Should You Forgive a Bully?

Should you forgive a bully or encourage your kids to do so? Find out why, as hard as it is, it might just be what your child needs to move on!

Should you forgive a bully? They say you should forgive and forget, but is it really that simple to forgive a person who bullied you? Bullying can make life miserable for even the most confident person, and there is more than one case of the target of bullying taking drastic measures because of the pain they’re going through.

With the level of emotional distress caused by being bullied, should you even bother trying to forgive your bully?

Should You Forgive a Bully?

This question was posed on a forum, and I was surprised by the number of people who said they felt the bully should not be forgiven. Interestingly, most of the people who had that opinion were also people who had been bullied. I saw a common theme with their answers, though – underlying anger and pain. People who encouraged forgiveness seemed much more at peace than those who didn’t.

One of the commenters on the forum hit upon something that is important in the idea of forgiveness, and that is the health benefits of forgiveness.  He said, “By forgiving this individual, you are doing yourself the favor and healing your own soul. By not doing so, you are and have victimized yourself to a far greater extent and for a much greater period of time.”

The Mayo Clinic backs up the benefits of forgiveness, stating that “forgiveness can lead to: healthier relationships; greater spiritual and psychological well-being; less anxiety, stress and hostility; lower blood pressure; fewer symptoms of depression; stronger immune system; improved heart health; and higher self-esteem.”

Forgiving and Forgetting in Your Own Time

Going back to the adage shared above, “forgive and forget,” it seems the forgetting part is the hard one. Keep in mind that forgiveness and forgetting the situation happened do not have to go hand in hand. It is possible to forgive someone for something they’ve done to you without then being required to have a friendship or relationship of some kind.

Dr. M. Amir Ali wrote an article on forgiveness, and his final point is in regard to reconciliation. He shares that “Reconciliation is desirable but not essential to forgiveness. If the victim feels that the offender has serious character flaws and it is not in his best interest to reconcile he doesn’t have to… Sometimes it is best for one’s own sanity not to carry on normal relationship with certain kinds of characters.”

Ultimately, if you were the victim of bullying, only you know if you can forgive the person who bullied you. If you were the victim of bullying and are struggling with your emotions, please seek help with a counselor. While I am a proponent of forgiveness for your own well-being, if you’re not ready to do so, that’s okay. It will come in time. Everyone’s healing happens on their own timeline, and you will get there!

Have you ever been in this situation? Were you able to forgive a bully? Share your experiences below.

15 thoughts on “Should You Forgive a Bully?”

  1. I think one should forgive a bully over time. Depends on the maturity level and if the bully apologize sincerely. Cant hold grudges forever, if it is fresh I can see it will take time.

  2. It really depends on the situation. I think it is important to teach our kids about forgiveness. It can be easier said then done.

  3. I don’t think a true bully will ever figure out that what they are doing is wrong, so I don’t think forgiveness will help them. I just think you are wasting your breath forgiving a bully.

  4. Jeanine @ sixtimemommy.com

    My daughter did and it turned out horrible. The bully started again 10x worse and her mother got in on it too. I for one wouldn’t again, especially now a days. No point… just move on.

  5. This is such a sensitive topic. Bullying is a popular topic today, especially with the advent of increasingly top technology.
    Forgiveness is another tricky topic. But it is not healthy for one to hold in negative feelings.

  6. I honestly think that forgiveness allows us to be whole and complete. While we may never forget, it’s important to forgive those who wronged us in anyway so that we don’t become bitter, angry people like they are/were.

  7. Annemarie LeBlanc

    This is one of the hardest things to do – to forgive someone who hurt you. If it happened to me when I was younger, I would have thrown a fit and tried with all my might to plot revenge. LOL. Anyway, as I matured, I found it easier to forgive, but the only thing I could not give back is the trust that was lost.

  8. My girls are quick to forgive those who have bullied them. I, however, will hold a grudge until the end of time. I am glad they aren’t like their mother because that anger really can eat you up.

  9. I feel that that forgiveness is a part of letting to and moving on. I was bullied as a kid but knew from an early age that it had something to do with inside of them, not me, that caused them to act the way they did. I think forgiveness is smart but another smart aspect is to not let yourself get caught up so much in forgiveness that you give them a hand out of their behavior.

  10. Catherine Sargent

    This is a great post. I would have a hard time with the forgiveness part. I may forgive someone, but I never forget.

  11. Forgiveness is always the best course, not matter what the situation. It doesn’t mean that what they did was right. It just means that you won’t allow yourself to be consumed with negative emotions.

  12. I think it’s very important to forgive a bully, even if they never do a thing to earn it. Forgiveness is more about you being able to move forward than it is excusing what was done to you.

  13. To forgive is one of the hardest things to do but it does help your own soul, but I don’t think you need to forget.

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