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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5806
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate: Do you really, honestly, think I did nothing wrong at

Customer Question

Do you really, honestly, think I did nothing wrong at all? Please be honest, because I can take the truth, whatever it is.

It feels like there was a line during it. Up to a distinct point, I had no choice whatsoever, because I was totally restrained. They just did stiff to me. There was nothing I could do. But then it changed and they didn't just do stuff to me. They wanted me to do and say things. And I could either do it or not. I don't know what they would have actually done if I didn't comply, but I thought they would hurt me worse with the bottle. I had to make my best judgment each time in just seconds and I don't really think. But they were choices. We all make choices every day and even when we make the best choice we can for the circumstances as we see them, it doesn't mean we are right. I can never know, as we have discussed. I only can assume. But I don't want my assumptions to just be justifications, of that makes sense. I guess I have to look at it like this: whatever the mean one wanted was going to happen. If I didn't comply, he coul easily force it on me. He couldn't ultimately make me say things or do things, but if they wanted to have sex with me, or put themselves in my mouth, or have anal sex with me, it was going to happen. I do believe that. But my saying I wanted it, asking for it - does that change things? I know I didn't mean it, but did they? And does that make a difference?

And then there are the other things - like when he was telling me what to do during the oral sex. I tried to do what he told me and tried to do it like he wanted. I was, essentially, trying to sexually please him. And the moving with him when he said to. Again, it was to make him feel good, as he wanted. I feel like that crossed a line.

I feel differently about things now - that "line" seems to have moved for me. Am I just kidding myself or am I looking at things more accurately?

But the line is still there. It is devastating to think of myself doing those things and actually trying to please this guy, who was such a jerk. I think this all is why I have stayed away from ever being in that position again - because I think if I ever felt like I wanted to please saab in that way - even if it were someone I love - or to express wants for any kind of sexual activity - that it would somehow make it the same kind of thing. Does that make sense?

But I feel so different - because I haven't experienced the same things that most other people my age have. I have totally avoided it, but now I'm kind I sorry. I feel like I may have cheated myself. At first, I think it made sense, and it's not like I had been sexually active on the few years before what happened. I wasn't going to suddenly become so because of what happened. And Honesty, I think it would have been more than a year before I physically could have done it, because of the injuries. And since then, I'm sure it would hurt, but not cause damage. But I don't think it is normal to avoid that for 20 years. I know it's not. Part of me wants to go out and do something, but I don't think I could, ultimately and it would be wrong, and probably would make me feel worse. But I want to know what it is like in a different context. Like, if I did it with someone I know loves me (albeit not romantically) and would care for me. But it would likely create other issues, since that is not morally right. Also, those men that i live and live me back (not in love) are married, and if they would be willing to do that, it would instantly change how I feel about them. But I am curious and I want to replace in my mind what I see sex as. It's not like I don't have the same sexual feeling as others. I just feel bad about them and don't do anything about them and can't seem to separate them from what happened - like I must have wanted it. You know?

It took a great deal for me not to watch one of those videos. I didn't. But I also didn't get home from work until almost 9:00 an busied myself and stayed around p until I couldn't stay awake. the thing is - I know you are right. It will be bad for me. But I wanted to make myself pay and be miserable. I know that is totally counter-productive and harmful, but I feel like it will release some of this pain and anger. But, intellectually, I know that won't work. I just feel like I need to lash out, and I am the only one available who was part of what happened.

It did help me that you said they were screwed up. I don't understand them. But I don't understand me and what I did, either.

Thanks for talking to me, Kate.

By the way, I have to go back to Dr M because she can't call in my adderall Rx, and the initial rx was only for a month. I think I'm going to make a long appointment and talk to her - just touch base and tell her where things are and ask her input about whether I'm progressing, etc. just want her opinion. Maybe I will ask her about the whole tearing thing if I can work up the courage.

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I can say with all honestly that I feel you did nothing wrong. If I felt any differently, I would say so. Lying to you serves no purpose at all. With everything you have told me about what happened, I cannot see anything that I think is your fault.

There probably was a line during the attack. It was when you may have realized that you were not going to get out of the situation by struggling and fighting them. There is a point where you had to decide what is going to work to get you out of the situation alive. It was pure instinct, a survival mode, that kicked in. Believe it or not, you were seeing this in a logical way during the attack. Your mind was calculating all the variables, trying to find the best way to keep you alive. Your best judgment was to comply. You may never know if they would have let you go if you did not comply, but your instinct during the situation said no. You have to trust yourself. You did what you thought was right. And if saying that you wanted them to have anal sex with you, put themselves in your mouth and have sex with you is what it took, you felt it was worth it in order to preserve your life. Of course you didn't mean you really wanted to be with them. If you did, they would not have had to force you. When you weigh telling someone that you will have sex with them against severe pain from the bottle and/or losing your life, you can believe that everyone would pick the first choice. What they did to you was torture, and when someone is tortured, they will do anything to have it stop. That is the choice you were faced with.

The line has moved for you probably because you are beginning to see that you are not at fault for this. You have reasoned it out from every angle and there is just no way to say, Yes, Shay, you caused this whole thing to happen and you really wanted to be with those guys. No one would ever agree with that. But because of your background and not being able to gauge your feelings, you may have felt this was your fault. And part of it is just a natural response to being a survivor of a rape. The inclination to blame yourself is going to be there. But as you work through it, you are seeing that no survivor is ever to blame. Otherwise, it would not be a crime or something you are still coping with. You would have put it behind you long ago and moved on if you had truly wanted this to happen or wanted to be with those guys in any way.

If you were to fall in love, which I think is becoming more and more of a possibility for you as you work this through, you would feel differently with whomever you were with. You would feel connected with that person and want to express how you feel by being bonded. It is completely different than what happened with those men. You may experience some hesitancy and possibly struggle some with sex in the beginning, but if your husband knew about what you had been through and was understanding, then you would get the support you need and be just fine. It may take a few tries, but eventually it would work out.

Sleeping with just anyone might not be a great first experience (after the attack). If you recall being with your boyfriend before the attack, it might be somewhat similar. This time you would be experimenting to see how you feel after the assault so you want to be with someone who cares about you and loves you. Just having sex with anyone leaves out the emotional connection that is so important to good sex and it might end up making you back off even more.

I am glad you decided to not watch the videos. I understand completely what you feel about watching them and I believe that you made a good choice. In the long run, it is only going to bother you and make things worse. It may reinforce your feeling that you need to pay for what happened. And you want to move in the opposite direction right now.

Let me know when you have your appointment with Dr. M. It's good you decided to talk with her. I think it will help you make more progress if you get another opinion about your situation. And she can provide you with answers about your physical scars which is a big factor in your feelings about sex.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.


Thank you. I believe you. Your posts yesterday and today make me feel better - like you really believe what I did was okay. I do know that what really matters is how I feel about it, and I know I should not base my feelings on anyone else's - but I have been (from what you and Linda tell me), basing so much on what I learned growing up and what I thought was correct, that I don't really have a personal basis for beliefs about this stuff yet. I need some reliable guidance. Plus, as you pointed out, even without any childhood issues re: responsibility, I would most likely feel responsible anyway, because of the nature of this, right? Also, I think that the reactions of the friend I told first - several months after it happened, the reaction of the people at the clinic when I did go to get checked out, and the reaction of my parents when they were told (along with the fact that I know very well what they would think and say), has reaffirmed my inclinations towards taking responsibility.

It is hard for me to reconcile remembering and "seeing" myself do these things - and not blame myself. I can't see it totally in context. Because of how things happened - because I did participate, it is hard to see past what I did to determine whether it was reasonable under the circumstances, you know? And I always learned that it doesn't matter what anybody else is doing or has done - I am still responsible for what I do, and must face the consequences. I'm just not sure what consequences I am or should be facing - like what part of all this and the way I feel and the way I have screwed up my life is the consequence for what I chose to do during the incident, what I did afterwards, for not reporting it, and for what I have chosen since then. I don't know what parts of this (the aftermath, I guess you'd say, although seriously delayed) is the price for what I did/didn't do, and what part just is, if any. I'm not saying I deserved that to happen because of my choices - it was already happening. Yes - my choices during it had some instant consequences - but I will never know if they were good or bad. In doing what I did, I guess I expected, at the time, for that to result in better consequences than what I would otherwise face. I don't know if it worked or not - things could have been better and things could have been worse. But I have to assume that my instincts were correct. Even if they weren't, and I misread things, I didn't have time to mull any of it over at the time - and my instincts were what they were. I don't think, now, that if I hadn't done/said what they told me to, it would have been very likely at all that they would have just let me go. Remembering the intensity of all that did happen, and learning what I have about sexual sadists, etc. from you and Linda, I think the mean one would have found something else degrading or painful for me - that he needed that. In any event - what I don't know is how much of this stuff now and the stuff since the incident is the consequence of what I chose to do/say/not do. ??? I know I have to pay the consequences for anything I do. There are always consequences - good or bad. I just don't know if all of this is from consequences to my actions or theirs, or a combination. I know some of these things are direct consequences of my own choices/actions/reactions. But even though they royally suck, I don't know if these are actually good or bad consequences. If the alternative was to bleed to death or something like that - then these are good consequences, comparatively. But if the alternative was for me to maintain at least a bit of dignity by not saying and doing what they wanted, and then they just did it anyway, without my help or encouragement or participation, then these things I am going through now are bad consequences, comparatively. Do you see what I'm saying? Problem is - there is no way I can know. And as you said (or implied), my instincts may have been logical, and I need to trust them. However, the problem with that is that my instincts now - how I feel instantly when I think about some of these things - are telling me I am a loser, and that, no matter what the circumstances, nobody except a whore would have done/said what I did.

I don't know .....

But I do truly appreciate (and believe) what you said.

I am still tempted to watch the videos or go to those sites - or to those sites I looked up before (that were just supposedly rape videos, but didn't say anything about tearing, screaming, crying, etc. [I kind of got that the first ones were probably fake - just actors, and I don't know about the second]) But I think I can keep myself from doing it, just as I did already, and just as I avoided the temptation of cutting myself. I just really feel like it's a way to punish myself, and even though I don't feel like if I watched and it hurt me and I was upset - that it would atone for anything at all (or even that I really have to atone, I guess I'm thinking now), but I am so angry and need to hurt someone or punish someone (probably don't really need to - I guess I just want to) and I am the only person available for the punishment that had anything to do with it. Like maybe if I hurt myself, it will be like punishing them, too? Or maybe it's not even that complex - maybe I just want to unleash some anger and it seems that those videos would allow that? I know it seems illogical - but I feel like if I get anger out, it makes little difference if it is directed at or hurts myself. I can't hurt someone else that had nothing to do with this. I can't hurt them. I feel like this is the kind of anger that requires it be directed at someone and taken out on someone - not something. I don't think it is the kind of thing that screaming into a pillow or beating on a couch or shooting my BB gun at inanimate things is going to help. It feels pretty intense and I want to get rid of it because it scares me. But the only way it seems I can do that is by purposely harming myself - and, frankly, exposing myself to those sites seems more damaging than doing something physical to myself.

Okay .... I am rambling. I will stop. Just all these things racing through my head, and all these feelings. I do feel like I've made some progress in the guilt area. The shame thing - I don't know if it will ever go away. Maybe I didn't deserve what happened, but I can't imagine ever remembering what I did and said and even just what they did - and the position I was in, and the things they did which should be most private things, and other things they did which basically mutilated my most private areas and caused so much pain - without feeling ashamed and humiliated and embarrassed. Try to think for a second what I have told you about what they did and I did and said - the details. Try to imagine it was you - regardless of the circumstances, I think you would feel massive shame, wouldn't you?

Wow. All this thinking and feeling takes a lot out of me. :)

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
Yes, you could still feel responsible if you did not have your past issues from childhood. You may not have it as strongly, but it would most likely still be there as an issue.

What you are going through now is a consequence of what those guys did to you. It is not about what you did. That is from your past and your childhood, the guilt and sense of responsibility that you feel even though you didn't do anything wrong. But everything else is because of them.

There is no way to know the consequences of anything you chose to do that night. But maintaining dignity compared to losing your life is not a great choice to contemplate. I still feel that given the circumstances you made the right choice. You only had instinct to guide you and nothing else. And now you have the luxury of hindsight, with all the doubts and questions to go with it. No decision is going to be foolproof if you pick it apart from a distance of 20 some years while safe at home.

Those videos probably offer a way for you to identify with what is going on and hurt yourself in the process. It makes you face what was done to you in a distant way. And it probably would have only made things worse since you might have picked them apart just as you have your decisions during the attack. Watching them will only hurt you more and won't affect how you feel about those guys in the least.

Expressing your anger at those guys is going to be a matter of you deciding it is ok then finding the ways that work best for you. Empty chair work is one way. Linda may have some other ideas as well. But it is a process, just like working through your guilt and shame. The decision comes first then the rest follows.

Shame is a tough feeling to work through. I think I did send you this but if not, here is a good article on shame:

Shame varies depending on how much guilt and self blame you have about what happened. I may feel ashamed if it happened to me, but at a varying degree. It depends on many factors. But what is important here is that you feel you can work through yours so you can manage it.

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.


I read the blog -- If you sent the link to me before, I missed it, because I hadn't read it.

One of the things it said in there was that feelings of shame do not equate to guilt. But in the blog, they talk about it as kind of the same thing, as they do in a lot of things I have read. I think the two are totally different. I can be ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated without being guilty or feeling guilty. That's what I meant when the other day I said I was making progress on the guilt issue, but maybe not the shame. I do think that I am becoming more and more able to recognize that it was not my fault that it happened, that the specific things that they did were not my fault, and that even though I chose to do and say certain things, it didn't make it my fault, because I did what I could under the circumstances and made the best choice possible with what I had - or what I believed to be the best choice possible, and frankly, I had only bad things to choose between. Also, even my choices afterwards - I do feel responsible for the girls who may have come after me, because I didn't even try to stop them or report them. However, I also can see that my reporting does not necessarily equate to their being caught or punished or even identified. I also recognize that I would likely have suffered a lot more afterwards had I reported it, since it would have meant I had to face it then, less equipped, my parents would have had to know and that would have been very bad for me, my plans would have been screwed up (law school, etc.), and can you imagine if I had gone to the ER or something immediately - all the stuff they would have had to do, considering I'm sure these things do not usually heal on their own (I was just fortunate)? I would have had to have stitches, exams, people looking and touching and talking. I can barely handle thinking about it now.

HOWEVER, even recognizing these things, I still am ashamed to remember the things I said and did, the fact I didn't do the right thing afterwards. I am ashamed at what these guys could do to me. I am ashamed that they have their marks on me, probably forever. I am ashamed that I had sex with them - forced or not - just that we had sex. I'm ashamed of swallowing his urine and I am ashamed of giving him oral sex and I am very ashamed of the anal sex and also what that did to me physically. Heck, I feel ashamed that I was partially undressed. I am ashamed that I ever had to tell anyone these things and that I have to share the details just so some day I may be able to function normally. It is humiliating and embarrassing. I am ashamed and embarrassed and humiliated that I am still upset about it and have such problems dealing with it. And I am ashamed that I was so dumb to think that the only effect from that all these years was nightmares.

I am mortified by these things and incredibly ashamed - even though I am getting to the point where I am accepting that it was their fault, not mine. There is a difference between guilt and shame. I understand what you have said and Linda and Dr. M have said as far as trying to accept that it was not my fault and to not take responsibility for the things they did. And I AM doing better in that regard, don't you think? But how do I get rid of the shame? I am always going to be humiliated and embarrassed by what happened. I can't imagine not being ashamed. It is shameful. It's not like I can learn to be proud of what happened. Who would be? If I ever get to the point where I proudly share these humiliating and shameful details with anyone more than therapists or a closest friend., I hope someone shoots me. Nobody would feel proud of that. So - how is the shame part even fixable/changeable??

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.


It sounds like you have made great progress on dealing with your guilt. You did do the best you could with some very bad choices, the only ones you had. And you acted to preserve your life the best way you knew how. You are not to blame for what those guys did. They are the guilty ones.

When dealing with the shame, it is a separate issue from the guilt. The guilt is about fault, the shame is about what you feel as a result of the psychological force that the attackers put on you to make you do things you did not want to do. They made you feel powerless. They took away your rights to your own body and made you do things you did not choose to do. And in order to do that, the weapon they used was to dehumanize you. Making you feel the shame that they should be feeling, or maybe do feel and just can't cope with. By putting you down and controlling you, they hoped to make themselves feel powerful.

In working through the shame, you first have to decide that you want to face it and deal with it. That seems like an obvious step if you are already saying that you want to work on it, but it helps to be sure about it. The next one is to allow yourself time to explore why you feel ashamed and how it relates to what you went through. Shame is a deep emotion that is in response to something horrible that you suffered, making you feel as if it was your doing and not the people who did it to you. It takes time to explore that and work through the pain.

Working on shame also requires learning what you can about it so you know what helps you and what does not. In your case, it may help to read about other survivors to see how they handled their shame. Here are some resources to help you get started:

"The feeling of shame is so intense for rape victims that many never tell anyone what happened to them....Despite more than two decades in change of social attitudes about rape, I still found it difficult not to feel ashamed when others reacted to me with embarrassment or discomfort. And this feeling of shame silenced me...Rape shame is hard to escape"
Nancy V. Raine
"After Silence: Rape and my Journey Back"- A highly recommended book

Letters To Survivors: Words of Comfort for Women Recovering from Rape by Matt Atkinson

It's good to start here and see what you feel after you explore some of your feelings about shame.

You are never going to be proud of what happened. And I agree with you, that is unrealistic to expect from anyone. But after you work this through, you will be able to put the shame where it belongs, on those guys and not on yourself. Just as you did with the guilt.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I will take a look at that stuff. thanks. I have read the book "After Silence.". The thing is that someone broke into this woman's house and tied her up. She also reported it. There was one time when he had her move with him, but that's the only thing she actually did. I know I'm not totally there with the guilt, but I think I'm looking at it better. I still feel horrible about what I did at times, but intellectually, I think I am on the right track. It's harder when I have nightmares, because I just feel what I feel. I still don't see how I can't be ashamed with what all went on, but I will try. It still seems, even when you explain it, that guilt and shame are related, but I see it as totally different. Maybe I'm using the wrong word. I do think it's probably a good idea to make sure I understand what it is. What do you mean by I have to decide I want to work on it? Is it going to make me feel worse? I can't handle another "dip" right now.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
I answered on the new thread.

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