Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.’
How I learned His most important message of forgiveness..
On July 13, 2001, two weeks after I had finally left a man I had been in a fourteen year relationship with, a relationship that was born in the mortal sin of adultery, and ended in me gaining the understanding of what severe emotional abuse was, after I had written to his former wife a letter of apology, along with myself having the strongest desire to enter into the fullness of the Church, and finally start on the path back to Christ, I was raped by a stranger.
I was drugged. I was held against my will. I was raped repeatedly and so savagely that it caused internal damage. For eight hours that day, all I could think of was how no one knew were I was, but God and I was never going to see my family again. I did everything I could to leave a trail of my personal things in his possession. Including a brush with my hair, in case he was caught that would lead someone to my body, so my family wouldn’t have to worry anymore.
I knew he was going to kill me because he said he was. He told me he had a gun and was taking me , in his words, “To a beautiful spot next to a stream, where he was going to rape me and kill me, and dump my body”. The day I had met my attacker, he was due to be sentenced in another county, for viciously beating a woman, who was almost unidentifiable after he got his hands on her. He was homeless, a drug addict and was going back and fourth from living in his truck that had stolen license plates, to living with his parents. Although I did not know this information at the time, looking back, knowing God was with me that day, is more then any other comfort I will ever need.
As the events of my rape were unfolding that day, and they became darker and darker, I thank God for giving me the ability then, to feel the sense of the entire attack as if it was happening to someone else, and I was just outside of my body, watching for his next move, so I could instruct my body as to what to do next, to survive. I knew this person raping me was tormented by many many evil things and they were ripping him to shreds and his only recourse, in his mind, was to take it out on me. It was so obvious and terrifying how his persona would jump from a somewhat sane person, with empathy for me, believing in some twisted way in his own mind that I was his girlfriend, then back to pure despise that I was even human.
In just that way his brain clicked back to me being his “Girlfriend”, he allowed me to leave, him believing completely, he had done nothing wrong. Going so far as to asking me out on a date and telling me, WE were going out again tomorrow. I played along knowing without a doubt, the next day I would die if he had his way. But not only would I die, but my daughter would also. He released me, driving me back to my car, and I then in utter fear of being followed, drove myself to the police station, collapsing in utter disbelief that I was still alive at the front desk. It took everything I had left to regain composure and tell the officer I had been raped.
It was a Friday that my rape occurred, early morning Saturday when he released me around one in the morning and by Sunday night, my attacker was in police custody. After I had participated with police in luring my attacker to a spot they could arrest him.
Sunday afternoon, after attending mass, I spoke with a priest, who just a few months earlier, heard my confession for the first time since I was a child, before the arrest of my attacker, I told him I forgave my attacker. In the squad car with the detective who handled the case, on the way to a judges personal home where a special order needed to be signed for us to capture this man, I told him I forgave my attacker. I was releasing this man spiritually, placing him in the hands of God. That forgiveness I offered to him, did not mean I would not testify against him or not have him arrested. He needed be held accountable for his actions. I could never live with myself if I knew this man hurt another human being because of my lack of action. My forgiveness to him came from my heart. It came from being on that same road in life as my attacker, although not the same personal conditions, and turning away from it.
It took a lot for me to write this, only because I do not think about it in such detail anymore. The fact I forgave him, and placed him in God’s hands, has cleansed my soul so greatly, that I can only think of the souls who did not have to suffer at this mans hands. I think of the woman who was beaten and how now she has some freedom from living in fear of him. I think of and pray for ALL police officers for having to see this every day. And I also pray for my attacker, that someday he may turn back from that road, and run to Christ.
“Forgive them Father, they know not what they do”
The forgiveness I have offered to this man, put into perspective the wrongs I face daily, to me is, that nothing I have faced from others, could ever be unforgivable. My forgiveness now is offered immediately to God, even when they, the people who have hurt me, don’t ask for it or want it. Exactly like Jesus Christ on the cross. Through forgiveness, nothing can hurt. The pain is removed.
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