Has empathy ever made you feel guilty?
So my question is, have your empathic intuitions ever made you feel guilty for empathizing with a person who, in some way, doesn't "deserve" forgiveness?
I've made a personal choice for myself, and my life, to look past and forgive those who have hurt me at any cost that isn't at my own happiness and well being. But lately I've found this forgiveness extending to those who I have no personal connections to. Or to those who others may see as "not worthy of forgiveness" and it's causing a great deal of stress and guilt for me.
For some perspective, I just started a new job at a local domestic violence shelter. I love the work and the reward makes it all worth it. But I've found myself empathizing with the abusers just as often as I do with the victims. I'll clarify that I don't condone violence in anyway. I do feel the abusers' emotions though, and it's hard for me to understand my empathy of those emotions, with my condoning of the violence.
I, of course, never and can't, act on these feelings, because my job and duty is to the victims I care for in the shelter. So I always take their side, and my intentions are always for the victims' benefit. It just leaves me torn inside when I tell these people their abuser is toxic to them, while I also have to listen to the abusers tell me how much remorse they feel.
Many of the abusers are sincerely sorry that they did what they did. That doesn't make it ok and it doesn't make it safe for the victim to return. They will almost always abuse again. It just makes me feel guilty.
Does anyone else ever experience this kind of internal conflict?
updated by @emmy-long: 03/11/17 07:42:22PM
Yes, I get this a lot. I've always been able to see both sides, play the devils advocate if you will, and see behind someone's actions to their story.
I feel for the abuser who abuses because he was abused... what it must have been like to feel so powerless at one point and never have anyone who could help you up so you deal the only way you can, by abusing to make yourself feel like you have something to hang on to. The abusee often goes back when they don't have to because they can't figure out how to live without being abused so in a way they are often just as guilty. It's an awful cycle.
I do feel guilty though in some ways because it feels so wrong but in other ways it's basic psychology, both parties are often victims.