Is lifetime abuse forgivable in old age?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.”.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Early online date20 Feb 2024
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Abuse
  • forgiveness
  • life-course
  • reflection
  • self-forgiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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