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  • Gracie Williams

Why do I feel so guilty? | Sexual trauma and the gut-wrenching feeling of guilt

As a survivor of sexual trauma, you may be going through feelings such as shame, guilt, and self-blame. These are all normal feelings post-trauma, however that doesn’t mean that they are right.

You may be questioning yourself, ‘why do I feel so guilty?’ following your experience, and trust me, you aren’t alone in thinking this.

Guilt is an emotional response to a traumatic experience and is often a self-destructive technique used by the human brain, often resulting from a lack of self-love and self-worth.

However, guilt and self-blame can also be a result of the brain trying to take back control of the situation.

Many survivors will search high and low for reasons why I may be their fault, they may question themselves, ‘what was I wearing?’ or ‘Did I flirt back with them?’, and as a result will find something to use against themselves in order to feel a sense of control.

Control is often ripped away from survivors during a traumatic event, and this can leave them feeling anxious, lonely, and distant. Therefore, survivors will often do anything they can to gain this back, even if it means blaming themselves for the event.

On the other hand, this sense of guilt is more often than not caused by the perpetrator themselves.

We often hear stories of victims being told that it was their fault by the perpetrator, and in the victims’ vulnerable state, it is easy to believe that this is true. Likewise, perpetrators are often extremely manipulative and will do anything they can to gain control of survivors and the situation, while finding excuses for what they have done, and to ultimately, prove their innocence.

It is SO easy to feel guilty following a sexual trauma experience, especially when events like these leave us feeling our most vulnerable. Likewise, survivors are often faced with questions such as ‘what were you wearing?’, ‘did you kiss him back?’, or ‘were you drinking?’, assuming that these are all excuses for the perpetrator’s actions (they are NOT).

The best way to ease this feeling of guilt is to back yourself. Even when you feel these emotions seeping through, back yourself with everything you have. Find that sense of control through backing yourself rather than blaming yourself. Tell yourself, ‘I am right, they are wrong. This was not my fault.’, keep telling it to yourself.

Don’t give up on yourself.

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