Emotional wounds cannot heal without an apology from the person who hurt you. If the person who hurt you does not ever acknowledge that, the emotional wound is left unresolved and it can really leave lasting aftereffects on your perception of the world and how you act towards other human beings.

When the person who has wronged you feels absolutely no remorse for what they did to you, feels that they were 100% in the right, and will under no circumstances will ever take responsibility for their action, what should you do? I feel like trying to repress or forget about it is not a good way to deal with it. I feel like the conventional wisdom of "don't be bitter; hanging onto hatred for a past wrong only poisons your emotional health; learn to forgive people, not for their sake but for yours" is sort of a cop-out because the person who wronged you will feel completely free to do that sort of thing again in the future to other people because they will never face consequences for their actions. If someone were to steal from you, or sexually assault you, or cheat on you, or any possible thing that would hurt you physically or emotionally, there's nothing you can do to bring emotional resolution? Trying to get an apology out of them would only result in them either deflecting blame or giving an insincere apology to try to get out of trouble. Do you just have to accept that this person will never issue you an apology or acknowledge that they hurt you? You just have to eat the cost of a deep emotional/psychological scar?

Main question/goal: What can you do to let go mentally and emotionally of someone's wrongdoing against you? So that it is not something that you are still bothered by, not something that you give too much thought to. With the main constraint being that they will never apologize.

  • 1
    Hi, unfortunately asking "What should I do" is off-topic here. However, you can edit your question to make it on-topic by maybe asking something like: "How to tell X that their behavior hurted you and that they might consider apology for it". Here is link to the help center if you need it: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic
    – Ael
    Sep 25, 2018 at 8:08
  • May we get to know, vaguely, what type of wrongdoing it was because this might affect the answers you get
    – MansNotHot
    Sep 25, 2018 at 10:22
  • @alex Welcome to Interpersonal Skills! It seems you have created two accounts. We noticed that you have more than one account. You may want to register on our site, and request an account merge so you can do things like edit and comment more easily.
    – A J
    Sep 26, 2018 at 4:26
  • I saw that you edited your question to try to make it on-topic. Unfortunately, the new question is about inTRApersonal skills (only about you) and not about interaction with others (inTERpersonal skills) which mean it's off-topic here
    – Ael
    Sep 26, 2018 at 5:16

2 Answers 2


This is more of a psych answer than an IPS one, but for what it's worth:

I disagree with the premise. Yes, it hurts not to have an apology or acknowledgement and it goes a long way to have one. But your healing should not depend on how they act.

Sometimes it's more like a wound needing a doctor (or the body's own processes) than a reconciliation. In fact, if the person is the kind not to admit any wrongdoing, and you keep yourself too open and dependent on what they say or do to you, they're more likely to hurt you again. In that case it's important to find a way to recover without an apology.

There's no need to despair about the permanence of damage because someone else refuses to cooperate with your healing. Yes, they may never face consequences. But at the end of the day, that's not your problem. Other loved ones who understand and support you, the doing of self-work, and gaining a neutral, non-judgemental but non-approving understanding of why the person might have done something, so that it makes sense in how you understand the world, are all likely to help.

Now, it might in fact be possible to make someone understand the wrong they did, if they're average people. The question is how they will respect you; how they will empathize with your pain; and how they will face their own blocks to admitting having done wrong. Not everyone is within a few easy steps of those three things, but it might help to identify which one or ones are missing. And what would be the use of an apology "extracted" without those ingredients? They're what make an apology sincere.

At the end of the day, a person who respects you and sees your pain may not even need to understand why what they did is wrong, just that the consequences were real, and that can be enough legitimation when you're hurting. However, if that legitimation is not forthcoming you can still seek it in yourself or other loved ones.


I've had at least one occasion where someone offended me terribly without realising they did anything wrong. They said some truly insensitive things to me when I was emotionally vulnerable and hurt me terribly.

What I found helped most was gaining clarity over their mindset.

I considered that they simply didn't comprehend that they had done anything wrong, it wasn't in that person's nature. They were oblivious to how upset they had made me when everyone around us recognised it. This was a common pattern of behaviour where they had managed to alienate almost everyone around them one by one and never connected their behaviour to their diminishing circle of friends.

The reason this incident sticks in my mind is that the month of concealing how upset I was (I didn't really know how to express it or get an apology) took a really nasty toll on me and plunged me into Depression.

The turning point was a discussion with a close friend over the subject, where I decided once and for all to disconnect from the person who offended me. I stopped socialising with them, stopped going to the same clubs and events as them, firmly and quietly cut them out of my life.

I dismantled my relationship with them and that was that. Overnight I felt like a huge weight was gone. The Depression lifted almost instantly and I was able to move on.

I've run into them a couple times in the past few years, they still have no idea what happened and I'm not inclined to tell them.

Ultimately this is a Frame Challenge answer though.

So if you can't do what I did, or you feel it's an overreaction. Talk to them one on one, tell them exactly what they did wrong and how it made you feel. If they have any heart, they'll understand and apologise. If not..well, you don't need people like that in your life.

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