Sovereignty

Forgiveness: respect, autonomy and sovereignty

by Shlomit Harrosh

Five years ago Joanne Nodding was violently raped by a man she knew. As part of a restorative justice programme, she has recently met with the man at her own request and with his consent. Nodding told him of her experiences during the attack and of its effects on her family. The man offered what Nodding felt was a genuine apology. She chose to forgive him.

“I ended the meeting by telling him that I’d forgiven him and that I wanted him to forgive himself, if he hadn’t,” said Nodding, “because I wanted him to go on to have a successful life. Hatred eats you up, and you can’t change what’s happened.”

The subject of forgiveness has recently been addressed in an excellent piece by Charles L. Griswold. Griswold identifies the restoration of mutual respect as one of the goals of forgiveness. I want to further explore this idea, focusing on the way forgiveness can reorient a relationship compromised by grievous wrongdoing, like rape.

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