The shame an abuse victim feels is not solely because they feel they deserve the abuse. Far too often, the shame felt is because they are embarrassed to have allowed it to happen to them. That they have out themselves in a position where the possibility exists. In addition, we often experience people in our lives who are quick to say “I told you so”. How does a victim reveal the abuse when they fear a judgmental reaction, when they expect their listeners to act like it was a foregone conclusion, as if it was a clear expectation of the relationship… Especially if they tried to warn the victim and were dismissed previously. And, if they didn’t try to warn the victim, why not!?
The shame is long lasting, though it shifts and changes shape over time.
- How did I miss the signs, especially when I was looking for them?
- Why didn’t I listen to my family / friends?
- Why didn’t I leave sooner?
- How did I escape abuse when my sibling / parent / friend didn’t?
- Why am I alive when my loved one(s) were murdered?
- How do I protect my children from their abusive parent now that I’m not around when they’re with him / her?
- How did I end up with a second abuser? How did I not learn the first time? Maybe I deserve this after all.
It’s a long journey out of abuse.
These statistics (from PTSD Stress) gives an idea of how devastating domestic violence is, how traumatizing personal assault is:
Abuse victims are not feeling shame as much as they keep living the trauma of their relationships, and trying to understand what they have experienced. If we can understand the reasoning behind the trauma, it is easier to move out of the trauma. Because there is no understanding domestic violence, we must accept that we cannot understand. We must not discount the repercussions that exist following abusive relationships.
Our shame is not deserved, it is not ours to claim, yet is is ours to experience. It’s inevitable for an abuse victim to experience shame and you can not dismiss it with logic or denial. It must be worked through, adjusted to and finally, overcome by grace, love and healing.