Reasons for Forgiveness

“The purpose of forgiveness is to heal and not to cause more grief.”

Artwork by Hedy Fischer

By John Dunia

There is little uncertainty about the importance of forgiveness but there definitely is a lot of misunderstanding on how it ought to be implemented and applied. Last week’s article was the third in a series on its importance and strategies for applying some of those techniques. All too often, many so-called remedies only leave victims more confused and ashamed for trying to do what they thought was the right thing.

While working with my clients, I constantly remind them that forgiveness has a purpose and its main function is healing. Forgiveness, nonetheless, should not be interpreted or understood as an acquittal nor should it be a signal for the abuser to resume the mistreatment. The principal reason victims forgive a perpetrator is not to allow the horrible episodes to confine, inhibit, or obstruct their progress and keep them from a life full of possibilities.

Several of the comments from last week’s article revolved around the concept of “how far should we go to forgive our abuser” which is a legitimate question to ask continually throughout the process. It is not a cut-and-dry answer because what works for you may not necessarily apply to everyone else.

At times, others may offer well-meaning advice which most often is something they’ve heard and not actually put into practice. This solution typically implores us to begin by forgiving the abuser which by the way, maybe the worst advice was given to any victim. The idea of a face-to-face encounter with an abuser being the only way to move forward has the potential of creating even more destructive and debilitating anxiety. Nevertheless, can healing occur without this face-to-face confrontation?

Always keep in mind that the primary goal is healing and growth. This helps make clear most answers from a personal perspective. In some cases, the culprits may be deceased or their whereabouts unknown. Perhaps there are other extenuating circumstances which may reverse or weaken any progress and even cause additional damage. On the other hand, what if challenging an abuser could be a therapeutic experience?

What if unexpectedly our perpetrator experiences a change of heart and now is asking for our forgiveness? This again is no simple answer. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may feel that it will never be appropriate. Or, is it possible this encounter can have healing effects for the both of you? In the end, whoever is pursuing healing and growth cannot and should not be stifled by the actions or inactions of another.

Forgiveness is vital. But it can also be difficult to sort through. Having someone who understands the value of healing and has helped others through these difficult steps can be instrumental in your own journey. Always keep in mind that forgiveness is primarily for our healing and growth; no matter for whom it was originally intended.

My thanks to Hedy Fischer for the original artwork. I look forward to your comments.
Since 2007, John Dunia has written for many local Las Vegas publications. In 2013, he began blogging and sharing his thoughts on overcoming adversities with his unique approach in assisting the reader towards better self-awareness. In 2015 he completed his first self-help-style book, “Shame On Me – Healing a Life of Shame-Based Thinking” which was a semi-autobiographical account of how he overcame and heal difficulties from his past. It inspired him to branch out in other directions. He now consults with people one-on-one to help them find their own breakthroughs. He also is a guest speaker on the topic of shame and effective ways to heal. To find out more, visit


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