Blame - How does one somehow believe it wasn’t their fault?

C

Charbella

I was sexually abused by lots from 5-17 how does one somehow believe it wasn’t their fault? I mean common denominator and all. How do that many men know they can have that power if I’m not doing something to cause it? Some were family, but not the same side of the family, some were neighbors, friends of the family. One went on for more than 4 years so obviously I’ve got no one to blame but myself for that one.

My T keeps saying its not my fault but also seems to think it happened for a reason, unfortunately the only ones I can come up with I definitely can’t say. How does a kid get to be so needy they let something like this happen?

People say spend time around kids and you’ll see there wasn’t anything you could’ve done. I teach 9-10 year olds and I agree THEY couldn’t possibly have done anything to bring it on themselves, and yet I don’t see it the same way for me. Partly because of the time factor and partly because I was a pretty mature kid, I babysat all summer starting when I was 10. I spent a lot of nights and weekends babysitting an infant. I learned to cook at about the same age and did dinner at least once a week. How do you see this kid who is responsible for other people’s kids and say she wasn’t responsible for herself?

Can the memories ever be put away?
 

Sideways

Moderator
How do you see this kid who is responsible for other people’s kids and say she wasn’t responsible for herself?
Blaming ourselves is part of the pathology of complex trauma. There's different theories about why we blame ourselves (eg. Because it avoids having to confront the fact that we were powerless; or because children don't have the brain development required to understand it wasn't their fault, etc etc).

It's hard to reconcile these theories with lived experience though. I totally relate to what you're saying.

I've had a lot of Ts tackle the issue in different ways, and I think it's a case of finding the one that resonates with you most, so that you can put aside the unnecessary burden of self blame once and for all.

The explanation that resonated most for me personally, though, was fairly straightforward: it is always the adult's responsibility to not get sexual with a child. Even if a child throws themselves at an adult sexually and insists they want it, the responsibility for not engaging in a sexual way remains with the adult.

There is a lot of research that has evolved relating to 'revictimisation' which you might find helpful in answering some questions, or at least busting some myths. Particularly in terms of repeated sexual assaults as an adult. For me, knowing the theory didn't help much with shifting my core belief (I am bad), but it's probably helpful to know, at least generally, about revictimisation.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
hello charbella. welcome to the forum. sorry for what brings you here, but glad you are here.

your shrink's suggestion of spending more time with children worked for me with settling the guilt factor of my own childhood abuse and neglect. i was even able to forgive myself for being such a lousy mother to my six younger siblings. that was easier than forgiving myself for having been a sexual predator magnet.

my 6 year old foster daughter became an orphan in 2019 when she was 3 years old. she still blames herself for the traffic accident which took her parents from her. they were, after all, on her way to visit her in protective custody here on my farm. it HAD to have been her fault that the accident happened. whacha think? shall we take her at her word and prosecute her for her hideous crime?

i rock her gently and cry with her. it's not your fault, baby. mine, either.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
Sadly there are pockets within societies that are sick. Nobody talks about it, nobody wants to know about it. I am sorry you were a victim of it.

It makes me sad that you didn't have an adult to see what was happening, realize how wrong it was and protect you. Your feeling responsible most likely deflected from the feelings of hopeleness, sadness and pain that must have overwhelming for you (or anybody) who was being abused as you were. I think it is safer to a degree to feel like there is something wrong with us than to deal with the fact that there exists an evil that can grow like a cancer within communities.

As a child, you learned what was expected of you. You did this in order to survive. You were victimized by evil pieces of shits who should be hung in the village square. I am so sorry this happened to you. You deserved so much better.

For myself, it was healing to visualize what I would have done to protect a child of my age if I had known what was happening to them. It takes me out of freeze mode and moves me towards re-empowerment. My wish for you is that you find peace through healing.
 
C

Charbella

The one the happened for 4 years I reported to the police. I definitely do not recommend that process, unless you want more trauma in your life. Anyway he died in prison last year and it’s like it ripped a hole in the time space continuum.

People expect you find peace when things like that happen. All I’ve found is a haunting. That which was stored away was suddenly right there sometimes happening. I started cutting again, though much worse than I ever did before, but even that can’t bring me the solace I crave. In some ways it brings me the chance to communicate the pain I’m in without giving the actual pain up. ”I’m so tired, my anemia is really bad right now,” has become the way I can say I feel like crap without giving the real reason.

I don’t understand why our minds store this and yet rub out anything good. I can’t imagine the whole of my childhood was terrible and yet.

If you can pack something away for 20 years, even the PTSD symptoms were a rarity, how can it all come tumbling back? What hope is there that anything can fix this? What hope is there that I will think I’ve fixed it only for it to come back?
 

JadeB.

MyPTSD Pro
Hi there Charbella .

Through lots of therapy I finally accepted the fact that it's what I was programmed to do.

It wasn't my own fault though. It's no different than a very young child being taught how to write their name or tie their shoes, once I was taught how to it became automatic. Sadly though, I learned how to be sexual before I learned to write my name so it was my normal.

I didn't even realize that what I went through for 17 years straight was sexual abuse until I was in therapy about 3 years and casually brought it up in a session. I just thought it was something I did that wasn't even worth mentioning.

A child is never, ever to blame. I know it's hard to believe or accept that but you can in time.
 

Friday

Moderator
My own trauma history is made up of 3 basic parts

- What I did
- What I didn’t do
- What was done to me

- There are some things that are squarely my fault, full stop.
- Other things that are a mix of my fault, others fault, no one’s fault; in different cocktails.
- As well as things that are in no way whatsoever my fault.

It is very important, and very difficult, that I assign those things correctly… if I actually want to be able to rely on my own judgment.

One of the best tools I ever came across?

What are you taking credit for, that isn’t your right to claim? >>> How many people have you raped or sexually assaulted? THOSE are the only assaults you can claim the right to crow over -or lash yourself with- as your responsibility, your fault, your success/achievement/victory. If someone ELSE raped you? Don’t take the credit/blame for evils others do.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I was sexually abused by lots from 5-17 how does one somehow believe it wasn’t their fault? I mean common denominator and all. How do that many men know they can have that power if I’m not doing something to cause it?
I hear you on this one! Got to be something wrong with us right? We are the common denominator, so must be us. But: not the case. All it shows is that our paths crossed the paths of those people. And those people caused it. Might be a complicated thing of (not knowing your circumstances) but: lack of parental care or supervision, or being parented in a way that created vulnerability to abuse (which I think was me: far too compliant and no sense of self as a child). Either way: it wasn't you, there isn't something intrinsically wrong with you.

My T keeps saying its not my fault but also seems to think it happened for a reason, unfortunately the only ones I can come up with I definitely can’t say. How does a kid get to be so needy they let something like this happen?
Your T is right.
A child 'gets so needy' (which you could also say is a child programmed to believe this is what happens, and behave accordingly, rather than a child being needy) that they 'let something like this happen' (what autonomy did you have? I suspect not much. Sometimes saying no isn't safe or worth it or even known to be a possibility), because of various other neglect and lack of care they received. So maybe the reasons are external to you rather than focusing on what you judge is wrong with you.
teach 9-10 year olds and I agree THEY couldn’t possibly have done anything to bring it on themselves, and yet I don’t see it the same way for me
I found it helpful to write a little about a couple of things and imagine it was another child that this happened to. Really thinking about , for this fictional child, what that must have been like for them. When I could give this fictional child comfort and compassion with my story/events, then it started to chip away that i deserved to give that to myself.

If you can pack something away for 20 years, even the PTSD symptoms were a rarity, how can it all come tumbling back?
Totally hear you on this on too! Some memories came back to me in my 20s but the rest in my 40s. Total denial and living like it never happened. But here it all came tumbling out. I see that as: I can manage it now, even though it remains hard. Previously I wasn't ready. Protection. So maybe you can manage nowwith dealing with all this?
 

Charbella

Confident
Thanks for the words of encouragement. My parents obviously left me to do a lot, I thought I had autonomy, the more I pull back the curtain the more I see I didn’t have a lot of choices. I was the perfect daughter and my job was to make my mom look good, at all costs, it wasn’t a place where you’d find support, I was the support. At one point she asked about my brother but when I said yes she said it was a dream. I was 13ish, she asked about the major one when I was 16 ish I didnt see a point admitting, it was over by then. In my 20’s he called and it really threw me for awhile, a friend encouraged me to see a T, I told him, he encouraged me to take it to the police, a worse mistake could not have been made. Pretty much let’s take some trauma and frost it in some more trauma. I’m in my 40’s too but not so sure I’m any better equipped to handle it.
 

Charbella

Confident
I did EMDR today with T and I don’t understand how I’m ever going to get to the point where I don’t think, I should’ve stopped it.

My T wanted me to try the positive cognition I did my best. Unfortunately my mind won’t accept it. I look at myself lying there and think why didn’t you kick or scream or not go with him in the first place? During the memory we’re out in a recreational area that doesn’t get much traffic but some motorcyclists come from the opposite direction which causes them to stop, they look at me with questions in their eyes, I think, why didn’t I say something to them? I tell my T the cognition doesn’t work my mind just finds all the ways I didn’t.

He asks me to try the memory and use compassion. I tell him it won’t work because all the visuals that produce I didn’t do my best are also the places I do feel sorry for her. She lays there clearly in pain, attempting to leave her body (she does) it would be hard not to feel compassion, yet she could’ve done something. She’s humiliated and scared when the motorcyclists appear, again easy to have compassion. But they’re almost begging her with their eyes to say his story is a lie.
 

Friday

Moderator
and I don’t understand how I’m ever going to get to the point where I don’t think, I should’ve stopped it.
Wanting to have stopped it, and should have stopped it? Are wildly different concepts. That have blurred together in your head. Unlink them? The world will kind of explode around you.
 

couragetogrow

Not Active
how does one somehow believe it wasn’t their fault
For me I can relate. I blame everything on myself because otherwise it makes me feel like the world is out to get me and I don't like to feel like that. But I've learned to recognize that I can still hold onto that coping mechanism and not absolve people of their personal responsibility

For me, I like to keep my sense of responsibility because it helps me mentally, but through the help of a therapist I also realize that another person's decision to misuse their power or commit acts of violence, etc...that's their responsibility and choice and I don't have to cosign that behavior or associate with them even if I take responsibility for being there.

I hope this makes sense.

It's not your fault. You never told or forced anyone to be an asshole of a person. That's their shitty shit shit.
 
Top