Shame gets in the way

I wrote something earlier this week about how hard it is to be honest about having been sexually abused. On reflection, I think the answer is shame. I am ashamed of what happened to me.

Being ashamed is different from thinking it is your fault. Every therapist I’ve spoken to has rushed to tell me I wasn’t to blame. I do mostly believe that. There is still a small part of me that thinks I could have stopped it. I could have told him no, I could have told an adult what he was doing. I get angry with myself for not doing that. I remind myself however, that the one time I told him to stop, he just forced it on me anyway.

Thankfully, that was the time my mum walked in and found out. It was an incredibly painful experience. I can’t shake how it felt that she saw me like that. She was horrified and disgusted. I can still feel the burn of that now.

That feeling is what stops me being open about what happened to me. The shame and the disgust at myself. After all, if my own mother was disgusted, what would anyone else think? I know now, for the most part that I was a helpless victim. But I can still feel the heat of that shame when I recall it. So it is almost impossible not to think that other people would be disgusted as well.

Just like I don’t want to be defined by my sexuality or my gender, I don’t want to be labelled ‘victim’. Not by anyone. I imagine that if my friends knew what happened back when I was 10 they would only see me as that. As a repulsive little girl who couldn’t say no. That’s not a slight on my friends, they are a bunch of wonderful, loving people. But I feel as though if they knew the truth, that is all they would think of when they saw me.

I’ve had some experience of this feeling. My mum told some of our close family friends what had happened back then. She says it was so I would have people to talk to. I think it was because she wanted people to talk to. I hated that they knew. It meant that people I had loved seeing were suddenly people I felt anxious around. I felt like they were judging me, scrutinising me. I still do now.

Shame isn’t something I can just shake. I talk about it with my therapist and that makes no difference. I write about it. I get drunk. I self-harm. In fact I self-harmed tonight. But it doesn’t make any difference. Nothing makes any difference. I end up trapped in my head full of toxic thoughts and there is just no remedy.

Image from Creative Commons, courtesy of Soumyadeep Paul

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Shame is difficult! For me, I think I was also always afraid that admitting the abuse to someone would make them see my as lessor somehow. HUGS to you my dear!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. noimnotok says:

    It’s so unfair that we get lumbered with the shame that should belong to the perpetrators.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MayaLaughing says:

    I feel the same way! You are not alone in your shame! I feel like I wear the scarlet letter for those who do know. As though they look at me and it’s all they see.

    Like

  4. Hello dear, I just want to say you’re not alone. I’ve been also a victim of childhood sexually abused and I also feel deeply ashamed by it. I even wrote a small post about it earlier this year: https://unmindfulness.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/shame/

    I know it’s hard but you have to know it wasn’t your fault. It’s heartbreaking that you believe people would be disgusted by the “repulsive little girl who couldn’t say no”. You were only a defenseless child, it wasn’t your fault. No one will judge you, believe me. He’s the one to blame and not you!! I’m sending you positive vibes! Nina

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel a lot of shame too. I think I’ve moved on past blaming myself- that I could have done something different. The next step that I’m in now, is accepting it. Accept that it happened to me. That HE should feel shame and not me. My sister once confronted my brother when I was in rehab. He said, “Oh she’s just starting all her lies again.” I was hysterical. So upset that he didn’t admit it. I wanted closure, even though I never wanted her to ask him. I broke down crying and couldn’t be calmed. When I explained why I was upset (she knew my story) I said, “well I can’t really blame him. Who wants to admit they fucked their sister?”
    That was three years ago. I have found talking about it more has allowed me to accept it a little bit more.
    The fact is, it happened. Whether we like it or not. We can’t change it. The only thing to do is accept it and deal with it. When you accept it, you take some of its power away. Tell your shame to go to hell. But also forgive yourself. You were a child. You coped and dealt with the world in any way possible.
    Another thing that has helped me, is looking at pictures of me at that age. How young I was, how small I was. Reminded myself that I WAS a child. I was small. I couldn’t fight off him, whether or not, I tried. I was innocent.
    Would you look at a little girl now and say oh, well you should have done this? or why didn’t you do this?
    NO!
    So why are you treating yourself worse then you would treat a little girl? In fact, we are little children still, and we still need to parent our inner child and love them. Try talking to her, telling her whatever it is she needs to hear.
    All of these suggestions have also caused triggers or tears but they also helped immensely.
    What would you tell me ???
    Hugs.

    Like

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