The Healing Power of Forgiveness After Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse, both emotional and physical, can have a devastating effect on the health of the abused woman long after the abuse is over.  This often includes depression, anxiety, intrusive memories, and low self-esteem. Healthy forgiveness of the former abusive spouse (which is not confused with condoning, excusing, unsafe contact, or reconciliation) can have the power to heal these painful outcomes.

My name is Gayle Reed. I have done research at the University of Wisconsin, which shows that abused women who engaged in forgiveness therapy did have dramatic improvements in anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Abused women in the same study who had therapy that did not include forgiveness failed to have these good outcomes. Something powerful happened in the forgiveness therapy.

As I continue to offer forgiveness coaching for formerly abused women, I see these same wonderful outcomes.  After women take the courage to tell the truth about the abuse (It is wrong. It had to stop. I have the right to be safe.), they can freely decide what kind of person they will become (I was treated as though I was worthless but I will choose to practice respect and goodwill).  It is wonderful to see these women move from an old story of intrusive memories of the abuse to a brave story of leaving the abusive situation to a triumphant story of choosing to be come a strong person who overcomes difficulty with deeply good choices. This is the heart of faith. And the result is health and joy.

I offer this good news for whomever would benefit from it and you will find more information and resources on my website:

Reed, G. L. & Enright, R. D. (2006). The Effects of Forgiveness Therapy on Depression, Anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress among Emotionally-Abused Women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 74, (5). 920-929.