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Sometimes victims must forgive their abusers even when reconciliation isn't possible.

A sexually abused woman, whom I'll call Jane, wrote me. She said: "My pastor and my Christian friends have told me I'll never be healed from the wounds of sexual abuse until I forgive my father for what he did to me when I was a child.

"So I forgave him, or at least I thought I did. But when I sought reconciliation with him, he acted as though nothing had happened; he pretended we had a great relationship."

One day she had said to him, "Dad, we've got to talk. I was really hurt by what you did to me as a child."

"Don't be silly, Jane. I never hurt you."

"But Dad, those times you touched me . . ."

"Every dad gets affectionate now and then."

"Dad, you know what I'm talking about!"

"Lighten up, Jane. Sometimes I joke around. I just know that you've always been troubled, and I've always tried to help. When are you going to quit worrying so much about life and just enjoy the family you have?"

By this point, Jane was so enraged at her father's denial that she walked out of the room.

She continued in ...

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