Discard Them, Don’t Forgive Them

The Repellent Destination of The Forgiveness Bandwagon

Celtic Chameleon
8 min readJan 14, 2022
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These opinions are mine.

Coerced forgiveness is perpetuation of abuse. And forgiveness is sometimes simply weakness.

Forgiveness is the act of allowing people who have harmed you the opportunity to do so again

To forgive: to grant pardon, to cancel a debt, to absolve.

One of the issues with forgiveness is that its definition is too broad. If saying “I forgave him” simply meant I don’t think about his behaviour anymore now that it no longer affects me, nobody could really take issue with that.

We are told it is reconciliation, and we are also told it is not reconciliation.

Forgiveness is also described “as a voluntary internal process of letting go of feelings and thoughts of resentment, bitterness, anger, and the need for vengeance and retribution toward someone who…has wronged us.”

Let’s take a closer look at that. If it’s voluntary, why are you jamming it down our throats? And why on earth should anyone let go of a desire for retribution against someone who harmed us? Retribution for harm done is a natural and correct desire. It can save us from turning into whipped dogs and can prevent further harmful behaviours.

When Forgiveness Goes Too Far

Allow me to share this video of a rapist on stage with the woman he raped, giving the last TED talk I think I ever watched. The point of the talk seems to be that the woman who was raped wishes to instruct the world that her rapist is definitely not a monster, and to give him a platform in her quest to find reconciliation and forgiveness. Just a normal guy who spent two hours raping a nearly unconscious teenage girl.

This entire spectacle repels me.

They apparently prefer the word perpetrator to rapist, but since he’s a rapist I’m going to stick with calling him a rapist.

I can answer all your questions about why he raped this woman in one sentence.

He raped her because he wanted to and because he could.

Her rapist is quoted as saying “Deep down, I knew I’d done something immeasurably wrong.”

Big of him.

You will note that the comments after the video are turned off. My guess would be that’s because too many women couldn’t stomach this circus either.

Obviously, Thordis Elva has the right to do whatever it takes to make her life bearable. I find this path questionable at best, but then, I didn’t have to watch or listen to her. I just hope no vulnerable women watching this were caused too much distress by a rapist being platformed and treated with equality and deference.

The Forgiveness Bandwagon

This is the destination that the path of the Forgiveness Bandwagon eventually leads to. Standing side by side with your rapist letting him talk about his rape of you from his perspective. The man staring at her in the above still frame is the same man who did this:

“And the pain was blinding. I thought I’d be severed in two. In order to stay sane, I silently counted the seconds on my alarm clock. And ever since that night, I’ve known that there are 7,200 seconds in two hours.”

You rarely come across a man who was raped, beaten or had something equally horrifying happen to him being urged to forgive.

Could you imagine for one moment two men sharing that stage and the raped man respectfully calling his rapist a perpetrator and allowing him to chat about it?

No, you couldn’t. Not if you’re honest.

I hope she has found peace, and I hope the many women who found this hideous display deeply distressing do too.

Forgiveness As A Systemic Expectation

There is an incessant, coercive push that we forgive even the most brutal and horrifying behaviours. It’s everywhere. Just type in the word forgiveness and see what comes up.

“Benefits to Forgiveness” (for the rapist), 8 Keys To Forgiveness (how to let your rapist get on with his life), Forgiveness — Your Health Depends on it (no it doesn’t), How to forgive someone, even if they really screwed up (you don’t have to), How to forgive someone in 15 steps (or zero steps) — italics are mine.

There is even a Forgiveness Project. An entire project dedicated to telling people how to feel about their abuse.

Does Rightful Anger Make You Uncomfortable?

Those who are fixated on forgiveness are not trying to help the victims. And yes it’s fine to use the word victim. Victim: a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency.

Rightful anger frightens some. Some think that the only valid emotions are the soft and gooey ones.

Anger exists to protect you and is absolutely valid.

And women are continually urged into forgiving and “being kind”.

Which can get them killed.

Just because you personally can’t tolerate anger doesn’t mean it’s always “toxic” — one of the most overused words of 2021.

Coercive Forgiveness Is Wrong

And just as importantly, it’s often pointless. Because the fact is that some people are not capable of forgiveness.

I know, because I’m one of them.

The Amorphous Blob Paradigm Revisited

You’re not me. You have no idea how I feel, think, view the world. And vice versa.

My mind works in its own particular way. I have an excruciatingly good memory. Sometimes it is a curse.

I think that those who forgive easily probably have very bad memories.

One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory”

For me, being bludgeoned with the demand for forgiveness solidifies the damage, is minimising and offensive and adds literal insult to injury.

I will come to it in my own time, or never.

Usually never. I just place the person on a discard shelf, and move on.

If forgiveness works for you — good for you.

But it is not your place to try to inflict it on other people.

It does not make everyone feel better or make the world a better place. If you invalidate a persons’ feelings by instructing them to forgive you can cause them secondary wounding. Trying to prevent someone from feeling their own feelings not only doesn’t work, it sometimes makes them feel far worse.

And my personal belief is that sometimes people choose to “forgive” out of weakness. Because they haven’t got the gumption to try to right a wrong, or face up to reality.

Because they can’t cope with the truth that sometimes people do terrible things because they want to.

Sometimes, I see forgiveness as decision to not deal with the situation, a psychological trick some people play on themselves.

Perhaps in a world where fewer people opted for forgiveness we might have more justice and retribution for harms done.

But regardless, we all have different pathways to processing our more negative feelings.

Forgiveness Can Be Legitimately Healing

It’s not up to me to tell you not to forgive if that helps you.

And sometimes it’s also a solution for an unsolvable problem. If something terrible has happened to you and you have no way of righting it or exacting retribution, forgiveness can be a get out of jail free card for your psyche.

There’s nothing wrong with that at all. We do what we must to get through life.

But when you consider the vast difference in all our cognitive abilities, approaches, upbringings, personalities, cultures, ethnicities, needs and lives — to try to push forgiveness as a one size fits all approach is a cruel nonsense.

It Is NOT Either/Or

You can discard those who have harmed you without forgiving them.

You can compartmentalise, jettison and otherwise deal with your abuse/assault/harm without giving a gift you don’t want to give.

The arguments made by the compelled forgiveness camp rely on the lie that you will be forced into a bitter lifetime of angry misery if you do not or will not forgive.


Not forgiving doesn’t mean you have to walk around angry for the rest of your life. Not forgiving does not = anger, resentment, sadness, toxicity forever. There are other ways to process your feelings.

I use CBT techniques, visualisations, meditation and mindfulness to process unflushable feelings.

I can, for the most part, discard negative people, negative situations and any harmful effect they have on me, over time.

Without forgiving them, unless it suits me to do so.

And some things are, for some people, unforgivable.

And that’s just fine. It has to be.

Not forgiving someone does not mean you go through life fixating on them, angry at them, feeling hatred or negativity. It just means you discard that person from your field of concern.

If you’re walking around telling people to “forgive” and posting invalidating, generic, thoughtless memes including irritating aphorisms about swallowing poison or holding fire, you’re not thinking of the individuals you’re invalidating and may be causing further distress.

Every “trigger” circumstance and personality is different. There is no one-size-fits-all behaviour or guidance that will work for all of us.

Letting someone feel their own feelings without trying to impose yours upon them is one of the kindest things you can do.

Forgiveness Is A Gift

It’s not up to you to tell someone else to give it.

And if you do manage to penetrate my shield of impermeability, if you do manage to hurt me and make me feel the need for justice, I won’t forget. I won’t forgive. I certainly won’t treat you as an equal and stand on stage normalising your behaviour.

And if the opportunity comes I will seek retribution.

But in the meantime, you won’t take up space in my mind. You’ll be popped into the discard drawer, with all the other miserable behaviours in the world that it does no good to dwell on.

I will go on with my life. And you won’t taint it.

Forgiveness not required.

Important caveat: although I have been a Counsellor I’m not your Counsellor, please don’t change your life based on my opinions, conduct your own due diligence. And much of this article would certainly not have been endorsed by the Australian College of Applied Psychology where I studied Counselling.

These opinions are mine.

Alison Tennent,
Queensland, Australia, March 2021

Copyright Alison Tennent 2021, all rights reserved. Scottish by birth, upbringing and bloodline, Australian by citizenship. If you’re reading this anywhere but Medium or The Garrulous Glaswegian, this work may have been plagiarized.

Originally published at https://www.garrulousglaswegian.com on March 8, 2021.