How I Forgave My Childhood Rapist

There are three main stumbling blocks that can hold us back in everything we do, especially in our soulful businesses and close relationships: Guilt, Fear and Resentment. Each has its antidote and today we’ll explore the cure for Resentment.

The process of forgiving my molester was not an easy one. It was actually, quite literally, a nightmare. I’m going to share this story with you now only because I hope that within it, you can find what you need to forgive the people who have hurt you in the past.

I’ve spoken openly here about my history of childhood sexual trauma and the effects it has had on my life. It’s a topic that never stops coming up for me, even now as I walk strong on the path of recovery and healing.

And forgiveness is a topic we’ve talked about before here, too. When I wrote the previous post on the subject of forgiveness, it really resonated with a lot of people. But it also pissed a lot of people off. Some so much so that they wrote about their pissed-offness on their blogs. Imentionit because this post may feel as raw as the last, so if you’re overly sensitive or don’t believe in the concept of unconditional forgiveness and the freedom it can restore to your life…please just stop reading now.

There is always someone, somewhere, suffering from the restraints this type of trauma inflicts upon our lives. If you live in a relatively populated area, there is a very good chance that at this very moment a child is hiding from their abuser only a stone’s throw away from where you are sitting.

One of my deepest, and least rational, wishes is that I had a magic wand I could wave to spare any child of ever going through that pain. But for me, for my life, I would not want to change a single thing.

This story must begin with an introduction to a woman commonly known as Amma. She is a living Hindu saint, often called the “hugging saint.” The miracles and mountains she has moved are too numerous to list here but I encourage you to learn all you can about her and her work.

She’s called the hugging saint because, well, she hugs people. Tens of millions of people worldwide. Her devotees, including myself, believe that she is an incarnation of the Divine. She is, at the very least, a fully self-actualized being.

I’ve watched her, numerous times, sit perfectly still in one place while each of the thousands of people who flock to her receive her darshan, her hug. Despite having several physical afflictions including diabetes, she doesn’t move from that spot until everyone has received her blessing. She does not leave to go to the bathroom, does not take a sip of water, does not take a bite of food. For 12, 15, 18 hours she sits there. By the time she’s done, her white sari is muddied with the tears, sweat, grime and makeup of everyone she’s hugged.

Amma was born in a poor fishing village in the south of India. Her family shunned her as a child because of her dark skin and odd ways. She was never educated, never taught to read or write, and yet she has built schools, hospitals, AIDS hospices and orphanages. She’s met with the world’s top physicists to discuss the nature of the universe and can understand, and reply to, any language she hears.

There is no explanation for how a person like this can exist. And yet, she does.

Receiving darshan from Amma is a life-altering experience. It is one my daughter and I were lucky enough to experience on several occasions. As the hugging saint pulls you into her arms you see nothing but bright, white light. It feels like you are being pulled into the universe itself. After the hug, you smell like roses for the entire day. My daughter and I used to joke “You watch and make sure no one’s spraying me with rose water when it’s my turn, okay?” Of course, no one ever did spray us.

During one of these visits, my daughter and I were lost in bliss after a long day in Amma’s presence. As we got ready for bed, I decided to do something crazy…I prayed to Amma for the strength to forgive the person who had sexually abused me as a child.

I drifted off to sleep innocently enough after my prayer. We had a long drive home the next day and I wanted to be well rested. I had no idea what I was in for.

It’s no joke: Be careful what you ask for.

The next morning, thankfully before my daughter woke up, I sprang out of bed and went running into the bathroom to vomit. I was covered in sweat and shaking violently, having had the worst nightmare of my life (and I’ve had some pretty bad nightmares).

It was the only time I can recall where I dreamt I was someone completely different than myself. I was a man. I had children. And I had the irresistible compulsion to rape those children.

There are no words to describe the terror of this existence. In my dream, I was constantly tortured by my evil compulsions and yet, I could not resist them. It was a life of agonizing pain and self-loathing. A life lived in what can only be described as pure hell.

In the dream, I did not want to harm my children. I loved them and the pain in their faces as I attacked them in their sleep haunted my days without end. It felt like I was trapped in a cage of my own sickness. There was no way for me to stop myself despite all the agony my actions caused.

When I stopped throwing up long enough to realize what had happened, I was furious! I immediately threw out all faith in that woman called Amma and everything she had ever touched. I was so enraged, a part of me wanted to tear apart the hotel until I found her so I could give her a good piece of my mind.

I pulled myself together and got my daughter ready for the drive home. She was a pretty big sleeper back then, being a ‘tween,’ and pretty soon into the drive drifted back into deep slumber.

As my daughter slept peacefully in the back seat, I took the opportunity to continue to curse Amma for what she had done to me. I banged my hands on the steering wheel in anger. “How could you do that to me?! How could you be so cruel?! I loved you! I trusted you!” Waves of nausea still tore through my gut as the memories of the dream refused to subside.

For hundreds of miles, I went back and forth between cursing the hugging saint and demanding an explanation from her. She let me have my tantrum and then, finally, I heard a woman’s sweet voice – clear as day – whisper in my ear.

“How can you forgive what you do not understand?”

Fuck! Dammit! Shit! And fuck again! She was right.

It may sound overly simplistic to you here, but I swear to you at that very moment not only did all of my frustration towards Amma disappear but I was washed clean in a silvery shower of true forgiveness for my abuser.

She was right.

There was no way for me to ever fully forgive the man who had molested me if I was not given such a clear understanding of how he suffered for his actions. In truth, I had never really stopped to consider, or care about, his suffering…only the pain he had caused me.

By experiencing what it is like to be afflicted with whatever mental illness causes people to harm a child in that way, I had no other recourse but to forgive.

For I had seen, under no uncertain terms, that he had suffered so much more than I. Unlike me, there was no recovery for him. There was no way out of his hellish prison. No escape from his constant agony. Eventually, he took his own life.

We are not often allowed such a clear insight into the reasons why people hurt us. This was a gift beyond measure. Once I got through the sheer horror of the experience, I was able to see it for what it really was. A blessing. A miracle. Amnesty. I was instantly liberated from all the anger and resentment I’d carried with me for decades and it was replaced with unconditional forgiveness and love.

My prayer had been answered.

She had only given me what I asked for and my eyes still fill with tears of gratitude at the memory.

And now, I ask you to do the impossible too. I ask you to find the one person you feel you can never forgive, the one who hurt you above all others, and try to feel what it must be like to be them. I know this might not be as easy without a hugging saint beating it into you whilst you sleep, but spend some time in contemplation and meditation, asking for guidance from a Source that feels comfortable to you.

Really sit with the impact their actions must have on their own life and how they must suffer as a result. Allow this understanding to wash over you and release you of the burden of that anger. Feel how it is replaced with compassion and forgiveness.

You have just freed yourself.

 

Note: Feature image of child courtesy of Southworth Sailor

62 thoughts on “How I Forgave My Childhood Rapist”

  1. Oh, Jenny. I can’t imagine how those dreams must have felt. I’m so very glad you shared this with us–rawness and vulnerability are the way to true forgiveness. Please keep shining a light on this path. Blessings.

    1. Yes, it was the single most horrific dream I’ve ever had. But it reminds me of the lotus flower, such beauty rises up from the mud 🙂 Thank you, Lana, and blessings to you!

  2. It is so, I have felt it this way too Jenny and forgave. I’ve found that others wouldn’t allow it to be that way, that I must continue my hatred, but no, that helped nobody. It takes enormous strength and courage to share the truth of letting it go. I had an Amma type person help me, and without her, I might have been trapped for much longer, if not ever. Congratulations on getting out x

    1. It’s funny how some people can’t understand how we can forgive. But the truth is, we forgive for our own salvation, our own freedom. It’s the only way out of the pain of the past. Thank you, Jackie, and congratulations to you as well!

  3. Hugs to you for sharing this, for leading via vulnerability. Into the new world whose tide has begun to rise. Hurray for all of us that you found courage to be authentic.

    I’ve forgiven people for some pretty awful things they have thrown my way. One of my challenges has been wanting to skip over feeling the anger, pain, shame, disappointment, and fear and go right to forgiveness. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve got to feel it in order to be able to release it.

    You inspire me and I feel proud and blessed to know you and hear your stories.

    1. We’re even, Alyson, because you inspire me also! You’re totally right, there is a long and sometimes painful process to forgive. I’m so happy we’ve both arrived at the other side of it in our lives. <3

  4. Jenny, you are such an amazing person. I love you for posting this. I really do.

  5. Courage is walking through fear. You are one of the most courageous people I know.

  6. Thank you for going through what you went through to heal and forgive. I feel blessed to have you in my life. xoS

    1. Well, I feel like I went through it kicking and screaming but I’m glad I did it anyway 🙂 I feel equally blessed, Sandi. Love you to pieces!

  7. Wow Jenny this moved me incredibly. I’m wiping away the tears. I can’t even fathom the courage it took to share this, much less get to the place inside where you could allow this dream in. I’ve yet to visit Amma, but you’ve inspired me to make it happen. I’m afraid like Alyson I often want to just right to forgive & forget, put it out of mind, without doing the work (travel through the anger resentment, grief etc) that makes that forgiveness truly unconditional.

    1. I’m pretty sure I’m the lucky one, Jen 😉 I braced myself for a lot ofcriticism and all I’ve received is love. What an incredible circle we have here.

  8. This is incredibly powerful, Jenny! What a gift you received, and what a gift you have given.

    Life is an amazing path. How can we listen to each other’s stories and not have compassion?

    Blessings.

    1. Life truly is an amazing path and I meant it when I said I would not change a thing. These lessons sometimes come in strange and painful packages, but they are always opportunities to grow spiritually and emotionally. Thank you, Lynne.

    1. Oh Birdy, I’m so grateful it touched you so deeply. Makes all that crying and puking I did before posting this all worth it.

  9. Hi Jenny,

    Thank you so much for sharing this profound experience. A friend and I were just discussing how blessed we are that more and more of us (women in particular) are opening up to share the truth of our life experiences with each other rather than putting on fronts like we were urged to do as children. This way we no longer feel alone and learn ways to heal.

    Those who can’t learn to forgive others, no matter how much they hurt us, can never heal. We doom ourselves to being hurt forever.

    Thank you again.

    1. Yes, Flora! The more we share with each other the truths about our experiences, the easier it will be for the coming generations. These are never easy things to share, but if it reaches one person who needs it…how can we not? Thank you!

  10. Thank you for this. You brought home for me something I’d been struggling with; forgiving my mentally ill family members after what they had gotten up to. Now I can.

    1. That’s so wonderful to hear, like the sweetest music to my ears, the softest song in my heart. I can’t think of any other words to describe how your words just made me feel. Thank you.

  11. This has personally touched me, Jenny.I’m so proud of you and so many others who have learned forgiveness for their molesters.I was raped and molested myself- first as a child, and then as a young adult.It’s wonderful of you to give hope to others who suffer.The only way to be free is through forgiveness.Thank you again, and I so mean this.

    1. I’m sorry to hear what happened to you, Cindi. And you’re so right, “The only way to be free is through forgiveness.” It’s much easier said than done, but it is the only way.

  12. Unconditional love is one of the most real of all things that are real. Thank you, Jenny, for sharing it here.

    Also, Amma will be in Seattle in 3 weeks. I’m taking my son.

    1. OH! OH!!!! That makes me so happy! Please tell me all about it after! And tell her I love her! Grinning ear to ear here, can ya tell 🙂

  13. Jenny–

    Amazing courage you have. Also, thank you for inadvertent validation of my own healing + healer process. It mirrors my own path, without the influence of Amma, of course. :)

    Much love to you. *hugs*

  14. Wow.

    So much power here.

    This idea of needing to understand to truly forgive – yes – this.

    and so much incredible love inresponse!

    So much love for you from me as well!

    Andy

    1. It is such a powerful idea, but I can’t take credit for it. Had to be beaten over the head before I got it lol. But I’m so grateful for that loving gift and the opportunity to share it here. Thank you, Andy.

      1. I think everything we come up with is received in some way, and the form it takes comes from how we receive it based in who we are – the dance of creation.

  15. Jenny, you are not alone. Thank you for standing tall and regally saying what is and sharing your process. What a gift.

    The phoenix rises from the ashes, yo.

    Love and light,
    Sue

    1. The phoenix rises from the ashes indeed! In fact, I was born in a small town called Phoenixville. I’ve always taken that as a sign that I’d be okay, no matter what. Thank you, Sue. We certainly are not alone, and I’m so very grateful for that.

  16. Thank you for sharing your story, and yourself, for being willing to cry and puke and put it out there. So glad to know you. Love you.

  17. Jenny – great, thoughtful piece. It’s funny that one of my vision boards for 2012 is filled with the word FORGIVE and FORGIVENESS. It seems my subconscious knew I was holding onto things that consciously I hadn’t given much thought to. When I learned to read hands it finally dawned on me how FRAGILE we ALL are. I agree with you (I so often do) that Empathy and Compassion must combine to result in Forgiveness. And the truth (to me) is that Forgiveness is always for us – it’s wonderful if the Forgiven can feel the healing, but you and I (and anyone else harboring anger, resentment etc – all of us) can never grow and evolve if we cannot forgive. So glad Amma came through for you. It might have been a horrifying way to get the message, but sometimes we have to get hit over the head to learn, eh? Love you and can’t wait to talk again!

    1. Yes! “Forgiveness is always for us.” This is the key to allowing ourselves to receive the empathy and compassion needed to forgive unconditionally. It is the only way to free ourselves from the constraints of our past. Love you too! And I’m very much looking forward to our next meeting of the minds 🙂

  18. Something very profound just happened through your writing. I can’t imagine having experienced what you’ve gone through and I can’t imagine having experienced the compassion that permeated your anger, but you really just changed perspectives and lives. Definitely mine. Thank you for sharing xo

    1. I honestly believe that we have all traveled a long and sometimes painful path to get to where we are…here, in this moment, together. Mine was no more difficult than anyone else’s. I’m just so very grateful that I’m able to share it with you, and that you are here to share it with me! Thank you so much, Kim.

  19. How can you forgive what you do not understand?

    That, is abso-fuckin’-loutely beautiful. Gorgeous. As is your re-telling of your journey from the darkness to light. Thank you so much for exposing me to this Jenny.

    Someday I hope to have the courage to send this to a very
    close male friend of mine who went through this same scenario himself along
    with his brother and his sisters. He is hands down not only the toughest man I’ve
    ever known but also the smartest and yet I
    hate to ask him to dredge up the memory of those years up by sending him this because I
    know he’ll probably feel the same nauseating feelings you did when flashing back to the memories he hasn’t blacked out in his past. So I’m pulled
    between wanting to see him free and not trusting that he’s open to being
    free now and this will just piss him off. Fuck.

    I’ll have to sleep on it.
    But before I take off, I wanted to steer you towards someone I think you might be interested in. Two of my high level mentors who’ve never led me wrong, Tony Robbins and Eben Pagan, have led to a man by the name of David Deida and I will forever be grateful to them for having done so.
    Saying that I’ve spent over 80 hours absorbing and practicing his message of freeing yourself to live as love is probably shooting low. David believes ANYONE, no matter what they’ve suffered or are suffering, can open as love and light. And his message while unique and different and on the renegade/contrarian side of the issue of loving, once heard by the student who is ready, is the kind of truth that is welcomed by the common sense part of your mind.

    I wouldn’t refer just anyone to David. Most people don’t have the courage to do what it takes in order to radiate love. David isn’t for everybody but after reading what I’ve read here I highly recommend him to you if you haven’t already checked him out. http://www.deida.info/node/357

    1. Lewis, thank you so much for your thoughtful response. And believe me, I understand thedilemmayou describe in deciding whether or not to share this with your friend. It’s the same dilemma I faced when posting it and why I sent it out with a warning to people who may be triggered by the content to ‘please not read on.’

      But I trust that the people who need the message will receive it and those who aren’t ready for it will pass it by. It’s actually a big (and sometimes puke-inducing) leap of faith.

      Thank you, also, for turning me on to David’s work. I’m already intrigued and will be digging into his writing some more today. Great way to start my day!

  20. Thanks for being so courageous and sharing the power of forgiveness, Jenny. Another reason why I love you sooo much! That one cannot forgive what she doesn’t understand is a huge lesson. I’ll keep reminding it to myself to forgive those who have hurt me and to lift the weight off my back.

    1. It’s the only way to lighten the load, sister. At least the only way I’ve learned (if you learn a new one, please let me know 🙂 Oh, and by the way? I love you too!!!

  21. Jenny, Amma is amazing indeed. I have not had the pleasure of being in her presence, but have heard plenty of her.

    So, remember the book I told you about? The last time I saw my aunt and uncle, my uncle said he wanted to know if anything they had tried to tell us had benefited us. His question, what do you think of the man that molests a child, or murdered someone, or something really horrific like that? I said that I would like to say “fry his ass”, but it is not my place. But what I really want to know is, what horrible thing happened to him or her that caused them to behave like this? He said I got it…. but because I am just me, and very, very human, I often find myself thinking… fry his ass…. then I come to my senses.

    I am so very, very sorry that you went through such a horrible thing in your life. No one should ever have to suffer like that, but so many do. Your spirit is amazing, you do get it, more than many do.

    Now if only I could stop the first thought and move on to the second every time. That is love indeed. Love of yourself, love of humanity, compassion, everything all rolled into one.

    1. Andrea, your aunt and uncle sound like such amazing beings…you were truly blessed to have such wonderful teachers in your life!

      If you ever get the chance to see Amma, I highly recommend it. A life-altering experience 🙂

      True confessions: When I hear about a child being hurt by someone, my knee-jerk reaction is always “Fry his ass!” Because we’re compassionate humans and a child’s pain seems at first unforgivable.

      So many people, too many people, can’t (or won’t) get to the next step of expanding that compassion to the abuser and, as a result, walk around angry and afraid.

      If I can ever get to the point where my knee-jerk reaction is to *immediately* forgive, I will die a happy woman 🙂
      Thank you!!

      1. Jenny, you have gotten me to thinking about life back then.They may have had some very amazing insights, which I can only appreciate now, but I have much to forgive. I think something got lost in the translation between their messages and day to day life. I have thought about this off and on, and since reading this post I see that his words to me were almost prophetic by nature. I suffered terribly because of what was going on around me, for years. And now I am starting to look back and realize that despite the fact the information they were given has truth, value, they didn’t translate it well into the daily fabric of our lives. And why is that? How can that be? Because they were only a conduit, a messenger if you will. They were not perfect, they struggled with their own demons.

        It has become apparent that I must also apply forgiveness to this aspect of my life. Perhaps when I can truly do this I can make progress within myself. The damage was not swift and violent as yours was. Like yours it did damage “me”, and there is forgiveness that needs to happen. Forgiveness of my younger self, forgiveness of their imperfections, forgiveness of my parents for tossing me to the wolves (as I came to feel). So much more to be forgiven. This is really the first time I have looked at that part of my life like this. I had a bit of the picture here and there, but then would lose it, begin to spiral downwards, etc.

        There is something to be learned from even those we don’t like, or who are cruel to us, people we want nothing to do with, on and on. There are many messengers in life, the important thing is recognizing them as messengers and not confusing messengers with people like Amma who are blessed, who are more than a mere messenger, who have become, who live their truth with every molecule of their being.

        And writing this comment has been very cathartic, so thank you. I hope to write more about this, I have no clue what I will do with it, but somehow putting it down on “paper” feels really, really good. At last.

  22. What an exquisite post. You’ve shown some Big Love here.

    Big Blessings on you!

  23. Jenny, thank you so, so much for sharing this. I had heard of Amma but I didn’t know the extent of her ability to heal and cleanse.

    1. Thank you, Monica. She really is amazing and if you ever get the chance…go get a hug! Bonus: She gives you a Hershey’s kiss, too 🙂

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