Shame Falls on the Abuser
My shame overwhelmed me when I was asked to perform for a group of young girls in 1966.
The Jaycees arranged for me to attend a campfire at the lake for a group of girl scouts.
As we sat around the campfire telling stories and singing songs, I watched the girl’s eyes sparkle as they gazed longingly at the crown sitting on top of my head.
Dear Lord, please don’t let these little girls envy me.
God, if you’re listening, I’m the last person in the world these little girls should want to grow up to emulate.
My head spun, and I could hear my abuser threaten me over and over again.
His ridicule of me was constant. “That’s our Peggy, always a day late and a dollar short.”
Why do our abusers threaten us and make us feel inferior?
Are they trying to transfer the shame to us?
We Should Have No Regrets
When we feel shame, we believe there is something fundamentally wrong with us.
There must have been something we did that caused the abuser to target us.
I desperately need you to understand the shame they make us feel indicates their abuse still surrounds us and controls us. They win when we allow shame to surround us.
We did nothing to make the abuse happen.
The shame sits squarely on the shoulders of the abuser. They no longer can wield power to make us feel guilty for the crimes they committed against us.
It’s time to stop believing that we are somehow flawed and unimportant. The attitude that we can’t ever be ‘good enough’ is simply an off-shoot of the monster’s abuse.
The Lack of Justice Leads to Shame
I made a phone call to the police when I discovered my abuser moved in with a woman who had a sixteen-year-old daughter.
Sadly, I was only twenty-three when I made that call, and it took more courage than I’d ever displayed up until that day.
The fear I had for that young girl’s safety overpowered my fear. For the first time in my life, I intended to report a dangerous pedophile.
The officer who took my call listened as I explained the abuse, which started when I was only seven.
His words continue to twist my heart into a million pieces: “It’s time to forget it. It was too many years ago to do anything about it.”
That was it.
Fifteen years of pain and abuse were diminished by a cop as unimportant.
I hung up the phone and cried for hours. There was nothing I could do to save another young victim.
It happened in the early 70s. Back then, no one talked about child abuse. It was a forbidden topic. The silence allowed men everywhere to do whatever they wanted to children. It didn’t matter whether the child was male or female; sexual abuse wasn’t discussed in ‘polite company.’
There Is Nothing Wrong With Us
We are not bad, stupid, or undeserving of a good life.
Events we had no control over will never define us.
We can no longer strive to succeed to impress people who refuse to give us the credit we deserve.
It’s time we learn to accept the fact the abuser’s behavior has nothing to do with us. Break the chain of control and learn to feel compassion for who you were before the abuse. Learn to love yourself again.
We need to understand how shame leads to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. These feelings are hampering your ability to lead a happy and productive life. The guilt you carry around is part of the control the abuser continues to wield over your happiness.
What the abuser wants more than anything is to demoralize you. Those feelings of shame allow the abuser to win.
Today is the day we stand up, look in the mirror, and say, “Enough!” We’ve had enough shame to last a lifetime, and today we’re going to walk away from it forever.
It’s time to seek treatment for depression. We do not bring shame to our family by being honest. The humiliation perpetrated by the monster took advantage of our innocence. They are the ones who violated our cultural and moral norms.
Living with shame is a painful experience.
Looking Back at Shame
Today, I understand those little girls looking at me during the bonfire at the lake held a secret no one talked about at the time. Based on the size of the girl scout troop, a minimum of two or three of those little girls had already experienced what I had. Or, they were about to.
No man or woman has the right to harm another.
It’s time to stand up and point out the abusers, so they don’t harm anyone else.
Don’t waste another moment of your life feeling guilty for something you had no power to prevent.
Beat them by reclaiming your right to a full and happy life as I have done.
VanScoy quotes Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D., author of “Angry Young Men: How Parents, Teachers, and Counselors Can Help Bad Boys Become Good Men,” says “Guilt is positive. It’s a response of psychologically healthy individuals who realize they have done something wrong. It helps them act more positively, more responsibly, often to correct what they’ve done.”
“But shame is not productive,” Kipnis says. “Shame tends to direct individuals into destructive behaviors. When we focus on what we did wrong, we can correct it; but when we’re convinced that we are wrong as a result of shame, our whole sense of self is eroded.”
Feeling shame is destructive to you and everyone you love.
Read more about not “Feeling Good Enough” here.