Patricia, a regular reader, wrote to Amy last week to describe her own experience with abuse and forgiveness.

I truly don’t believe that of Amy. I believe it started out as a job for her and turned into something more that she and you didn’t see coming. People develop relationship for all kinds of reasons. Good or Bad, relationships has a seed and the farmers (people in the relationship) just tend it, to wait and see what happens. Yes they have some control where it can go but the feelings involved in that relationship is what isn’t in their control. I have wrote a few entries to you today because my brother is like you but he is weakness is children. For many years I had loved and worshipped my brother, but one day he did things to me that turned that love into a hatred I couldn’t control. That hatred led me into my adult life but then my father told me one day that people can’t control what they feel but they can control what they do with those feelings. Wise words from someone that loved both my abuser and myself (my abuser’s victim). I testified against my brother when he was accused of sexually abusing a child. I thought that would take my pain away but it didn’t. So another 6 or 7 years passed and my father was on his death bed giving me those wise words to help me understand I can’t control anything in life but what I did. So I sit down and wrote my brother in prison and forgave him. That is when all of the weight of my pain was lifted. No I didn’t forget what he did to me, but forgiving him gave me my life back. That is what I hope you understand. You took a part of those people’s life from them. I hope your victims can forgive you one day. Not to make you feel better but to make them feel better. Brent, May God watch over you and all that people that you hurt. I hope to be able to write in this blog to you more often because what is going through your head helps me understand what happen to me as well.

Amy wanted to respond.

Dear Patricia,

Thank you for taking the time to write. I’m sorry for the pain of your childhood. I hope this site does more to help you heal than cause you more pain.

And I agree with you about forgiveness. I believe it’s the only true mechanism of healing. And, like you, I had an abusive brother–I write about it in the book.

The reasons why I continue to write Brent are complex, but mostly deal with karma. I learned life-changing lessons from knowing Brent and covering his case, and afterward made the decision to be a constant in his life as my way of giving back.

I didn’t do that for my brother-I cut him out of my life and hated him until he died, and I regret that now.

But in the same breath, I recognize that everyone follows their own path, and I would understand if Brents’ victims never forgave him. I hope they find their own peace, and as you said, for their sake, not his.

Brent has told me many times that he would never ask for forgiveness. I think he feels he does not deserve it.

As far as these posts helping you understand–I am very heartened by that. I continue to put up Brent’s writing because it shows the very human side of him. It’s harder to dismiss someone as a monster when you start to understand them. Harder to hate them, too, and I don’t think that hate gets any of us anywhere.

Thank you for contributing.

Patricia’s letter also affected Lauretta, another reader, who wrote about her own experiences.

Dear Patricia:
Your response really touched me. As a victim of physical and sexual abuse, I was so bitter and angry all of the time. I didn’t release the rage until the year 2000 when I wrote my book Survival of the Fittest…One Child’s Life in the Foster Care System. Even then, I still couldn’t forgive my father for leaving me in the foster care system and for attempting to rape me when I met him at 21 years of age. I don’t understand why people are so cruel and why they have the odd need to hurt eachother. Yet, I realize that I should have forgiven my Dad. Because by the time I reached out to him, he had been dead two years and no one bothered to contact me. Sometimes, I think of him with a pain in my chest. It isn’t what happened that hurts me. It is what could’ve been that sears my soul until I cry.

Please share your own stories. Comment or send an email to Amy.

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