Forgiveness after Trauma

A Path to Find Healing and Empowerment

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Pub Date Mar 26 2024 | Archive Date Apr 26 2024

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Susannah Griffith wishes she had spent less time thinking about forgiveness. But as a Christian minister, a biblical scholar, and a survivor of abuse, she has learned a lot about it.

In Forgiveness after Trauma, Griffith explores what the Bible says--and doesn't say--about the biblical call to forgive. She helps readers understand this command in ways that are healing and restorative, framing it within broader concerns around lament, anger, accountability, release and rebirth, and reconciliation.

The result is what Griffith calls "trauma-informed forgiveness," which takes seriously God's forgiveness of sinners while centering survivors of abuse and aiding their healing. This view also empowers those who have been harmed in other ways by abuses of power and justice in religious institutions.

Readers will resonate with Griffith's astute biblical analysis and personal reflection, which point to God's love--a love that never includes abuse and strives for justice for the vulnerable.

Susannah Griffith wishes she had spent less time thinking about forgiveness. But as a Christian minister, a biblical scholar, and a survivor of abuse, she has learned a lot about it.

In Forgiveness...

Advance Praise

Forgiveness after Trauma provides desperately needed insight and clarity on one of the most significant issues survivors face as they take steps toward safety and recovery. Confusion, harmful messages, and stigmas surrounding the topic of forgiveness have often been obstacles and pitfalls on the path to freedom. Susannah Griffith helps us understand what it really means to forgive after trauma. She destigmatizes anger, extends permission and invitation to lament, answers many important questions about accountability and reconciliation, and gives hope for the future. She has taken a depth of personal experience, loving care, and profound expertise to write a book that will empower many who find themselves stuck and unsure how to move forward on their healing journey.”—Wade Mullen, author of Something’s Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse—and Freeing Yourself from Its Power

“In Forgiveness after Trauma, Griffith weaves together Scripture, memoir, and practical theology in a trauma-informed ethic of forgiveness. Her compelling, nuanced writing is required reading for clergy, lay leaders, and anyone willing to accompany survivors navigating intimate partner violence.”—Teresa Kim Pecinovsky, author of Mother God

“Through her own story of trauma and recovery, Susannah Griffith gently urges readers to discover the many facets of forgiveness, paving a way forward after harm. On her journey she leaves no stone unturned: addressing anger, lament, accountability, and empathy. Her story is one I’ll return to again and again.”—Tiffany Bluhm, speaker and author of Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up

“In Forgiveness after Trauma, Susannah Griffith speaks from a mixture of personal narrative, biblical scholarship, and pastoral experience to deliver a trauma-informed understanding of forgiveness. Griffith offers the church an opportunity to reshape its approach to reconciliation and forgiveness in order to better support those who have experienced trauma. While books on forgiveness abound, I have not come across one like Forgiveness after Trauma.”—J.W. Buck, author of Everyday Activism: Following 7 Practices of Jesus to Create a Just World

Forgiveness after Trauma provides desperately needed insight and clarity on one of the most significant issues survivors face as they take steps toward safety and recovery. Confusion, harmful...

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ISBN 9781587435973
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Featured Reviews

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.


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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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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"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' 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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