Many people believe that forgiveness is necessary if we are to put the past behind us and move on. Twelve-step programs teach the philosophy that we should forgive others because they, like us, were doing the best they could at the time. Many religions teach that forgiveness is the only fair and compassionate thing to do, since we have all sinned and we have all hurt others. Many psychotherapists also believe that forgiveness is necessary in order to heal. But as wise as spiritual leaders and therapists are concerning the importance of forgiveness, sometimes forgiveness is not possible. Unfortunately, we have not been given permission to choose not to forgive. It is my belief that forgiveness is not necessary for healing, and in some cases may not be the healthiest thing to do. This is especially true when forgiving is tantamount to giving permission to hurt you again.
Sometimes we need to hold onto the very thing that prevents us from forgiving in order to cope and survive--anger. Anger can be a powerful motivator, especially for those who have been victimized. Anger can help us rise above the victimization and to fight our way back from the most devastating of traumas. For example, research shows that female victims of rape who allowed themselves to express their rage about being raped were able to recover from the trauma much better than those who never got angry. It is often anger that motivates a victim to continue facing the pain.