Meaning Making


Is it ever possible to fully make amends with the person who abused or assaulted you?


Thank you for this question. This is a really tough one. Forgiveness plays an incredibly complicated and sometimes contentious role in trauma recovery. Is it possible to to make amends with your abuser? theory. Is it necessary for your healing? That is up to you. 

Research suggests that making amends with an abuser or assaulter can be a complex and challenging process, with outcomes varying greatly depending on individual circumstances and the nature of the relationship. The decision to make amends or not is highly personal, and the broader role of forgiveness in recovery varies substantially. Studies show mixed findings as to whether forgiveness facilitates or hinders recovery after a traumatic experience. While some survivors may find a sense of closure and healing through forgiveness and reconciliation, others may experience further harm or re-traumatization when attempting to engage with their abuser. 

When thinking about forgiveness in the context of trauma, it often involves acknowledging the harm done, letting go of resentment, and finding meaning and healing in one's own life, rather than necessarily reconciling with the perpetrator. Therefore, while making amends is possible for some survivors, it's important to approach this process with caution.

If a survivor is considering making amends with their abuser, it's crucial for them to prioritize their safety, well-being, and boundaries throughout the process. Engaging in restorative justice practices, such as facilitated dialogues or mediation, can provide a structured framework for survivors and perpetrators to address harm, accountability, and repair. However, it's essential for survivors to approach these processes with the support of trained professionals who prioritize their safety and autonomy. Additionally, survivors should consider seeking therapeutic support to navigate the emotional complexities of engaging with their abuser and to ensure that their own healing journey remains the central focus. Ultimately, whether or not to pursue reconciliation is a deeply personal decision, and survivors should honor their own needs and boundaries above all else.

Perhaps it’s not the act of making amends itself that facilitates healing, but what forgiveness provides to you as a survivor. What matters are the feelings and thoughts that lie beneath the surface and accompany your choice to forgive. For some, choosing to forgive an abuser can be a cathartic experience that helps “release” negative thoughts and debilitating feelings. For others, it can cause justified resentment or anger that can make their trauma feel unseen. For many, in their eyes, what happened to them is unforgivable—and that is okay. 

Forgiveness looks different for everyone. It’s your choice to decide what role forgiveness will play (or not play) in your own recovery. Thank you for this question. You are not alone.

Safety Exit