If I only hadn’t provoked him/her
Why didn’t I leave him/her sooner?
Shouldn’t I have stayed?
Am I disloyal?
If I only I hadn’t taken so long about doing the groceries, he/she hadn’t had this outburst.
Many survivors of sexual abuse or domestic violence blame themselves in one way or another for the things the abuser did to them.
It is one of the biggest reasons why women stay with their partner, even though he/she has done so much harm to them.
They experience a form of guilt because they didn’t behave the right way causing the abuser to use this as an excuse to abuse.
This isn’t really odd since this thought pattern is used by many abusers to break the spirit of the victim and after that, it is imprinted in the thought patron of the (former) victim.
To get rid of your anger, resentment, and self-guilt you will need to forgive yourself first. I will show these steps in a minute but first I want you to answer me honestly.
- How much influence did you really have about the situation?
In relationships where violence is an important factor, the abuser or sometimes even the family blames the victim. They will ask you why you stayed that long if it was really that terrible. Why didn’t you just leave and why didn’t you stop the abuser from abusing you?
Now listen. Know and accept that a (former) victim never, and I repeat, never is guilty for the actions of an abuser. Regardless of what you have done, there is never an excuse to abuse someone mentally, physically or financially.
Do you experience trouble with accepting decisions you have made? For example, staying with the person who hurt you? Or not leaving sooner? You probably never made the most decisions if you knew then what you know now. You simply didn’t know then what you know now so it is pointless to punish yourself for it. Accept that you were somebody else at the time. People make different choices when they experience anxiety than when they are relaxed. Decisions based on anxiety are only focused on short-term thinking (survival) and have nothing to do with careful and rational thinking.
But hey, Alianne, I really did something stupid!
Okay, so you have done something incredibly stupid. Something you have had some influence over. You said something ugly to someone, or you broke someone’s middle phalanx.
Try to be as honest as possible and reflect on the circumstances that have taken place. Let go of anger. View the occurrence as if you are watching a movie and let it unfold picture for picture. What happened, what was your trigger that unleashed the behavior you regret now? What can you learn about the event?
Realize and truly acknowledge you have done something a bit stupid. Know then that everybody does stupid things. The purpose of it is to realize and learn from it, to share your experiences with other people. Own it and learn from your mistakes. Stop wasting your time blaming yourself and hurting yourself. Self-blaming keeps you down and you can’t help other people get up if you are laying on the ground yourself!
Your mistakes and shortcomings don’t define you. They never have and never will be. Acknowledge that you have the right to be forgiven and make use of your mistake to grow and learn from it.
First, you had a thought, which became part of a conviction and based on that you made a decision. Only by learning experiences do you learn that your thoughts and conviction are subjective and time bound. They are only snapshots of experiences you had until that point. You couldn’t react any different than with the knowledge you had up until that point! With the knowledge you have now you would have reacted quite different, if only to avoid the pain of your present emotions!
All that self-blame and guilt costs you a tremendous amount of energy and pain. Energy you could use for the better. If you decide to forgive yourself now, you can channel that energy to positive things in your present, instead of living in the past. All those negative emotions contribute to your body being tense and creating negative rituals and belief systems contributing to negative health for both the mind and your body.
Please note: Forgiving is something different as forgetting. It would be a waste to forget your experience. You have been through the ordeal and you gained an experience you’ve learned from. It would be a waste of time and energy to forget about it. But it is time to move on by letting go of your negative emotions.
- Write down what happened or share the story of which you would like forgiveness with somebody else. Be as objective and detailed as possible.
- Acknowledge and feel the pain that the memory gives you.
- Grieve about the sadness the memory gives you or the pain it gives thinking about how long you hold on this emotion, all the energy you have given to this emotion, if you need it.
- Realize that everybody makes mistakes. Acknowledge that you have learned from your experience.
- Know that you are a good human being and that this memory doesn’t define who you are. Accept that you have the right to be forgiven.
- Nobody has the right to hurt another. That’s why it is important to stop hurting yourself.
- Create a mantra for yourself in which you tell yourself that the situation had its purpose: you learned from it and it is time to move on. For example, say something like this: “I should have taken care of the situation differently. I am not proud of what I did, but I am proud that I learned my lesson and I will close this chapter now.”
- Give permission to yourself to move on and when necessary (for example, if you start self-blaming), interrupt yourself and remind yourself that you have forgiven yourself.
- Take a deep breath through your tummy and when you release the breath, you imagine that you let go of all the negativity.
You are a wonderful human being.
You deserve to have a life with positive influences and empowering people, intentions, and dreams. Let go of what was and create a life and meaning as you envision it. Now grab your dancing shoes and let’s dance!