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#384561 - 02/06/12 02:40 PM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: westchesterguy]
Dar Offline

Registered: 11/15/11
Posts: 170
Loc: Missouri
Isn't an apology something ALL abusers should offer?

To me this only makes the Perp feel better about themself, Nothing to do with me feeling better.

Would a sincere apology have helped relieve you of your own misplaced shame and guilt?

No amount of words could have changed what happened or the way my childhood was rendered useless by the perps actions.

If your abuser would offer a sincere apology now that you are an adult, would it help you?

An apology NOW would seem to me like a perp was setting me up for more abuse. They will never know how their actions formed my life by taking away my childhood or the years of pain and suffering that I went through. I now that it wasnt my fault,but the pain still runs through my mind every day.

These thoughts will never leave my mind and just having to even think about seeing or hearing from one of them to ask for my forgivness is more than I ever want to do. Knowing that they might be dead now is good enough for me.

All I ever wanted was a hug.

#384573 - 02/06/12 05:12 PM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: Dar]
Shawushka Offline

Registered: 01/05/11
Posts: 128
Loc: VA
Good question. I've recently watched a documentary about four men, who were abused by clergy men. They all confronted their perpetrators (the ones who were still alive) and during confrontation told them how much damage they had done.
The reactions were different in all four cases. Perpetrators who broke down, where it turned out they'd been abused themselves, perpetrators who were aware how much damage they had done and asked for forgiveness.
There was also one, who simply exclaimed that 'they' (the clergy men of the convent, living in celibacy) also 'needed something'.

But in the end it seemed that it contributed to each of the men's healing process. Every single one of them worked towards forgiving his perpetrators.
I was very impressed, cause I'm not sure if I could do that.

It's very noble and attests a great character, but when I read the stories of survivors here I wouldn't blame anyone who's not able to forgive nor wants an apology.

I wonder if we have any professionals here who can tell if forgiving/accepting an apology is part of the healing process?

#384580 - 02/06/12 05:56 PM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: Shawushka]
Anthony39 Offline

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 345
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Most perpetrators are narcissists, they only see things one way. There is no empathy. When they feel sorry, they feel sorry for themselves not for the victim. Or they are sorry they get caught, and will apologize in court to show some pretence of remorse to get a lighter sentence.
If the perpetrator puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, I might consider that as a form of apology.
I don't believe they can be fixed, at least not yet, there is no therapy that can help suppress that, not that they are willing to either.Even rapists who were chemically castrated upgraded to killing, because it was not about sex, it was about overpowering.
Thats my view, at the moment, in time maybe i will see it differently.
It is entirely up to the individual how he wants to deal with his perpetrator. I should be his choice at all time.

Look up and not down; look forward and not back; look out and not in; and lend a hand.
E. E. Hale

#384583 - 02/06/12 06:56 PM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: Anthony39]
gjonbos Offline

Registered: 09/23/11
Posts: 49
Loc: MA

A tearful apology (there is no question it would be) would only be for his benefit. To absolve him of whatever shame and guilt he might feel about having been "caught" and called out for what he did. My perp is a skilled manipulator, I remember this quality from even before the abuse started. Those skills would come out in full force in an attempt to extinguish all the bad that will inevitably unfold if the truth were told. So I am struggling to see the benefit for me in that.
I also think it would just refresh his memory of everything, potentially another benefit for him. Maybe I am naive in thinking he doesn't think about it, but putting him in a position to apologize would really bring it to the forefront.
I can't imagine his sorry would magically rebuild whatever self confidence and self esteem I had for myself before all of this. I don't think a sorry would cure the struggles I have with the intimacy I share with my fiance. Of course I'm so sure that his sorry isn't the answer to fixing all of that hurt, I'd put money on it..... yet I'm still trying to figure out what is the answer to those problems.
Just my take on it. Everyone's feelings on this will be unique and I am sure there will be gentlemen here who will find value and healing in an apology.

"Place your past into a book
Put in everything you ever took
Place your past into a book
Burn the pages let them cook"

#384591 - 02/06/12 08:18 PM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: Shawushka]
westchesterguy Offline

Registered: 11/14/09
Posts: 421
Loc: Westchester County NY
Originally Posted By: Shawushka
...Every single one of them worked towards forgiving his perpetrators...

i understand how (many, some, few) guys arrive at that point. time and place could very well play an important role too.

perfect example: "going through recovery right this moment" is newsworthy... and, in this case, was worthy of documenting on film.

i also think "forgiving" is a positive, healthy trait. i don't even put any "but"s on that claim. i ask for some of us, especially where violence was involved, should we put pressure on ourselves to forgive? can we be compared with a guy who did consider his molester his best bud and was molested in, say for all intents an purposes, an enjoyable experience sexually that was in no way violent? i don't know, just asking.

for all my 48 years of living, i can think of just two men i have not and do not intend to forgive. one was my rapist and 22 years later, one was a president. the thousands (literally) of other men and women in my life who have touched it in negative, even harmful way - hey - no biggie. forgiven, forgotten, finished.


#384604 - 02/06/12 11:24 PM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: westchesterguy]
Shawushka Offline

Registered: 01/05/11
Posts: 128
Loc: VA
westchesterguy, you make some really good point.
Maybe 'forgiving' can also have different definitions? I'm having some difficulties to explain what I mean here, but I'll try.
Let's say there's a good friend of mine who offended me, I can forgive and welcome the person back into my life.
If someone has done something extremely horrible, I may not be able to welcome that person back into my life but can forgive, defining it as 'I understand your motives and why you did that' - which would just enable me to move on, recover and not waste my energy on having a grudge.

Whatever, I do think that the more grave the abuse, the more violent, the more damaging - the more difficult and maybe even impossible to forgive.

#384609 - 02/06/12 11:45 PM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: Shawushka]
westchesterguy Offline

Registered: 11/14/09
Posts: 421
Loc: Westchester County NY
Originally Posted By: Shawushka
....Maybe 'forgiving' can also have different definitions?

i think so too shaw. i forgave a guy who purposely set out to hurt me because i fell in love with him. he had fallen in love with me too, but, his theory was --- "how dare you fall in love with me, because i'm such a loser and no one should ever love me like you do." i understood where he was coming from in time, and i realized my powerlessness over that situation, walked away, forgave, healed from truly a broken heart.

as for the rapist though: while being powerless there too, in my view, forgiveness isn't even the appropriate "reaction" or goal. the fact i managed to survive (at all) the rapist's torment is rather amazing. as it is too for so many guys here. so, hence the term "no matter what you did to me, i survived....." seems so much more fitting in that example than "ok dude, you are fucked up, so i forgive you no matter what you did to me."


#384624 - 02/07/12 01:48 AM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: westchesterguy]
Jim1104 Offline

Registered: 03/17/11
Posts: 410
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Hero and Castle,

When I first read your statement, Castle, that " a perpetrator should never ask for forgiveness", I thought to myself, "Self, doesn't that fly in the face of everything you purport to believe in as a Christian?"

I mean, the way I read my bible (and I know there are a lot of non-christians here), that's what I am supposed to do in response to the forgiveness given me.

Then again, I can see where you and your therapist are coming from. I appreciate both the questions you posed Hero and your explanation Castle and that of everyone else here.

Having acted out during my marriage and hurt my wife, I guess I can understand both viewpoints offered. When I think of the act of asking forgiveness, I have always looked at it as simply apologizing, but it is not, is it?

When everything fell apart, and many times thereafter, I apologized to my wife. I really don't know if I asked for forgiveness, though. If I did, I don't remember. I do know, though, that I have consistently and consciously tried, whenever the issue comes up to a) apologize for what I did and b) make sure that I never try and cast any blame on my wife. What I did, I did. As near as I can figure, that's all that can be done.

I have, once or twice, in the midst of a discussion said, "I don't care what you think and whether you forgive me or not" to her. She calls me on it and I admit I do care whether she forgives me or not, but I say that because I am trying to assert that my life and my actions are based on my own decisions, not on whether she ever forgives me or not.

You guys are right. As I have written this, I believe you are correct in that when I ask forgiveness, it's not for the sake of the offended person, it's because I want to feel better about myself. Asking someone to forgive me is, in essence, asking them to help me feel better about myself and even in the best of circumstances that's an unrealistic request.

When I apologize, I am taking responsibility for what I have done and the harm it has caused. There are things that people have done to me that have really really hurt (not speaking about the abuse). They have very much traumatized me.

I know that if someone apologizes to me, it is much easier for me to let it go. I might even, at some point in the future, forget about the whole thing. But if I have been harmed, an no apology is forthcoming, then it will be nearly impossible for me to get over. The pain will come back and I will feel it if there is no apology.

Ok. I am sorry for the long writing. I very much appreciate what everyone has written. I makes me think.


To answer your questions...

...All abusers should absolutely and irrevocably apologize and take responsibility for their actions.

...If I receive a heartfelt aplogy that I really believe, then it will help some. If that person actually, as Castle wrote, takes full responsibility for the act and it's consequences, it will help, but only a very little. I think I would have to hear it over and over and over again, followed by actions proving the apology is sincere. That's not realistic. Still, the right words accepting responsibility would relieve me a little bit.

...The previous answer comes from the adult me. After 40 years of reinforcing hatred for myself, partly as a result of what my abuser did, a sincere, heartfelt apology would help on some level, but there is no way that it would help a lot.

I would turn the question around to you as the victim. I know you are a supporter, but you have also been victimized and, though not physically, perhaps, you are a survivor of psychic abuse in what you have gone through. What are your answers to the questions? You have a dog in this hunt too.



#384778 - 02/07/12 11:48 PM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: herowannabe]
herowannabe Offline

Registered: 11/01/11
Posts: 386
Loc: USA
Thanks everyone for your insight! What an amazing variety of thoughts!

What I've learned is that an apology would be a wee measure of comfort for some of you, but it would in no way be of true and lasting help for you. Most of you bristle at being asked for forgiveness, which is absolutely understandable. I get that!

Thank you, Jim, for bringing me into the conversation. That was a very considerate and respectful thing to do, and I appreciate it very much.

I agree with the majority of you; I would not have appreciated my beloved asking for forgiveness, at least not until he'd demonstrated remorse- not for having been "caught", but for the horrible effects his acting out wrought on me, our marriage and our entire family.

Because he demonstrated authentic remorse (and still does), which was backed up by remorseful action on his part, I view his remorse as a non-verbal request for forgiveness.

I have come to find that neither authentic remorse nor authentic forgiveness can be given in just one dose. Instead, they both are fueled by the other: He shows remorse, I show forgiveness. Over and over again. It is a necessary, circular exercise that will continue until its usefulness in our mutual healing is no longer needed.

So, with that said, I wonder if your answers would be different if the question was about remorse, which must come first, instead of forgiveness?

- Isn't remorse something ALL abusers should offer?

- Would sincere remorse have helped relieve you of your own misplaced shame and guilt?

- If your abuser would demonstrate sincere remorse now that you are an adult, would it help you?

Does that word change the landscape for you guys???

Again, thanks for your answers. They are so enlightening!

Sending you all love and support-


For I know the plans I have made for you. Plans to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

#384809 - 02/08/12 02:44 AM Re: An abuser's apology? Survivor input, please! [Re: herowannabe]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA
I've told my perpetrator clients for over 30 years that they have no right to ask for forgiveness. My colleagues in the offender treatment field also subscribe to that philosophy.

Survivors have the right to grant forgiveness but no one should tell a survivor that he should give forgiveness. It is one power the survivor has that no one can take away. If a survivor wants to give forgiveness because of his beliefs, that would make sense but if he is told that forgiveness SHOULD be given by a clergy person or a parent, partner or anyone else, it is likely being coerced or given by guilt.

Offenders, in treatment for their abusive behaviors, are often times asked to write a letter of apology but it is never sent without the therapist of the survivor being consulted. The letter of apology should not be a surprise to the survivor. Many if not most, offenders would like to apologize when they are in treatment and understand the consequences and enormity of the damage they created. However, they may not ask for any forgiveness.

Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

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