The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Validation was key for my recovery.

As a child, I constantly sought my mothers help and protection. When my mother refused to help me, I turned to others for aid. There was neither understanding nor encouragement whenever I tried to talk to outsiders of what went on at home. On the contrary, my pleas for help were met with denial, disbelief, minimization, blame, or the simple words, “Get over it.”

Judith Lewis Herman, M.D., explains this occurrence well on page 7 of her book, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. Basic Books (1997):

It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of the pain. The victim demands action, engagement and remembering.

As children, our young brains have not developed enough to take care of ourselves. We are dependent on the adults in our lives to teach us how to process the information we gather from our experiences. I learned as an adult that when our childhood abuse is denied as if it did not happen or as if the violent behavior is excusable, our trauma becomes fused to us and stays with us until someone teaches us differently by validating our experiences. If our experiences are never validated, our trauma remains fused into adulthood.

Even if we are already aware of our childhood abuse, we often live in denial about the effect the abuse has had on us. It is necessary to have another party bear witness to our trauma. This allows us the opportunity to admit to ourselves the ways in which we were damaged by our abuse. Support and validation offered from others, dissolves our isolation and gives us the necessary strength to journey forward to the life we deserve.


Maia said...

I recently read Ms. Herman's book and found it really helpful in finding insight into my own experiences. Your insight is helpful too! Thanks.

healandforgive said...

Dear Maia,

Thank you for stopping by and posting a comment. I just visited your blog - what an amazing family!

I live in the Pacific NW too.


Strong & determined said...

Thank you for your website and your blog. I really appreciate your honesty, your insight, and all the information you provide!

healandforgive said...

Dear Strong and Determined,

Thank you for your comment! I stopped by your blog, and I must say the same about your honesty, insight and the information you provide.

I read "Breaking Down the Wall of Silence" when my therapist recommended it many years ago. I found it very liberating.

And, your post on the Stages of Recovery really resonates with me.

Thank you!