Taking the Blame Back
I need to confess something…I wrote my book and started this blog for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was to let other sexual abuse survivors know that they are not to blame. Because if there is one thing I know it is that sexual abuse victims blame themselves.
It started early last week. I got some feedback on my blog that I interpreted as negative. I took it to heart and stewed on it. A people pleaser, I couldn’t let it go. Later in the week, my husband seemed upset. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “Oh, I just got triggered reading your blog.”
“What? So you are blaming me?! That isn’t fair!” Calmly, he said he was not blaming me. “Then you’re mad at the doctor?” He said that wasn’t it either. “So it is me then!” “I don’t want to have this conversation right now,” he said. Of course, I thought, because you think it was all my fault and you are mad at me and it’s not fair because you know I didn’t want any of what happened and no one will ever believe me and I knew it and I’m cursed with this stigma for the rest of my life…
I never did understand what set him off, but I didn’t need to. If there is one thing I excel at it’s taking the blame. And I took all of it. 100% of the blame for his upset feelings and for what happened to me in that doctor’s office that allowed his feelings to be re-triggered.
The Blame Leads to Depression
I sank into depression. Every day seemed to lose a little bit more color as if the life-force was slowly draining out of me. I told my best friend this is exactly why victims don’t come forward. We are never truly believed. Our loved ones just know they have to tell us they see us as victims. No one really does, ever. This was the scarlet letter I would have to carry to the grave. It’s so unfair, I cried.
This abuse causes far-reaching damage to the victim. I understand why so many victims keep their secret or worse, take their lives. The victim first must suffer through the pain of the original betrayal, of being used, of being sexually assaulted. Then they must swallow the bitter pill that their perpetrators never cared about them. They were at best a pawn in a sinister chess game, being played by a person they believed loved them and would never hurt them.
If they are able to survive all of that, they have a crushing amount of shame and self contempt waiting for them. Why did they stay? What held them there? How did they not see this coming? See a previous blog post for more on the subject of shame. https://amynordhues.com/why-didnt-you-just-leave-the-single-most-shaming-question-you-can-ask-a-victim-of-abuse/
Judgement is Unavoidable
Then there will be judgement, outright or subtle, possibly glances or whispers as they pass through a crowd. They will have to leave their circle of friends because those are tainted now. Some will side with them, some the abuser. They may have to leave their churches, their towns, their jobs…
But even then, there is something worse to come. The entire world could shout from the rooftops that they are not to blame. God could have forgiven them a hundredfold. Even then—the victims still have to deal with the most brutal critic of all—themselves. That critic may never be convinced that they were not at least partly to blame. They may always hold themselves accountable to some degree. It is a daily reminder of their deepest fear—maybe they are defective and that is why they were assaulted.
Self-Hatred Always Ensues
That critic held me captive for an entire week. She mocked me and blamed me and hurled insults at me. And then last night I had a follow up conversation with my husband about his feelings about reading the blog. “Yeah, that had nothing to do with you,” he said, “actually, nothing about your abuse at all.” “What?” “Yeah, I was just playing some of my old tapes. It was just my own stuff coming up that I needed to deal with.” “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked. “You wouldn’t give me a chance,” he replied.
I sat still letting that information make a few laps around my brain. He’s right. I couldn’t believe it. I’d been tormented all week by what I assumed he was thinking. He doesn’t even blame me. I do. Oh no. This goes against everything I stand for—the reasons for my book, my blog.
After my husband fell asleep, I stared at the ceiling pondering this new revelation. How quick I was to accept his pain as my fault. How quick I was to get defensive. I was a victim and don’t you even try to tell me otherwise. Why did it matter so much what he thought?
How Did I Get Here?
I was still accepting the blame. The blame I told others not to accept under any circumstances. The blame I thought I’d ditched long before. I had taken it back. When had I taken it back?
How quickly Satan was able to drag me to his lair before I even knew what was happening. I’d decided to give it all up, my book, my blog, my ministry, just like that. I succumbed to all the lies Satan would have me believe, the lies he is constantly chanting in my ears, lies that if not challenged immediately with the Word of God have a way of becoming reality, a new normal.
Oh God, I’m so sorry I lost sight of You. In an instant, I forgot the truth about me. The truths You’ve taught me. I’ve clearly been walking ahead of You. I know now that I need to get back into scripture, back to meditating on who You tell me I am, back to spending quality time in Your presence.
Seeing Myself Through God’s Eyes
I recalled how I did this years ago, how I trained myself to believe who I was in Christ. When I was able to get away from my abuser back in July 2014, my healing hinged on the answer to this one question…Is there something damaged in me that allowed this abuse to happen? Would this have played out the same if I were…normal?
In order to tackle this beast, I wrote letters to God. To see more on how I did this, see a previous post. https://amynordhues.com/my-therapist-sexually-abused-me-part-three-how-will-i-get-through-this/ I bantered back and forth with Him pouring out my feelings with a brutal honesty. My emotions were telling me that God agreed with me wholeheartedly, that I am a failure. That I am damaged. And that I was correct, this would not have occurred if I had been a normal person. These things only happen to defective ones like me.
Despite every cell in my being screaming these lies at me, I spoke for God as His Word said He would. I literally spoke His Word into me until it started to take root. It took months and a lot of conversations, but slowly, ever so slowly, I started to believe them just a little bit. Here is one of those conversations…
Speaking God’s Truth Over My Life
“The Very Best”
Father, why did you make me?!
I’m not like all the rest
You knew I’d never be good enough
Even at my best
I cannot be forgiven!
Did you see what he made me do?
Even though, Father, I…
I didn’t want to
But that doesn’t matter
Failing as I am
Speak to me, Father!
An answer, I demand!
My child, my child, I hear you
You think you’re a disgrace
But give me just a minute
Let me see that tear-stained face
These people who are telling you
Who you ought to be
Let me ask you, do these people
Do they know you as intimately as me?
Did they form you in the womb?
Every intricate part?
Child, these people who are defining you
Can they see your heart?
If you can answer yes to that
Well, perhaps this talk is done
But if the answer is actually no
Then I think it’s just begun
What I make is beautiful
Without fault and strong
So these messages you’re getting
Child, they could not be more wrong
I am angered at what he’s done
To such an innocent one as you
For his sins he will pay
My child, I am not through
For I intend to show you
Who you really are
You cannot take a blanket
And cover up a star
Your light, it is still burning
Although you cannot see
But, child, oh how I wish you knew
Just how you appear to me
You are magnificent, for
You radiate shimmering light
And for you, my precious one
I will put up quite a fight
And I won’t give up until the day
That you can look up to the skies
And see yourself as I see you
And know the rest were lies
And, child, you are correct when you say
You are not like all the rest
For you, my special daughter
I have saved the very best.
I know that my God will not give up on me and that His dream for me is to see myself as He sees me. It may not be fully possible this side of Heaven, but I will strive for it anyway because God’s Word says it is very possible. I will stay in the Word, saturating my mind with His “love notes.” They are all over the Bible. They are everywhere in nature.
Recognize the Failure and Keep On Truckin’
It was a slip, but that’s all it was. I don’t have to stay here. I can dust myself off, hold my head high, and resume walking in the light as a forgiven daughter of the King, as a victim of a horrendous crime, not as a co-conspirator in one.
I share this because these days come for all of us. And those “lies” that knock us off course are ever lurking for all of us, whatever they may be. My hope is that on those days when you slip backwards into self-hatred or blame, when you begin to barrage yourself with a litany of questions about the abuse—Why did you stay so long? How could you be so stupid? This doesn’t happen to normal people.
My hope is that you catch yourself and simply say, oops, I’m back to believing lies from the evil one. That is not who God says I am. I will open up my Bible and read who God says I am—loved, adopted, perfect, healed, accepted, forgiven, saved…until those lies go back to where they came from. And by the way, Satan, here’s your blame back…
For additional help and support on dealing with self-blame, shame and guilt, see: https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline or see my resources page at: https://amynordhues.com/resources/
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