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DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIM CHOOSES COURAGE, FORGIVES HER HUSBAND, AND TURNS HER LIFE AROUND

Ruchi Singh is a young woman who refused to be just another statistic of domestic violence. To turn her life around after fearfully incurring years of abuse at the hands of her alcoholic husband, Singh decided to choose courage—and forgiveness.

Ruchi Singh is a domestic abuse survivor who courageously chose forgiveness and turned her life around.

“Life is made up of millions of moments but there comes a moment that decides the rest of our life,” Singh says. “For me, it was the night my husband (now ex-) put a knife to my throat, threatening to kill me. I am lucky he changed his mind.”

Although Singh wishes she did not have to know how it feels to be terrified in her own home, she acknowledges that it happened and that she had to choose what was going to drive her life—fear or courage.

“I chose courage,” Singh now tells anyone who will listen. “I chose courage, gave myself a voice, and took ownership of my life. The moment I took responsibility for my life, I moved from a place of weakness to a position of strength.”

After the knife incident, Singh was able to get away from her husband in Sydney, Australia, and return to her home in India where she told her parents for the first time about the abuse she endured. With her new-found courage, she told her husband she was not coming back to him and instead filed for divorce.

“Forgiving my husband was something I needed to do to avoid becoming a negative person,” Singh now relates. “I didn’t want to be cruel and hurtful like him. One way of staying internally clean has been by never calling him abusive names. I have even blessed him. It’s not easy, but it’s helped me free myself.”

Singh clarifies her statement by adding that forgiveness does not mean saying she is okay with her husband’s treatment of her, but that she can now continue with her life in a more peaceful frame of mind.

Ruchi Singh provided a keynote speech at the 2020 Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders in Bangkok and received a standing ovation.

“The reason I forgave him was because holding onto hate would have been very harmful for my mental wellbeing,” according to Singh.  “I started my new life by creating awareness on domestic violence together with the message on courage, confidence and the power of communication. Little did I know that it was the beginning of an amazing journey.”

For Singh, forgiving didn’t come easily. It took her three months of intense meditation and hard work to forgive, in large part because her ex had never apologized and he still said everything was her fault.

“I couldn’t just think myself into forgiving, I had to take action,” Singh says. “I had to clean out the muddy water by feeling my way through all the ugly emotions until finally these negative feelings began to dissipate. Also, the chronic hip pain I’d had for four years, which no specialist could figure out, disappeared after I moved away from the relationship.” 

Today Singh is an international keynote speaker, best-selling author, talk show host, and humanitarian who runs her own personal leadership and communications company. Courageous leadership is at the heart of everything she does. She brings that to her website talk show “RuchiSinghTalks” where she provides a safe platform to have uncomfortable but important discussions.

Singh received one of her country’s highest awards in 2020 for her “contribution towards the nation’s development.”

“I share my story to create awareness about this epidemic (domestic violence) which impacts millions all over the world,” Singh says. As she outlines in her video The Power of Forgiveness: Mindset Motivation, she believes everyone has within them “the power to transform and recreate your life.”

Last year, Singh was invited to deliver a keynote speech at the 2020 Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders held at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok. The Summit is designed to inspire and empower young people who are passionate about positive social change. The 450+ attendees from 55 countries gave her a standing ovation.

Singh is featured in a documentary film “Till Death Do Us Part” that was the official selection of the 2020 New York Lift-Off Film Festival. That same year, she received one of her country’s highest awards, the Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Award (named after the 2nd President of India).

Learn more about Singh’s amazing transformation and decision to forgive on The Forgiveness Project website.

Watch Singh’s video “The Power of Forgiveness” and all her videos on YouTube.

Visit Ruchi Singh’s website.


 

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TEACHERS: GET TO THE HEART OF LEARNING

As you begin to read about and consider different SEL programs for your students for the 2021-2022 school year, we want you to know about FORGIVENESS
EDUCATION–what it consists of and looks like, how you can easily teach it, and the benefits of forgiveness education for your students and your school.
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The International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) has a variety of curriculums available for all grades from pre-k through 12th grade. Our most recent one is, The Courage to Forgive: Educating Elementary School Children About Forgiveness..

  • For the basic description of this curriculum, check out this link: The Courage to Forgive.
  • For the complete 15-page introduction that explains more about forgiveness education, this specific curriculum, why it is needed, and the benefits of forgiveness education, check out this link: The Courage to Forgive Introduction.
  • To learn more about the IFI’s full range of teacher resources, check out this link: Curriculum Guides.

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New, Just Published Curriculum Guide – THE COURAGE TO FORGIVE: EDUCATING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN ABOUT FORGIVENESS

Grade school educators, counselors, and homeschooling parents now have a new resource available to help teach their 4th and 5th grade students (ages 9-12) about forgiveness. Serving either as a Social-Emotional Learning or a Character-Education curriculum, the focus is on what forgiveness is, is not, what forgiveness looks like, and the basic concepts associated with forgiveness, including kindness, empathy, perspective-taking, and healthy expression of anger.

The Courage to Forgive: Educating Elementary School Children About Forgiveness uses children’s literature and incorporates the latest social-emotional learning (SEL) and character education principles into its 16-lessons. Each lesson in the 64-page guide is approximately 45-minutes in length and lessons include a variety of activities for students to complete, group and individual discussion questions to reflect on and answer, and even an opportunity for students to write their own book about forgiveness. One life-long teacher was so impressed after previewing the guide that she called it her “character education handbook.”

This new curriculum includes the model of forgiveness developed by Dr. Robert Enright, as well as techniques honed by Dr. Suzanne Freedman during her 2015 research with 5th grade students in a racially-diverse Midwestern school. Selected children’s books, such as, The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester are used to teach and illustrate forgiveness and related concepts. Book summaries and online videos of the books are included with the curriculum guide.

As stated by Dr. Freedman in the introduction to the curriculum, “It is hard for students to forgive if they don’t know about forgiveness or see examples of it. The children’s literature used in this curriculum illustrates what forgiveness looks like, what’s involved in forgiving and the impact of forgiveness for both the characters who do the forgiving and those who receive it. 

“Helping students develop empathy toward others is a key strategy not only in character-building but in bullying prevention and intervention,” according to Dr. Freedman. “It is critical that we help kids develop empathy early in their lives and this curriculum guide is a great way to do that. Plus, the short sessions using children’s literature are fun for the kids so they are eager to learn.” 

Although this curriculum was written specifically with 4th and 5th grade students in mind, it can be used with older (middle school students) or younger students, since activities can be modified as necessary. Even adults will find the curriculum helpful in their understanding and practice of forgiveness.

“SEL programs are being recognized as an important part of the school curriculum for all students,” Dr. Freedman adds. “In this guide, SEL is incorporated with Forgiveness Education in order to teach students how to recognize and express anger and other emotions in a healthy way, understand the perspective of others, and recognize the humanity in all.” 

The following quote illustrates how one 5th grade student benefited from learning about forgiveness:

“I like forgiveness because it helps me learn how to forgive people. Before forgiveness I was mean and rude to people- I learned to forgive people. I had a lot of anger before but since you came here- I learned to control my anger and calm myself down!”

For more information about the curriculum, read the full 15-page introduction to the guide. 

For more information about the research behind this curriculum guide, read The Impact of Using Children’s Literature to Teach 5th Graders about Forgiveness.


 

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“The World’s Largest Portal to Anything and Everything Forgiveness-Related”

The International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) achieved major milestones this week with publication on its website of the 1,000th “Ask Dr. Forgiveness” entry and more than 2,000 unique posts in its “Blogs and News” communication sections.
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“Ask Dr. Forgiveness” is a dedicated column on the IFI website where users can ask questions related to even the toughest forgiveness topics and receive an informed response directly from IFI co-founder Dr. Robert Enright who is often referred to as “Dr. Forgiveness.” It is the IFI’s most popular website component and has garnered questions from individuals across the globe who are seeking answers and information on forgiveness-related topics.

As illustrated in the info-graphic at right, the IFI’s “Our Forgiveness Blog” section contains the second-highest number of website entries. Every one of the 513 entries in that section has been personally written by Dr. Enright (with the exception of a few guest blogs from prominent forgiveness advocates).

Those IFI followers who track Dr. Enright’s blogs have learned about the wit and wisdom of his 35-years pursuing scientific forgiveness research, the meticulous validation of his scientific procedures, his prominent international role in creating forgiveness education curricula, and his dominance in developing forgiveness therapy interventions.

In addition to those 500+ essays on the IFI website, Dr. Enright has also authored 86 additional blogs for his column called “The Forgiving Life” that runs monthly in the magazine Psychology Today. That publication, which focuses on mental health and behavioral science issues, established its partnership with Dr. Enright more than five years ago.

“The 2,000+ milestone we just reached with our blog and news sections is a hugely significant accomplishment,” according to Dr. Enright. “Compared to other websites that focus on moral development, the IFI website is by far the world’s largest portal to anything and everything forgiveness-related.”

Part of the reason Dr. Enright can make that claim is because of his life-long aspiration to share the unvarnished results of his scientific research and interventions with not only interested scholars but with other psychologists, psychotherapists, and, essentially, the entire world.

That’s why the IFI website now contains the full texts of many research documents produced by Dr. Enright and his research teams (available at no cost). Additionally, the site contains the full documentation (including instructions and scoring algorithms) for the most popular research tools Dr. Enright created during his career (again, available at no cost). In just the past three weeks, those tools have been accessed by scientists and clinicians from 21 different US states and 17 foreign countries.

“We provide all those resources on our website because we want to expand the availability of crucial forgiveness knowledge,” Dr. Enright says. “Our goal is to reach across continents to help satisfy man’s innate curiosity about forgiveness and to help disseminate the good news about the abundant benefits of the virtue of forgiveness.”


 

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The Transformative Power of Storytelling

A new and innovative online training course is now available through The Forgiveness Project, a London (UK)-based organization that collects and shares stories of forgiveness in order to build hope, empathy and understanding.

“Working with stories of lived experience – the transformative power of storytelling,” draws on The Forgiveness Project’s 16-years of experience to explore approaches and perspectives relating to forgiveness, restorative narratives, shame, and resilience. The course also offers tools and techniques to build participants’ knowledge of and the use of storytelling in their work.

An introductory forum kicks off the course and is followed by five 3-hour sessions starting in July. Participants are expected to devote an estimated 3-4 hours of their own time between the sessions exploring and trying out different creative approaches. Because of the difficult subject matter being covered, all potential participants will be interviewed prior to final acceptance into the course and enrollment will be capped at 18 participants.

Marina Cantacuzino

Marina Cantacuzino, MBE, The Forgiveness Project founder, and Sandra Barefoot, the organization’s Programme Development Lead, will facilitate the course. Cantacuzino is an award-winning journalist who embarked on a personal project in 2003 collecting stories of people who had lived through trauma and injustice, and who sought forgiveness rather than revenge.  Barefoot, among her various responsibilities, is the manager of the organization’s prison program, RESTORE, and the lead facilitator of that work for the past eleven years. Course participants will be offered one-to-one mentoring time with each of the two facilitators.

Learning objectives and detailed course information is available on The Forgiveness Project’s “Working with stories of lived experience website page. Cost of the course is £950 GBP (~ $1,350 USD) for individuals and £1350 GBP (~ $1,900 USD) for organizations.


The Forgiveness Project shares stories of forgiveness in order to build hope, empathy and understanding.”


As the title of this innovative course suggests, storytelling can indeed embody the power to transform lives. That power is exhibited in the hundreds of personal stories shared on The Forgiveness Project website from both victims/survivors and perpetrators of crime and conflict who have rebuilt their lives following hurt and trauma.

That reliance on storytelling is also a crucial component of the strategy employed by the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI). Co-founder Dr. Robert Enright has incorporated storytelling (through the use of childrens’ literature) into most of the 17 Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides developed by the IFI. Additionally, many of the same individuals featured on The Forgiveness Project website have been featured on the IFI website including:

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his opposition to South

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    Africa’s brutal apartheid regime, forgave those who tortured him and established a nonviolent path to liberation for his country. Archbishop Tutu is a “Founding Patron” of The Forgiveness Project and an Honorary Member of the IFI Board of Directors.

  • Eva Mozes Kor, the Holocaust survivor who forgave her Auschwitz persecutors and who partnered with Dr. Enright on various media and personal projects before her death on July 4, 2019.
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  • Anne Gallagher, a Belfast, Northern Ireland nurse who: 1) tended to victims of bombs and bullets on both sides of the sectarian divide; 2) founded Seeds of Hope, an organization that facilitates storytelling based on The Troubles; and, 3) helped the IFI establish Forgiveness Education Programs in Belfast schools more than 19-years ago—programs that are still operating today.
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  • Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger—Elva was a 16-year-old student in Iceland when she was raped by 18-year-old Stranger (an exchange student from Australia). She later forgave her attacker and the two have since appeared together in countless presentations and co-authored a book South of Forgiveness.

Stories like those and the many others featured on the websites of The Forgiveness Project and the International Forgiveness Institute demonstrate that forgiveness is first and foremost a personal journey with no set rules or time limits. True forgiveness is also a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and an alternative to the cycles of conflict, violence, crime and injustice so prevalent around the world.


 

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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR RESEARCH PROJECT

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