No, I Do Not Need To 'Forgive' My Date Rapist, ThankYouVeryMuch

If he needs forgiveness, he needs to seek it with his maker.

woman sitting on the floor looking out window kenchiro168 / Shutterstock

Holding onto anger about anything  a situation, trauma, person, or lost circumstance, whatever the case may be  isn't a punishment to anyone but you. Your wrath will never burn literal holes into any of your enemies (no matter how hard you try); rather, your wrath will burn every single last bit of energy you have.

Your anger will kill off the good parts of you until all that's left is a negative, seething shell of slavery. Yes, that's right. When you hold onto that kind of anger, you're enslaved.


So when I hopped onto Facebook and saw that my former date rapist who was supposed to be "my friend" was suggested as a "person you may know," I felt nothing.

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I didn't search his page. I didn't "add" him either but I didn't go to see what had become of him on Google or anywhere else. I didn't care anymore.

It may sound as if I'm in denial  that scary place in which you've convinced yourself that nothing is wrong, all the while a bomb has just blown up in your face. But I'm not.

I had my time in which I wondered why my "friend" thought it would be a great idea to take advantage of me, a fifteen-year-old girl at the time.


I had my time in which I told him and kicked him, saying he was a worthless human being. (We went to the same school and lived a few blocks away from each other. Lucky me.)

I had my time in which, after he made his poor decision, I continued to make poor decisions, subjecting myself to men who treated me like crap and validated who I thought I truly was: a worthless piece of crap.

His decision was one of many dominoes that set off a flurry of bad decisions and years of low self-esteem and regret on my end.

You may think, "How could she not be angry? How could she not find out what happened to her darling date rapist?" I use the term "darling" with a hint of piss and vigor and a large dash of sarcasm in my voice.


I don't care because I left the past in the past. 

He doesn't need my forgiveness and I don't forgive him. I don't forgive him — but I do forget him. I moved on, and years later I'm fine. Actually, I'm more than fine; I'm pretty damn wonderful.

Listen: I'm not G*d. I'm not here to offer him penance. If he needs forgiveness, then he needs to seek it with his maker. Within himself. I don't hold the key to him becoming a better person, him evolving past what happened years ago. Only he can do that. Only he can evolve if he's truly able to.

My only hope is that his injurious and lecherous behavior doesn't live on. I hope I'm not one of many, and that he isn't the same person I encountered so many years ago: My dear "friend" who cared so much about himself that he treated himself to my vulnerability. My innocent belief that he was indeed, my friend.


No, I'm not here to offer him forgiveness. I'm here to offer myself forgiveness  forgiving myself for not doing anything wrong.

Forgiving myself for holding immense guilt.

Forgiving myself for not picking better friends and not making smarter choices to protect myself.

And all at once, I'm not here to forgive myself, for I have done nothing wrong.

RELATED: I'm A Rape Survivor And Stripping Helped Me Love My Body Again

Rape happens more than we care to admit. Rape happens more than we share. Rape happens regardless of sex, class, gender, race, and orientation. It happens for myriad reasons, yet still, we're nowhere near close to really being able to speak about it openly as a society.


So in truth, this essay isn't for me. I'm not hurting anymore. I'm not the worthless girl I believed I was. I'm the amazing woman I never believed I could truly be. I'm not enslaved. I'm, in every sense of the word, free.

This essay isn't for him, either. A nameless, faceless nobody who may or may not be married with children. Who may be a better person today. Who might not be. This essay isn't for him, who was probably a very confused young adult of eighteen — and a mentally unstable young adult at that.

This essay is for women and men who are afraid to speak up. Who hold onto their anger and pain. Who want revenge. Who want forgiveness for something they didn't do wrong. Who want justice ... and a peaceful night's sleep.

I say to you: You don't need to forgive yourself, for you've done nothing wrong. And you don't need to "forgive" your attacker. And if deep down inside you don't want to offer forgiveness anyway, don't feel bad. Neither did I. Neither did many of us who aren't victims but survivors of rape.


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What you are capable of is freeing that anger and pain so you can go on and live, love, and laugh your life away. What you are capable of is living life after this horrific event and not having a marker, like a stamp book or big red circle on a calendar that defines everything as "Before the Rape" and "After the Rape."

What you are capable of is saying this doesn't define you. No one, no one, no one defines who you are or who you will become. Only you and your emotions decide your identity, which means that one day, if you get a "suggested friend" request from your rapist on Facebook, you won't look back with a single tear.

Because the victim isn't you; it's your attacker. Your empty, rotten, and unstable attacker who will never know the peace you will know when one day you wake up and realize, I'm okay.


Laura Lifshitz is a writer, former MTV personality, and Columbia University graduate who writes about divorce, relationships, women’s issues, and parenting for The New York Times, Women’s Health, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, and more.