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#467558 - 07/13/14 01:23 PM Why do I still feel responsible?
DavoSwim Offline

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 370
Loc: Iowa, USA
I joined MS about 1.5 years ago after burying my secrets for 40 years. This has been a great place to be and I appreciate all the support I've received. I've made some very good friends with some other survivors and I'm very grateful for that.

I have also been seeing a T for last year and a half. Every Thursday at 11 am, I'm sitting in his office, discussing events from the past. He's been really good.

Even with all the help and support, I don't feel like myself. I have a lot of trouble connecting with other people. I just feel like I'm living in a plastic bag, where I can see the world, go about my daily life, but just feel like there's something keeping me from truly being part of the world.

I've been talking with my T about this. There are two lingering beliefs that I can't get rid of. The first is the idea that I brought this on myself. I still feel like somehow I seduced the priest and he only did what he did because I turned him on. I realize intellectually that it's not true, but I can't seem to rid myself of this way of thinking. The second idea that pervades my thinking is I'm angry at myself for not being able to protect myself. Intellectually, I realize that I didn't have a chance. I was 11 years old, 5 feet tall and maybe 90 lbs. He was 6 feet and probably 200 lbs. I didn't stand a chance, but I can't internalize that. I just believe that real man could protect himself. Never mind the idea that a real man wouldn't do that to a kid. I make this about me and it reinforces the idea that I'm weak, easily overpowered and just unable to fight off evil. It just bothers me that I can't get rid of these beliefs. They're undermining my ability to live a productive life. I still just feel somehow inferior to other guys, because I think they would never let something like this happen.

These beliefs are really bugging me. I want to get over it, but I don't know how to finally believe that I wasn't responsible. Any ideas?


#467559 - 07/13/14 02:51 PM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: DavoSwim]
Still Offline

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 7011
Loc: FEMA Region 1

Same here. I know some non-abused folk judge some of us for any incidents beyond the first...or for "going back," or for "waiting too long to tell," etc.

Many of my feelings like yours are heavily built upon the verbal, knee-jerk reaction to publicized cases by my father, friends, teachers, news media, one judge that screwed me badly, etc

IMO, its nearly impossible to overcome the feeling of blame and inferiority when the general public is verbal and ignorant. And I'm beginning to see that they are simply 'ignorant' and not necessarily arrogant a-holes.

Scum-suckers like the judge in Australia, who claims that multi-generation incest is (para)"finally enjoying lesser taboo, like the gays" are actively strengthening the negative views of ourselves (IMO).

As for ideas: I'm trying to redefine myself according to internal traits and biblical principals. The trouble is, I have very little to go by for source material. I was a self-identified "whore" from age 7 to 14, and then a "non-practicing whore" from then-on.

All I can offer is that. That you are not alone, and that I don't see any highway to help. I think we have to build our own road outta this.

#467566 - 07/13/14 07:40 PM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: DavoSwim]
don64 Offline

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 1034
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi Dave,

I often think the violent events that happened to me are minor compared to the beliefs that got poured into me from family, church, community, western civilization, capitalism.

Perhaps, ultimately, I decide for myself what beliefs make sense to me. It does take a long time and a lot of effort to climb out of collective energy. I don't feel extremely strong in this effort, YET. But, it certainly feels worthwhile to me.

Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

#467599 - 07/14/14 06:15 PM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: DavoSwim]
dark empathy Offline

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 2131
Loc: durham, north england
One suggestion, try not to make this about you. One thing I have realized is that I am the single worst and most terrible judge of myself and my experiences. There is no way I can evaluate myself or what I do accurately sinse I am just prejudiced.

Think of a random eleven year old boy, (or girl for that matter). Nobody you know, just a general eleven year old child and ask yourself if that child can protect themselves against a six foot adult?
I suspect you would not be telling John or Jane Doe age eleven that they were weak or responsable or should've protected themselves.

One thing I am realizing is that in a lot of ways it is often far easier to do things for others than for ourselves. That effectively there are occasions when you need to do unto you as you would do unto others.

This isn't to deny western society, capitalism, steriotypes etc don't have a great deal to answer for, they dam well do, however I have noticed myself that generally speaking I find society's expectations easier to dismiss than my own. Thus for example while I would never condemn another person for beeing "Weak" I would condemn myself, not because I am male, simply because I am me and that makes me automatically contemptable, indeed I find for myself that I quite frequently forget I am male, forget I am disabled and forget all the other labels society likes, it's much harder to forget I am worthless, though it is something I am working on.

Hope some of this is vaguely helpful.

Edited by dark empathy (07/14/14 06:21 PM)

#467691 - 07/16/14 11:18 PM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: DavoSwim]
Jude Offline

Registered: 08/09/12
Posts: 1608
Loc: New England
It hurts to say this, but at least for some of us, I think we feel responsible because as kids we believed that adults were always right, and always did the right things. Its always the kids who needed correcting, not the adults. And so when this "bad thing" happened, it had to be our fault, not theirs. It had to be our badness not theirs. It had to be because we were worthless, not them. That feeling can be hard to lose even so many years after. Even with knowledge of the truth about it. The guilt and shame come from such a deep place inside, its almost like an inoperable tumor. Its something we can't help but feel.

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Sarah McLachlan

#467693 - 07/17/14 12:17 AM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: DavoSwim]
kcinohio Offline

Registered: 06/06/12
Posts: 464
Loc: Ohio
Everyone's process may take different timing. For me, from 2 years after starting this MS recovery to 8 years in, those 6 years, were the hardest part of my journey. But, over another 10 years after that, things are reasonably decent most of the time, I'm glad I went through all that back then, because I don't know how I'd find the energy to get through that now.

Hope you can keep up with it as you are able. Personally, I found that there were some shortcomings I just had no control over whether I'd ever get past them or not. So, I had to just decide to progress while accepting that I had those shortcomings. Eventually, some more of them dissipated, but not all of them.

People get along while having things that hold them back some everyday. For example, I'm not sure how many guys would say they're good at "fighting off evil" as you described. Hopefully, most don't encounter that much of it that often and get along anyway.

#467703 - 07/17/14 09:29 AM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: DavoSwim]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 2158

These are difficult emotions to deal with as you heal. The guilt we harbor comes from being conditioned by our abuser not to tell, our secret. We begin to believe others will blame us for what happened, not Father XXX. The subject was taboo a few decades ago. We live in silence. When we begin to tell our story, the reactions can haunt or propel us forward. I know the initial responses from those around me haunted me, created more guilt and shame. Fortunately I met some one quite by chance in a McDonald's. From this meeting and reconnecting with old friends and meeting someone very special I learned it was not my fault, they reinforced it over and over, they saw the good. They accepted my dissociation and fugues, they knew me for me. The special woman fortunately is a medical professional dealing with trauma and abusive situations. She totally understood what happened to me was real and how the mind works so we can cope and hopefully survive.

I slowly began to accept it was not my fault. My T worked on me to realize blaming myself and holding guilt was only self abusing, it was holding me back. We began to focus on looking at the abuse through a child's eye and not an adult mind. It was hard to separate because I had disowned the child within. I then learned I needed to reconnect with this part of me, a part I tried to forget because there were emotions there that were despicable to me, feeling special to the abuser. Well it took time and support but I finally reconnected. I then slowly began to accept it was not my fault and the guilt and shame was that of the abuser and those that triggered the memories intentionally. I am almost there, will I be 100% guilt free, I do not know but believe I am at a 90% level. The thoughts of being guilty of the abuse are no longer controlling. We also had to address the PTSD,dissociation and fugues and with therapy, affirmations and support of others the symptoms have been mitigated. I no longer use dissociation as a coping mechanism,I think this has been helped by reconnecting with the child within, the part that was looking for love. I love myself now, the whole of me. I learned I needed to think of myself in a different light. I do affirmations and focus on the positives in my life and not the negatives. I am not sure how all the pieces fell into place or which one fell into place first or second. Somehow they began to fit. It took time and hard work.

We all move at our own pace, recognition the issue is important. Now it is finding the right process that will help you to see the abuse in the eyes of the child. Then you will realize a child thinks differently than the adult. A child looks for love and acceptance. The priest had a special place in the community and he knew how to manipulate the situation so he could control you.

Dave I hope you find peace with the past and accept it was not your fault.


#467870 - 07/22/14 03:43 PM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: DavoSwim]
txb Offline

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 291
It's pretty much the same for me. I shouldn't believe that it was my fault, but I do.

It's weird because every story I read, I always think how the kid is not responsible. It wasn't their fault. You can see how they were tricked, or trapped or just had no other choice. But when it's me it's like I'm exempt from that. Logically it was not my fault, but I feel like it was.

My T had told me to just keep working on it.

Maybe logical thought will eventually win?

#467871 - 07/22/14 03:54 PM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: txb]
NoSimpleMachine Offline

Registered: 06/05/14
Posts: 223
Loc: SF Bay Area
Originally Posted By: txb
It's weird because every story I read, I always think how the kid is not responsible. It wasn't their fault. You can see how they were tricked, or trapped or just had no other choice. But when it's me it's like I'm exempt from that. Logically it was not my fault, but I feel like it was.

Sooooo much truth. Personally, I found that really digging at the underlying reason that I allow myself to hold myself to different standards than everyone else was a good place to start attacking that whole fallacy. On the surface, it's really hard to just ignore that feeling and suddenly treat yourself fairly. Getting down to root causes, though, has been helping show me how little sense it makes to blame myself when I would never find fault with another person who was in the same situation. It becomes ludicrously absurd. And then a lot of repetition of that concept, bringing it in when I sense that guilt rearing its head...gradually it sinks in. Very gradually.
If I know only one thing it's that everything that I see
Of the world outside is so inconceivable often I barely can speak
Yeah I'm tongue-tied and dizzy and I can't keep it to myself
What good is it to sing Helplessness Blues, why should I wait for anyone else?

#467872 - 07/22/14 05:12 PM Re: Why do I still feel responsible? [Re: DavoSwim]
DavoSwim Offline

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 370
Loc: Iowa, USA
Thank you for your replies. I find much truth in your answers, and aspects of my story, my truth are almost identical to segments of your stories. One common theme is that healing will come by viewing the CSA through the child's eyes. I've had a very hard time relating to my inner child, but I've found that making him feel safe provides him with the reassurance to tell his story. Several people, here and in PMs have suggested that I reconnect to my inner child. Their reasons are so compelling that I can't ignore their recommendations. It's been tough to get in touch with him. He was buried deep inside me. He went there to survive,and that's where he's remained, alone and isolated from the world. But once his story has been told, it diminishes the shame associated with the CSA. I've noticed that as he feel safe, bits and pieces of his story which have remained buried with him for decades come out, and this helps connect the pieces of his life. I'm remembering more about what I was like back then and how I was forever changed but the CSA. These memories help my past become more vivid and from there I can work on healing.

Like I said originally, I keep blaming myself for letting this happen. The response to this has been unanimous - I'm not to blame. No child can ever be held responsible. But hearing it and truly accepting this are different. Reconnecting with my inner child, exposes the lie for what it is - a lie. If other kids were innocent, then I must be also. I can't say that I've accepted this fully, but I do know that it's ridiculous to think other kids aren't innocent but I'm guilty.

Again, thank you all for taking the time to answer. I appreciate it. Your comments are very true, and very helpful. When the comments come from colleagues and peers, it gives it more authenticity and credibility. When my T talks, it becomes a goal for me to attain. When fellow survivors talk , it exposes the truth of our experience. Having both perspectives helps make the journey of finding the truth easier and more complete. Thanks again,


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