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Archive for October 25th, 2007

Drooping Flower (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Feelings of shame is another hallmark aftereffect of childhood abuse. I have never met an abuse survivor who did not struggle with feelings of shame before healing. While I no longer feel shame, I used to live my life with a cloud of shame hovering over me at all times. I was ashamed of being myself.

The shame that you feel is not yours to bear. What you are actually feeling is your abuser’s shame. When someone abuses you, he offloads his shame onto you, leaving an innocent child to bear the burden.

I had a vivid flashback that captured this point. After my abuser finished harming me, he strutted around like a proud peacock while I, the innocent party, cowered in a corner feeling an immense amount of shame. He was the person who did something wrong, so why was I the one feeling shame?

When an abuser harms a child, I believe that more is happening than just a physical act. I believe that two souls come together, and the abuser’s soul dumps out his poison into the child’s soul. The abuser walks away feeling relief from the absence of shame (for a while, anyhow) while the child walks away with the burden of very deep shame.

Unfortunately, many abused children grow into adults without ever purging this shame in a healthy manner, and their deep-seated self-loathing permeates every aspect of their lives. They see themselves through their abusers’ eyes rather than through the eyes of truth, and they fail to realize how precious they are.

I compare this to a person heaping a large pile of manure on top of a diamond. The diamond is precious, but if it sees its reflection in a mirror, it will believe that it is worthless. No amount of manure heaped on top of a diamond can change the value or worth of a diamond. We abuse survivors have to find a way to remove the manure (the shame) so that we can clearly see how precious we are. Nothing that anyone ever does to you can change the value of who you are.

Related Topic:

Telling Your Sexually Abused Adopted Child: “It was NOT Your Fault”

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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