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#463932 - 04/10/14 10:22 AM staying out of the loop
focusedbody Offline

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 389
Loc: NY
One of the things making life difficult in relationships when there has been sexual abuse is the unbridled experience of shame. Sometimes I find this so exhausting to track in any given interaction that I donít even try.

Attempting to imagine whatís going on is helped a bit by the concept of a compass of shame. I thought I might share it here and see if it resonates. In the compass of shame there are four poles that we go to in our need to get away from it. The list will probably come as no surprise. They are: Avoidance, Withdrawal, Attack Self, and Attack Others. By having support and remaining humble and accepting of the experience one can begin to hopefully decrease its ability to control the better aspects of life.

I have found however that in getting closer to the actual experience of shame there is also the danger of entering what is described as a loop. The loop tends to occur in different ways with different people. Speaking generally, it seems that women tend to get stuck in a shame-shame loop, as in being ashamed about feeling it. Men, on the other hand, exhibit a shame-anger loop. We can become angry about feeling ashamed and then feel more shame about the anger.

As I said, navigating this mess can seem impossible. It would be great to hear how anyone has experienced progress in this, either by themselves or in a relationship.

Thanks very much,


Links to articles on the subject:
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

#464032 - 04/13/14 09:46 AM Re: staying out of the loop [Re: focusedbody]
Airmid Offline

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 95
Loc: South
I just replied to your reply on my thread, and now see I am looking at his shame-anger loop.

Thank you for this; the articles are spot-on.

#464374 - 04/21/14 11:20 PM Re: staying out of the loop [Re: focusedbody]
focusedbody Offline

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 389
Loc: NY

Both my mother and my ex were sexually abused. It terrifies me on some level to consider how prevalent this is and to try to improve on communication. It brings out my own latent shameful feelings big-time. My inner peace goes through the roof. I can get distracted by the strength of negative feelings.

What seems the most difficult about this is that shame is such a powerful emotion. It is also very easy to put it on another person, to imagine momentarily that you are not feeling it or its true origin, and make it seem like another person made you feel that way. As others have pointed out, this is what was done originally. It is a pattern that gets handed down.

Unfortunately that brings up another emotion, fear. It is scary to go to the places that don't feel safe, where there has been no resolution, and try to work from there.

And it's understandable to run from the emotional stress that accompanies these feelings. But it's also true that they won't go away until their power is taken away, until they are understood for the destruction they can cause.

Being sensitive to how fear and shame operate for each person gives me a glimmer of hope in making a connection. It helps clarify where things can go wrong, where the trauma repeats itself. Knowing this as the truth of my experience helps me not get taken over by the way it tends to control things. It helps me find ways to reach out.

Thanks for any other observations or anecdotes on the subject. It helps me feel that I'm not crazy to acknowledge and accept the reality of it.

Lose the drama; life is a poem.

#464860 - 05/01/14 10:24 AM Re: staying out of the loop [Re: focusedbody]
HD001 Offline

Registered: 07/30/12
Posts: 265
Loc: us
My experience with H's shame has been a frustrating one. He likes to jump between withdrawl, avoidence, and attacking others. From my view I figured the best was to handle it was to be loving and patient. I never attacked back even though there were times I had to bite my lip and walk away. I didn't want to say anything that would add to his shame and negative beliefs about himself. Was my loving patence helpful I don't know. It often seemed that the more I tried to reach out to him in a concerned way the more he would turn up the volume with his withdrawl and attacks. Sometimes I felt like he wanted me to be mean to him so that he would actually have just cause to take things out on me. I would love to hear is anyone has found a good way to get through to a survivor when they are spinning on the shame compass.
Everything comes from within


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