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via: Relevant Magazine – Ruthie Dean

Forgiveness Won’t Fix Your Toxic Relationship

We are always called to forgive; but forgiveness should not be seen as a remedy to another’s character


I recently had coffee with a victim of an emotionally abusive relationship. Every time she was ready to leave him after an outburst, he would return the next day and apologize profusely, sometimes with flowers or big displays of affection, begging her for forgiveness.

After her somewhat unemotional description of his violent behavior, she asked me, “Can you help me learn to forgive him?”

She didn’t need forgiveness. She needed clarity to understand that her boyfriend’s behavior was abusive and would continue to fall in that category.

Why did she stay with him? Why do any of us stay in toxic relationships? Simply put: love. Love is a powerful force that can also be treacherous.

Glamour relationship survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of women ages 18–35 have experienced relational abuse. The study also indicated that emotional abuse almost always escalates to physical abuse.

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Over the last two years, I’ve received close to 1,000 emails from women and girls in emotionally abusive relationships. A common theme that has emerged in these emails is many of the women believe they have a forgiveness deficit rather than a toxic man in their life. Many self-blame because thinking “I messed up” is often easier than thinking “he is bad”.

Before we go any further, we must acknowledge that men can also be the victims of emotional abuse—but the statistics are difficult to interpret because men are even less likely than women to report emotional abuse.

One of the pillars of the Christian faith is forgiveness—Christ’s forgiveness bestowed on us at the Cross coupled with the daily forgiveness we are instructed to extend to each other. Paul writes, “love bears all things” and “covers a multitude of sins.” The Bible even says that if we don’t forgive others, then Jesus cannot forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15). We are instructed to forgive an infinite number of times, without limits (Matthew 18:21-22). We know that God forgives us when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9).

READ: 13 Signs Forgiveness Won’t Fix Your Toxic Relationship

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