’It’s Almost Impossible to Speak about It’: Sexual Abuse, Forgiveness, and the Need for Restitution Rituals

Fredrik Portin, Lisa Rudolfsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The focus of this research was on ways in which Christian congregations can address the concept of forgiveness when caring for victims of sexual abuse, and to make suggestions for a restitution mass as a possible way for congregations to work with these victims. Interviews with seven women and one man, who were victims of sexual abuse, were analyzed according to inductive thematic analysis. The informants described how attending services in Church could trigger their memories of sexual abuse, and they struggled to understand the concept of forgiveness: who they were to forgive and what made their forgiveness good-enough. They expressed a need for the Church to offer them a safe space, rituals where their experiences would be acknowledged, and to meet with other victims of sexual abuse. We argue that representatives for the Church need to acquire knowledge about sexual abuse and its consequences before offering care. Further, the presence of victims of sexual abuse in a congregation demands that the congregation create appropriate conditions where the victim’s needs and concerns are put into focus. Addressing forgiveness and offering rituals must be done in such a way that it does not consolidate the victim’s feelings of exclusion, guilt and shame.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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