Way Out Of Shame
When we start to make our way out of shame our relationships and lives have a much better chance of being fulfilling and open. Victims of sexual abuse often look back at the situation and think I could/should have done something. It is very important to remember the intent of the abuser and you as you were as a child or young person. It is also essential to remember the power balance. Who had the power in the situation? If the person that abused you was in a position of authority and trust i.e parent, teacher, friend of the family they had the real power even if they appeared to be very weak characters. You also need to remember what options you realistically had. What were your choices at that time when you were at that stage in your childhood? You need to clarify in your own mind right from the start of your abuse and all the way along it – what your original intention was and what the abuser’s original intention was. It is important to remember this even though there may have been exchanges. This could have been an exchange of sweets, affection or money but as a child or young person your original intentions were never about sexually gratifying an adult and your life choices were extremely limited.
Some questions you might like to consider could be:
• Who originally initiated things?
• What was your fundamental motive as a child when you met this person?
• What was the abuser’s original motive?
• Who was leading?
• Who was being led?
• Realistically who could you have told who would have helped you?
• What would you say to a child or younger person who told you they were being abused?
Talk About It
Ironically the way out of shame is to talk about it. The starting point to be released from the shame of abuse is breaking the silence about the “secrets” of the abuse. Sharing these “secrets” in a trustworthy environment frees the burden of carrying it alone. It also helps to identify the shaming messages that the abuse originally bought on whether these were verbalised or not. We need to have a support system and a safe place in order to share those shameful secrets. This could be a recovery group, a counsellor, through close friends or a combination of these. It is also important to receive new messages and feedback to put in messages of confidence and affirmation in place of negative shame filled thoughts. All these actions help to lessen the power of shame and give us the freedom to share more of ourselves and increase friendship and closeness with our friends and partners.