If our abusers said they were sorry and asked for our forgiveness, would it make any difference to the emotional pain? Would it have the potential to soothe the trauma and bring us healing?
I doubt it would make any difference to my child within. Victims/survivors of abuse need a safe place to explore their painful memories; “sorry” is seldom a short cut to healing.
My childhood friend, Stewart, was a huge part of my life, the comradeship strengthened by our encounters with sexual abuse by a neighbour.
The fields surrounding the street where we lived were every child’s dream of freedom, but the dangers of the local slate quarry must have been a parent’s nightmare.
There was an enormous basin carved out at the heart of the quarry and the local kids would build rafts from old oil drums, with little concern for a drowning the previous summer. I cannot remember being told not to go there, but it probably featured somewhere in the rulebook.
When Stewart and I arrived home, I didn’t even realise I was dirty from the slate dust, but keeping clean had never been an issue before. I ran indoors still pumped up from the excitement of a hot summer’s day.
I was usually good at reading facial expressions, but my guard was down that day and I had no way of detecting the impending danger
“Dad, can I have a drink of water and a…”
Before I got the chance to finish the sentence, there was an almighty flash of bright light, as Dad’s thickset hand came crashing down hard on the side of my face, sending pain searing through my ear. It felt as though I was flying through the air in slow motion, my back hit the floor as my head bounced off the concrete wall.
As I attempted to catch my breath, Dad’s flaying feet and fists pinned my defenseless body to the floor. I could hear him shout above the ringing in my ears, “Look at the colour of you, you’re filthy.”
We lived in a block of flats, but there was never any concern for the neighbours overhearing the beatings because I seldom made a sound. The hollow thuds from his fists are what permeate the black hole of silence.
I stayed in bed with the covers over my head, terrified in case he heard me breathe, his blows throbbing in the darkness, but the physical pain is nothing in comparison to the emotional violation.
He terrified me, he still does. I hated him more than I could ever admit. I used to vow never to forget or forgive. Childhood pain has no concept of time, the trauma feels just as bad today as it did back then.
How can we consider this crazy notion of forgiveness…?