Can witnesses to abuse forgive the abuser even though the witnesses were not the ones harmed? For example, suppose one child is scapegoated in the family. Could a sibling, now an adult, who did not experience the parental wrath forgive the parents?

Yes, the adult child who was not abused can feel free to forgive the parent for abusing the adult child’s sibling. Trudy Govier, a philosopher in Canada, refers to this as secondary forgiveness. The abused child, who wishes to forgive, would be engaging in primary forgiveness.

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