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Home » Ask the Therapist » Parenting » My family thinks I should forgive abuse by my father.

My family thinks I should forgive abuse by my father.

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I never had a great relationship with my father and I never liked how he was so affectionate with me. Shortly after I turned 18 I was sexually abused by him. At first he said he was drunk but he finally admitted he was wrong and he should have never let it happen. I didn’t speak to him for about a year but I finally gave into everyone that said I needed to forgive him. I have said that I forgave him but deep down I never did. My sister has told me she seen it coming, she said she knew he was going to do it. I know my family questions if it even happened seeing as now it appears I have a good relationship with him. My question is, after what he has done to me and the fact that I dislike him because of it why do I hold a steady friendship with him only five years later? He sometimes gives me money but I know that’s not why I talk to him now. What’s wrong with me, why can’t I just stop talking to him? I know I didn’t fabricate the whole instance and I can still clearly remember it but I’m starting to question whether or not it was such a horrible thing myself, I mean everyone else has seemed to forgive him, so it can’t be that bad of a thing. Please help me I am so confused.

My family thinks I should forgive abuse by my father.

Answered by on -

A.

The reason you are confused is because situations like this are rarely simple. My guess is that you always longed for your father’s love and maybe still do. It’s very, very hard to put that longing aside. Make no mistake, he did do a bad thing. Everyone else can forgive him more easily than you can because they weren’t there. They don’t carry the memory of being so terribly betrayed by a father who is supposed to love you and protect you, not hurt you.
Forgiveness does not require forgetting. If you have a good relationship now, it may be that he sincerely regrets what happened. But that doesn’t make the incident go away or make it okay. However steady things may seem, both you and your father know that you can never reclaim the innocent love and trust that should be between a father and daughter. You can only move on as best you can. I do suggest you find a therapist who specializes in sexual abuse to help you sort out your feelings and to give you support that your family can’t give you. Talking it out will help you come to terms with what happened and figure out how you want to go forward with your father and the rest of the family.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My family thinks I should forgive abuse by my father.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My family thinks I should forgive abuse by my father.. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/01/01/my-family-thinks-i-should-forgive-abuse-by-my-father/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.