Sunday morning I read Barbara Eckhardt’s column in the U-B on forgiveness. Later that afternoon I read an article on the front page of the Portland Oregonian about a young girl who had been profoundly abused throughout her life by her parents and recently murdered by them.
None of us likes to think about such things, but sadly it is part of the realities of the human condition. I would like to share with you, some thoughts concerning abusers, the abused and forgiveness. This is what I believe:
All occasion for deliberate abuse arises from a need in the perpetrator to somehow be nourished by the mistreatment of another being.
All abuse stems from a malignant emptiness within those who choose to be abusers. This emptiness is equivalent to a black hole that consumes all it touches and cannot be filled.
Those who harbor this form of darkness must rely on their ability to take another’s sense of self in order to feel whole. Their feeling of wholeness is transient. It lasts only a short time and must be renewed on a regular basis. The constant need for renewal is what perpetuates a cycle of abuse. Those who are victimized by this cycle are often left with an extreme sense of no-self. They are imprisoned in a place within the darkness of the abuser. Escaping this prison can be difficult. A victim can leave physically and still be confined mentally and emotionally.
Finding the proper path to clarity and comprehension concerning their situation is essential to the healing that must happen in order to regain their sense of self and their sense of place in the world. When the abused has healed into the strength of who they are, it is time to do the work of forgiveness.
Forgiveness allows the abused to move into the future unburdened by the need for revenge and free of the malignancy of rage and anger. Forgiveness enables the abused to move into a world inhabited by those who are non-abusive.
The clarity and understanding gained from the healing of self opens a path out of the dangerous world of low self-esteem into a world blessed with the knowing of true self-worth. This deliverance from the vulnerability to abuse opens a door that allows the goodness that is in the world to enter and become a permanent home for those who have healed into the freedom of forgiveness.
Judy M. Williams