The Forgiveness Myth Refuses to Go Away

There is no “right” way for people to recover from trauma. What works for some survivors may be disastrous for others, and the last thing they need is outsiders judging their behaviour as sufficiently victim-worthy.

This is what made me initially reticent to make any public comments about the recent media frenzy surrounding Thordis Elva, the rape survivor who co-wrote a book and is currently on a worldwide speaking tour with her rapist.

At some point, however, the entire circus stopped being about her journey and became another example of the the pressure society places on certain victims to incorporate “forgiveness” into their healing strategy.

Forgiveness is not a prerequisite for healing. A survivor who harbours resentment or anger or even loathing for the ones who harmed them is not morally defective, nor is it a reflection of whether they have adequately “dealt” with their abuse.

Nonetheless, the forgiveness narrative refuses to go away.