Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.

How People Use ‘Forgiveness’ To ‘Shame’ Abuse Survivors ~ Lilly Hope Lucario



I see this occurring, all too often.

Religious people, can be the worst for this. I’ve heard many toxic and abusive statements, like ‘God won’t forgive you of your sins, if you don’t forgive your abusers’, ‘all sins are equal’. ‘I’ve forgiven, so should you’. Plus Buddhists deem you will get your ‘karma’ for not forgiving everyone of everything. They lord forgiveness over you as something if you do not have for everyone, makes ‘you’ the bad person. It really does become a big ego fest.

And this is all highly abusive.

This is all ‘shame-shifting’.

The only person that does need to feel shame, is the abuser. They do need to feel appropriate shame about their actions. They do need to feel remorse about the harm they caused. They need to seek to do what is necessary, to deal with it appropriately. Like be honest and tell the truth. Be honest about their motivations.

And if they did all this, they would not expect or demand anything from the victim. They would know the victim needs to deal with their healing, how the victim needs. They would know the victim is absolutely entitled to feel anger, rage, disgust and needs to grieve.

No-one gets to demand forgiveness.

No-one gets to demand, their interpretation of forgiveness.

No-one gets to demand reconciliation, or any further contact with the abuser.

Some things like child sexual abuse, can appropriately be deemed unforgiveable.

The only person who gets to consider whether they wish to forgive, is the victim.

They are free to forgive, and free not to forgive.

Neither is more morally right.

Those who want to believe they are morally superior, for forcing opinions about forgiveness, need to stop and try instead to develop some empathy.

And please note, I am someone who encourages forgiveness for most things in life. This blog only relates to heinous, intentional and planned abuse and suffering.

~ Lilly Hope Lucario

All blogs written by Lilly Hope Lucario and subject to © Copyright Protected.

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This includes adaptations in all forms of media.

I was so glad to see this blog shared 100’s of times. It also sparked social media debates. Which is good. Conversation about shame shifting, needs to happen.

I was also glad to see NAMI re-tweeting this poster. And mental health professionals.


Author: Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

I am a survivor of complex and multiple trauma and abuse, who at the age of 40, began my healing journey. I am using my journey to recovery and healing, to help others, to help survivors feel less alone, validated, encouraged and to enable others to understand themselves more. Complex trauma, particularly from severe, prolonged childhood abuse, is profoundly life changing. Complex trauma produces complex adults. The journey to recovery is a painful, often lonely, emotional daily challenge and it is my aim to encourage others in their daily battle. ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

16 thoughts on “How People Use ‘Forgiveness’ To ‘Shame’ Abuse Survivors ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

  1. Yes, I was looking for something like this! I totally agree and this is something you usually really can’t talk about..

    • Yes, this is a subject many find difficult to raise, yet is so important.

      Society in general all too often puts inappropriate pressure on people about forgiveness. And people’s definitions of forgiveness are very different. And too often that is projected onto people, causing much harm to the survivor and their healing journey.

      It is an issue I am passionate about raising. I am so glad whenever this helps survivors, to understand what is appropriate advice and what isn’t.

  2. Reblogged this on 'Enability' blog.

  3. We can take back our happiness from those who did us harm when we can turn away from our own resentment. However, for many of us, this can be a life-long process. There should never be shame for our feelings. Also, people say stupid stuff… because few of us really think things through before we speak.

    • Well said. I am a Christian, have been for years, and I have struggled horribly with the forgiveness issue. I have also been shamed by other Christians for my lack of forgiveness. What they didn’t understand was that I could not forgive my unrepentant and still abusive mother, regardless of how hard I tried, until… just a few weeks ago.

      My mother tried to gas us all to death in 1965 when I was twelve years old. It took me a more than half a century to finally reach the place where I could forgive that, along with her many other abuses. I wrote a post about it a few days ago:

  4. Unfortunately churches are the worst in dealing with abused victims and the abusers…Ive had horrible shame and guilty heaped on me for my struggle to work threw issues of abuse. But did find great comfort from some good licensed christian counsellors.

  5. Pingback: How People Use ‘Forgiveness’ To ‘Shame’ Abuse Survivors. | FotoJennic

  6. reading everything on your website has helped me more than Any therapist !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I have one issue:

    “They are free to forgive, and free not to forgive.
    Neither is more morally right.”

    This isn’t much different from blaming the victim, though it’s a simple matter of wording. You want to get your point across, you should point out that neither is morally WRONG.

    It’s a small thing, but someone who has been abused, especially emotionally abused, will twist that wording around in their head.

    • I disagree. I think the wording of neither is more morally right, is the appropriate wording.

      Some people like to feel that forgiving is more morally right, and feel ‘better’ than others, as a result.

      It isn’t more morally right, and it doesn’t make you a better person because you have forgiven someone, as opposed to someone who hasn’t.

  8. Wow, this is really insightful. I think this could also apply to other things like discrimination.

  9. Hear hear!! I 100000% agree with this. And this is why I hate going to religious functions. They always pressure you to forgive the unforgivable.

  10. Reblogged this on Breaking Out of the Box and commented:
    This is very important. I know that too many religious types (of all faiths) DEMAND that you forgive abusive people. Sometimes abusers use religion to abuse others and then turn around and say “Now you have to forgive me because God says.”

    That’s a load of bullshit. You don’t owe anyone forgiveness. You don’t owe anyone your time if they’re going to be horrible to you.