My father sexually abused me when I was a child…. Because I am a follower of Christ, I know that we are supposed to forgive. I have done everything I can to forgive, to the extent of attending family gatherings and still treat him as my father. But very often I can’t help but feel revulsion.

I don’t want to ever have to see his face again. Would it displease God if I were to stay away from my father? My mom says that I have to forgive him and just get over it, but I can’t control the feeling of disgust that I have for him. I have asked God to help me, but sometimes I feel like I am being indulgent when I act as if nothing ever happened…. What does God expect me to do in a case like this?

Dear Friend,

It breaks my heart to hear how your family continues to harm you! It sounds like your mother and father are concerned about forgiveness, but neither of them is concerned about justice. Our God is a God of forgiveness, yes, but He is also a God of justice.

Justice at the grocery store means that everyone pays the same amount for a banana. Justice in the voting booth means that every vote has the same value. And justice at the courthouse means that all criminals are punished for the crimes that they have committed.

Unfortunately, as you already know, the world is full of injustice. Criminals steal from honest citizens and sometimes never get caught. Some court systems treat people unfairly based on who their friends are or on the color of their skin. Some governments do not count votes equally, or give unfair advantages to themselves and to their friends. But all of these things happen without God’s approval. On the contrary, God’s Word makes it clear that He expects us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” with Him.(1)

Your father did not act justly, and he has not received justice. He has not paid any penalty for what he did to you. And your mother apparently believes that he should not have to pay for it. She, like millions of others, just wants to forgive her husband and forget that it ever happened. And she wants you to “just get over it.” She wants you to ignore the revulsion, that terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach, and pretend like nothing ever happened.

What your father did is a secret that your mother doesn’t want the world to know, because that might lead to justice. And she knows that justice would cause her and the family to lose face and feel shame.

What will happen, however, if you just keep quiet? Read Case 514 to find out what happened to another woman who waited too long to reveal the big family secret. Unfortunately, she found out too late that her father had later abused her own daughter as well.

Should you forgive? Yes, for your own health you must make the decision to forgive. But should you try to forget and act as if nothing had ever happened? Absolutely not!

We wish you the best,

1 Mi 6:8