During my childhood I was sexually abused by various members of my family on numerous occasions. Every time I would tell my mother, she would tell me that I deserved it because I was a dirty girl and a liar. She would always make me think that I had imagined what had happened, as if I were a bit crazy.

Many years have passed. I am now a grandmother, and I feel like a dirty and bad person…. A few years ago I discovered that my father had also sexually abused my daughter. I knew then that I wasn’t crazy, that what I thought had happened to me was true all along.

Now my mother condemns me because I don’t want to forgive. She says that Jesus Christ taught that we should forgive seventy times seven. She wants me to bring them to live in my house….

My heart is so full of pain and poison! …I didn’t protect my daughter as I should have. I know that I’ll never go to heaven because I can’t forgive. My family resents me for revealing the big family secret. No one talks to me, and everyone repudiates me. My girl cousins were sexually abused at the same time I was, and yet it is as if I am the only one who has a problem…. I failed God and my daughter, I’m not worth anything as a mother or as a person.

Dear Grandma,

My heart breaks to hear what you went through as a child! Your family members sexually abused you, and your mother emotionally abused you. Instead of protecting you, she protected the dirty secret of your family. She made you feel as if you were the guilty one for all that they had done. She assaulted your self-esteem and made you even doubt your sanity. It is no wonder that you are consumed with pain and resentment.

No child is the guilty party when he or she is abused by an older adolescent or adult. No matter how many times your mother told you that it was your fault, she was lying! She called you a liar, and yet she was the one who was lying. While others abused your body, she abused your mind. Only God can judge the evil that was done to you, but you can be sure that He will.

You must be a strong person to have overcome all of that evil without becoming completely dysfunctional. It is your strength that will help you to open up your eyes to God’s point of view.

We have all sinned, but God loved us while we were still in sin. He loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us and take away those very sins.(1) None of us deserve such love. And none of us deserve to go to heaven. But because of Christ, we can all be forgiven and go to heaven if we only accept Him as our Savior and ask for forgiveness for our sins. You are no exception.

You are correct that God expects us to forgive as we have been forgiven. But forgiveness is not a feeling; it is an act of the will. You don’t have to feel like doing it. Nor must you continue to listen to your family’s lies. Forgiveness certainly doesn’t mean that you should let them live with you. You can choose to forgive, not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because it is best for your health and well-being.

Letting go of the bitterness and resentment will allow you to experience peace and contentment. You are not guilty for what happened to you nor for what happened to your daughter. If you can stop blaming yourself, it will be easier to choose to forgive others.

We wish you the best,

1 Jn 3:16; Ro 5:8