Letter: Forgiveness can be dangerous

I MISSED the original letter of 8 August about forgiveness and child sexual abuse. However, I wholeheartedly agree with KA Rutter (Letters, 15 August) regarding the perpetrator's responsibility to repent, change and even offer restitution (perhaps by paying for therapy fees of the victim/survivor).

I run an organisation called Christian Survivors of Sexual Abuse (CSSA). It amazes me how many Christians see "forgiveness" as a healing tool both for the victim and the perpetrator. But forgiveness can be dangerous. Some Christian communities have "forgiven" abusers to the extent that they are allowed free rein in churches without regard to the risks to children. This happens because the act of forgiveness is seen as therapeutic and there is a belief that if someone says sorry this must automatically mean they are healed.

At the CSSA our priority is for victims/survivors not to take on responsibility for their abusers but to cherish themselves. Those who ask us to forgive have no idea of the terrible ordeal we have undergone and want simplistic closing of a nasty subject. They ask us to forgive because they do not want to hear our story: forgiveness is a tool to keep us quiet.


CSSA, London WC1