Friday, July 6, 2007

Guilt & Shame - well-known words in the world of CSA

I picked up a new book called "Secret Survivors" by E. Sue Blume. It's a decent book. Seems to overly generalize a bit. And the section on "mothers" went way too far (in my humble opinion) in letting moms off the hook for not stopping abuse. However, I just skipped over and ignored those parts and concentrated on the nuggets of good information I found.

Every single survivor book has to include a section on Shame and Guilt. This book had the usual info and then two little paragraphs that I found profound. I've heard and read the information before, but last night it struck me in a different light and I was able to piece together some more ways that it was applicable to me. The book says -

Self-blame or Guilt is a way of preserving the illusion that you are in control of your abuser's behavior. The alternative is more difficult to face - Powerlessness. It is less threatening to see oneself as somehow responsible and, therefore, guilty than to admit that one has been basically powerless and, therefore, the victim of a situation out of control.
Just as guilt is an alternative to powerlessness, shame is an alternative to a more threatening reality. If I am not bad (that is if I have nothing to be ashamed of, because I am a victim) the someone I relied on has hurt me. He has not been safe for me and I can not count on him. Shame is therefore, the alternative to being alone, to facing that I reality that I have been Abandoned.

I already knew statement #1. That I would rather see it as my fault because otherwise, he (my abuser) seems more powerful and in control. I have discussed it in counseling and on here. Statement #2 hit home though. I can relate the statement to both my mother and Toilet.

Toilet told me that I wanted it, liked it, it was my fault too. He made it seem like we were co-conspirators in what happened. I bought that for a long time (still do on bad days). The book made me realize WHY. Accepting it was my fault too made it easier for me to go on living with him. To treat him like a father figure. To accept gifts from him. To live in a "normal" parent-child relationship. To care about him (gag) as a father-type figure. Which I did for a long, long time.


Beauty said...

This is all too true. I read a book once on sexual abuse which explained that it's terrifying for a young child to view a parent or parental figure as anything but perfect and loving. Children are at the mercy of whoever is raising them;they have no choice but to depend on them for food, clothing, a roof over their head, etc. To look upon the adult they are so dependent on as an abusive monster is unbearable. And so the alternative is to cast blame on oneself.

I hate the whole powerlessness thing, but understand it so well. Even now, decades after my childhood abuse, I can't stand the feeling of being powerless. It makes me feel like . . . a helpless victim all over again.

Lynn said...

This makes sense, Enola. That's all I can ask for some days -- just something that makes sense.

p.s. toilet is a pig. (I know you already know, I just like typing it.)


wolfbaby said...

what you say makes sense..

somedays it's all so confusing sometimes