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#235521 - 07/03/08 08:04 PM Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP
LW1527 Offline

Registered: 05/14/08
Posts: 408
Loc: Salt Lake City Ut
My T told me that I continue to feel responsible for the sexual abuse and that I continue to feel guilty. He told me that he has tried to help me undersand that it wasn't my fault, but that I won't trust him or believe him and that I continue to feel responsible. I know, the rational thing that everyone tells me is that it wasn't my fault and I was not to blame. But I can't get over it. My T told me that I WON'T get over it and that I choose to feel this way. I don't believe him because I am not trying to feel responsible or guilty, I just do. I feel like I must have done something or been deserving of it. Has anyone wrestled with this? If so, how did you over come it?

#235522 - 07/03/08 08:09 PM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: LW1527]
hogan_dawg Offline

Registered: 03/26/08
Posts: 492
I don't know - maybe you have to 'make yourself' feel not responsible, like, trying on that hat for a day - walk around for one day just knowing it wasn't your fault.

It's like trust sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith, behave 'as if' you trust, and trust follows.

It's a tough thing to get over.

I can say unequivocally that the lie of "To truly heal you must first forgive" has derailed more victims than the abusers themselves.
Andrew Vachs, 2003

#235523 - 07/03/08 08:10 PM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: LW1527]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
Yes, yes!

This is a common feeling.

It is hard to change some of these underlying attitudes.

We have all done this.

It may just take time. Some guys will write it out and stand before a mirror repeating it to themselves every day.

"I did not cause the abuse"

"I am not responsible for the abuse"

"It is not my fault"

And add whatever other messages you need.

About 6 weeks ago somebody posted that they purchased boy clothing the size they were and then hung it up where they could see it. This was to remind them that they were just a child (and powerless) when it happened.

Another technique is seen in the movie Good Will Hunting. There is a You Tube clip where Will finally realizes it is not his fault and he internalizes that truth. Maybe somebody can find the address of that clip for us.


Edited by pufferfish (07/03/08 09:01 PM)

#235528 - 07/03/08 08:33 PM . [Re: pufferfish]
bardo213 Offline

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 812

Edited by bardo213 (06/21/13 08:57 PM)

#235532 - 07/03/08 09:07 PM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: bardo213]
LW1527 Offline

Registered: 05/14/08
Posts: 408
Loc: Salt Lake City Ut
Boy, those are tough words. I need to hear them because I'm not rational and I need your insight because you've been there. I'll print this off and give it a try over the weekend. Thanks again for helping me.

#235535 - 07/03/08 09:24 PM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: LW1527]
Sans Logos Offline

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5796
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
lw, after 40 years still wrestling with it, but i think i am a bit past feeling blatant guilt. i am concerned that the tenor of you therapist's language toward you is inappropriate and blaming. at least according to the way you report the situation. hopefully i am misreading that.

at any rate, this is typical response to abuse, so don't feel like you are the only one. not only is the response typical, but the the self-recrimination and continual self-victimization is part and parcel of the whole issue. maybe for right now all you can do is accept that you feel this way, because as they say, you can't change that which you don't acknowledge. thankfully at least you have acknowledged that you feel guilty, and when you are ready to move from this spot you will. your process for working through things has to be honored, and your t's frustration and his use of language that is frustrating in tone is inappropriate and not helpful. maybe he was having a bad day.....

moving away from clinging to an old belief pattern can be very daunting, like bunjee jumping, getting the courage to take the leap. we have all kinds of crazy ideas backing up our denial, keeping us frozen in place unwilling to take that plunge.

see if some of these inner messages apply:

since no one came to my rescue to save me, i must not have needed saving after all. it's not all that bad.

i must have invited it somehow by not saying 'no'

boys are supposed to want sex; it's a sign of being a real man

i must have really wanted it because it felt good

i didn't report it so i guess i only have myself to blame

i was just submitting to what i was expected to do. i gave my power away and i didn't fight for it.

we could probably start a whole new thread on the inner voices of denial, because i am sure many of us could add to this list of common ones.

i think one encouraging way to take 'the plunge' for yourself is to remind yourself that you, the adult you, has the power to change and to heal the 'child-you' within. you can let him know that you are on the ground with arms open wide ready to catch him as he takes that plunge. and you would not let yourself down, i don't think. if nobody else catches you, you can catch yourself.

one of the ways that my t back in minneapolis, peter dimock helped me, was by having me revisit and relive the dramatic moment when i was first lured into the primary situation of abuse. he had me, as the adult, make a choice to refuse the abuse. that was one of the major turning points for me in my recovery.

maybe that would work for you as well, or at least you could talk about trying it in a safe environment.

hang in there my brother, you are headed in the right direction, keep that compass pointing true north. and keep us posted on your progress.


Ron Schulz, MSPC, NCC

#235538 - 07/03/08 09:30 PM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: LW1527]
frost Offline

Registered: 03/15/07
Posts: 1377
Loc: Eh?

This is something that I used to struggle with a great deal and occasionally still do. I am a work in progress but I am now at a point where the # of days I spend not struggling with self-blame now significantly outnumber the days where I lapse into self-blame/responsible mode.

As I look back on my healing journey to date, I can see two significant points in time which were extremely helpful to me.

The first such event was when my therapist dug into 'the first time' the abuse happened with me through the use of EMDR therapy. In this particular instance, I had only seen how I basically 'brought the abuse on myself' by insisting on knowing what "sex" was... My abuser had mentioned the word minutes before and wouldn't tell me what it was. Eventually he decided to 'show' me rather than just 'tell' me. Through the use of EMDR I was able to see a few more details that I had previously overlooked. I could see that my abuser knew what he was doing was wrong, and I got a good clear picture of how innocent I was at such a young age. This allowed me to finally release my self-blame for the 'first' time and subsequent feelings of responsibility and guilt.

The second such incident came in recent months. My abuse lasted well into my teens and I had a lot of trouble with "youth Brian" in that he (i) seemed to be nothing more than my abuser's sex slave & hormone crazed. That's all I saw of myself in my teenage years. The immense guilt and shame that resulted from that was simply overwhelming... Until one day I finally got a bit "more" of the picture. I had a memory of a moment of intense pain when I was around 14 or 15. For a brief glimpse I got a taste of the kind of confusion, guilt, shame, and an ultimate NEED for the abuse to stop because it was grating on my conscience so much. Suddenly there was so much more to "youth Brian" -- another dimension that again, I had overlooked because of the fact that my abuser manipulated me to blame myself over the course of 9 years.

It's not difficult with sexual abuse to blame one's self. As you've seen from previous replies -- this is not something that is uncommon.

I disagree with your therapist to an extent that you aren't necessarily consciously "choosing" to feel this way. I think its because you don't know of any other options so you just go with what you know.

Try to contact that kid inside, little LW. See if you can see & interpret his pain along side that which makes you blame him (you). When we don't recognize the full picture it can be so difficult to truly understand how we were so innocent or how our feelings of guilt have manifested and impacted our lives so heavily.

I'll tell you again just to subtly remind you -- you didn't do anything to deserve being abused. Children are so impressionable and I hope you will be able to see that trait in the younger version of yourself... You are thinking about this with your adult brain... but you didn't have the logic and reason back then. You had impulses, and you were likely conditioned and coerced to feel the way you did then and still feel today.

All the best,


#235539 - 07/03/08 09:31 PM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: pufferfish]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA

Here is the link to Good Will Hunting.

This is where Will internalizes: "It's not your fault".

I just reviewed this clip and it made me cry.

Try this. There is a way in which you can put this on your desktop in your computer so that you can watch it frequently.


#235807 - 07/04/08 07:49 PM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: pufferfish]
deck Offline

Registered: 08/19/06
Posts: 109
Loc: Indiana
Hey LW-

I think that we all struggle with feelings of responsibility and guilt for the abuse that we experienced. It's important to remember that, more than likely, the abuser(s) said or did things that created, encouraged and strengthened this belief. They did this because they did not want to feel responsible for their actions and/or to keep you from telling anyone. So the person(s) who abused you went to great lengths to instill this belief in you. Consequently, it is hard belief to overcome.

Something that I would suggest is to sort of temporarily remove yourself from the equation. Think of it this way, if someone you cared for a great deal (a friend, a loved one) came to you and told you that they had been molested and were feeling guilty and/or responsible- how would you respond to them? Write that response down. Then read it.

We tend to be consilatory to others than to ourselves. Recognize that the people who truly care about you would comfort you in a similiar fashion.

#235814 - 07/04/08 08:45 PM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: deck]
dgoods Offline

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 622
Loc: Richmond area
Sometimes it helps me to picture what my reaction would be, if a boy the age i was confided in me tomorrow; the most important two things i would try to help him understand would be "you didn't do ANYTHING wrong, it's not your fault" and "feeling safe is more important than whatever the abuser has told you".
This exercise helps me get out of guilt-mode at times, and to remember i should be able to see myself as an adult, the way any random person sees me...
just some random thoughts-

Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.

-William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. III

#235846 - 07/05/08 01:18 AM Re: Feeling Responsible and Guilty - HELP [Re: dgoods]
endlessjourney Offline

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 518
Loc: Cincinnati Ohio
I can understand that one! The only thing I can say, if this helps any, is that we can have anyone in the world tell us to think or feel a certain way. Or, they can try to tell us what is. The unfortunate but empowering reality here is that, it is you and only you that can convince yourself to let go of the guilt. I know you don't enjoy feeling that guilt and you want to change it. However, the reason why it still lies within you is that part of you still believes its your fault. Somewhere deep down, part of you still believes that.

Now, say you were to ask, how do I change that belief? Well, Believe me you will in due time. That's what sucks is the waiting part. Just know you're on the right path. You are where you need to be and things will get better and better. These things take time and they surface in layers. In time, you will have moments of clarity. I say this from my own experience for I have dealt with similar issues. Its strange how it works. One day, I'll be sitting outside, or meditating, or even at work and I'll have a revelation, or moment of clarity about my current state of being. These revelations usually come one at a time. You'll feel a beautiful release and sense of happiness and freedom. Enjoy the moment. It will not be there forever. You will feel pain later like always. However, look at it as one step closer to happiness.

This may or may not make too much sense to you now, but, it will in due time. I promise this to you. In the mean time, what is it about yourself that you are proud of? I'm sure the list is endless.

Stay strong my friend!

Truth is the very reason we strive to live. It surrounds and resides within us. Accepting the truths we already know and seeking out those we do not is a direct path to inner balance and joy. For life is not a means to an end, but a journey. Life comes and goes but the truth will always live on.

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