Dealing With Shame

From Douglas Larsen,

As You Work Toward Emotional Healing

Some people are helped by making a two-column chart, where they write down the things that describe the perpetrator in one column, and the things that described themselves at the time in the other column. It ends up looking something like this:

As you proceed with this chart, it will become more and more clear how unfair and lopsided the contest was. It will help you understand and feel why shame is not a fair emotion for you to have.

The Perp Was Lying

Remember, too, that the shame has been carefully implanted in you by the perpetrator.

There are two reasons for this: first, that is how he got his pleasure; by making you feel ashamed. Second, that is how he hoped to keep you from reporting the act to someone who had power over him.

No matter what the perp said to you, it was wrong. Nothing he said was true; everything he said was a lie to serve himself. It made him feel good and it made him feel safe. As long as the shame persists, it is giving him power. If you reject the shame, you are taking a major step in fighting back. If you reject the shame, you will make him feel bad, and you will make him feel unsafe. If you reject the shame, you will be taking power away from him, and empowering yourself.

Talking about abuse is never easy. But if you talk to an expert, the expert will know that there is no guilt on your head, and no shame either. The expert will know how deeply you have been wounded, and will know how completely unfair the situation was to you. The expert will admire you for having survived, and for having the courage to step forward and talk about it.

The expert will also know how you can heal from your emotional wounds, and will be happy to share that information with you.

If the abuse is ongoing, or if it happened thirty years ago, the emotional wounds are still very real. It is never too late to start working on emotional healing. Call your local women's crisis center or child abuse prevention center and ask for help. To find the center nearest you, call your county social services office for the name and phone number of the crisis centers.

The other thing to do is to start seeing a therapist to help heal your emotional wounds.

The experts at the women's crisis center or child abuse prevention center can help you find a good therapist who specializes in helping people just like you. Right now, you are all alone with this problem. It is time to get some friends and allies on your side, to take power away from the perp and keep it for yourself, to regain a sense of strength and confidence, to eliminate the emotional pain that is grinding you down, to mobilize the power structure of your county against the criminal who abused you.

If you recognize the difference between guilt and shame, and then isolate each of them, you can work with a therapist to kill them off, one by one. If you have been abused, 100% of the guilt is on the perpetrator, and none is on you. Zero. Zip. Nada. And if you have been abused, 100% of the shame belongs on the perpetrator too. And none belongs on you.

Zero. Zip. Nada.

Not even a smidgen.

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