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Heal & Forgive: Forgiveness in the Face of Abuse Paperback – May 1, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
read by a wide audience. It opens with her early life as a
well-adjusted child in a happy, healthy family; but soon it
veers to the death of her father, the remarriage of her
mother, and the onset of physical and emotional abuse from
her stepfather and, through enabling and collaboration, her
Ms. Richards' journey through adolescence, young adulthood,
to mature adulthood is vividly recounted. Any reader whose
journey has been analogous to Richards' will readily
identify with her attempts to give voice to--and then cope
with the consequences of--her childhood abuse.
I found myself underlining or bracketing large portions of
the second half of the book. Richards not only was betrayed
by her mother and stepfather but also was scapegoated by
her own brothers and other relatives as being the "sick"
one, the "troublemaker," the girl who never liked to be
hugged and who always gave her mother a hard time. Even
community members outside of her immediate family who saw
the bruises and the blood refused to help or to even
acknowledge that something was wrong.
For a victim of childhood abuse (and I am one myself), few
things are more damning or confusing than the utter refusal
of family or friends to speak up on one's behalf. It's a
double-whammy: one quickly learns to "cover" for the
abusers and to blame oneself for the evils. How could
parents, the ultimate protectors and nurturers, possibly
hurt their own flesh and blood?Read more ›
Even more distressing is the author's account of her attempts to protect herself and her brothers, and to stand up and speak the truth about the abuse, which resulted in her treacherous mother convincing anyone who would listen that she was a liar and troublemaker with mental problems. There is a twisted episode in which her stepfather was finally going to move out, but her mother told the then 12-year old author to ask him to stay. He did stay, and years later the mother blamed her daughter for controlling her marriage (at age 12!) and making her husband stay when she could have been rid of him sooner.
Long after the evil stepfather was gone and the author was grown, her mother continued to expose the author's younger brothers to repeated abuse from a string of other losers she became involved with. Nancy Richards tells, in heart-wrenching detail, of her attempts to protect her younger siblings, to get anyone to listen to her or believe her, and to somehow maintain a relationship with the mother she still loved and the rest of her family.Read more ›
In sharing her recovery Richards offers a healing blueprint for physical and emotional abuse, a mother's lifelong rejection, and being viewed as an enemy by siblings. She shows how to move from her personal betrayal to the larger collective betrayal we all face.
She illustrates how forced forgiveness and forgiveness in order to heal is shallow and does not last. We need to heal first in order to forgive. Forgiveness without healing is from a position of weakness. She says forgiveness is not a choice but a process that results from healing. Only when we work towards healing does forgiveness become a realistic goal.
Richards chose to stop seeing her mother and take care of herself when her mother continued to heap contempt on her and be oblivious to her feelings. She said the act of not forgiving her mother liberated her from her abuse and set her free to forgive. She stated, "I never would have been able to forgive my mother if I still had a relationship with her."
Her story shows how healing comes with self-preservation and self-compassion when we feel safe to acknowledge and talk about our injuries and begin to deal with the trauma. Richards said, "Each time I thought I had finished mourning, another wave of heart breaking losses emerged. However as I peeled away each layer of pain, I grew stronger."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book. The message hits home: its okay to not forgive, and sometimes choosing not to can lead us on the path of healing that we need to forgive someday. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Juniper Alexander
It was about three years ago I came across the title of this book on a recommended book list on an online PTSD support group. Read morePublished on February 11, 2009 by Enlightened
Thank You Nancy for being so open and honest about the journey you have been on for so many years. This book opens a world of hope and healing to the many who will read it. Read morePublished on October 27, 2008 by George W. Beasley
Heal & Forgive -- I devoured this book in one evening. And I commented on it in a family rift blog site on the web. Read morePublished on March 28, 2008 by trolldoll-1
This is a book everyone should read. The author gives a candid look into a heart-wrenching world of child abuse. Read morePublished on December 28, 2007 by C. Fjelstad
Nancy Richards offers a fresh face to the concept of forgiveness in her book Heal and Forgive: Forgiveness in the Face of Abuse. Read morePublished on April 13, 2006 by Crochet Lover
Ms. Richards describes how physical and emotional child abuse can turn the non-abusing against the child and the children against one another. Read morePublished on February 25, 2006 by Donald Mitchell