One of the persistent tropes in New Age and religion-based spirituality is about “forgiveness.” People are told they must “forgive” in order to heal from abuse and reclaim their lives, but in my experience, this approach simply does not work.
Forgiveness is actually a result of healing, not the way to healing, at least for the overwhelming majority of people.
Stipulating “forgiveness” as an abuse survivor’s/abuse-target’s first step to healing puts them into a position of trauma-bond with their abuser — and removes the abuser from accountability.
It also relieves onlookers’ discomfort at witnessing abuse and suffering — which is often the motivation behind friends’ or a spiritual preceptor’s (or wannabe-guru’s) prescribing “forgiveness.”
And inability to forgive abuse often results in the person feeling shamed or less-than — but some wounds are just so overwhelming that the person feels robbed of their essential humanity or integrity and simply cannot access the generosity-of-heart that is the portal to healing through forgiveness.
Healing and forgiveness come when the abused person can begin to access their inherent wholeness, which severs the trauma bond. The right psychotherapy (and the right spiritual practice) help immensely.
Forgiveness is not a tool to heal trauma. Trauma work is a tool to heal trauma, and forgiveness might be a result.