Member Reviews

This is a great resource for Christians in need of help navigating trauma!!!

Susannah Griffith wrote this book from the perspective of a Christian woman who endured trauma at the hands of her spouse. Rooted in Biblical principles, she shares her testimony of overcoming trauma by tackling forgiveness. While this could be a difficult book to get through, it is worth the read.

I will forever be appreciative to Griffith for the example she set. She does not believe in sugar coating things or letting people off the hook. While her faith is the most important aspect of her life, it does not excuse bad behavior. This is an incredibly refreshing perspective!!!

Special thanks to Netgalley, Baker Academic & Brazos Press, and Susannah Griffith for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my honest feedback.

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Forgiveness after Trauma is a hard book but a needed contribution to the thoughtful discussion of abuse, forgiveness, and religion. I finished this book shortly after its release date but I’m finding it difficult to adequately review.

Firstly, the author shares her own experiences of an abusive marriage in a way that is very open and visceral. When talking about forgiveness as a concept, it can be difficult to imagine how you would feel in certain situations where you would need to apply it. The way Susanna shares the events and her own feelings and thought processes as she worked through what forgiveness is and how to apply it take the discussion out of the conceptual and make it very real. I am grateful for her willingness to be vulnerable in how she shares. She works to be respectful of the personhood of the one who sinned against her while still calling his actions what they were.

Her theological discussion gave me a lot to think about. Particularly, how do we understand what power dynamics are at play in an abusive situation versus many of the most often quoted biblical passages on forgiveness. The author makes the point that true forgiveness must come from someone who is in a position to give it freely and not while still under coercion.

The book is out now and worth reading if you are interested in this topic, but I will add that if you’ve been through experiences like the author shares about, I’d caution that you might need some healing time before approaching this book.

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I am really glad that I read this book. While I have not had to forgive anything at all close to what the Author did, her insights into forgiveness in general and the ways it can be taught wrong by the church were insightful and can apply to a variety of situations. I especially found the chapter on lament to be useful as I was able to directly apply the contents to an area of trauma in my life, one that relates to a chronic illness, so doesn't necessarily relate to forgiveness for me, but that need lament and reclaiming of myself nonetheless. This chapter gave me permission to lament my circumstances, and I felt it as I read.

The author shares much of her story throughout this book, and I admire her for being able to be that open about things that can be very hard to share about. I felt great empathy for her, and although the forgiveness she came to give didn't lead to continuing on in her marriage, that she was able to come to a place of forgiveness and peace was truly a gift from God.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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This is a detailed analysis of the biblical view of forgiveness using the author’s own story of domestic abuse and trauma. It was particularly interesting to read about the role of lament in the Bible, the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, and the focus on life over marital obligations. This book will provide a new way of thinking about forgiveness and moving forward in life.

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Susannah Griffith's story emphasizes a vital truth: Christian forgiveness does not consist of ignoring, forgetting, or covering up abuse, wrongs, and offenses. Victims must be heard and supported. She gets to the core of her message when she says:

"I feel angry that, for several individuals at least, my wishes and autonomy were not as important as the abstract ideal of reconciliation. Though not all individuals knew that domestic violence was involved, some did know and chose to prioritize the continuation of the marriage anyway. I believe these responses constitute spiritual abuse. At the point when I finally separated from and divorced Neill, my fellow Christians' responses were more harmful to my well-being than Neill was."

An honest and compassionate book about a gut-wrenching relationship, with, ultimately, a hopeful point of view and a new beginning.

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The only reason I said I wouldn't recommend it for things like bookclubs is because I think it's a highly personal and sensitive topic throughout the book and I don't feel like it's necessarily a book to read with others?

I went into reading this book knowing that it would probably have triggering aspects to it and it did. However, not in a negative way.

It's a powerful read that encourages the church to reflect on the way it looks at trauma and those who have experienced it, advocating for a more trauma-informed approach to things. It has an understanding tone throughout which was reassuring and encouraging, especially given how people have historically been treated.

It has left me with lots to reflect on!

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This is another book that talks about the new way Christians and churches need to look at forgiveness and trauma. Every book that is written is another breakthrough for those who have suffered too much for the old-fashioned, patriarchal sense of guilt and forgiveness as removing all crimes.
Susannah Griffith takes you into her own life and how she was treated when her husband became abusive because of mental illness. SPOILER-well not actually if you know the church-they wanted her to forgive him and go back to the abuse.
Griffith begins truly studying the Bible and the stories on her own. No slant from people who wanted her controlled by either man or religion. She shares the Bible stories and verses that brought her peace, the ones that showed what forgiveness really was. SPOILER--you give them to God and work on your mess.
These spoilers do not detract from the book; I gained great insight reading her story and the passages she had learned from.
This a great book for Christians who are ready to deal with their lives even though their particular church doesn't see it as the "Godly" thing to do.

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Refreshingly powerful read about a simple yet profoundly misunderstood word…forgiveness. Griffith centers on forgiveness after her unimaginable trauma that coincides with the word of God. The text was carefully researched, written boldly yet delicately. I see myself referencing this book from time to time. To share her emotionally and physically taxing journey towards peace, hope, freedom and forgiveness is no easy feat. Thank you to NetGalley and Brazos Press for the chance to read this in advance!

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Ms. Susannah Griffith's raw and honest exploration of "trauma-informed forgiveness" is refreshing and sobering. She offers a very astute, Biblically-based analysis of forgiveness after trauma, lament, forgiveness, anger, healing, and resilience. Readers who want a realistic yet Christian take on forgiveness will leave this book feeling encouraged. I also think her text challenges flawed Christian ideologies and false narratives around the topics of forgiveness, especially regarding marriage and divorce.
One of the most memorable quotes from her text was,
"Sometimes we do face situations that feel too much to handle when we wish we could take all the pain away. Yet, sometimes, we stand and deliver. Sometimes, we rise strong and triumphant from the pain. Sometimes, hope is born.
Thank you so much to Net Galley and Brazos Press for this poignant and powerful e-arc and the chance to give an honest review!
Final Rating 4.50

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'Forgiveness after Trauma' by Susannah Griffith is an extremely well written and much needed addition to the literature in the field of trauma. It has a unique focus based on the author's ontological position as a Christian minister, trauma survivor and biblical scholar.
As a therapist I have regularly struggled to help clients who have been told by their faith leaders that they must forgive their abusers in order to free themselves. This text explores many different biblical references and teachings on forgiveness and approaches the concept in a much more loving, empowering, understanding and trauma-informed way.
A book that will be of great use to many working in pastoral care within or outside the Church, therapists and trauma survivors alike.
I am grateful to Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced reader copy of this very helpful text and am leaving my honest review voluntarily.

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"Forgiveness after Trauma: A Path to Find Healing and Empowerment" by Susannah Griffith is a compelling read for several reasons. Griffith's unique background as a Christian minister, biblical scholar, and survivor of abuse provides a multifaceted perspective on the complex issue of forgiveness after trauma. The book delves into biblical teachings on forgiveness and provides a trauma-informed approach, centering the experiences of survivors of abuse. By addressing the intersection of faith, justice, and healing, Griffith's work offers a relatable and compassionate exploration of forgiveness in the wake of trauma, making it a valuable resource for individuals seeking healing, empowerment, and a deeper understanding of forgiveness in the midst of hardship.

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Forgiveness after Trauma is definitely going to be a much needed and helpful guide for people processing trauma and how to help heal and find forgiveness. Everyone has some type of emotional trauma they experienced and it’s so nice and reassuring to have a guide to help give us grace. Very excited to share and acquire this with readers.

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A good overview of how trauma stays with us and how there can be an unhealthy pressure in Christian environments to prematurely forgive those who have hurt us. Lots to reflect on here about the timing, role, safety, and circumstances of forgiveness!

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It's probably not surprising that there were times while reading Susannah Griffith's "Forgiveness after Trauma: A Path to Find Healing and Empowerment" that I had to stop because I was crying.

At times, I was remembering.

At times, I was reflecting.

Still other times, I was crying tears of joy at realizing that Griffith had been able to put into words what my own theological exploration of forgiveness had taught me about the often controversial role of forgiveness for survivors of trauma.

So, yes, I am a trauma survivor. I'm a paraplegic/double amputee with spina bifida. I'm also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault as an adult. My first 25 years of life or so were pretty much defined by trauma, traumas at times perpetuated by the lack of compassion around me, very often from faith communities and others in professional roles.

Life is different now, though forgiveness has always been one of those areas that has challenged me as a person of faith and simply as a human being.

So, it was with some hesitation that I approached "Forgiveness after Trauma," though I've been in the healing journey long enough to know that it's when I feel that hesitation that I need to move gently into that resistance.

I'm glad I did.

Weaving together both personal testimony and biblical exegesis, Griffith has crafted a vital and necessary story that Teresa Kim Pecinovsky has appropriately called "a trauma-informed ethic of forgiveness," a description I can't possibly say in any other way.

Griffith explores what the Bible says - and doesn't say - about the biblical call to forgive. She creates a safe literary space to explore this call and helps her readers understand this command in ways that focus on healing and restoration. She frames forgiveness around broader concerns including lament, anger, accountability, release and birth, and reconciliation - all these broader concerns receive their own chapter and are explored fully both in terms of practical counsel and theology.

Griffith uses the term, and I love this, "trauma-informed forgiveness," a term that balances God's forgiveness of sinners while also centering survivors of trauma and abuse to empower healing. This lens also empowers those who have been harmed in other ways including within religious institutions.

Along the way, Griffith weaves into our reality her own story. At times, "Forgiveness after Trauma" reads like a suspense/thriller as Griffith shares her own testimony that starts off like so many - Meet someone. Fall in love. Get married. Have a child.

Along the way, things begin to change. Griffith's husband began to exhibit signs of mental illness. The home that had once felt safe and loving no longer did as behaviors intensified, intimidated, threatened, and so much more. Instead of being being enveloped and protected by the Church and those agencies assigned the task of protection, Griffith was met with ridicule, blame, and admonishment. These are experiences many have had and many continue to have mostly resulting from poor theology and a belittling of God.

The beauty of "Forgiveness after Trauma" is that Griffith builds her framework alongside her slowly revealing testimony. She learns. We learn. She applies. We are given a safe space to apply.

If you're looking for a book that will wallow in self-pity, this isn't it.

If you're looking for a book that will reinforce long existing religious tropes and stereotypes, this isn't it.

If you're looking for a book that is uncomfortable with emotion, this most certainly isn't it.

Griffith undeniably believes in forgiveness, though not in the usual ways we've so often been taught by mostly well-meaning yet often misguided pastors, pastoral counselors, etc. She builds the well-researched framework here in such a way that I may have found myself shouting "Yes!" more than once.

Griffith rejects, at times quite passionately, so many long existing religious tropes and stereotypes that it felt as if I'd stepped into a chamber of religious fresh air.

And, of course, Griffith creates a safe space for and deeply encourages deep lament, gut-level anger, and so many other emotions that we're often taught shouldn't exist within our sanctuaries.

Hogwash.

So suspenseful is Griffith's "Forgiveness after Trauma" that I found myself nearing the end almost breathless in anticipation of the resolution of Griffith's journey with this trauma (or at least current resolution).

Beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and constructed with compassion and discipline, "Forgiveness after Trauma" is one of those books I have no doubt I'll refer to time and time again.

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