Abusers rely on “forgive and forget.” It is their bread and butter, the lifeblood of their dysfunction.
When things are bad, victims duck and hide, disassociate from the pain, blame themselves, or blame others. But when the storm is over, the victim is so relieved they may confuse this relief for genuine happiness, even love. They would often do anything to have this peace, even forgiving the abuser, absolving him/her of all guilt, and promising to “watch their behaviour” ever more closely so that the abuse doesn’t happen again: accepting the blame for the abuse, and walking deeper into bondage so that the current storm ends.
So long as they forget what they have been through, the abuse can continue.
But if they start keeping track, stop listening to the false apologies (which have no repentance in them), and begin to see the overall pattern…the jig is up.
Forgiveness means many things to many people. It is important not to hold on to bitterness. But any version of forgiveness which includes enabling abuse for ones self or others is wrong.
But so long as good church people keep telling them to “forgive and forget,” there is little danger of this happening…
Note: The dynamic of forgetting about abuse in order to cling to the “good times” is sometimes called, “trauma amnesia.”