Focus Friday: Broken Places: A Memoir of Abuse


By Rachel Thompson


I don’t forgive my abuser. Not because I’m angry or because I’m not healed (which is a process anyway). It’s simple really—as a survivor, I’m in charge of my recovery, not you. Not her. Not him. I don’t have to do what you tell me. Just because you tell me that in order to heal I have to forgive the man who invaded my body when I was eleven years old, I don’t have to agree with you.

Besides, why must I take action for something that wasn’t my fault to begin with? I’ve taken on enough already.

It’s extremely personal, it’s my business, and I flat-out reject the notion that in order to heal I have to forgive him. In fact, it’s not anyone’s business but my own whether I forgive anyone for anything! Yet, survivors are constantly asked if we forgive our abusers. Why?

Asking a survivor of something so invasive as sexual abuse of any kind (but particularly of something that happened to us as children), if we are able to grant grace to someone for something so egregious, unlawful, and horrific, something that filled us so deeply with confusion and anger and shame—I find to be almost as invasive. It again puts the onus on the victim of the crime to DO something, when we were not at fault to begin with.

There’s also a pervasive religious dogma in our culture that is thrust upon us—an assumption that healing cannot begin or move to completion without forgiving the monster. This often comes from clergy or non-survivors, which reeks of hypocrisy, like a truck driver instructing a brain surgeon.

It Doesn’t Always Work

Survivors each walk their own path, and many will share their stories of recovery, which may or may not include forgiveness. One friend (a single mom) tells of being forced to continue to work in an office with the man who raped her because her bosses told her she’d be fired if she reported his crime. Not only that, but she was told to forgive him in front of her superiors as well as HR, so it would go on record that she would not be pressing charges.

After a failed suicide attempt, she quit her job, brought charges against both him and the company, and is now working as a freelance artist. She’s not angry anymore, but also says she’ll never forgive him or the company for the emotional damage.

Do It Only For You

Another survivor friend (who is religious) shares that she forgave her abuser because it helps her get through the day. She didn’t want to carry the guilt and shame anymore, so by forgiving him, she let all that go. Forgiving him helped her forgive herself, and that’s the only reason she was able to get to that point.

In fact, part of her recovery is group therapy with recovering pedophiles. I have the ultimate respect for her for being open to that. That’s not something I feel I could do.

Or Don’t Do It At All

Many therapists will tell you that forgiveness is not a required step to healing, despite what religious leaders will tell you. For me, religion has no place in my personal recovery. I am a spiritual person, but I rejected organized religion long ago. It doesn’t mean I don’t pray or believe in certain things—it also doesn’t mean I don’t believe in forgiveness as a general rule.

About Broken Places

  • IndieReader Approved
  • Chosen as a book of the month for Association of Independent Authors, April 2015
  • Honorable Mention at the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival

Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

About Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson copy

Rachel’s Bio:


Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places (2015 Honorable Mention Winner, San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington PostThe San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…),,,, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish. She is also the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, bringing stories of trauma and recovery (fiction and nonfiction) to life.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

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And follow her on Twitter @RachelintheOC