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Is lifetime abuse forgivable in old age?

Old age is characterized by reflection and a retrospective examination of the multiple meanings of various life experiences, including lifelong abuse. Forgiveness is found to have a salutary effect, especially for older adults. To understand the place and role of forgiveness in the reflective process during aging, we performed a secondary analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interviews ( N  = 78) with older women survivors of abuse. Inductive thematic analysis was based on concepts developed deductively from the literature review. The findings include three main themes: (1) The dimensions of forgiving: The victim as subject; (2) Being forgiven: Between lost forgiveness and hope; and (3) Self-forgiveness and the aging self . Despite the known salutary effect of forgiveness, we must consider that this is not a universally desirable process. We included the dimension of forgiveness in the study of abuse throughout the older person's life course and identified further complexities in addition to the "forgiveness"/"unforgiveness."

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