Posted in Feminist Theology

Does forgiveness really help domestic abuse healing?

Avalanche of the soul

Domestic abuse survivors hear about forgiveness a lot. Here’s why it really matters – not for the perpetrator, but for those seeking to heal.


Three syllables, but rammed with meaning.

For the religious among us, forgiving is a sacred act. We’re extolled to forgive the sinner:

  • Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Holy Bible, Luke 6:37 NIV)
  • Let them pardon and overlook. Would you not love for Allah to forgive you? (Holy Qur’an, 24:22)
  • I extend complete forgiveness to everyone who has sinned against me (traditional Yom Kippur prayer)

The theme is that God forgives, and so we should seek to follow that example.

For those of us that aren’t religious, society itself extends an influence in favour of forgiveness. ‘Forgive and forget’ is a concept so old it’s rooted into our…

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I am a writer and activist in the campaign to end violence against women and girls, often referred to as Gender Based Violence, or GBV. My book WITNESS was published in November 2016 and is available from,,, and all good bookshops. WITNESS tells Sarah's account of domestic violence together with the accounts and reactions of family, friends and professionals involved with her and her children. Extracts from WITNESS are published here. I live in a coastal village in the east of Scotland where I enjoy my glorious surroundings regardless of weather - Scotland is famous for having four seasons in one day! I love exploring ideas and beliefs, singing, reading and family & friends gatherings.

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