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Can I ever forgive their abuse?

She’s made peace with her husband but not his enabling mom.

Read on for our elder’s advice on how to let go and move forward.

Dear EWC:

I need help. My boyfriend and me have been together since we were 16, and I’m now 22. When we were around 18-19 he was a little abusive and we have since gotten past that point. It’s been a while since he’s hurt me and he’s gotten help and become a much better man.

But when he was being abusive I felt so alone and scared. I didn’t want to talk to my family about it because I didn’t want them to hate him. So I asked his mom for help. I told her how he had anger problems and would hit, push, and choke me and she told me that I must have done something to deserve it. One occasion where she walked in on us fighting and he was being very aggressive and I was crying and shaking out of fear and sadness and she told me that she would wanna hit me too if I was acting “hysterical.” She said I needed to calm down so that I can help him calm down and basically blamed me for his anger and him lashing out physically.

Now years have passed. We’re married and we have a kid together, and I’m expected to forgive her and let it go and I can’t. I hate being around her. My husband thinks I need to let it go. They always invite us over and want to spend time with us and our baby but I can’t stand being in her house and being around her. He says he doesn’t understand how I’m not over it by now. I just feel like I can never forget that she told me I deserve abuse and even went as far as to say she would abuse me too. I cannot feel comfortable around her and I despise letting her be around my daughter but I do it for my husband.

I just can’t see myself ever being okay with that woman and it’s causing problems between my husband and me. Should I be over it by now? Am I dragging this on or is it normal to not be able to forgive and forget such horrible treatment?

JanLyn replies:

I hate to agree with an abusive man, but I too believe you should let it go. It seems that you had no problem forgiving your husband and he was the one abusing you. Yes, his mother stuck by him, which no doubt enabled him to abuse you longer and stronger. At the same time, your abuser is now your husband and yet you’ve forgiven him, otherwise you wouldn’t have married him and had a child by him, right?

To my way of thinking, a person being abused is perhaps one of the last people to forgive because it’s so horrendous for the soul, the being. It robs the abused of self-confidence, self esteem, joy in life. At the same time, to carry around negative feelings and even hatred for anyone continues to rob a person of a good life. It’s just not something anyone should do if they want to enjoy all there is out there.

If you’ve made the decision to stay with this man, and you’ve forgiven HIM, then my advice is for you to forgive HER. Why carry around that hatred for someone who basically did what he was doing? She abused you, not physically, but certainly mentally and emotionally. They’re the same person. And you’ve already forgiven half of that person.

I strongly recommend that you talk with a counselor. Please, please do so. I believe you need help from a trained professional who can guide you in a healthy direction. Sometimes we just can’t do everything for ourselves by ourselves. Good luck with the hard work it takes to forgive someone and move on in life. Do take care of yourself and your baby, and be well in these worrisome times.

Family
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