This is a common theme I see in people who have experienced extreme forms of trauma. Incest, Rape… male or female is the guilt and shame.

The perpetrator walks on guilt free… no remorse… to do it again.

The survivor is left with a backpack full of rocks.

Is that why they can keep going? Is that why their acts getting more brazen each time?

This is not yours. He saw a weakness and he took advantage of the opportunity.

Well first off guilt is a wasted emotion, especially in this case.  If our energy cannot illicit change, we are spinning our wheels. And we all know how much energy that takes. The twinge of guilt is only useful if it spurs a guilty party into the next right choice. Here, it’s an absolute waste…. And misplaced. What if to keep the waters as calm as possible we swallowed up any energy’s that could possible create more agitation for our aggressor. In situations like this we do it with our words. We do it with our actions and we do it with our energy.

Children are amazing at doing this they sweep it all up, dump it into one big file and we label it. In time, we have no way of distinguishing his guilt from our pain.

And he is guilt free… clean… you were the vacuum.

And then the shame.

We want to tell ourselves that we don’t want anyone to know. How are they going to see me? Are they going to act different?

In truth, it is you. It is you that feels differently. It is you that has started running and has left so much behind. And around that there is shame.

And where they left off we took over. We abuse ourselves.

We abuse the version of us that is trapped in that moment by denying them. By denying that they survived that. They won that particular battle and instead of claiming her a hero you ran off without even a thank you. We are denying our breath and even if we have never thought about that before…  you can feel a stir in your body right now. If you aren’t validating their experience… If you aren’t seeing their heroism, then who will. And the adult version of ourselves. The version of our self that wants to just get back to life as quickly as possible and divorce ourselves from our truth they feel guilty. There is guilt around our choice to be just another watcher.

So… Here are a couple of trigger resets when we get on the guilt & shame train.

  1. Is there an action that I can take today to change the outcome of the situation?
  2. Do your thoughts line up with the reality of the circumstance in question?
  3. And the biggest one of all… Is this mine?

Man, Woman… or Child under extreme circumstances we do what is necessary to survive.

Take a bow to yourself. Go look yourself in the eye in the mirror and say thank you for fighting for me when no one else would. You are a hero!

If you or any one you know is struggling with life after trauma please. You don’t have to suffer. There is life after. I got out and I have a flashlight and I am prepared to come back in and get you out of there. For support you can email me at with what you are bumping up against in your life and we can speak to it. If you are feeling that way so are so many others.

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