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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Pudil, LCSW-R

Forgiveness is For You

The movie “Women Talking” is about a secluded colony of religious people. This movie is based on real events. The men in the colony have been sexually assaulting the women in this colony for many years. The men have left for a few days to bail the men that were arrested out of jail. During this time the women are being forced to come to terms with and forgive the men. These women are faced with the prospect of being forced to leave the colony if they do not forgive these men. If they leave they believe they will not go to heaven. If they stay the sexual assaults will most likely keep occurring. The stakes are extremely high in their decision.

During the lengthy discussion the women are having about forgiveness there comes the part when the women question “Is forgiveness that is forced upon us true forgiveness?” Judith the elder woman counters with “perhaps forgiveness can, in some instances, be confused with permission.” This is the statement that had my fellow moviegoers reacting with sounds of agreement.

This idea of forgiveness as permission to keep doing or excuse what the betrayer is doing hits a chord. I assume that the moviegoers who reacted had been betrayed and struggled with the idea of that "if I forgive the person who hurt me, then I also am saying that what they did was ok." This is a struggle that leads people to therapy. They want to forgive so that they can move on with their lives. However, they don’t want to give permission to the betrayer that what they did was ok.

In therapy, we work on forgiving as permission for the person who was hurt to move on. They don’t have to carry the burden of the event anymore. We do not give permission to the betrayer that their actions and behaviors were ok. Especially when the actions were at such a deep hurtful level. It is never ok to hurt someone, but it’s a heavy burden to carry the hurt for a long time. We need to release the hurt to then to bring in happiness and growth.

If you have a free moment, I recommend seeing this movie. The characters are so well-developed and their discussion about forgiveness was truly amazing. They really capture the struggle within forgiveness. If you are struggling with forgiveness, please feel free to reach out. I’m always here for you.

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