A while back, when I was a (very) bitter individual, I used to have a friend that always preached forgiveness. Every time the subject of someone who wronged me in the past came up and I said I wanted to fight them, he'd always protest but you have to forgive them. You have to let go of your anger to heal and move forward.
I disagree with that.
Sometimes forgiveness isn't the answer. Sometimes, you can't forgive the other party and that's okay, it doesn't make you a bad person.
People say that forgiveness of the other party is a crucial part of healing and moving forward. But what if the damage done was too great? So bad that it would change you forever. Take for example, a sexual assault case. In victim's case, I personally don't think it the survivor is required to necessarily forgive their attacker. The attacker knew very well what they were doing. They knew that their actions were going to hurt the survivor in the worst way possible. For them to ask the survivor for forgiveness would be inappropriate as the damage done is too great and the attacker should have known better in general.
So what should we think of instead of forgiveness then, in all cases?
For me at least, I think the more important part is whether or not you can learn to move past the pain. That doesn't necessarily require forgiveness. For people who have been hurt, I believe healing is more about not letting the pain of the past defining who you are in the present. Maybe an apology from the other party is needed for that. Maybe it isn't. Sometimes, the anger you might have from the past is what you need to move forward. Maybe it inspires you not to let it define you. Not to let another person's action define who you are.
Either way, no one should define how you heal from the past. If it requires the other party apologizing to you, that's okay. If it requires you never seeing the other party ever again, that's okay too. You're not a bad person if you don't want to give the offending party another chance.
As for me, well, let's just say the former friend is reason I've got the thought of forgiveness in mind. He knows he screwed up with me, and he has acknowledged it. And while he has apologized (one too many times to be honest), the damage and trouble he's caused me, well, it's too much to forgive him. It's too much to let him back into my life.
But I know for a fact, I have moved forward and healed from his presence. I've let other people into my life in his place. And in doing so, I have healed.