Forgiveness in the #MeToo Era

Can Religious Forgiveness Silence #MeToo Stories?

The hashtag “MeToo” became popularized last year, as women across industries and communities came forward to tell their stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and discrimination by men in power. And although it seemed that #MeToo has spread to every corner of America, some women who have suffered abuse within religious communities struggle to receive acknowledgement and justice. This can be, as we learn, exacerbated by the practice of forgiveness that many religious traditions teach. We hear from Zainab Salbi, documentarian and host of PBS’ “#Me Too, Now What?” series and chaplain at American University Rev. Mark Schaefer about how when forgiveness is improperly applied into a scenario of sexual abuse, it can leave the survivor feeling deeply invalidated.

Forced to Forgive Her Abuser, A Mormon Woman Loses Faith

Alyssa, a young Mormon woman, tells us her personal story of sexual assault. When her church leaders pressured her to forgive her abuser, it made her feel as if her pain did not matter and that she wasn’t worthy of being believed. Tara Tulley, a social worker who grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says in her work, she has encountered many women with a story similar to Alyssa’s.

A Woman Betrayed By Her Rabbi Hopes to One Day Forgive

Being forced to forgive an abuser can be a hugely painful experience, but some have decided to reach forgiveness at their own pace. After Washington D.C. resident and Jewish convert Karin Bleeg discovered that her former rabbi had been secretly videotaping dozens of naked women while preparing for their mikvah, or ritual bath, she felt violated. Still, she says she one day wants to forgive him, not for his sake, but for hers. 

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