Woman forgives her rapists & I could never do the same

In 2008, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout experienced every woman's worst nightmare. While on assignment with photographer Nigel Brennan in Somalia, she was kidnapped and repeatedly raped by a group of Islamic fundamentalists over the course of 460 days. 


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In her New York Times bestselling memoir House in the Sky, Lindhout details how she was able to at least free her mind, letting it wander to an imaginary house in the sky from which she was able to gain the perspective and peace of mind necessary to pull through. "It was my memory and my imagination," she told the Bangor Daily News.

"They helped me survive." And apparently, they've also helped her to come to terms--and even forgive--her captors for what they did to her. 'It's pretty clear my captors were products of war and certainly had been shaped by that. Having that understanding helped me," she continued, later adding: "They're human beings with painful stories of their own. It doesn't make them innocent by any means, but they're products of a culture of violence."

I'm in awe of Lindhout's perspective. Personally, I don't think I would have been able to rise above my hatred for my captors. I don't think I would have been thinking about how my rapist came to be the vile human being that he is. But at the end of the day, I understand why it was important for Lindhout to have the emotional and mental wherewithal to remind herself that to forgive is to heal. It's a selfish thing that she needed to do to move on, though she remains tied to Somalia.

Four months after she returned home to her family, Lindhout established the Global Enrichment Foundation, which provides higher education opportunities for women in Somalia. Some time later, Lindhout received a Facebook message from an unlikely fan—one of her former captors. You read that right. Her captor was still free and able to find her on Facebook. He'd written to Lindhout to praise her for her work in Somalia. Personally, I'd freak the hell out. But Lindhout didn't. She found satisfaction in the knowledge that even someone so damaged, so violent, could see for himself how she's been able to contribute something good to the world despite her now violent past.

"The fact that they know about the work I'm doing now ... that I have chosen compassion, that they could see that they didn't break me--that's the best justice I could have."

This woman is truly amazing, so it comes as no surprise that Hollywood has come knocking at her door. This June, Lindhout announced on Facebook that her memoir was optioned to be made into a film, and there are already rumors that Rooney Mara (aka The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) is in talks to play Lindhout. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to watch it and finally see the world through her incredible eyes. 

Image via Amanda Lindhout/Twitter

Topics: rape  sexual assault  sexual abuse  survivor