We hear so much about the value and virtue of forgiveness in our culture. We're told to always forgive the people who hurt us.  That by forgiving and then forgetting- we can heal and move on.

I think that the common sense ideas around forgiveness are wrong and misguided- like a lot of things that 'everybody knows'.

This idea of forgiveness is damaging to people who have been the victims of ongoing abuse. Because what the culture is telling these people is that they should forget about what happened to them, go back to their abusers, and give them free reign to do it again.

"It's in the past." "You have to let it go."--  This is what we hear from our abusers.  Let it go, even though they've never expressed remorse.  It's in the past and therefore doesn't matter, except- when you have an unrepentant abuser on your hands- you can predict the future pretty accurately.

I support the idea of helping victims to a place of acceptance where they can enjoy their lives and not be trapped in an obsession with the past.  I do not support the idea that the culture should push down ideas of 'play nice and make up' to people who have been damaged by their situations.  I don't think we should tell people how to feel about the dark times of their lives.

I think that our culture is very uncomfortable with the idea that there are broken people out there who struggle every day with their past.  Because we're uncomfortable-- and our culture can't deal with being uncomfortable-- those people are silenced.

Just turn the other cheek = Let them hit you again.

That might have worked for Jesus, but I'm not a Christian. And it doesn't work for me.  

Don't expect me to live up to a deity. I am just a person.

Do I mean that I never intend to forgive people?  No, of course not. What I am advocating for is an understanding that some people manipulate the idea of forgiveness so that you will allow them to continue to treat you like garbage.  They expect to be able to treat you however they like, and then it's your responsibility to forgive them. You can't get angry at them, they warn you, because it's your duty to forgive.  


Because the past is in the past. And they already apologized! Can't you tell by how they are yelling at you now, that they should be forgiven and allowed full access to continue their prior behavior.


We need a new definition of forgiveness that includes space for people to protect themselves. For people to say no. For abused people to express their anger before it chokes them without being told to 'turn the other cheek'.  

'Forgive and forget.'  As if that's even possible.  Even if the mind forgets, the body remembers.

Our culture is so fucked that we tell people to forgive everything and ignore the past while also wondering why abused wives don't leave their husbands-- which we wait to wonder until after something unspeakably violent has occurred.  THIS IS FUCKED UP.  

Stand and Burn 

by Claudia Boleyn

I once told a joke about a straight person.

They came after me in droves.

Each one singing the same:

Don’t fight fire with fire.


What they mean is: Don’t fight fire with anything.

Do not fight fire with water.

Do not fight fire with foam.

Do not evacuate the people.

Do not sound the alarms.

Do not crawl coughing and choking and spluttering to safety.

Do not barricade the door with damp towels.

Do not wave a white flag out of the window.

Do not take the plunge from several storeys up.

Do not shed a tear for your lover trapped behind a wall of flame.

Do not curse the combination of fuel, heat, and oxygen.

Do not ask why the fire fighters are not coming.


When they say: Don’t fight fire with fire.

What they mean is: Stand and burn.