On Forgiveness… Or Not

I cannot forgive–neither the pedophile nor my family for not protecting me–so I cannot move on. I’m not sure that forgiveness is necessary in that process, but acceptance definitely is.
From the post Grief Diary: Coasting

I’ve been told over and over that forgiveness is a necessary part of healing. That until you forgive the predators, you cannot move on. Holding onto anger hurts you, not them, yadda yadda. One of my favorite bloggy people said this:

People have told me to forgive also. I tell them I can’t and leave it at that. I’ve tried and it’s just not possible. So I quit trying because when I would fail at it, it made me feel like a failure, like I did something wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. And neither did you. Forgiveness is not in me nor you and it won’t ever be. So be it. We are who we are and if others can’t understand that then that’s on them, not us. Because we don’t have to do something just to make others comfortable with our pain.

I said, “I think the people who say that have never really been through it.” Someone, somewhere who probably never experienced rape, particularly rape as a child, decided that one of the steps in getting over trauma is to forgive your transgressors. It smacks of religious bollocks to me. While the concept that being angry at monsters hurts me more than them makes logical sense, no matter how I try, I cannot find a way to forgive. Maybe after you read this, you’ll understand why.

How does one forgive a monster? And I don’t mean a cute, cuddly kind, but the kind of monster who would terrorize a child by coming to the window next to the bed in which she slept at her family’s cottage, scratching on the window screen like a horror movie, making it impossible for her to ever sleep near a window ever again.

It wouldn’t take too long for him to gain the nerve to remove the flimsily affixed window screen and pull that child out of bed by the ankle. He would carry her to the woods, pin her little arms to the ground, and gag her so she couldn’t scream while he had his way with her.

And then, when that same psychopathic monster wormed his way into the same household where the child lived so he could be closer to her, he would sneak into her room late at night–the room right next to where her parents slept–and violate her again. He would tie her up, gag her with the dog’s toy, and put her in the closet while he had sex with women to “show you how it’s done.” He was apparently unsatisfied with a seven-year old girl’s sexual prowess. He would hog tie her in the living room while her parents watched her squirm to free herself and they all laughed. The parents thought it was a game. It was a game of pushing boundaries to him. It was life or death to her.

How do you forgive a monster who sexually abuses a seven-year old child for a year or more, and doesn’t even see her as human, but as some kind of toy? How do you forgive the parents of that child for doing nothing to stop it? How do you begin to understand a family that watched and laughed as their child was tied up in front of them, then didn’t believe the same child when she told them the full extent of it? How do you forgive knowing that the monster never faced any consequences for his actions and lives just down the street from your parents? How do you live with not knowing how many other children he tied up and raped, because you were powerless to stop it?

How do you forgive that monster for metaphorically writing PREY in big bold letters that only monsters can see all over that child, opening the door for others to come and take up where he left off? Barely a decade after the first monster got bored with the girl, a second monster came along.

The second monster wasn’t a pedophile. The second monster, in some ways, was so much worse than the first, but you can’t go around comparing monsters. They all have their own brand of evil.

Over the course of eight years, the second monster would steal everything the girl had. Not just monetary items–he stole those, too–but what little sense of safety and trust she had managed to scrape together in the decade since the first monster, her sense of worth, and even her will to fight and live. He would systematically strip everything from her and replace it with scars, black eyes, broken teeth, strangulation marks around her neck, and a wish that he would just kill her and get it over with. She would lose her friends, her job, her hometown, her home. He would replace it with panic attacks, an inability to trust or sleep through the night, a pile of debt she didn’t even know she had until he left, and a stack of police reports that, in the end, would amount to nothing but a pile of paper. He left her a shattered body and a shattered life.

So, how do you forgive a monster that tried to kill you so many times, but just walked away free forever? How do you endure a system of justice that doesn’t respond to arrest warrants, not even from state to state, but from city to city? How do you live with the knowledge that an occasional internet search for the second monster–just to make sure he’s nowhere near where you currently live in hiding–produces reports of countless victims he left in his wake after you tried and failed to put him in prison where he belongs?

How do you forgive two monsters who never knew each other, but follow a pattern of contacting their favorite victim every five years or so, to gloat and pretend they never did anything wrong? How do you forgive when you live in hiding from them, while they are out there looking for you, freer than you will ever be? How do you deal with the panic at the thought of them finding you every time you write something about them on this blog that might identify you? How do you forgive them for the guilt of knowing there were victims after you and that you cannot stop the monsters? You never could.

If you could answer any of these questions with forgiveness, then you’re a better person than me. If not, I’d appreciate it if everyone just stopped talking about how forgiveness is a necessary part of healing. Not all people are created equal; some get away with evil for so long that they can never be redeemed. I have forgiven myself, but I cannot forgive the monsters, not as long as they are alive and free to do to others what they did to me.