I am a victim of abuse. Why do I feel guilty?

One of the deepest and most painful effects of abuse is the guilt that stays with me. Unfortunately, even though I would really like to get rid of that guilt, it still haunts me to this day. Every day I try and try to let it go, but I can’t seem to do it. 

As a child, you are supposed to trust and look up to your elders. We often look to our parents, family members, friends and teachers to fulfill those needs. Abuse from those who were supposed to protect us does not make sense. As a child, that feeling was shattered when I was abused by someone who I trusted and was supposed to keep me safe. In innocence, and in desperation to make sense of the world, I often assumed that I must have been the one who was wrong. However, in my mind, it seems to me that maybe I did something to make him treat me like the way my abuser treated me.

Believing that the abuse was my fault injected a false sense of hope and control in me. Admitting that the abuse is not my fault, and recognizing that there is nothing that I can do to prevent the abuse, brings the terrifying realization that there is absolutely nothing that I could have done do to stop the abuse or predict when it was going to happen again and again. After all, I was taught that bad things don’t happen to good people. My abuser even told me so. Healing comes at a deeper level as we acknowledge that the abuse was not our fault, confront our terror and helplessness, and seek help from safe people.

Abusers are expert manipulators. They seem to have a built-in radar sensor to figure out which kids have emotional voids and are open to abuse. They can also figure out which kids are less likely to tell an adult that the abuse happened, and which kids are more likely to be shy and silent. They prey on our vulnerabilities. My abuser was very manipulative and made me feel like the abuse was my idea, and he even threatened me and my family if I told anyone. 

I didn’t stop the abuse from happening, and I didn’t tell anybody about the abuse when I had the chance. Does this mean I wanted the abuse to continue? My Abuser would pressure me not to tell anyone. My abuser used aggression to force me to comply with him. The fear of being harmed kept me from telling anyone even after it stopped and he was gone.  I didn’t have adult reasoning capabilities to figure out how to get help. Even after I got older and when my abuser was gone, I continued to perceive that I was helpless. During my healing process, I continue to learn coping abilities as I continue to heal and grow stronger.

I want my abuser to feel immense guilt for what he has done to me and others. This guilt should cause him to feel extreme conviction, leading to repentance and a full acceptance of responsibility for the harm that he has caused me and many others. Instead, he is not getting what he deserves and is living freely in another Country. This makes me carry that false guilt for what he has done. I’ve been asked, “you want justice to be served, what does justice and closure look like for you?” For me, closure is forgiveness and I don’t think that I will ever be able to forgive him for what he did to me. But him being back in prison and away from potentially harming other children would be ideal.

Facing the pain of my past with my family and friends has been essential. I  just want to forget what had happened and just move on, but I can’t. 

It is very painful to talk about abuse, but in doing so, this can bring deeper and more thorough healing. As my healing progresses, I find good parts of myself coming back to life and I have much more peace inside and love for myself than I did just a few months ago. Healing is a process that usually takes much longer than we wish it did.

Posted in news-articles, op-eds, survivors-letters.