Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
For Adult Daughters of Controlling or Abusive Birth-Families
HEAL & FORGIVE: Forgiveness In The Face Of Abuse
Heal & Forgive
Forgiveness In The Face Of Abuse
By Nancy Richards
(Review by Rev. Renee)
Heal and Forgive is the best book I’ve read in a very long time, and I would be hard-pressed to come up with a more helpful book to recommend. It is unique in its perspective in that it teaches the reader that sometimes it is okay, and even necessary, NOT to forgive. It is a page turner right from the beginning, gripping you with Nancy Richards’ riveting and disturbing story of her sadistic stepfather’s violence and relentless abuse of herself and her brothers, and her mother’s complicity in the abuse and complete refusal to protect her children in the slightest way.
Even more distressing is the author’s account of her attempts to protect herself and her brothers, and to stand up and speak the truth about the abuse, which resulted in her treacherous mother convincing anyone who would listen that she was a liar and troublemaker with mental problems. There is a twisted episode in which her stepfather was finally going to move out, but her mother told the then 12-year old author to ask him to stay. He did stay, and years later the mother blamed her daughter for controlling her marriage (at age 12!) and making her husband stay when she could have been rid of him sooner.
Long after the evil stepfather was gone and the author was grown, her mother continued to expose the author’s younger brothers to repeated abuse from a string of other losers she became involved with. Nancy Richards tells, in heart-wrenching detail, of her attempts to protect her younger siblings, to get anyone to listen to her or believe her, and to somehow maintain a relationship with the mother she still loved and the rest of her family.
But, in a scenario disturbingly familiar to many abuse survivors, her mother managed to convince most of the family that Richards was the problem, and to turn almost her entire family against her, including the brothers she had tried so hard and sacrificed so much to protect. The denial, betrayals, and blatant lies as the family protected the abusers and scape-goated the author will ring true with so many of us.
And then the author was left to embark on the path to forgiveness, with absolutely no remorse or repentance from those she was pressured to forgive, and not even any validation of her traumatic experiences. At each stage of the process, she faced renewed pain with every new revelation, such as the realizations that her mother was the one who betrayed her the most, and that her mother really never loved her.
Throughout her long and difficult journey to forgiveness and recovery, the author has many valuable insights which she lovingly shares with us. The most important insight, which is the main premise of the book, is that healing needs to come FIRST, BEFORE forgiveness. We usually feel pressured to forgive prematurely, by family and friends, therapists, and society in general. But forced forgiveness is not always possible, and is certainly not healthy.
The author teaches us that forgiveness is a process that begins with healing, and needs to include other elements as well, such as validation, anger, grief, and protection. In the process of her recovery, Nancy Richards read other author’s works, which helped her to understand these truths about forgiveness, and she quotes from them in her book. When reading Heal & Forgive, one gets the sense that the author is not just writing about her own experiences, but is doing all she can to present a well-rounded and informed picture that will help other abuse victims as much as possible. She opens her heart to us, and shares her innermost thoughts and every feeling she has that might validate our own feelings and help us on our road to recovery.
The book is an easy read, and I was able to finish it in a few sittings. It was a hard book to put down, and I hated to walk away from it in the middle of the story without finding out what was going to happen next. It was a lot of food for thought. Nancy Richards does all abuse victims a favor when she teaches us that sometimes no matter what we are willing to do and how hard we are willing to try, it is just not possible to have a relationship with some people. We understand how important it is to stand up and tell the truth- to others and to ourselves.
When we realize that someone we love doesn’t love us, the truth can be so hard to bear, but it is still the truth, and denying it doesn’t change anything. We learn that sometimes we need to make the choice to walk away from a toxic relationship. We feel validated in learning that it is alright NOT TO FORGIVE evil people, and that releasing ourselves from the pressure to forgive gives us the freedom to heal. Only after we have healed will we be able to come to a place of genuine forgiveness.
After reading Heal & Forgive, I admire Nancy Richards for her courage and determination to heal and lead a life of peace and happiness despite her birth-family’s rejection, and I am appreciative of her sincere efforts to encourage the rest of us and validate our experiences by sharing her story. Her triumph over the devastation and heartache inflicted by those she loved is an inspiration to anyone who thinks they can never get over the pain and be happy again. I urge all those who have felt the knife of a loved one’s betrayal in their back, or who feel pressured to forgive before they are ready, to read this book. It is a must-read for any survivor of birth-family abuse.
Copyright 2002-2013.-All articles on this site are copyrighted. Permission to copy is granted for non-profit use only.Please help yourself to anything we write if you can use it to help others. A link back to this site is our only requirement. Please contact us for any commercial or other use. All e-mails, letters, and other correspondence become the property of Luke 17:3 Ministries, Inc. Due to the large volume of e-mails, we're sorry that we are unable to personally answer every one, but we do lift everyone who writes to us in prayer to the Lord.
The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues.
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships. We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.