Forgiveness is an interesting issue and readers have commented lots on posts touching on forgiveness (see comments here). It seems that to forgive is very difficult. I know, it has been a difficult issue in my recovery. I never felt compelled to forgive my abusers because it felt I would let them off the hook. It felt they would get away with having hurt me. I wouldn't have any of that! Instead I had phantasies of them regretting their actions and understanding the impact of their actions.
It always puzzled me why forgiveness took on such an importance in Christian teachings. Then I thought, surely, the bible has not been written to give 'trespassers' a free reign. A book that is the basis of present day morals and laws would not support a 'way out' for abusers and criminals. If the bible is a book written to guide people to becoming good, decent, happy, and useful members of their community, then its written word is to help YOU.
I read the other day that "Unforgiveness is like taking poison in the hope the other guy will die". Anger, hate, resentment, and disappointment will fester in your mind and in your heart, leading to depression, stress, and all sorts of other mental health dilemmas…In you, not in your abuser!
Maybe forgiveness is the ultimate act of self-love. Forgive yourself for hurting, forgive yourself for having been affected by the abuse. Know that you did not deserve the abuse. Know that the responsibility for the abuse lies with your abuser. Know that you are OK.
Forgiveness is not a feeling or an emotion. It's not something that comes to you automatically as some stage in your recovery process. Forgiveness is a conscious behaviour, an act. By forgiving you are saying to yourself: I am not that angry person that bounces off the walls and harbours violent dreams of revenge. I will look after myself by not bringing the issue up again. I will not talk about it anymore. Not to myself, not to the abuser, not to others. I will let it go.
That does not mean you will forget what happend. Not at all. Actually, in order to keep yourself safe from treaspassers and abusers, it's important that you take the vital and important learnings from being abused. But you don't have to continue being victim to the abuse and having your life and your happiness compromised. Let it go! It might not be possible by making the decision once. You might have to put some time and effort into letting go. But you are worth it!