This post will explore the “forgive and forget” advice given to survivors of toxic relationships. I am a survivor a religious movement that turned into an abusive cult. I have rarely discussed this in public, but I think it is time to open up about many things people on the outside wonder about.the #MeToo movement has opened Pandora’s box in a very good way.
When I was very I was a member of a very loving church in the heartland of Iowa. Step by step good people found themselves practicing their faith is a different way than they could have ever foreseen- I my case- anyway. I left this cult with the toxic leadership decades ago with my children. I still have very deep scars. Healing is always a work in progress.
I will not describe all the abuse that I have suffered- those stories will be left private with fellow survivors. So, how can you figure out how you can help someone who has survived multiple abuses will in cult? Personal details are not so much important to the regular folks on the street as it is to understand that all cult organizations demonstrate controlling patterns of behavior. Knowledge of destructive patterns will help us to know when to walk away or how we can figure out how to heal.
If you wonder if a loved one or yourself is in a cult check out Cult Education Forum. www.cultEducation.com Not affiliated with No Non-cents Nanna but a reliable source of information on cults with useful forums for survivors of cults.
Even to’ I left the cult before it got worse in the 198-‘s I still experience times where I cringe in fear at the sound of a some word or phrases. I know that I am not alone in my varying degrees of irrational fears.
At times over the years my scars make it hard to those around me to understand – the best response is to utter, “forgive and forget”. But, I ask every survivor of abuse to “Please don’t poke me where I an bleeding and broken.”
What is WRONG with Forgive and Forget?
Plenty is wrong with Forgiving and Forgetting when the problem to forgive has crossed the legal line as in molestation, rape, mind control, manipulation that crosses the line of the law…and more.
Simply Forgiving and Forgetting allows criminals to continue doing what they are doing to unlawfully take and continue to keep power and control over more and more victims for longer and longer. Religious cult members at taught very sneakily that they have been chosen to god’s will. “We” believe that everything has a spiritual reason. Once we are free of the cult step by step we realize that there was nothing Spiritual at all – the cult leader used Biblical or other religious words to manipulate into getting the adoration and power and control she or she desired for the followers. “our” brains are re-wired by mind control techniques – some of the same techniques used in marketing that people see on TV or the internet all the time- now that fact is really creepy that will be addressed in a future post.
Forgiving and Forgetting may very well be the words that the abuser uses to make everyone around them think he/ she has done nothing but love and care for his followers. A cult leader may tell the people to forgive and forget the things “we” misunderstood as really his way of showing love- not a crime.
History repeats it’s self over and over… let us not forget crimes against innocent people in history.
Turn the Other Cheek- Forget it.
Here are some example of having a Christian mind set to forgive and get and turn the other cheek. Most normal people make mistakes. Decent citizens figure out polite ways to resolve differences and honest mistakes.
- Example: Neighbor borrows your rake and forgot to return it. What do you?
You nicely knock on your neighbor’s door to politely say, ” I’ve been so busy that I guess I was not home when you were done with my rake. Can you grab it for me, now? my tress are loosing leaves like crazy and the yard waste pick up is tomorrow. Thanks neighbor.”
Don’t hold a grudge. Don’t post the rake incident all over Facebook. Forgive, forget and move on.
But, if you have a neighbor who steals your garden tools with out your permission, you report the theft to the police- non of this “forgive and forget.”
Forgive and forget
- Example: Your trying to help your Grandma clean house. You knocked over her favorite vase and it broke. You did not do it on purpose. You say, “I’m sorry Grandma. I know it meant a lot to you.”
Things break. Accidents happen that make us sad. Sentimental things can’t be replaced, but, we can forgive and forget…
Grandma can be so angry she writes you out of her will and tells everyone at Garden Club that you are a Wicked -Wicked child that she now disowns. – Family may step in to tell Granny to Forgive and forget.
Forgive and forget
But, when you leave your door open and someone vandalizes our property, we call in the law and the insurance company to deal with it- then we move on the best we can.
It will take time to feel safe again in our home- that is normal. We still trust in God, but, we learn that we need to lock our doors/
We may even install better locks or a security system. We will be reminded of the break in more than what we want to be reminded. We will learn from it. We learn to not dwell on it after we takes the necessary steps to process that crime against us.
You could organize a vigilante party to find the vandal so the tar and feather the vandals when we left the door wide open?
Careless Teen Driver
- The kid who lives down the street always speeds through the residential neighborhood. He does not stop at the stop sign in front of your home. While driving he has knocked over and crushed garbage cans leaving trash all over the place. He does not stop to clean up. He plays his boom-boom-boom music too loud and texts while driving. He is a menace- but ‘boys will be boys”.
What do you do? Forgive and forget because he is an inexperienced driver?
- the same inexperienced teen runs over your cat. What do you do? forgive and forget? Maybe it was the cat’s own fault?
Forgive and forget?
I think some one needs to take away the car keys and or sit in the car seat to supervise the kids driving. Or maybe even make a report to the police so they can sit and wait to catch the kid and give him a traffic ticket? Well, that a logical consequence that would prevent something more serious.
Too harsh? Not the Christian Forgive and Forget?
I think not! if that kid can’t learn to be responsible behind the wheel you don;t have to have a crystal ball to see that he will hit a person with his car and do great bodily harm.
God forbid, this same neighbor kid does end up hitting and killing a person with his car. What then?
Do we LET it GO because Forgiving and Forgetting is what a Christian does?
No. We let the law handle it as we go through the normal stages of grief which do not ever feel “normal’ after the loss of a loved one. (Leaving a cult is like loosing everything you know- like the death of a 1,000 loves.)
How helpful will it be at a funeral when instead of people extending their loving condolences say, “You got pull your self up by the boots tarps -get back up on that horse-FORGIVE and FORGET!” That is down right insensitive. ( Yet, people say this to victims of abuse crimes all the times- they mean well. they just don’t know better- that is why I am writing my posts)
Should we forgive and forget because the driver of a car that ran over a person and killed them was young and the person got in his way?
Should not some one have spoken up about an irresponsible driver the first or 2nd time he did damage?
“We”as neighbors maybe chose to do nothing. We would have all allowed the teen driver to abuse the PRIVILEGE to operate a motor vehicle. Now, when a person. is dead, we feel guilt and shame. “We” may even want to blame someone other than the kid who caused the death- except we don’t want to slow down either and we cruise through stop signs ourselves. There are laws for a reason.
There are laws to stop people from harming others- cult members are people who get hurt as well.
My post is titled Should Cult Survivors Forgive and Forget? Sadly, I have to say that all too many survivors are plagued with the FORGIVE and FORGET advice to themselves. That sounds so nice -but…
When a friend tells a #MeToo or a cult survivor to LET IT GO…
We can not control what comes out of by-standers thoughts or mouth telling us to Let is Go!
Abuse is a crime- even when everyone closes their eyes. Dealing with abuse takes action- that can be very painful and embarrassing. Support is needed as law enforcement and legal team work to take proper action. Medical/ psychology professional counselors are available to help the recovery process.
“Forgive and Forget” statement may be the words that put up the barriers that may delay a cult survivor from getting help in a timely manner. Recovery is far more complicated that forgetting any thing abusive ever happened.
Most people can not relate to survivors of any kind of abuse so I am giving some every day examples where we would be able to relate to , such as an inexperienced driver killing a person.The logical course of events would be to deal with the little mistakes that can be forgiven and forgotten before someone got hurt in ways that are hard to imagine.
With people who got lured and or trapped into a cult situation, the majority of the injuries are the kinds of wounds you can’t readily see. They deserve justice. The abuses are not simple, nor are they quickly proved in a court of law after the cult is exposed for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or more abuses of power and control. I would guess that most people would think they would never fall victim to a cult leader. ( I ‘m going to address that thought in another post soon.)
The longer a person is involved in a cult, the longer it will take to unravel the damage that was done and all that needs healing. The victim will have a hard time, sort things out as well. The question of “why they did not just up walk out” is complicated – far more complicated than forgiving and forgetting your neighbor did not return your rake and you said nothing or you did ask for it back and forgave and forgot… I will explore more question like that in future posts. I hope you will ponder the easy possibilities on your own.
Leaving a cult does not in any ways mean that survivors are crazy. it just means that are wounded and will have to make changes.
- The words in my posts are my opinions. as always take it or leave it.
- It is important to say that you have a free will to chose what you want to absorb from my writings if you chose to read my posts or not. My word nor any other human being word is infallible .
Choice of what you want to absorb from what I say because:
- those of us who have been in abusive relationships “learned” that we had better jump at the command to jump when ordered to jump and ask how high on the way up – no questions were allowed to be asked. Nor did our words that may have begged for mercy were ever acknowledged with empathy.
- it is hard to UNLEARN our patterns of behavior. The longer we how do something the longer it takes to not do something a different way .It’s kind of like the saying, ” you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Brains can be re-wired – another post-coming soon. (Author Rick Ross provides tons of great information at www. culteducation.com on 100’s of cults that yu may not have realized that they fit the cult definition.)
This is difficult for an outsider who has not experienced some kind of toxic control under/over another person to comprehend. It is uncomfortable for well meaning people to have to live around us or work with loved ones who are survivors or current victims or co-workers who cringe or balk at words, phrases, tones of the boss’ voice when he/ she gives an order. Sometime an ordinary colors, or something that smells nice to you or i may freak a survivor. That is no your fault when you have no idea.
And sometimes just weird things that happen to normal people every day can cause some one to start crying or shut down. An victim of abuse may say, ” That bothers me. Pleas don;t do that.” No one can not possibly figure out why the heck anyone may have a problem fully functioning and won’t “just move on.” if that seems to be the case- please don;t start interrogating someone to force them to say they were abused or in a cult. Please don’t make them roll up their sleeves to check for track marks. And for goodness sake, there is no need to wear cloves of garlic around your neck to ward off an evil force they may have brought with them.
In other words- DO NOT OVER REACT if some one you know is having ‘issues”.
I certainly do not expect anyone to have to jump into my private memories that scarred me, nor wounds of any other survivor of any toxic, abusive relationship. Being around someone who has distracting “issues” can be annoying and not very productive. I get it!
- It is not the outsiders responsibility to FIX anyone. – but you can have empathy.
- it is not the responsibility of an outsider to listen to every horrid detail of our abuse – nor be expected to know what to say nor do.
The wrong thing to say is, “Forgive and Forget!”
Quoting chapter and verse about turning the other check may only make the healing for a victim who is not functioning so well around you shrink away even more from seeking the most appropriate professional assistance.
Abuse of one STINKS for the entire community. whether we feel comfortable about it or not.
Let’s be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem that helps abusers stay undercover.
Six reason Not to Forgive and Forget
If we counsel forgiveness as a general practice, we turn a blind eye to so many – a blind eye that would put salt in the wounds or add a layer of shame for those whose next step is not forgiveness. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/is-psychology-making-us-sick/201409/6-reasons-not-forgive-not-yet?fbclid=IwAR0SeR2gBAG9LB8fxM2BjixOafAMRzGGiK2zGB49Yp8z0stxjlx_i40FgWE
As an example: If you see a pedestrian lying on the street- a victim of a hit and run accident, what are the first steps that must be done?
- Is the scene safe?
- Call 911 for help
- Can you start emergency first aid like apply pressure to a bleeding wound?
- start preaching at the injured victim to “Forgive and forget” about the careless driver of the care who hit the victim.
- will you turn a blind eye pretending you saw nothing – and drive the other way?
For many reasons the moral, ethical and legal things to do is to stop to help by doing what you can do that you have been trained to do until help arrives. Do NO HARM.
- we don’t know what to do
- we fear the unknown
- we don’t want our lives disrupted by some one else problems
- most people have never taken a course in First Aid.
Life Can Turn on a Dime for anyone!
Talking about Hit and Run accidents in a period of 2 and 1/2 years I was a victim of hit and run 3 times while legally crossing the street. The actual hit of the car was not so bad, but, the forceful land on my face on the pavement created long standing injures. You never know who will stop to help keep you from getting run over by oncoming traffic.
The accident was NOT my fault. Drivers made right turns on red with out even a pause while the walk sign was on or they Ran red left urn arrows. NOT my fault!
Will the Injured Get Run Over by Oncoming Traffic?
With those of use who have “escaped” abusive/ toxic relationships it seems like those people around us who are frustrated by our not functioning optimally need us to fix the problem every bit as much as we want to flow with those around us. I get it.
What I want my readers to understand is that victims all too often can and do get run over by on-coming traffic because they do not have the time nor the strength to get out of the unsafe place they are stuck in to avoid getting run over by people who are driving responsibly minding their own business.
“You should not have been in the road bleeding all over the place! I don’t have have time for this distraction,” doesn’t make any sense if you were a witness to an accident, now does it?
With victims of abuse or nay kind or people who leave cults the blood and guts and broken bones of the mind are not as graphically visible. We know that sometimes accident victims are not exactly aware that they are so severely wounded as witnesses can plainly see. lack of self- injury does not mean that they are not in desperate need of medical attention. As so it is with survivors of toxic relationships- some may be in shock or denial. Or they simply don;t want to e a burden with out realizing their dysfunctional unhealed wounds are bleeding all over their co-worker work area.
- Yes, a person who has been abused does need some kind of professional support. We are all entitle to our opinions, but, an opinion ( right or wrong) may not be the most helpful thing to blurt out.
- We friends, family, co-workers, neighbors are not qualified to do psychological surgery nor put out a fire for this person. We sure are not the ones to be giving “therapeutics” one-size fits all advice when we are not trained to do so.
- Snapping GET THERAPY or trying to be coy by asking, “So when is you next appointment with your shrink?” is not appropriate at all. In fact it is just plain mean – you are using very similar toxic technique that the abuser or cult leader may have been using. *I’ll give some links for suggestions below
- GET OVER IT! “Pull your self up by the boot straps” by may exactly what a wounded soldier must do to get out of the line of fire. But, after the battle those wounds have to cleaned and stitched up properly or the wounds get infected. The same goes with an abuse victim and former cult members. They need their wounds addressed properly or the bacteria will grow and fester.
Now what and I supposed to do since you think I’m doing it all wrong?
Frustrating, isn’t it?
The truth is: it is a chaotic world where nothing is ever going to be perfect. Shit happens and to think life is perfect or should be …if only…is not reality. There is no magic solution- no one know all the answers- there are not perfects cures for what ails everyone…
Therefore we do the best we can by be better informed by sources who have studied how to solve a particular problem in a particular field.
Cult leaders will put themselves in the position of being the ultimate authority on EVERYTHING.
Victims, (whom for what ever reason became the leaders’ victims) after are period of conditioning are not allowed to make their own choices. The control uses effective ways to make the victims perform to his will as the ultimate authority. Those proven techniques are very subtle and could at first be easily dismissed. A cult leaders may start out saying or doing controlling things so much like any other parent or boss or speaker we watch on TV news. ( that another enormous subject. But, now I want to point out that “normal” people may very well do the exact same thing to control their spouses, children, employees or parishioners etc…and it all seems OK with everyone….)
We victims learn that we had better ‘jump” when the leader ( spouse, parents, teacher, older sibling, preacher, priest boss etc) says “JUMP” and we had better ask “how high on the way up. If we are not perfectly obedient to the one who know all the truths and all the answers we will get hurt. Almost every living body has built in mechanisms that automatically kick in to with draw from painful stimuli. ( The pot on the stove is hot- we withdraw our hand if we touch a hot pot.)
A cult leader has learned how to inflict pain in order to control his following – that is AFTER he has loved BOMBED them. No one is exempt from getting loved bombed and then abused by a narcissistic controller is we were to be with in that person’s reach and He/ she wanted to control you – UNLESS you have had knowledge base to know when the RUN! Most people do NOT expect to fall prey to a narcissist. Then again, some cult survivors who don’t get adequate healing and have the feelings left intact to pull their hand away from a hot pot on the stove will get burnt again.
Who’s FAULT is it?
Shame and blame never helps any more than “just forgive and forget” or even que sera sera – how ever your spell it.
Being a victim of abuse is NOT YOUR FAULT.
Feeling helpless to fix everything for a victim is not your fault either.
You can not change anyone else behavior nor their history. But, each one of us that the responsibility to do what we can to work towards a resolution for healing – we don’t need to stay secretly miserable.
With that said, keeping deep dark secrets of abuse hidden inside is noticed by those around us- they just can’t put their finger on it – so , no they don’t know how to help you. We ab use survivor of abusive relationships( domestic , childhood, cult what-ever ) may be driving your spouse, your in-laws, you neighbors; your co-workers or your children NUTS because you have secrets you are trying to hide versus getting professional help to heal.
YES, really that habits that we survivors have developed to help use cope or survive may very well may not be healthy in what could be normal relationships – unless we get help.
i can preach to the choir about how really unhelpful it is to to say “Forgive and Forget ” as a bystanders, who innocently trying to balance live with we survivors and around us because they love us. WE survivors, tho’ really do have to be aware that most folks don’t know what to do. It is NOT their FAULT. WE have to take responsibility to learn more healthy ways of relating besides what we learned in an abusive relationship such as a cult.
But you can become better informed on how to be empathetic to your ‘neighbor” so that you don’t suffer in utter frustration because you can’t undo what your “neighbors” abuser did.
Forgive and Forget Advice May be DEADLY
- I write in generalities as a lay person. I do not have all the answers. I believe I can get you thinking about some valuable things that may lead you to the direction to start searching for the right help for you.
- I do have a degree in nursing, but does not make me a qualified professional that has all the answer to your problem.
- Yes, I am a survivor of multiple kinds of abuse. That only make s me an expert on my own abuse- not yours.
There is NO prefect answer that will cure all ills. Including the Don’t bother me with you crap- move on- FORGIVE and FORGET as the only answer to a victims problem can be deadly.
Retaliation or vengeance is not a healthy answer either.
By “forgiving and forgetting” without RESOLUTION that stops the abuse we as community are most certainly allowing an abuser to continue to do what is harmful to the next victim and the next victim and next….And by insisting a victim hides a festering sore under a cloak of silence in the guise of Christian duty to forgive only promotes an infection to grow- not heal.
The FACTS about what happens when an abuser is not stopped.
Here are some links to article for you to pick and choose from that contain FACTS about abuse of a various kinds an don different levels. Pick and chose what you wish. Some articles are better than others. Some wiil apply to your while others may not.
I hope that I have provided something insightful on whether or not “forgive and forget ” is useful advice to victims who are in a stage of healing from some kind of traumatic event. I reserve the write to re-write for clarity.
i am Malika Bourne the No Non-cents Nanna saying, Make Good Choices.