I am honored to share with you this moving story that I have just received from Debora Harding. Her amazing story of forgiveness should inspire us all. Thank you Debora.
Please share your stories with me. Ill post the best and forward them on to the projects organisers.
I have found one of the most difficult things to sit with in being a victim is this anger and rage. It has often felt like a pathogen passed on to me by the offender. I felt it infected my soul. I raged against the rage for so many years, that it has only been now, that Ive met with my offender, that I have finally made peace with my anger and realized the grace that comes with its acceptance. With acceptance of my anger finally comes the sorrow and the grief for what has been lost.
In seeking my offender out, I wanted to put to rest the fear I had about him hurting me, or my family again. It was not a moral act designed to bring me emotional comfort or release. I believe the act of forgiveness can be misused, as a way to repress uncomfortable feelings - e.g. anger and rage, especially in the realm of violence where the morality of forgiveness has no helpful role. In fact, I believe it can be a form of self-abuse for a victim to expect it of oneself, as it is saying an act, which totally annihilates the psychic self is tolerable. It isnt, and there is no circumstance where it ever can be. Forgiveness is a concept that is needed in ongoing relationships, not in the death and destruction that follows violent crime.
But to meet the offender face to face, to be able to understand the pain from which the violence arose is amazingly healing. I now know each of my offenders triggers at each stage of my captivity. Perhaps its crazy, but I do think if I was ever put in a room with him again when he was in control, I might be able to prevent him from hurting both of us. I no longer feel I was in the claws of metaphysical terror. I was in the presence of a human being who was grossly out of relation with himself.
The soul wants peace. The anger, sorrow, rage and disappointment of the survivor is crucial to survival of a healthy psyche. What we do with that anger, sorrow, rage and disappointment is the where morality enters in again. We must locate violence in the personal realm. By having the chance to meet my offender and dialogue with him, I was given an enormous sense of hope and understanding. What a gift. If that act of seeing him as human and accountable, rather than some archetypal monster is forgiveness, then I have forgiven. It was a twenty-five year journey.
Debora Harding was a child victim of a severe crime. After being abducted from her church parking lot at the age of fourteen, held for ransom, and sexually assaulted, she escaped her assailant when he went to pick up the ransom money. He was captured as a result of a highly publicized reward fund and spent twenty-five years in prison. They met the day of his release.
Check out The Forgiveness Projects new website.