Crack in my Armament

earlybird

Registrant
(I wrote the below comment as a notation to a poem and posted it in the poetry forum. I, in particular wanted to reach out to fellow ASA men for their thoughts.)

I have fought, for nearly 50 years, against the argument for the need of a victim to forgive their assailant in order to find peace and move on. My stance: I was raped and FUCK THEM!

I believe, my past arguments against the “need” to forgive, are valid and should be respected. But there are valid arguments to the contrary.

However, over the past few weeks, I’m witnessing a crack in my own, well hammered out armament and running up against an uncomfortable question: “Who in the end is being fucked?”

Sometimes, it just takes someone to use a particular word or phrase to elbow through my thick skull and bring me to a personal stop and reflect moment. This came in the form of a podcast where the speaker was remarking that victims of horrific assaults often find it difficult to see the humanity in their attackers making it nearly impossible to forgive but the individuals who did see the human instead of the monster they seem to fare better over the long run.

Bingo!!! I view my attackers as monsters instead of viewing them as “humans” who did a monstrous act.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not yet ready to give up on justice and freely grant forgiveness. That said, I want my decision to be on my terms not my failure to see the humanity in another, probably equally injured, individual.

Please understand, I am not justifying horrific actions or stating there's no need for justice. I am also not saying everyone should reevaluate their rightful position taken.

All I am doing is sharing with fellow survivors my quandary that has me at war with my own beliefs and decisions, some of which, oddly, go against my beliefs making it difficult to be at peace.

When I’m in these difficult internal arguments, I turn to the pen and write poetry to express my struggle between competing rights: The right for justice. The right for mercy. (Sigh)
 

MO-Survivor

Registrant
(I wrote the below comment as a notation to a poem and posted it in the poetry forum. I, in particular wanted to reach out to fellow ASA men for their thoughts.)

I have fought, for nearly 50 years, against the argument for the need of a victim to forgive their assailant in order to find peace and move on. My stance: I was raped and FUCK THEM!

I believe, my past arguments against the “need” to forgive, are valid and should be respected. But there are valid arguments to the contrary.

However, over the past few weeks, I’m witnessing a crack in my own, well hammered out armament and running up against an uncomfortable question: “Who in the end is being fucked?”

Sometimes, it just takes someone to use a particular word or phrase to elbow through my thick skull and bring me to a personal stop and reflect moment. This came in the form of a podcast where the speaker was remarking that victims of horrific assaults often find it difficult to see the humanity in their attackers making it nearly impossible to forgive but the individuals who did see the human instead of the monster they seem to fare better over the long run.

Bingo!!! I view my attackers as monsters instead of viewing them as “humans” who did a monstrous act.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not yet ready to give up on justice and freely grant forgiveness. That said, I want my decision to be on my terms not my failure to see the humanity in another, probably equally injured, individual.

Please understand, I am not justifying horrific actions or stating there's no need for justice. I am also not saying everyone should reevaluate their rightful position taken.

All I am doing is sharing with fellow survivors my quandary that has me at war with my own beliefs and decisions, some of which, oddly, go against my beliefs making it difficult to be at peace.

When I’m in these difficult internal arguments, I turn to the pen and write poetry to express my struggle between competing rights: The right for justice. The right for mercy. (Sigh)
@earlybird - I totally get it. I think most of us do. And I don't think anyone should see what you write as "understanding" of your perpetrators, or wanting to "let them off the hook." But for our own sake, for our own healing, sanity, and functioning, forgiveness is something that may need to occur.

My T and I talked yesterday about what's unresolved deep in me with respect to my dad (my abuser). The desire for him to be the dad I wanted and needed (defined as someone who protects me, who can comfort me, who can put his arm around me and speak words of life to me - without things devolving into sexual abuse) is SO strong in me still. The adaptive self I developed so many years ago to survive screams, "Screw it! Pursuing that... there is no point. He doesn't deserve that from you, and I don't want to be vulnerable and take that risk ever again." And yet... is that the path that will bring me peace and resolution? No, it isn't. But in talking through the different ways I can go with those desires (in terms of trying to resolve them), all of them have downsides as I see it currently. 1) I do nothing - he dies - nothing is resolved, I have some finality, but I live potentially with a ton of regret of what might have been, 2) I let him know how I feel, what I really wanted as a boy, what I still want as his son, and he doesn't know how to respond, he doesn't want to go there, and I live with that disappointment, 3) he is responsive and does his best to give me now what I'm asking for, putting me in an extremely vulnerable place that I said I'd never be put in again with him, but... this one has the only glimmer of hope. But it is also the scariest, honestly.

So yeah - I can't help but see the guy as more than an evil perp. At the same time... he doesn't deserve anything more than he has right now. But it's not about him. It's about what I ultimately want and need.
 
Forgiveness, in the end, is for ourselves only. It actually has almost nothing to do with our perps. Our perps don't deserve forgiveness, period. They did something so monstrous that they absolutely don't deserve forgiveness, from ourselves or society at large. Our forgiveness, should we choose to forgive, is to accept that their perpetration WAS a monstrous act against ourselves ... but it's over. It took place once upon a time and changed us forever, but it is no longer happening, and therefore our perps are no longer worthy of our thoughts.

I strongly believe that anyone can move forward without forgiveness and I bristle at those who say forgiveness is a necessity. It is not. But - I have forgiven my own perp. As foul as she is, as much as she deserves a lifetime of pain and suffering ... in the end, that is not my call. I can't make that happen. But I can make sure she doesn't live in my head anymore.
 

MO-Survivor

Registrant
Forgiveness, in the end, is for ourselves only. It actually has almost nothing to do with our perps. Our perps don't deserve forgiveness, period. They did something so monstrous that they absolutely don't deserve forgiveness, from ourselves or society at large. Our forgiveness, should we choose to forgive, is to accept that their perpetration WAS a monstrous act against ourselves ... but it's over. It took place once upon a time and changed us forever, but it is no longer happening, and therefore our perps are no longer worthy of our thoughts.

I strongly believe that anyone can move forward without forgiveness and I bristle at those who say forgiveness is a necessity. It is not. But - I have forgiven my own perp. As foul as she is, as much as she deserves a lifetime of pain and suffering ... in the end, that is not my call. I can't make that happen. But I can make sure she doesn't live in my head anymore.
I appreciate and respect your feelings and thought on forgiveness, @Strangeways. I'm not sure I agree with them all - but that doesn't matter. It's just another way that healing is a journey each of us walks and it won't look exactly the same way for everyone.
 

earlybird

Registrant
The adaptive self I developed so many years ago to survive screams, "Screw it! Pursuing that... there is no point. He doesn't deserve that from you, and I don't want to be vulnerable and take that risk ever again." And yet... is that the path that will bring me peace and resolution? No, it isn't.

Your powerful words here are meaningful and sheds a little more light on this shadowy subject. I feel the height of your words " ...is that the path that will bring me peace and resolution? No, it isn't."

1) I do nothing - he dies - nothing is resolved, I have some finality, but I live potentially with a ton of regret of what might have been, 2) I let him know how I feel, what I really wanted as a boy, what I still want as his son, and he doesn't know how to respond, he doesn't want to go there, and I live with that disappointment, 3) he is responsive and does his best to give me now what I'm asking for, putting me in an extremely vulnerable place that I said I'd never be put in again with him, but... this one has the only glimmer of hope. But it is also the scariest, honestly.

I can't imagine the depth of struggle when a family member, especially s father, is one's perp. The drive to deny or worse normalize the abuse must be immense. Not saying this is what I hear in your words only the difference between your and my situation brings this thought to my mind. In my situation there is no family or friendship connection that might need to be somehow repaired. They were a stranger then and will forever enter my dreams and leave my dreams as strangers. Though it might make it easier for me to hate them and to maintain the hate, it does not resolve me of working through the, how did you put it, "is that the path that will bring me peace and resolution?" and i'm coming to the same conclusion you spelled out "No...." But the difficulty is, as you stated in the 3rd point letting down one's guard makes one open for another layer of hurt. This is tough stuff with no one clear path to trudge.

I strongly believe that anyone can move forward without forgiveness and I bristle at those who say forgiveness is a necessity

Strangeways, I hope you did not hear in my words the messaging that forgiveness towards a perp is required in a survivor's journey. Nothing could be further from my experience. In my opinion, you couldn't be more right to defend this position and I will add my voice with yours. All that said, my journey has come to a split in the path and I'm questioning "my" stance on the human condition and the mutual humanity in all of us.
 

Dan99

Registrant
For years I refused to consider forgiveness. My therapist, wise man that he is, never pushed it. When it came up he always said, there is no requirement to forgive, but be aware how much it's costing you not to.
 

earlybird

Registrant
For years I refused to consider forgiveness. My therapist, wise man that he is, never pushed it. When it came up he always said, there is no requirement to forgive, but be aware how much it's costing you not to.

You precisely and elegantly said what it took me a page to express. Thank you.

Question: Have you figured out what some of those “costs” that were being paid and whether it was worth the price or not?
 

Dan99

Registrant
Question: Have you figured out what some of those “costs” that were being paid and whether it was worth the price or not?
Sorry to get new-age but here's how it worked for me.

The biggest cost to me was in wasted emotional energy. I'm one of those people who, when things are bad, I get exhausted being around people and keeping up a façade. Always pretending to be 'normal' made me very guarded. At the end of a day I would often retreat to my home and close the door just to stop feeling things. I had a bag of tricks for pretending to be normal, but it got tiring and left me holding in a lot of resentments about slights I took from people just so I didn't react and come off as 'abnormal' or crazy.

A few years ago I got into meditating and started practicing a meditation where I reject negative thoughts directed at me and release my own negative thoughts about others. I started doing this with my thoughts about my boss, who I was having a very difficult time with. She was not going to change. I simply had to get another situation, which I eventually did. But holding on to the anger I had at her was consuming so much of my mental energy it was wearing me out with dreams, high blood pressure, etc. Reclaiming was as simple as rejecting her negative thoughts about me and giving up my negative thoughts about her. It got me through until I was able to move on to a better job.

But that was the moment I started seriously thinking about forgiving the man who raped me for all those years. I saw in the small way with my boss how much energy it cost me to hold on to anger and at the same time it accomplished nothing. My boss couldn't care less. She cared when I left, but not because I didn't like her. She only cared because it was a pain to replace me. She and I only had what I'd call professional differences. I began to consider the magnitude of the energy I consumed holding onto the hatred for this rapist and how little good it did. He truly could not care less because he's dead. It was just me wasting energy hating him. When I meditate now I release my anger toward him as well as anyone else. And I reject any negative energy he directed at me that resides only in my mind at this point. It's forgiveness as I practice it.

When I first did it, it felt horribly wrong, like I was letting him off the hook. But over time it feels right. I do have more mental energy to use the way I want. I'm less fatigued by interacting with people and haven't holed up in my house for a long time. Was refusing to forgive ever worth the cost? I think it was in the sense that I had no choice. So it had to be. I don't believe we can push ourselves on this point. We either want to forgive or we don't. If we can't forgive, we have no choice but to accept the cost. I do think age played a factor for me. As I aged I needed to make better use of my mental/emotional energy and this was one way to stop wasting some of it.

Anyway, sorry for the long answer and the new age stuff. It's just my process. If it helps, great. If it feels too foreign or not relevant to where you are please disregard as loony rambling. You will not hurt my feelings in any way. My therapist said some survivors come to forgiveness the way I did. Some find it a different way and others feel that it's never right for them. I in no way think the priest who raped me is an OK guy or what he did was not inhuman. I only forgive because I want that energy back for myself.

Take care.
 

earlybird

Registrant
It's forgiveness as I practice it.

Thank you Dan99, for your detailed response. I admire both your conclusion and follow through (Follow through is often times is harder to achieve than conclusions.)

Your words are not “loony ramblings” they are, to me, meaningful and helpful in my internal tug-a-war which often feels loony making. What you have expressed is far, far from “loony”. I applaud your “New Age” process and will plant its seed in my barren spirit.

You have given me the gift of a different perspective on “forgiveness” which my understanding blinded me. Being that my understanding is not working that great I welcome alternative concepts.
 

SpireaX

Registrant
I go back and forth myself. There are periods of times when I think I've achieved peace about the matter. Then something would trigger me like the scene from Midsommer sex scene and I'm back to the days and weeks after my sexual assault. Some days are better than others but for me, I find myself in a better place when I'm in a place of forgiveness.
 

MO-Survivor

Registrant
Your powerful words here are meaningful and sheds a little more light on this shadowy subject. I feel the height of your words " ...is that the path that will bring me peace and resolution? No, it isn't."



I can't imagine the depth of struggle when a family member, especially s father, is one's perp. The drive to deny or worse normalize the abuse must be immense. Not saying this is what I hear in your words only the difference between your and my situation brings this thought to my mind. In my situation there is no family or friendship connection that might need to be somehow repaired. They were a stranger then and will forever enter my dreams and leave my dreams as strangers. Though it might make it easier for me to hate them and to maintain the hate, it does not resolve me of working through the, how did you put it, "is that the path that will bring me peace and resolution?" and i'm coming to the same conclusion you spelled out "No...." But the difficulty is, as you stated in the 3rd point letting down one's guard makes one open for another layer of hurt. This is tough stuff with no one clear path to trudge.



Strangeways, I hope you did not hear in my words the messaging that forgiveness towards a perp is required in a survivor's journey. Nothing could be further from my experience. In my opinion, you couldn't be more right to defend this position and I will add my voice with yours. All that said, my journey has come to a split in the path and I'm questioning "my" stance on the human condition and the mutual humanity in all of us.
I hope we can all find both the path to peace on our journeys, and also the strength and determination to walk that path - no matter what it might (either in reality, or in our minds & hearts) cost us.
 

earlybird

Registrant
I find myself in a better place when I'm in a place of forgiveness.
I must be honest here and say that I believe that forgiveness can be a better, healing place but I find it a journey's path much too steep not in rise but in fall. I fear losing my step and cascading into a dark pit. In a odd way, holding onto my dehumanizing of my assaulters keeps me on level ground or maybe better said on ground I know how to maintain balance and navigate. I guess it is all a work in progress.
I hope we can all find both the path to peace on our journeys, and also the strength and determination to walk that path
Yes, yes, this is the goal for me. I would say on most days I do walk comfortably and at peace but then there's always moments that that peace is disrupted though fewer and fewer as time and distance turn open wounds into healed scars.

Thanks Spireax and Mo-Survivor for adding your thoughts.
 
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