Healing From Domestic Abuse
Do You Need the Abuser’s Apology
for You to Heal?
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
“What if the abuser never ever apologizes, does not believe in remorse and has no empathy? What then...how do we heal?” asks a reader. Good question for those seeking to heal from intimate partner violence.
Implied in this question appears to be a belief that I would question. Is it true that you need your partner to apologize, have empathy and show remorse in order for you to heal from domestic abuse?
If this is a current partner, you will probably want his/her apology to remain in the relationship. However, your healing is another issue. Your healing whether in regard to a current or ex partner is not “their apology” dependent. You may think you need their apology to move beyond the violation, but the fact is you don’t.
Now, I do realize there are schools of thought that will tell you otherwise. This is certainly the case in “restorative justice” circles. In fact, facilitating the expression of empathy from the perpetrator to the victim is core to restorative justice programs.
But is it critical? Do you require it to heal and move on? That is another question.
Implications of Your Beliefs
If you think you do, ask yourself this question. How do you react when you think the thought that you must have the apology of someone who violated you in order for you to heal?
I can only image that you might feel your victimization even more. You may feel victimized by the fact that this person now holds your capacity to get over his/her abusing you. That is a very stuck place to be in…
And then, consider this question: Who and how would you be if you didn’t hold the belief that you needed the apology of the person who violated you in order for you to heal? I suspect without this belief you’d feel your natural longing to feel whole, and that would inspire your healing.
Attachment to Your Beliefs
Further, consider this: Can you give yourself one reason that serves your highest good to hold the belief that you need the abuser’s apology to heal?
If you can’t list one stress-free benefit to harboring this thought, then that’s important information for you to be mindful of with respect to this inquiry (as we know from The Work of Byron Katie).
Other Beliefs That Are True
It may also be true that
As we indicated in the beginning of this article, it may very well be true that your healing has absolutely nothing to do with the abuser’s apology, empathy or remorse. Rather, it is more about your internal transformation of forgiving self and other.
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Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.