I have previously expounded on the some of the guilt and shame that accompanies survivors of child sexual abuse. I want to share a little more about how untreated shame and guilt can progress to the point where substance abuse and/or suicide seems like the only answer for survivors.
One morning, when I was in my late teens, I awoke from my sleep with a start. I just had a nightmarish dream that was flash-like, where I committed an act onto someone that I truly hold dear; an act which was parallel to what I experienced when I was molested at the age of 12.
It was a dream that was conjured up from the subconscious mind, but as it related to my fears and traumas, it turned out to be so much more. In the most bizarre and unfathomable circumstances, it was suddenly slightly possible that a scenario could exist where I could be the perpetrator and no longer just a survivor of the exact trauma I was running and suffering from.
If you have read about sexual abuse you may know that many victims often reenact their experiences onto others. Was I guilty of such an act? Was I a danger to my family and society? Was this possible? If I could dream up something like this, what I knew was that I may be guilty and I may be a danger to be around. If true, I could now be guilty of even more. It was even shameful and this had more of an impact on me than my initial trauma.
Fast-forward a few years of silence and I had to know.
It took a lot for me to muster up the courage to ask if there was any truth to it since I feared the answer to this question for over 10 years and, thankfully, there was never any truth to it.
It took a lot of work, commitment and support to get to a place where I was ready for the truth no matter what, but what if I did not muster up the strength to ask? I may have remained self-convicted of my guilt for the rest of my life or for as long as I could survive with this corrosive secret.
This is only my story about how trauma and post-traumatic stress affected me. It can be powerful enough to create scenarios where, seemingly, there is no way out for a survivor.
My experiences have taught me that everyone has their own experiences, dispositions, insecurities, processes and support systems and it’s extremely complex where no two people are the same, even if they appear to be alike. We barely know the extent of the hurt and pain that many victims and survivors have gone and go through. To most people, it’s incomprehensible.
How many of us are holding on to something similar today?
How many people suffer from trauma and post-traumatic stress and don’t acknowledge or talk about it? How many of us aren’t willing tell our loved ones that we were abused? What will it take for us to tell the people we hold dearest that we were hurt and we want to get and be better?