Forgiving Your Abuser

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Forgiveness: a concept that is much easier taught than applied. I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, and my heart is full of hurt, anger, betrayal, sadness, and pain. How do I forgive my abuser after all he’s put me through? I am religious, Christian, and I’ve been taught my whole life that to become more like Christ, we need to forgive others, like He forgives us. This just seems so impossible. Even if you are not religious, forgiveness is a principle that should be applied, because forgiving your abuser will help you on your path to healing. In no way am I saying you should forget what happened, or minimize his/hers actions, but to forgive and try your hardest to move on.

The one major source of hurt that my heart and mind keep going back to is the day I gave birth to my child. The whole experience in the hospital was far from what I anticipated. DVP just wasn’t as supportive as I thought he would be. Yes, he abused me while I was pregnant, but I had hoped that, maybe, just maybe, the day of her birth would change his perspective.

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That morning, I was being induced, so I was told to be at the hospital at 0600. DVP had complained beforehand about how early it was and asked me if I could reschedule to a later time, which of course, I couldn’t. So, to avoid a fight or feeling more stressed than I already was, I asked my mom to drive me to the hospital. DVP didn’t even seem to care. I hoped he would step in and offer to drive me, as my husband and father to this child, but he was content with letting my mom get up to drive me while he slept in.

A few days before I was induced, DVP complained about having to stay in the hospital for three days. Our midwife had told us that there was a possibility of only two days, so he told me that we were going to leave at two days, not three because he just “wanted to be in our own home with our baby”, when in reality, it was because he wanted to be able to play video games and smoke marijuana. When I told him I wanted to take advantage of three days of recovery in the hospital with nurses that could help me, he said I didn’t need it. So, before DVP arrived, I had to tell my midwife that I was concerned that DVP would try and convince me to leave after only two days of recovery. I asked her to tell him that I must stay for three days. I was embarrassed that I had to do this!

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When he did finally arrive, he showed up in his pajamas. Maybe I’m a little picky about this, but I was irritated that he couldn’t put on decent clothes. We were going to have visitors all day and I didn’t want him looking like a bum. So I asked him to go change, and he and his mom argued the whole way home. Not sure of what, but I could already tell that DVP was on edge that day, and the argument was most likely his fault.

The whole time I was in labor, he just laid on the couch next to the bed, leaving uncomfortable chairs for his mother and mine. Yes, he was the father and should be on the couch closest to my bed, but I was irritated that he lounged around and took up most of the seating, by laying when he could have sat and opened up more room on the couch, while our visitors, our closest family members, had either no where to sit or sat in uncomfortable seats. My mom waited on me hand and foot, and he did nothing. He complained about what we were watching, started debates with his mother which ended in lots of tension or her leaving the room for a while to calm down. Later, the nurses and my midwife would tell me that they noticed he was acting like a jerk and was surprised at his behavior.

He did hold my hand during the delivery, and was happy to hold my daughter after she was born. He isn’t completely awful. But, his behavior in the recovery room is what is appalling. We were lucky to have a bigger room, a room that the nurses explained are usually reserved for hospital staff who are recovering from childbirth. DVP got his very own, twin-sized bed that folds out from a couch. Immediately, after getting settled in the room, he unfolded the bed and laid under the covers, even when we had visitors. He wouldn’t turn down the television when visitors came, and made no effort to visit with them. When we were picking a movie to watch, I wanted to watch one thing, and he wanted to watch a comedy that I really didn’t like, but he put on his choice instead of mine.

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I had asked him to close the blinds so I could sleep and he said no. Outright refused to get up out of bed to help me out. I slowly and painfully got out of my bed to close the blinds and then of course, he got mad at me for not being patient, like he had just “forgotten” that he just told me he wouldn’t do it. Later, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and as I was eating, for the first time since before having my baby, took it, ignoring my protests, and took a huge bite, which was most of the small sandwich. When I voiced that it upset me, he said that he was much hungrier than me and is a bigger guy so he needs to eat more. Didn’t I just go through this incredibly exhausting experience of giving birth? I guess it didn’t matter to him. I have to mention, too, that this happened in front of my mother. She was appalled. He used to be very careful of what he let other people see of his true nature, but he just didn’t care.

The third day, when I was to be released,  I asked him to pick up our things so we could be ready to leave while I showered. When I got out, he hadn’t done anything. He was holding our baby, so I tried not to be irritated, and was hopeful that this was a sign that he cared about being her father. As I was picking up our things, he started bad-mouthing my home state because he just hated living here. He was telling her about all the things she wouldn’t be able to experience because we didn’t live in Big City. This was a constant argument between us. She obviously couldn’t understand a word he was saying and I knew he was saying it to get to me. Having little patience and being exhausted from childbirth, I sternly said, “Stop”, and he lost it.

He went on a rant, telling me I had no right to tell him what he could or couldn’t say to his daughter. He was getting really angry, and was yelling at me, in a raised voice, in the hospital room. I begged him to stop so nobody would hear, and he said he didn’t care. As he got more angry, he told me to jump out the window, to put my head in the toilet to drown myself, that he wouldn’t care if I died, that if I said anything to anyone, he’d take my daughter away from me. If I tried to say anything, he would tell me to shut up. I was so hurt. I had just had our daughter, and he was treating me like this?

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He got so mad, that he threw a hand sanitizer bottle at my belly. This whole time, he was holding my daughter. I was worried about him intentionally or unintentionally harming her, so I walked over to him, with my hands outstretched and calmly asked him to give her to me. I didn’t yell, raise my voice, nothing, in fear that he could hurt her if I did. He said no, and grabbed my left palm and dug his fingernails into me as hard as he could. Shocked, I went to my bed and grabbed a towel to wrap on my bleeding hand. It was bleeding more than I expected, and I didn’t know what to do.

At this time, the nurse walked in and saw me crying, holding my injured hand. She asked me what happened, so I told her, and she took my daughter, called security, and wrapped my injured hand in gauze. It doesn’t sound like the injury would be that bad, but he dug his nails so deep that I had scars there for an entire month after it happened. The nurse helped me move to a different room, for my security, and DVP was kicked out of the hospital. As they cleaned out my room, they found a marijuana pipe. He had been sneaking out to smoke, and I had no idea!

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Because they found the marijuana, they had to call the police, so I made my second DV report on him. My mom was on her way to come pick me up. While I sat in my new room, alone with my new baby, I sobbed my heart out. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. All I wanted was this fairytale, normal experience of going home with my new child and enjoying my maternity leave with my husband. But all of that was ruined. I knew, at that moment, that I was going to have to divorce him, though it took me two weeks to make that decision final.

I went home with my newborn to my parents and slept on the couch. I have never felt so broken. I hope to never feel this kind of pain again. I can’t find words to describe the hurt I felt. I wish more than anything that I wasn’t getting a divorce and that my daughter could have two parents to love her everyday. Unfortunately, because of my abuser’s choices, I had to do what is best for the safety and welfare of myself and my daughter. He couldn’t even make it without abusing me until we left the hospital. What would he have done with the new, added stress of being a new parent? I am glad I never have to find out.

After all that I have been through, which I still haven’t written all out, I sometimes feel like he doesn’t deserve my forgiveness. He hurt me in the hospital, recovering from childbirth. He almost killed me and my daughter while I was pregnant. Nevertheless, I still have moments where I want to go back to him. Other moments I despise him. It’s a vicious cycle that I go through almost daily. When I look at my sweet daughter’s face, I am reminded that I made the right choice. She will never remember the hurt, the yelling, the abuse, because I left while she was only three days old.

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So, how do I forgive him? It’s not easy, and it’s a daily struggle. I’ve realized, though, that the more I hold on to the pain, the longer it takes for me to feel at peace with myself. He doesn’t deserve one more thought from me of him. He doesn’t deserve to cause one more moment of unhappiness on his behalf. I deserve to be happy. How will I ever find happiness if I never forgive myself or him for what I’ve endured?

1- Go through the process of grief. You need to follow this through, before you can learn to forgive. Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. See this article here for descriptions: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/.

2- Forgive yourself. This is important. Remember that everything you experienced was/is not your fault. You are not to blame for his actions. Tell yourself that you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be loved, you deserve to feel peace.

3- Let go of the past. Easier said than done. But, if you can let go, your future will much better, more hopeful, much happier. Don’t let him have any more control over your life than he already has.

There are many more things you can do, and so many articles about forgiveness that I encourage you to seek out. I could spend a lot of time covering this, but this post is already pretty long. Just remember, that it is in your best interest, whether he forgives you or not, or even cares, he doesn’t even have to know, to forgive him and to move on.

I truly believe that God, or Karma, whatever you believe in, will hold him accountable for his actions, even if justice fails, or even if justice is served. Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”. We are strong for standing up for ourselves and putting an end to abuse! We are not weak! I know it’s hard, but forgiving your abuser will help you find inner peace, and help you move on. Not doing so will just keep all that anger and hurt inside for a long time, and can make you more bitter and miserable. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, that’s okay. It takes time. But, I highly encourage you to try!

Amanda

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34 thoughts on “Forgiving Your Abuser

  1. I am just outraged reading this. Everybody speaks about forgiveness. I don’t buy it…I will NEVER forgive my abusive ex. Some psychologists say it is not necessary to forgive to heal.
    I am just shaking, reading about this animal…and yes, he is an animal. I thought my experience with my first, second, third and fourth child was pretty bad. I guess it just shows you that no matter how bad things were for you, somebody, somewhere has had it far worse.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I have heard that too, and there days where I don’t buy it either. I think it will take a long time to forgive him, but I’m going to try. I think it’s perfectly fine if you and others don’t feel they can forgive. It’s hard!! Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Some people don’t deserve forgiveness…especially the ones who feel entitled and believe they have done nothing wrong. They just leave others to try to heal after having suffered their complete and utter destruction of our souls.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Reading this made my heart churn in pain. We always believe that our conditions are bad, until we hear about some one else, whose pain might be considerably much more! I have myself been lucky enough not to have faced this, but I have seen many, heard so many that I can feel that pain. But still cannot measure the intensity of pain!
    May Almighty’s peace and blessings be upon you all! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a big opinion on forgiveness, but I understand that it is my opinion. I even wrote a post about it. Do what feels right for you. No one should ever judge you for how you think, feel and move on from your abuser. Thank You for being so brave and continuing this conversation. Take good care.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I could swear they take classes for this crap. Like they pull them aside and teach them exactly how to be an abuser. It’s all the same. I feel your pain. My DVP was escorted out of the hospital they day I gave birth too. I had to get a ride home. What is wrong with these people? I don’t see forgiveness as some kind of actual “hey It’s ok that you did this”, I see forgiveness as me forgiving myself, not him/them. I’m sorry you went through that, its a helpless terrifying experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That….was painful to read. To think that a father could treat his child’s mother that way, could treat his wife that way, that could be so self-absorbed. That must have been difficult to write, much less to live through.
    I’m not sure I have any good response on forgiveness. I know that I pray for it for two people in my life, and know it will be a difficult path. Time helps, prayer helps, growth helps. Perhaps as time goes on and that wound is less fresh, and you can see the positive parts of your child’s birth, you can let go of the evil he did. I hope you can 🙂 I hope I can :/
    And…while I’m sure you’ve heard it before…resentment is taking poison hoping the other person dies. Yeah, a bit trite and I know it. But it’s another tool to use because each day you need a tool to fight it, and it’s not always the same tool day after day.
    Hang tough. And love

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Forgiveness is really a gift we give ourselves, otherwise we remain chained to those who abused us. I believe it takes time, it’s a process. Sometimes we need to make the decision daily to forgive. Remember, forgiveness is NOT the same as reconciliation! Reconciliation should only happen if the abuser shows true contrition and a commitment to change over a long period of time. We can also forgive and choose never to see or speak to an abuser again.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Very affecting piece of writing, thanks … I was struck by the phrase ‘he wasn’t completely awful’. Nobody is, of course – the Nazis liked Bach and loved their children – but it is possible to make too many allowances for people when you have a philosophy that one must suffer. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like your perspectives on forgiveness.

    Being able to do what you did took a lot of guts and strength. My best friend took several months to end a non-abusive marriage, and he was torn up about it. With all you had to endure – especially with having a new child as well – that’s pretty awesome. I wish you all the best in your efforts to forgive and move on from this terrible ordeal.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m so sorry to hear that the day of your child’s birth was not at all what you hoped it would be. Your ex behaved in a selfish and horrible way. Many, many people dream of being blessed with a child and he just threw that away.

    You and your daughter will be much better off without him. Of course parents want their children to grow up with 2 primary caregivers and as many people to love them as possible. But even just one good, loving caregiver is worlds better than an abusive one.

    Speaking from experience, forgiveness really is the hardest part! But remaining sad, angry, butter and dwelling on the past does not hurt your abuser. It only hurts you. I do feel true forgiveness is only possible for those who ask. However, forgiveness in the sense of letting go and moving on is necessary for a full, happy life.

    Reading your entries is always difficult but always helpful. Thank you again for bravely sharing your experiences. I’m happy to see your blog gaining a following. I wish you and your daughter all the best things.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How dreadful for you to go through this ordeal on such a special day too. You are right to have left him, you could never trust him, and you are strong enough to forgive even if it takes time. Leave him out of your life all the same. Good luck to you and your little girl. x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reading this it seems that not being able to forgive for a very long time would be the most healthy reaction. Forgiveness should never be an excuse for others to continue with abusive behaviour and yet we must take steps to love ourselves by no longer subjecting ourselves to this kind of pain. I do understand though keeping an attitude of anger and hate can leave us in pain and very far from peace. It is an individual journey for each person and there are no rules. Everything inside me was saying loudly while I read this you deserve so much better than this and praying forgiveness did not come at any cost to your emotional recovery and the safety of your daughter.

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  12. I am so sorry that you experienced such abuse. I am asking God to show me how to forgive people in my life as well. It’s a very difficult thing to do but I believe we both will be healed and able to forgive one day! Many blessings to you and your daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Forgiveness is a hard thing to achieve. Maybe it starts with acceptance and also big and long cycle of anger and sadness.
    You found the strength to protect yourself and your daughter.

    Thank you so much for what you’re doing. It’s extremely important.

    All my thoughts are with you.
    You’re strong and beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve been emotionally abused by my mother. I’m reminded that the shoe finally dropped when we had to take extreme precautions to prevent her from even knowing what hospital I was going to our even that I was in labor. She still hasn’t seen my precious daughter and she’s two months old. When suddenly your not fighting for your self anymore but for your baby, it’s somehow easier. I’m still in the process of breaking it off with her but she’s my mom.

    That said, I’ve long been taught that forgiveness doesn’t by any means make what they did “ok”, forgiveness means that you will not seek revenge against them. Thats all. Boundaries is not revenge, it’s self protection, calling the police and following the Justice system is not revenge, it’s the law and again self protection. When you forgive someone, it simply means you release them from your revenge, and give them to God to deal with.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I left my abuser 10 years ago. My youngest son was only 5 months old at the time. It took me a long time to heal. They destroy who you are and make you feel worthless. I spent a long time hating him and feeling angry. I allowed him to see his children, spending my own money for the first 3 years. Then, devastatingly he hurt my children. This is the one thing that I will NEVER be able to forgive. I can forgive the abuse put upon me but any ‘man’ that hurts a child does not deserve forgiveness.
    I think you are amazing and strong. I am glad that you are on the road to recovery. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think this is a great post. While I don’t think I will ever reach the point of forgiving my rapist (I know people do, and victims of other abuse do as well, I just can’t understand how…at least not now) I realize that I need to forgive myself.
    I think that those who do forgive their abuser(s) are truly at peace. I think that is amazing and I don’t know how they do it. But I am also at the point where I can’t even forgive myself… for not calling the police, or going to the ER, or for drinking so much that night, or for not doing anything while it was happening (but I was so out of it).
    I agree with you that forgiveness is not for the abuser, it is for the victim/survivor.
    Again, I really love this post.
    💖
    You are very strong and very wise.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. From what you say, your ex is an immature little boy in pajamas puffing on a marijuana pipe. I’m glad you gave him the flick. As for forgiving him…..well you are far more noble than me. I’d rather kick him in the you-know-where and tell him to go fluff himself. Your way may put a halo around your head but I think it would be far more edifying for you to move on and leave him to wallow in his immaturity. Forgive him……this kid has too much growing up to do for you and your child to waste time hoping he’d turn into a Mother Theresa.

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  18. Why do we have to forgive, if you cant forgive after a number of years just put your energys into something else just move on with your life and forget about him he was a douch bag and i think your strong for what you went through x

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