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

Friday, April 23, 2010


Thank you, to all those who have written to me since my last post. I enjoy receiving your blog comments, private e-mails, personal stories, and discussions on various survivor topics.

I am very grateful that so many people have taken the time to let me know that the sharing of my experience has been helpful to them.

The bulk of my healing process occurred prior to the advent of the internet. I didn't know any other abuse and/or estrangement survivors. Actually, I never even heard the term "child abuse" until I was in my twenties. Further, when I became estranged (and for a great deal of time afterword), I had never heard of family estrangement. Given my isolation from other survivor's, I didn't have anyone to help "pave the way," validate my experiences, or to tell me that given my experiences, my feelings were "normal." It was a painful and lonely way to live.

After decades of healing through "trial and error," I became passionate about easing the way for other survivors by trying to offer the sort of support, validation and guidance, I had longed for over the years. None-the-less, it was terrifying to expose the intimate details of my psyche by writing my books. Whenever I receive a letter letting me know that my words have made a difference, it makes it all worth while.

Quite often, I hear from Christian survivors who feel guilty about their perceived obligation to forgive a chronic abuser, which is superseded by their inability to forgive.

A common source driving their sense of obligation stems from the following verses:

Matthew 6:14-15 KJV For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 18:21-22 KJV Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

A Christian reader just sent me an interesting link on this topic titled "Should I offer forgiveness without repentance," from rbc ministries (the publishers of "Our Daily Bread").


Unconditional forgiveness is canceling a debt to all those who intentionally offend us, whether or not they own up to what they have done. Offering forgiveness without repentance, however, does not follow the biblical model of forgiveness (Luke 17:3,4).

The Bible says that we are to forgive as God forgave us (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13). God forgives us when we repent (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3,5, Acts 3:19). He does not grant forgiveness to those of us who are stiff-necked and refuse to repent. We must recognize our sin and repent to receive and enjoy God's merciful forgiveness. God requires repentance and so must we.

Repentance is important because it's a person's only hope for real change (Matthew 18:3; Acts 26:20). If we don't admit our sin, it's impossible to be transformed. If we aren't keenly aware of the sinful direction our lives are going, we will not see a need to adjust the direction. Repentance demonstrates that we need God to help us change our thinking, attitudes, and behavior.

To read the entire article, visit rbc ministries HERE.


Labyrinth said...

We need to forgive; it's the only way to freedom. But there can't be reconciliation unless the person/s who hurt us have repented. But our lack of forgiveness only hurts us.

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Hi Labyrinth,

Thank you for stopping by and for your comment.

You make a very good point in that forgiveness can take place through the hard work and healing of one person; reconciliation can't take place without the hard work and healing of two!

My best,

Unknown said...

Hi Nancy. I still can't forgive my abusers, and that eats at me all the time. My dad will be dead a year next month, so I know I won't get any repentance by him, I just don't know if I can ever forgive either of my parents or uncle for that matter. I haven't even gone out to my parents gravesites and sometimes I think that is so wrong because I had promised my mom that I would come and visit her grave and dads, but I just can't. Is that wrong?

I can finally say that I am back to blogging, it's been a long while but now Im back. Take care..Mary

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Oh Mary,

My heart goes out to you.

In my opinion "NO!" that isn't wrong. Now is the time for healing! Now is the time to take care of you.

Although I have reconciled with my mother, I am grateful for the 14 years we had apart. Those years were necessary for me to heal. Without healing I wouldn't have been able have the life I have today.

I used to feel bad about not forgiving my abusers also, but in retrospect, I realized not forgiving was just a part of my necessary journey. And feeling bad about not forgiving just slowed down my progress.

Please don't let it eat you up. Put yourself first and take the time to heal.

BTW, I think its harder when unrepentant parents die:

Take care,

me as i am said...

dear nancy, nice to see you have put up a post. i'm glad to know you're still out there. your blog has helped me very much and i'm very grateful for it.

thanks for this post and for pointing out the importance of the person who committed the harm acknowledging what they've done and "repenting". i'm not religious, so i don't think in terms of repentance and sin, but these terms are so well known to me as i live in the bible belt and so i feel i've been surrounded by christian people who often told me i needed to be more forgiving.

but yes, last year, making that distinction between people who seek our forgiveness and people who don't as making a difference to me in my healing. for a long time, i was urged to forgive by other people towards people who had hurt me who were not sorry and didn't think they'd done anything wrong, even after i'd confronted.

it took me a long time and courage to do what i needed to do to take care of myself, which did involve estrangement. learning to take care of oneself instead of continuing to put oneself in harm's way for the sake of "forgiveness" was so important in my life.

thank you again for the work you do and for your words of wisdom.

wishing you all the best!

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Dear Katie,

Thank you for your wonderful comments and for sharing your experience with being told you needed to be more forgiving.

I had a similar experience. In fact, I remember "confiding" in a relative 30 years ago about the abuse in my family; her response was, "The problem with you Nancy, is that you aren't forgiving."

Ouch! The "problem" didn't lie with the person(s) perpetrating the physical and emotional violence, the problem was with the one getting the beating. What??? How do you forgive someone who is still hurting you?

I spent so much time worrying about being "unforgiving," that I wasn't able to spend any time "healing." Then, like you, I mustered the courage to step out "on my own" and placed taking care of myself over forgiving someone who continued to abuse me.

All my best to you too!

me as i am said...

hi nancy, just wanted to let you know i mentioned you and your blog on my blog today. in a comment i replied to someone.

i just wanted to thank you again for your sharing your thoughts on your blog. your perspective on forgiveness, or more specifically on "not forgiving" and emphasizing the importance of other ways to heal first, really helped me and continues to do so. it's such a validating point of view. so non-pressuring. so understanding.

thank you. i continue to refer back to your blog from time to time even though you don't post too much anymore, just to feel better.

wishing you well! :)

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

You're welcome Katie!

And, Thank YOU!

Mer said...

love your blog, its so encouraging! I've linked to your blog in my blog list at , i hope you get some traffic from my blog! - Mer

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Hi Mer,

Thanks for stopping by; for your comment, and for the link.

I checked out your blog and you have such an amazing, positive spin on your recovery - very encouraging as well!

My best,

Anonymous said...

I have learn a few just right stuff here. Definitely
price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you set to
make this kind of fantastic informative site.

my blog post; Pure Garcinia Cambogia Review