I suffered from rape/molestation as a child and was told by my mother that “that’s the way guys are.” My mother wasn’t mentally capable of helping me as her abuse was suppressed as well. I spoke to my grandmother and she told me that my grandfather used to beat and rape her and my mother and wear her dresses. My mother’s sister stated that she too was molested. Over the years, my mother’s sister has found a way of forgiving that man and actually has a loving relationship with him. Isn’t it a slap in the face for her to allow this sick individual to experience the love of an accepting family? The man has never been prosecuted for his sick crimes. He has remarried and lives a very nice successful life. Does he deserve this? I understand that forgiveness is crucial for one’s personal mental health but that is just forgiveness within yourself. That doesn’t mean that you must forgive the individual that committed such horrific acts and show them love?
I want to be very careful in how I answer your question. First of all let me tell you that I cannot express in words alone how much I despise abuse of any kind. It is the worst display of the sins of pride, selfishness, arrogance, and hate among many others.
Next, let me assure you that nowhere in my answer will I pretend to understand even a portion of what you have gone through, let alone other members of your family. The kind of pain, suffering, and sorrow such actions bring should never be felt by anyone.
Now let me introduce a scripture in answer to you, then we can talk about it.
8 My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.
9 Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
10 I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
Aimee, I assure you I would never make excuses for an abuser. However your question doesn’t really rest on the abuser. It is clear to everyone involved that what happened was wrong. Your question is simply, ‘how should victims respond to such people?’. What you are seeing between your mother and her sister are two different ways to respond. Your mother simply says “That’s the way guys are.” I personally think that this may be a common coping tool, but it’s far from true, nor should it be accepted as true. Your aunt has done the much more difficult thing and as you say, found a way to forgive him.
Now, is such forgiveness a slap in the face? Perhaps to some it might be, however it is also obeying the commandment of Christ. I think it is wonderful that she has been able to do such a thing. I would further hope that your grandfather (and whomever your abuser is) is able to obtain forgiveness from God for such dark sins. I assure you such forgiveness is possible.
Aimee, at the end of the day, all sin will be paid for. We will either suffer for our own sins, or we will take advantage of the Atonement Christ offers us. He has already paid the price, and all he asks in return is living our lives according to his standards. Any one of us can obtain that gift after sufficient humility and repentance is offered. This includes your grandfather.
Speaking to you personally, I sincerely hope you find a way free of the abuse you are enduring. I further hope you find the peace in Christ available to you to forgive your abuser when the time is right. None of us can approach the Celestial Kingdom with hatred in our hearts. We must leave such burdens behind us in this life as much as possible. This is exactly why Christ said what he said in verse 10 above.