10 December, 2006

Forgiveness and Dismissal

Posted in Survivors and Survival at 11:16 pm by Daran

This is adapted from a comment I left over at Toy Soldiers

Forgiveness is a gift that you give to the person or people who abused you. They owe you more than they can ever repay, and you cancel the debt as a gift to them. If they are genuinely remorseful, you can accept that remorse in part payment of the debt, and forgive the rest. But it’s a voluntary act of giving. Nobody has any business demanding a gift, or saying that you should give a gift, or that you need to give a gift in order to recover.

(More generally, nobody has any business telling a survivor that they need to (or “should”) do X in order to recover. I can tell you what has helped me, and what other people have told me has helped them. But it’s nobody else’s business whether or not it’s helpful to you.)

There is a similar process, which I call “dismissal”. That’s when you write it off as a bad debt. You’re not cancelling it. They still owe you, but you accept that you’re never going to be paid, and you choose to stop expending psychic energy on persuing the debt. I think it can be helpful for a survivor to dismiss the abuse. It’s been very helpful to me.

I have to say some words about this:

The other thing was that we (male survivors) need to forgive in order to be forgiven.

WTF do “we male survivors” need anyone’s forgiveness for?

I know that many survivors also offend, and maybe offenders need forgiveness (though they have no right to demand it). But what we have here is a victim-blaming assumption that male survivors are offenders. FUCK OFF!

(The “fuck off” was not directed at TS, who was merely reporting on what had been said to him elsewere.)

Advertisements

7 Comments »

  1. toysoldier said,

    Forgiveness is a weird topic because inevitably it gets wound up with religion and I think that’s where the guy was coming from. I do not think he meant that other male survivors are offenders, just that we have harmed others and therefore need to be forgiven as well. However, my reaction was much the same as yours.

    The whole thing still has me thoroughly confused. It is one of those things where everyone has an answer but no one has the answer. Or maybe I am just looking to confirm what I personally believe.

    Your suggestions about “dismissal” is probably what most survivors do, though many of the men I have met end up rejecting that view later on. I suppose the thing I am hung up on is having to forgive. There are a lot of people who simply cannot or will not and I honestly do not believe that if they fail to forgive they will be unable to heal.

  2. Daran said,

    Thanks for commenting. I personally find religion to be as toxic to me as feminism, and I have little to offer survivors who are and wish to remain believers. (I can help people with religion recovery, though.)

    In my opinion, the only thing you have to do in life is respect the legitimate rights of other people. It can sometimes be very difficult to sort out where their rights end and yours begin. That is one reason why many survivors end up offending. Its also a reason why many survivors find it difficult to assert their legitimate rights.

    I put “dismissal” onto the table. It’s there to be rejected if it doesn’t work for you. All I can say is that it has greatly helped me. But it’s not something you can do before you’re ‘ready’, and for me it has taken years.

  3. toysoldier said,

    Dismissal sounds close to what I do, though instead of writing the debt off I assign it to myself.

    I try to avoid religion. I cannot help but question it and that ends up angering lots of people. For some people it does seem to work, though I personally cannot understand why.

    I suppose for some people forgiveness just comes natural and for others it is a conscious decision. To me, forgiveness is up there with disclosure and reporting the abuse. Those are major, life-changing steps and they should not be treated as ‘just the next step.’ I do not think they are necessary in every case. However, I understand that many therapists and psychologists push for these steps, so that may be one of the reasons the issue keeps coming up on male survivor forums.

  4. Daran said,

    Dismissal sounds close to what I do, though instead of writing the debt off I assign it to myself.

    That doesn’t sound like dismissal to me. That sounds like self-blame.

    I try to avoid religion. I cannot help but question it and that ends up angering lots of people.

    Fuck ’em.

    One of the more toxic ideas around, in my opinion, is that we should “respect” other people’s religion. I agree we should be tolerant; intolerance leads to mayhem. But nobody’s belief system is entitled to my respect. That is another gift.

    For some people it does seem to work, though I personally cannot understand why

    A long time ago, in talk.rape a girl/young woman posted, shortly (days) after having been raped. Her problem was her virginity pledge, which she felt she had broken. A male survivor – decent bloke generally, very like you – challenged her religion. I think that was inappropriate. (I realise that this contradicts what I said above about respecting other people’s religion.) She’d been challenged enough by her rape. Better to work within the belief system than against it. Most of us talked about the nature of promises, of responsibility. Some of us looked closely at the word “intercourse” and whether it really applied to rape.

    But generally, yeah, I find it very difficult to understand or help religious survivors. I’m willing to admit that there are some things I cannot do.

    I suppose for some people forgiveness just comes natural and for others it is a conscious decision. To me, forgiveness is up there with disclosure and reporting the abuse. Those are major, life-changing steps and they should not be treated as ‘just the next step.’ I do not think they are necessary in every case. However, I understand that many therapists and psychologists push for these steps, so that may be one of the reasons the issue keeps coming up on male survivor forums.

    I honestly read “therapists” as “the rapists” twice, before I saw what you had written.

    Some therapists are very good. Others are arseholes. The fact that I read the word this way probably tells you what I think of the ones that “push for these steps”.

    Do you mind if I ask a personal question? Do you have any insight into why feminists react with such hostility to you?

  5. toysoldier said,

    That doesn’t sound like dismissal to me. That sounds like self-blame.

    Probably. I take responsibility because I grew up with people who did not. That is not the best reason or even a good reason, but I need to do it.

    A male survivor – decent bloke generally, very like you – challenged her religion. I think that was inappropriate.

    I used to do that a lot. It took me some time to realize everyone was not as disconnected from ideas as I am. Once I stopped, I made friends with several very religious people.

    I honestly read “therapists” as “the rapists” twice, before I saw what you had written.

    You do that too?

    Do you have any insight into why feminists react with such hostility to you?

    Well, I tend to rub people the wrong way no matter what.

    But, I think there are three reasons I receive their hostility. One, I do not mask my distrust of feminism and its intent. While I do not outright say, “I don’t trust you because you agree with feminism,” much of what I say carries that tone. No one likes to be prejudged, so I can understand the anger.

    Two, in most debates/arguments, I tend to ignore “winning” and simply state my point. This makes it seem that I am debating/arguing for no reason. From my perspective though, while I see no point in trying to convince someone who will not change her mind, I do see a point in criticizing slanted views, whether I agree with the position or not. I also tend to criticize arguments from within rather than presenting outside information.

    Three, I do not take well to being threatened or bullied. While I do not inherently ‘fight back,’ I also do not cower. Since that is a challenge, people become quite upset. The point of this is less to maintain my dignity and more to demonstrate that the bullying tactic only works if the target is afraid of you. It is quite effective, though it more or less kills any possibility of discourse.

    Couple that with my monotonous tone and it is easy to see why I make them upset. This is actually magnified offline because in person I do not speak much.

  6. Daran said,

    I take responsibility because I grew up with people who did not. That is not the best reason or even a good reason, but I need to do it.

    Well, my preference is to take responsibility for what I am responsible for, and reject responsibility for what I am not responsible for.

    I used to do that a lot. It took me some time to realize everyone was not as disconnected from ideas as I am. Once I stopped, I made friends with several very religious people.

    Sounds like a good move. I think, what I said about not respecting other people’s religions refers to those who seek to inflict their religions on others. But if a survivor comes to you and they want to talk about the problem their religion gives them, that’s not what they’re doing.

    I honestly read “therapists” as “the rapists” twice, before I saw what you had written.

    You do that too?

    No, that is the first time. I notice that there is a slightly wider gap after the letter ‘e’ than after the other letters, in the font I am viewing.

    On the other hand, I had to hyphenate “un-derail” because the unhypenated word broke as “under-ail”

    Do you have any insight into why feminists react with such hostility to you?

    Well, I tend to rub people the wrong way no matter what.

    Why do you think that is?

    Also, how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?

    But, I think there are three reasons I receive their hostility. One, I do not mask my distrust of feminism and its intent. While I do not outright say, “I don’t trust you because you agree with feminism,” much of what I say carries that tone. No one likes to be prejudged, so I can understand the anger.

    They really do not like to be criticised. That in itself is an interesting characteristic of feminism. They are perfectly happy to criticise other groups.

    Two, in most debates/arguments, I tend to ignore “winning” and simply state my point. This makes it seem that I am debating/arguing for no reason. From my perspective though, while I see no point in trying to convince someone who will not change her mind, I do see a point in criticizing slanted views, whether I agree with the position or not. I also tend to criticize arguments from within rather than presenting outside information.

    I’m like that too, although I do try to bring in outside information. But this can’t be what upsets Amp about you, otherwise he’d be upset about me too, and really we get on.

    Three, I do not take well to being threatened or bullied. While I do not inherently ‘fight back,’ I also do not cower. Since that is a challenge, people become quite upset. The point of this is less to maintain my dignity and more to demonstrate that the bullying tactic only works if the target is afraid of you. It is quite effective, though it more or less kills any possibility of discourse.

    I don’t take well to being threatened or bullied either. I “fight back” by speaking truth to power. But I’m prepared to make a tactical retreat and fight a rearguard action.

    How do you rate my recent performance?

    Couple that with my monotonous tone and it is easy to see why I make them upset. This is actually magnified offline because in person I do not speak much.

    It doesn’t bother me. I wonder why it bothers them?

  7. toysoldier said,

    Why do you think that is?

    Well, I am blunt and I make no attempt to be appealing or likeable. The only ones that does not bother are children and animals, for the most part.

    Also, how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?

    I do not mind. I am twenty-three.

    They really do not like to be criticised.

    That is true. However, I criticize them knowing that they will take it personally no matter how civil I am. That is why I avoid posting often on feminist blogs and forums, and when I do I stick to a handful of posts.

    But this can’t be what upsets Amp about you, otherwise he’d be upset about me too, and really we get on.

    I honestly do not know exactly what makes him that upset with me. My guess is that I said or did something when I first posted on Alas that angered him. I do not recall anything in particular, though I would suspect mentioning my experiences did not help.

    I don’t take well to being threatened or bullied either. I “fight back” by speaking truth to power. But I’m prepared to make a tactical retreat and fight a rearguard action.

    Generally, I have no problem doing this. However, I do not like being forced to retreat by having my hands tied and then ceremoniously severed. That is unfortunately the way many posters get treated, whether it is a feminists, Christian, liberal, conservative or fanboy blog or forum.

    How do you rate my recent performance?

    Tactically speaking, it was impressive. Regardless of the baiting and the ad homs, you presented what happened as fairly as possible and gave all the parties involved numerous chances to make amends. By declining and shifting blame to you (which you accepted), they ensured that if it happens again they cannot claim that it was your interpretation or that it was a misunderstanding.

    But in terms of how most people will view it, it looks as if you copped out.

    It doesn’t bother me. I wonder why it bothers them?

    I do not know. It does not bother me, though. I cannot please everyone and what would please them is not something I am willing to do.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: