Forgiveness Is Overrated

It might not be a part of your healing journey.

Stark Raving
3 min readMar 17, 2022


Photo by Henri Pham on Unsplash

It is strange seeing the man who assaulted me posting feminist memes about consent on Facebook.

Of course, he will have changed. It's been over 10 years. We were fifteen when it happened. God knows I’ve changed since I was 15, every time I read my teenage diaries I cringe at how silly I was. I repeated the sexist things I had heard from adults in my life, taking them for the gospel. I obsessed over boys I was unable to talk two words to and got into stupid fights with friends, I made big unrealistic plans for my life and with far more diligence, staged elaborate pranks on my friends. I got drunk, got expelled from school, and made dozens of mistakes, including accidentally dying my hair green (it was supposed to be black) and wearing a cape for a year.

I was joyfully ridiculous.

I also never molested anyone.

“He was just a kid,” I tell myself, when I catch myself feeling angry at him.

“So was I,” comes the answer.

There are a lot of questions at play here. Do we have to forgive people their youthful mistakes? Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? Can we really hold people to the things they do when they are just kids?

These are the questions we are encouraged to think about. When women are victims of sexual assault, people always try to find excuses for abusers, whether it is in the victim’s own behaviour, or the abuser’s youth. We are always encouraged to forgive so that our abuser doesn’t have to suffer the consequences of his own behaviour.

That’s why in cases of campus rape, the “bright future” of the rapist is so often mentioned to dissuade victims from calling them out. It is framed as though what unsettles the rapist’s track to perfection is the victim’s decision to seek justice, rather than the rapist’s decision to commit a crime. It also makes it seem as though the future of the victim has no importance at all. The victim’s future will carry the mark of the terrible actions of the rapist. Their bright future has already been threatened or had a shadow cast on it, and they didn’t do anything wrong.



Stark Raving

Intersectional feminism and environmental issues. Let’s make the world a kinder, more sustainable place. Support my work!