1. Acknowledge What Happened
Denial is a continuation of abuse. It’s impossible to forgive what we haven’t acknowledged, so we need to admit what happened before we can forgive.
Many abusers refuse to admit to what they have done. They don’t like to remember how they’ve hurt others or their pride stands in the way. They might even expect the injured to sweep their pain under the rug, but God calls all of us to honesty.
We can ask Jesus to reveal where He was protecting us in the past. God gives us permission to tell our truth. Jesus forgave the people who nailed Him to a cross and he honors our humility and love toward others, but He never asks us to lie or cover for our abusers.
2. Show Compassion
The human family has been a dysfunctional family since Adam and Eve tasted the fruit. Our abusers have often been abused themselves. They may have become abusers before they even realized what was happening. Whether they brought it on themselves or refuse to turn away from their selfish behavior, we can still show compassion to them. This contributes to our own healing.
We are all messed up because we come from the same dysfunctional clan, but we can learn to show compassion as a principle–even to our abusers. If an abuser is not safe to be around, we can look for others who are in pain. Showing compassion in any form prevents us from becoming bitter and heals our wounds.
3. Let Go
Not everybody wants revenge, many of us would like to rebuild our broken and abusive relationships. In some cases the abuse has rendered the relationship non-existent. To let go we can first acknowledge, then forgive and then let go.
By letting go of our need for revenge, we turn our attention from our abuser’s behavior to focus on the good things God is doing for us. By letting go of our expectations, we look for healthier relationships. We can trust Jesus to take care of our enemies.
4. Pray for Our Abusers
Receiving God’s grace in our lives allows us to give grace to others. By asking God to bless those who have harmed us, we bring healing upon ourselves. Many abusers have rationalized and justified their own behavior. When a conscience is warped even love will look distorted.
Many abusers know they have done wrong, but they have fallen so out of harmony with God, they can’t imagine how to fix things, so they go on wearing their shame. When we vote through prayer, we ask God to do his will on earth as in heaven.
5. Pray for Ourselves
It doesn’t happen overnight or in one day, but little by little, one healthy thought at time, we can let go of our pain and we can forgive those who have harmed us. It’s important to ask God for healing so we don’t repeat the patterns of abuse.