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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate: I read a lot of shame stuff tonight. It just made me

Resolved Question:

I read a lot of shame stuff tonight. It just made me feel bad. I feel awful now. And the stories I read ... I feel bad for them. But I also feel different. They didn't do the things I did. If they feel ashamed, I have no right not to. Ack. I feel terrible now.
Why is everything so up and down? I feel like I've been so extremely moody with all this. Up and down. I can't do this. I don't want to. I don't care enough right now.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I transferred the last answer to this thread to continue our conversation:



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.


It's fine that you feel the guilt and shame are different.
They are, but they are also closely related. So it's going to be hard to
distinguish them completely. But shame can be worked on as a completely
different answer.

Some people feel the shame but deny it or if they do
acknowledge it, they avoid facing it. By deciding to work on it, you are
basically saying that it is a problem. But you have done that, so that step is
not necessary for you.

Up and down is ok. It's how emotions are. You are just discovering your feelings so it may seem overwhelming now but it will level out. Once you have some time to talk out your feelings, you will feel better. Just as with the guilt, you will find new ways to cope and that will help you.


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