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“How Do You Forgive A Sexual Abuser? Writing A Letter” by Mary DeMuth #ForgivenessFriday

June 14, 2013

Sexually abused as a little girl, Mary’s heart needed the healing only forgiveness could provide. Mary decided to take a bold step.

Today’s post may help you take a bold step.


Mary recently wrote an OPEN LETTER to the boys who abused her. Do yourself a favor and read it.

Today Mary shares why writing this letter helped her forgive and why you may want to write your own letter.

Who’s Mary?

Mary DeMuth is the author of over a dozen books including Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus and The Wall Around Your Heart (Thomas Nelson). She speaks and writes about finding an uncaged, freedom-infused life. She lives in Texas with her husband and kids.

I wrote the letter to the boys (now men) who molested me because I wanted to be freer from their clutches. I’ve grown significantly in my healing, but there was something about writing it all down that helped me reframe the past and clarify what it was I was forgiving. I was afraid to do it mainly because the letter is achingly vulnerable. It shows my anger. I share what they did and how it affected me.

I also believe by being so darned honest, I opened myself for spiritual attack. I don’t believe the enemy of our souls, Satan, wants sexual abuse victims to feel whole, clean and free. And boy did the attack come (in different ways). I particularly worried about my family of origin mocking me for the story, or making them angry by sharing it (though they had very little to do with the sexual abuse).

Writing the letter opened up a door for those boys to somehow find me, find grace and truth, and perhaps experience healing. I actually wrote it for them, with pity and empathy in my heart. In the book, As We Forgive, by Catherine Claire Larson, we learn an acronym of forgiveness called REACH:

Recall the hurt (don’t deny or minimize it).

Empathize with the person who hurt you (try to see it from their perspective)

Altruistic gift of forgiveness (Remember when someone forgave you)

Commit publicly to forgive

Hold on to forgiveness

This letter was all those steps. I recalled the hurt in detail, not holding back the pain. I showed empathy for those who hurt me. I remembered Jesus’ outrageous act of forgiveness for me. In writing the letter, I certainly committed publicly to forgive, and now, in the aftermath, I’m holding on to forgiveness. Forgiveness is a lifelong struggle.

For others who have been hurt, I would recommend writing a letter. It may not ever be sent, or shared in such a public way as mine was, but I believe just writing it will help. Be sure to give yourself permission to say it all. Be angry. Be hurt. Be truthful about how the person’s sin has hurt you. Try to find a point of empathy. Write the difficult “I forgive you” words. Perhaps share your letter with a close friend or spouse as your act of publicly forgiving. Then whenever you wonder if you’ve forgiven, refer back to the letter. It will serve as a tangible reminder that you have made the choice to forgive.

Click HERE for PART 8 of #FridayForgiveness

Find out more at Twitter: @MaryDeMuth.


From → Forgiveness

  1. Thank you for highlighting forgiveness. It’s my prayer that many will read and heed the necessity to forgive in order to have freedom and deep joy.

    • Thanks Mary. I believe forgiveness is one of the greatest struggles of life. However, finding it provides one of the greatest joys of life. Thanks for helping us find forgiveness.

  2. I have written letters to my abusers to forgive them. The letter I think I need to write is to myself. The letters I wrote needed more truth about my feelings. But, I’m glad you shared it is a lifelong process because some of those surface during the layers of healing. Writing again will remind me that forgiveness is a choice not a feeling.

    • That sounds wise Melinda to write out how the injury impacted your heart (feelings) since the heart is your “Forgiveness Launching Pad”. I wrote about how critical it is to identify your feelings: Thanks for sharing and keep choosing forgiveness. 🙂

  3. I did the same. Wrote out a letter to my perpetrator (grandfather, who had died when I was in my 20’s) as part of my Celebrate Recovery Fourth Step. But it was not until recently, as I realized that “hurt people hurt people” that I was able to let it go. I have the support of others in recovery from sexual abuse each week, as we share our experience, strength and hope with one another. Such a healing place!

    • Writing the letter, understanding the brokenness of your offender, and embracing the support of others. You’re on it Connie! You are leading the way for many others to follow.

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