Do you have to forgive your rapist or those who have harmed you? I have thought long and hard about this topic for a while now. As someone who has decided to share apart of their story in my memoir, Confessions of an Independent Woman: Truth, Lies & Relationships, and invite the world to a front row seat to one of the most traumatic experiences of my life in my new short film entitled, Unbroken Resilience – I could no longer hold my tongue about this.
As of today I am a 39-year-old successful woman living in the suburbs in the Midwest. I’ve lived an amazingly beautiful, challenging, thought-provoking and Lifetime movie – Tyler Perry play-like life. There has been an array of experiences in my life that I one would want to discount, but I can’t. Like being raped when I was nineteen years old by a guy who was introduced to me by my then neighbor while living in the deep south. The reason I am choosing to share my experience with the victim-hood, survival-hood and now VICTOR-HOOD of sexual assault is to truly be the conduit of permission that so many others seek to voice their own truths and traumas. What I’ve learned is that in order to be that – to inspire liberation in others, I too, had to ask myself some hard-ass questions and take myself to some places where I had long burned the bridges to.
The most compelling question I asked myself was, “Aprille, have you forgiven your rapist?!” and my follow-up question was, “why would you want too?”
See, what I realized is that as I get older I’m learning that forgiveness is less about other people that have wronged you in someway, but it’s more about you choosing for yourself. It’s about you making a decision that you’re going to heal, and move forward, and choose to learn, and choose not to be a victim. It’s the decision to defy every statistic our society may want to categorize you in. It’s the decision to be THE VICTOR of your own life! I truly believe forgiveness is the key to your own personal freedom, it was certainly the key for my own in many areas of my life – not just this instance. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I wanted to kill the man that had violated me in such a way that made me think less of myself. I wanted him to hurt, I wanted him to feel more pain in his life, and there were times when I just wanted him to die, just like the feelings that I had while he was inside me, violating me.
So, did I forgive? Have I truly forgiven the man that tricked me, pretended to be a friend, pretended to be a confidant, pretended to be a person of integrity? Did I truly forgive the man that attacked me out of my sleep and forced himself upon me, and then entered inside me with all of the resistance I could muster while my young daughter was just in the next room?
Could I truly forgive a person who ignored my cries for help in such a desperate way? Who looked me in my eyes as I screamed and fought for him to stop? Could I truly forgive him?
The answer is, YES. I forgave him. You may even be judging me in this moment. You may say why would you, how could you! But the answer again remains, YES.
I forgave my rapist because I wanted to be free of the victim-hood around it. I wanted my power back!
Why? I no longer wanted to be controlled by him or the rape. I didn’t want my thoughts to be controlled by itI wanted to move about in this life in and with purpose. And what I realized is that the more power I gave to the rape, the weaker the power in my purpose became. The more power I extended to the rapist and the act, the less powerful I was becoming as a woman. See, while in that moment, the rapist tried to take something from me – and physically speaking, he did. But on a deeper level he wanted to overpower me – and for a few minutes he did that too. BUT, how much more would I give to him? How many more month, years or decades was I going to give to someone who probably can’t remember my name? And why would I continue to allow him to have MY POWER when I needed it to do amazing things in the world?
My answer is, I am amazing and have too many things to do in the world to relinquish any more power to someone so undeserving of it. In the end, I won – I won the power struggle. My living has won, inspiration has risen and as a result of that purposeful struggle – I am able to use my platform help other VICTORS as well.
Lastly, I am not the jury.
My rapist (or any rapist) doesn’t need condemnation or a hate speech from me. I imagine he (they) are already living in their own self-inflicted place of judgment and imprisonment – the best thing I could have done – was revoke the power he stole.
No matter what you may have experienced and how bleak it may have been or is – you can choose a new perspective, a more empowered path. You can take back the power that depression, obesity, divorce, poor self-esteem or anything else has over you, back! Those things don’t have to win. There is a choice that we all must made in life – and that’s the choice to choose our own POWER and understand that what we give energy too has the capability of sucking the power out of us that is needed for more meaningful things.