The Abuse of Forgiveness by Janet Heimlich, author of Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment, explores how churches often address the issue of forgiveness with victims of abuse. She references both the story of Tina Anderson and the newest victim to speak out about her experiences with Chuck Phelps while he was still pastor at Trinity Baptist Church.
The Abuse of Forgiveness is well worth reading. Here are a few selected quotes:
"According to mental health experts, forgiving someone who has wronged us can improve our emotional well-being."
"But the practice of forgiveness can be abused, and nowhere is this more apparent than in cases of religious child maltreatment. All too often, pious adults who learn that a child has been abused fail to do the right thing. That is, instead of reporting the incident or getting the victim counseling, they urge the child to forgive the perpetrator."
"The church should be a place of refuge, but often we have not known how to listen, how to be present to victims. We have told them that their anger is wrong, that they need to move on, to forgive, to forget. We have denied their right to mourn and, instead, have laid new burdens on them. All this is understandable—as part of our effort to distance ourselves from pain and vulnerability—but not at all helpful."