Stephen Gaskin says that forgiveness is getting straight with people. I think he is on to something. I also think there is something more to it that just getting straight.
Forgiveness is many things. True forgiveness is a decision on the part of the victim to put the unjust behavior of the offender into context. Forgiveness requires a perspective and attitude that humans have a hard time cultivating and rising to. Our primitive reptilian brain wants vengeance, retribution, to kill or eliminate the perpetrator of the injustice against us. To overcome these powerful, primal instincts takes tremendous self awareness, courage, patience, understanding, love, and in a positive way, self abnegation in the sense of being able to rise above the hurt, the pain, the indignity, the lack of respect which injustice entails.
Forgiveness does not give up accountability. Forgiveness is not the same thing as pardon or reconciliation. Unjust behavior has consequences, it sets loose a karma in the world which cannot be recalled but can be redeemed. Reconciliation may not be desired by the victim or the perpetrator and yet forgiveness, peace in one's heart, can still be attained.
The victim forgives first and foremost for the benefit of oneself and only secondarily for the perpetrator and others.
Forgiveness is a power we all have to live happy and free instead of bitter and depressed defined by the injustice perpetrated against us. People who forgive refuse to be defined by injustice and victimhood. They realize they are much more than that. They realize they are beloved children of God in spite of how they have been treated by ignorant and dysfunctional others.