Forgiveness is a very complex subject, to each person it can be done differently. For each person it can mean something different. That is a reason why it's so important, but also difficult to understand.
By definition: "Forgiveness is a process where someone who has been wronged chooses to let go/release their feelings of resentment or vengance and treat the wrongdoer with compassion."
The important thing to remember about forgiveness, is it does not mean you are condoning the act or forgetting it. In fact to forgive someone you can have nothing to do with them, forgiveness is exclusively about the person who has been wronged.
Through my EMDR therapy I have learned there are four phases of forgiveness. It begins in the "Uncovering Phase," where essentially you more deeply understand the situation and how it has impacted you. The second phase is gaining a better understanding of forgiveness itself, and making the decision to move forward with forgiveness in your personal situation or to not and this is called "The Decision Phase."
Next is the "Work Phase" in which you begin to understand the offender in a new way. This allows the process of positive thoughts towards yourself and the offender to begin. Finally in the final phase, negative emotions will be further decreased. You may also find meaning in the situation, and recognize how you may have grown as a person. This is called "The Deepening Phase."
As you will notice in all four phases, the only part consistent is you. Not all phases have to do with the offender or even the offense. Forgiveness is about overcoming the trauma, for your own well being. You are releasing negative emotions related to the situation.
Forgiveness is a long and difficult process for some. Everyone is unique, has experienced different things and processes everything differently. We are all entitled to this process, no matter how long it takes. Personally I have been attending EMDR therapy for approximately three months and am just moving to the third phase. I understand that forgiveness is about me, and I have chosen to forgive. No matter the situation you endured you deserve forgiveness, for yourself.