If physical exercise had a mental equivalent, it would probably be the process of forgiveness. Researchers continue to tally the benefits of burying the hatchet—lower blood pressure and heart rate, less depression, a better immune system and a longer life, among others. But now a new study has demonstrated that forgiveness might not be a salve for all wrongs, particularly in cases of child sexual abuse.
Jennie Noll, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati, spent 10 years studying 55 girls who had been sexually abused. She compared them with girls who had not been abused. The girls who were not abused were asked how they felt about someone who had hurt them in the past. Noll asked both groups about four aspects of forgiveness: a desire for revenge, letting go of anger, a wish to move on with their lives, and a desire for reconciliation with their offender.