Women, especially Christian women, are often pressured to forgive their partners. I never understand the urgency around this. Sometimes I think church leaders want this to happen because they then think that everything will be “okay” and they can move on to other concerns but nothing is okay for the woman.
It seems obvious that abusive men want to feel forgiven because they want to be let off the hook. They are basically wanting to be told “What you did is okay. I can take it.” But again, nothing is okay for the woman.
I think sometimes family or friends worry that the woman will become “bitter” but I don’t think this is the case. In my experience women often seek justice and fairness and sometimes lament the pain and hurt they have endured but this is not bitterness, it is just speaking the truth.
Sometimes women pressure themselves to forgive; they feel it is the “right” thing to do. But it is not always the right thing to do. Most of the time, women need to focus on safety and planning for the future. Abuse forces a woman to focus on her partner but for her well-being, the woman needs to focus on herself and her children. Feeling pressured to forgive puts a woman’s focus back on the abuser and that is not helpful.
(This blog is part of a series on forgiveness. If you appreciate it, you might like to read the rest of the series by searching “forgiveness”.)