years, then your probably not ready to forgive. Not many people can do this because it involves a lot of pain. And in many instances, forgiveness is not even attainable, nor under our control, even though many have already have said "I forgive", or, are willing to forgive.

The first step in healing our inner child is to eliminate our addictions. That means no alcohol whatsoever (because even occasional drinking can keep the problem drinker in a fog), no drugs, no pornography.... etc.

"O my Master, You see very well that I feel no love for them, and that troubles me." Jesus answered, It is not always within your power to control your feelings." (Our Lord Jesus to Sr. Faustina- Diary, 1628)

There is something that is more important than forgiveness in this life. Truth is always more important than forgiveness because without truth you can never get to forgiveness. If you don't know the whole truth, you won't know what you are actually forgiving. Without truth, you are living a lie, each and every day.

The false self, which is the antithesis of truth, cannot fully connect with God. So, if someone who has a traumatized inner child were to forgive before they were ready to, it would set them back even further and amplify their false self, who, already lacks self-awareness. When we connect with our inner child and his/her true feelings, we connect with truth. Someone who has integrated their inner child can much more easily connect with God. If someone has, for example, issues with their earthly father, it makes it very hard for them to connect with their Heavenly Father. They may not trust God. The inner child leads us to truth, he/she leads us to God. Truth is God; God is truth. The nature of God is truth, no matter how ugly truth is.

"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3-4 N.A.B.)

It is possible for God to take away your pain and bring you to forgiveness. But that would be too easy, and we wouldn't learn. Pain is sometimes necessary and can be transformative. If you pray for the truth, you will often get it - over time. That makes much more sense to pray for.

Healing, especially in the beginning (of inner child work), is not about forgiveness. It is going to, at times, feel more like an exorcism... because you got demons. Where there's smoke, there's fire, because the abuse that someone has actually received, is always MUCH worse than what they remember. ALWAYS!

Our society says: "just forgive, let it go". But when it comes to abuse and inner child issues, forgiveness always takes a back seat to truth. It is not even on the table initially.

We're not saying you should never work towards forgiveness. What we are saying is that forgiveness is not the goal - truth is. And then, if you know the truth, and the whole truth (because memories often get blocked), you might be able to forgive. But remember, forgiveness is not always in your control because you can't always control your feelings. Our Lord even said this to Sister Faustina (now Saint Faustina).

Forgiveness may be easier if the abuser apologizes, allocutes or comes clean to you about what they did and that they are truly sorry. But don't hold your breath waiting for a parent, sibling or any other person to do this. Most of the time, these people are unrepentent, still dangerous and not fit to be around.

Enmeshment with our parents in these cases is often a problem, so we need to distance ourselves from them and break off contact completely and indefinitely. Many survivors of abuse are not able to do this, which is why they will never recover. Many are too willing to forgive and not to place blame where it belongs, or to feel the pain, which is also why they won't recover. Forgiveness has nothing to do with proximity. You can forgive (if your able) and still never have to be near them again. Your inner child is in your care now, and you should be doing everything in your power to protect that vulnerable little child.

And does it matter if the abuser hasn't thought about you in 10, 20, 30 or even 50 years? No, it doesn't matter. You still have a 5 year child inside of you that never goes away, and he or she is expecting you to discover the truth, which requires you to feel all those feelings, and think all those thoughts (which you didn't feel or think) at the time of abuse. And since that little child expects you to uncover the truth, you will have to change all those faulty beliefs you had about your child that you are shameful, guilty, bad, ugly, responsbile for abuse inflicted on you, etc..... But in all pain buried down there, there is also joy to be found. It's not all pain.

You need to feel all the feelings of that lonely, broken-hearted child, including the anger of having been treated that way, and the grief which includes mourning the loss of your childhood and any missed opportunities because of it. But you have to think your way out of it as well and change all those lies they said about you, that you were useless, unloveable, worthless, ugly etc.

All emotions come from the inner child; it is up to you, the adult to reason with compassion, empathy and truth with the child.


Q - The past is the past, shouldn't I just forget about it and move on?
A - When it comes to the inner child, it doesn't matter if you are 28 or 108, the inner child is still inside you and looking for love, attention and protection. The concept of time is of no issue. The child is still waiting for you to reclaim her. And you're probably doing everything you can to avoid feeling the pain. Even suicide is a common outcome to unresolved inner child issues.

Q - But isn't forgiveness a gift I give to myself?
A - If you listen to your inner child, you will know when it is time to forgive. Truth is more important. It takes strength, courage and faith to face the truth. Truth is the gift you give yourself so that you will be healed and liberated and your inner child and your adult will be integrated.

Q - I'm a Christian, so what about the 4th commandment, Honor your father and your mother?
A - Did they honor you with their abuse? How do you honor the untrustwothy, the dishonorable? Have they admitted all the wrongdoings and feel true, genuine remorse? Even if they did, it would still be hard to honor them, and forgive them. Maybe you can, maybe you can't. Pray and listen to your inner child.

*This is important - It is better to let go of your pent up emotions and thoughts symbollically (role play with someone or through your imagination). You should not confront your abusers.

Q - The Father Effect movie said I should forgive.
A - It was a good documentary until they mentioned forgiveness. The Father Effect requires that you forgive. Wow! So, in the end, The Father Effect's message could be destructive. It tells those wounded warriors who survived all those years what they really want to hear. Forgive and it will be all better. But no, it won't be better, it could be much, much worse for many of those people. Forgiveness is the easy way out. It prevents us from having to do the hard work of dealing with the pain. And is it painful! That is why the rewards are so great for dealing with the pain and having to go through the long, arduous process of healing by dealing with all those memories which bring up shame, guilt, rage and mourning, as well as changing faulty core beliefs rammed into us by others. It might be counterintuitive in regards to forgiveness and our Christian faith, but when it comes to the inner child, the right option and the brave option is to take the narrow road, the one less travelled, which is not paved in gold, nor is it easy.

Even if you have gone through the painful process of recovering your inner child (so-called original pain work) and it has been many years, and you feel like you may forgive, it may not entail reconciliation. If being with the person(s) diminishes you, then contact would be harmful to you and your inner child. Your inner child is in your protection.

A lot of therapists, and society in general, will invalidate you. The person who is dealing with their own wounded inner child, and especially those at the beginning of this long and painful journey of healing, need validation like the desert needs the rain. Unfortunately, many of them (therapists) will not be forthcoming with validation (they may even invalidate you), even though validation is so desperately needed. Some therapists have crazy misconceptions about validation, such as that it might make perpetual victims out of us. But to not give validation is cruel and wreckless. If you are someone who is going through this process and are not being validated, then you're not getting what you need. Validation is the most important thing a therapist can do for the abused person. Some people have been waiting decades for someone to validate their pain! Some wonder if they are going crazy, or if they just dreamed this. They wonder if the abuse really happened. It can be a very confusing time, so trust and validation of what is going on from the therapist, especially in the beginning awareness of the abuse, is vital.
Some therapists might be scared to place the blame on their patient's parents or another for fear of reprisal. These cowards may even defend the actions of the abusers! They may also call you "sensitive", meaning you are being "over-sensitive" about your abuse, as if it were your fault you got abused in the first place. Wow!  What a way to invalidate someone! Yeah, sure, you may be sensitive now, but that's what sometimes happens when you've been abused!
Quite often, therapists are insensitive and/or too ignorant and don't understand that validation is the best medicine in this situation. Try to find one that will validate you and will help you heal your inner child with sympathy, compassion and understanding. My observation is that counsellors, as opposed to therapists, seem to be more knowledgeable these days in regards to the inner child. They are actually cheaper than some of their "more educated" counterparts too. At least that is my observation in this part of the world. And as far as pyschiatrists go, they normally want to treat with meds. It may be best that the inner child is not numbed-out by drugs for this type of work.
But can you imagine, paying $175 or more an hour and getting invalidated!!! It is the proverbial - last straw! How infuriating!

The ideal counsellor, in my opinion, is the Christ-centred grief counsellor who is knowledgeable about the inner child, who advocates for you, and who continually validates you with tender loving empathy, and understands that the rage one may feel, must be let out and directed to the proper source - symbollically of course.

Society, which is generally unsympathetic and unempathetic, doesn't understand the process when it comes to the inner child and abuse. So they immediately and erroneously believe that forgiveness is the right thing in all situations. It is the easiest way to deal with it, but it can be destructive. Forgiveness is another way to invalidate your pain. And the inner child won't like that.

Inner child work takes many years, and is hard and painful, which is why many cannot do it or sustain it. Saying you forgive or that you want to forgive, stops the healing process in its tracks. Is it any wonder that we try to sooth ourselves with food, sex, pornography, alcohol, drugs, fetishes, instead of dealing with the pain?

A way to soothe yourself is to pay attention, llisten and respond to your inner child... to allow the child to express the pain. Afterward, you validate and comfort your child. 

Forgiveness. It is a lofty goal for those who have been abused. But you've got to do the hard work first before you can even consider it. It is not your goal - TRUTH is your goal, no matter how ugly that truth is.

It is comforting to know that we have a Heavenly Father; a brother and Saviour in our Lord Jesus Christ; the Love of the Holy Spirit; and a mother in the Blessed Virgin Mary; and the Communion of Saints. It is also reassuring to know that our true home is not down here in this valley of tears, but in Heaven with our true Father - our Heavenly Father who called forth you by name. They are your family.

And if or when you have your own family, it would be beneficial to use Mary your mother and Joseph as role models.

God Bless,

By Monica Ward




The information and views contained in this site are the opinions of Mind Body Soul Christian Wellness staff and  should not be a substitute for professional help for any serious legal, medical, psychiatric, financial, or any other problem.  Always consult a lawyer, physician, psychiatrist, mental health professional or other professional first for evaluation. Never delay seeking professional treatment or advice because of anything you may have read from this book or on this site!  For urgent matters call 911 immediately!


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