I wrote this post a long time ago, and I was going to save it until my story was complete, but I feel that now is the time to release it. This post explains a question I invariably receive when I tell people I am a domestic violence survivor.
People always ask, ” Have you forgiven him yet?”
Talk about the potential elephant in the room. This answer is always, emphatically, “YES.” What follows is a barrage of questions relating to how, why, when, etc…
Then I begin to explain.
As a domestic violence survivor, we have to have time to heal, as any victim of any violent crime. Part of the healing process is facing our anger, working through our pain, healing and learning to forgive.
My journey of healing began 17 years ago. Now, as you can imagine, learning to forgive my ex-husband was one of the most complicated, difficult and immensely painful things I have ever done. You may ask how I could forgive a man that did all these horrible things to me.
The explanation is simple. As a minister once told me after my domestic violence ordeal, “If you do not forgive, he keeps winning. You must learn to forgive or the hurt will eat you alive and make you hateful and bitter. Do not let the hurt change you.”
Forgiving my abuser, was the absolute hardest thing I had to do, but it had to be done, to keep me from becoming an angry, and revengeful person. Forgiveness was also extremely painful. It was painful because, to forgive him, I had to be able to forgive him for all the pain and suffering he caused me. I begged and pleaded with God, to help me find another way, to not have to forgive him.
God then made me see, that he taught us to forgive, and we should do the same.
Forgiveness was also complicated. See, I had children that were angry and hurt, and had witnessed some of the abuse. They did not understand why I was going to forgive their father for hurting me. I explained to them that just because I forgave him did not mean I forgot.
I will never forget.
I forgave their father, because he was just that, their father, and one day they would want a relationship with him, one that could be destroyed by my hurt and hate.
So, I went through the paces with my faith, my domestic violence counselors, and God, and I learned to forgive.
Forgiveness, what a powerful word. So many things are wrapped up in that one word. No wonder God wanted us to learn that word.
As I am writing this, I remember how difficult and gut-wrenching that task was. Am I sorry I forgave him? No.
Like I said before, my healing journey began 17 years ago, but that was after 10 solid years of abuse. It has not been easy, and I struggle to maintain my recovery every day. I still have bad days and good days. Every domestic violence victim is always on the road to recovery. We are always working on self-motivation, self-preservation, self-discovery, self-esteem and all those things that lead us to a better place. It takes work everyday.
Abuse leads to a victim being completely broken, exposed, completely vulnerable and leaves them open for a lifetime of having episodes when these feelings are worse than others. Therefore, recovery is a lifelong process. It is imperative that every domestic violence victim keeps working towards their recovery everyday. Forgiveness is a part of that recovery.
If you are holding on to hate and hurt, you must let it go before it destroys the life you could have. I know forgiveness is hard, but trust in God and he will show you the way.