To Err Is Definitely Human, but Is It Truly Divine to Forgive?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 16, 2023 | 0 Comments

“I'll forgive, but I'll never forget.” You've probably heard these words or maybe spoken them yourself. As a culture, we highly value forgiveness; we enjoy reading feel-good stories about people forgiving those who hurt or even killed their loved ones. But is it necessary to forgive someone who's done you wrong—even an intimate partner who's been abusive and violent—in order to heal emotionally? Let's find out.

Forgiving Doesn't Mean Conceding

It's important to realize that forgiving another person does not necessarily mean that you agree with their point of view, condone their behavior, or come out of the situation as a failure or loser. That's because the act of forgiving a wrongdoer isn't about them, although they may very well find peace and feel better about themselves when they receive forgiveness. It's about you and your emotional well-being.

People who have experienced intimate partner abuse, and those who counsel them, often raise the question of whether the abuser “deserves” forgiveness. That's an unhelpful and possibly even harmful construct. It doesn't matter because in order to forgive that person, you must make the conscious choice to let go of your negative emotions and attachments to them. This opens the door for feelings of compassion and empathy. Again, the other party will most likely benefit from these feelings, but the primary focus should be on achieving this emotional equilibrium for the sake of your state of mind and self-actualization.

The Mind-Body Connection That Forgiveness Makes

When a person is chronically angry, they are at greater risk for a whole host of debilitating, dangerous physical conditions and health events, such as:

  • Heart attacks or other cardiology concerns
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Higher cholesterol levels
  • Physical pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol
  • A compromised immune system

Harboring strong feelings of hatred or ire can take a significant toll on your mental health, as well, and are likely to impact your future relationships.

When you have become a victim of someone else's rage, insecurities, or trauma, it can be a hard pill to swallow. Some people on the receiving end of abuse blame themselves, wondering what they did wrong or whether they deserve such poor treatment. While this is certainly not a healthy response to the situation, neither is bitterness or resentment toward the other party.

…but Is It Necessary?

There are plenty of psychologists and therapists who believe that healing from the trauma of domestic violence can be accomplished without forgiving the abusive partner. Not all paths to peace have to make that detour.

Ultimately, whether or not forgiveness is a good idea is up to you. You might decide that you can't forgive your abuser, or at least not yet. It's understandable if you find it difficult to let go of the anger, hurt, sadness, and shame you feel. Only if the act of forgiveness will lighten your emotional burden and help you attain closure on that unfortunate chapter of your life should you forgive the person.

The Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm is standing by, ready to serve as your legal resource. Call them today at 888-535-3686 or click here to learn more.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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