How One Trauma Led to Several False Beliefs

Overcoming Trauma
in the mind of a child

I remember when I was talking about my first memory of being sexually abused. As I was speaking out loud about the details, being prompted for other tiny details and trying to remember even the thoughts I had about the trauma, I suddenly realized that I thought I could have stopped it. That ONE single belief caused a whole spiral of other problems for me and developed a very strong set of lies in my belief system. Because I thought I could have stopped the sexual abuse from happening, I also took responsibility for it happening. That led me to believe that I was a bad person. None of these thoughts were conscious. They happened as a result of that first subconscious belief that I could have stopped an adult from sexually assaulting me.  Because I thought I could have stopped it, but I didn’t stop it, I was filled with guilt and shame.  Guilt and shame that wasn’t mine, but guilt and shame that I thought was mine.

Here is the breakdown:

This went around and around in my mind, not so much the trauma, but the conclusions that I had come to about it and as other things happened in my life, they just automatically went through this new grid that had formed when I took the blame for the child sexual abuse that happened to me when an adult female babysitter decided to lay me out on a table and violate me sexually. I was just a small child; powerless to fight. I left my body. I remember leaving, floating up (still naked) to a corner above my head, hugging my knees in fear, cold, shock and helplessness.  

It wasn’t just the trauma event that I had to look at in order to face the pain of my past, it was the belief system that I developed. In looking at the grid that I put things through and how that grid got set in place I was able to realize that certain foundational beliefs were WRONG.

The first belief that was wrong was thinking and believing that I could have stopped that woman from sexually abusing me. Truth ~ I could NOT have stopped it. I asked myself HOW I could have stopped it. Then I thought of all the ways that I “thought” I could have stopped it in my childlike mind. Through that process I realized several things, one of which was that I thought because I had left my body, I believed that I had literally become two people and that I (and this second person I became) should have been able to gang up on the abuser. Upon deeper examination of that conclusion, I realized that this belief was actually impossible.

I thought that I should have screamed. I thought that I should have bit her, kicked her, grabbed some sort of large object to club her with. I believed that my passivity was consent. I was so angry with myself because I thought that I submitted to her. I had no idea that I thought any of those things deep down. They were hidden in my belief system. I don’t even know if I had those thoughts then as a small child, or if I added them later when I was older but they were there none the less.

And I also had to realize that I believed I had in fact become two people. (which is not the same thing as believing that I could have fought her off if there were two of me.)  All that had actually happened is that I left my body as many young children do. It is a very effective survival technique. But I did not actually become two people and I had never really realized that my child mind believed that I did. I also realized that I thought I should have fought and didn’t realize that not fighting does not mean consent. As I mentioned, some of these conclusions can be added when we are older too. Looking back on the trauma and wondering why we didn’t fight leads to more self blame and shame. The truth is that we had no choice. Period.

Because of all these wrong beliefs, I took responsibility for the trauma and violation.  I blamed myself. I didn’t realize how that had happened, I didn’t think about it, I didn’t consciously know that I had taken the blame, but that is what happened. In realizing that these were my beliefs, I was able to replace those lies with the truth.

This became the system that I learned to take apart a trauma or memory; I looked at the event and the details that surrounded the event the way that I describe in the above article. It does not have to be a sexual or physical abuse trauma. It can be an emotional abuse such as being neglected or a time when you were not believed. By the time I looked at three events in my childhood this way (only one of them was sexual abuse) I was able to realize how my belief system began to develop.  I picked apart a memory, every detail I could remember, the room, the colours, the curtains and doors, remembered thoughts, fears, shutting down. And I looked beyond that to the beliefs that I formed in order to cope and to process the trauma. I looked at the thoughts that I didn’t realize I had. I only looked at one trauma or one situation at a time. I tried to stick with just one tiny memory at a time and the beliefs came forward. Sometimes quickly, sometimes over a few days but always a new kind of hope came with it. The hope came from knowing the truth could set me free and now I knew how to FIND the truth.

I felt a HUGE relief when I understood more deeply where the feelings of shame and guilt came from and was able to realize that I had believed false things that through a series of thoughts fears and survival methods had become my truth, but that “that truth” was not true truth.  

In my next article I will highlight how OTHER, perhaps more normal negative childhood events join up with those traumatic abusive events and make one huge big mess in the belief system.

Please feel free to comment, share your own stories or share you process of an event if you like.

Exposing Truth; One Snapshot at a time; 

Darlene Ouimet

Related Posts: Self Esteem, My value and learning to LOVE my self

 Coping methods~ Trying to escape Myself (with 80 comments in the discussion)

But how do I recover emotional and other abuse?

Categories : Survival



I think my first trauma or abuse occured before the sexual abuse…I feel like I was set up. I feel like the entire belief system I was trained in even allowed me to be vulnerable and identifiable to an abuser…I apparently was a candidate that might need “love”, might not tell due to fear of what I might receive from those I tell, fear I might not be believed, fear I might be blamed…whatever. I was afraid I would get in trouble, I was afraid my abuser would hurt me because it never occurred to me that anyone would make it stop or keep me away from him. It was confirmed in that I didn’t tell…and the rest was confirmed when it was discovered and the resolution involved pretending that the discovery would be enough to make it stop and then it just kept on going… Really, I think I had to look at the whole environment…and realize that there was a whole lot of damage and faulty beliefs that had to be in place even before what is deemed the actual abuse. I don’t mean to trivialize the CSA, but it, to me anyway, seems like a secondary abuse…however, there are still those that are party to the rest of it that would like to leave the focus right there – as if there was nothing else.


Thank you Darlene for this article. I felt it was my fault also for years. I dont understand how I did but I blamed myself. Even the mental abuse form my mom and of course the sexual abuse.
Hugs Angela


Looking forward to more!
IT is worth taking inventory of my memories to see if I hold this same belief that I could have stopped certain things from happening. I would imagine that this is HUGE!!


Hi Wendi
You make a very very good point. So many of us WERE set up and as you say “trained” to be vulnerable and even identifiable to an abuser. (emotional and psychological abusers included) And there is almost always a set up to the abuse event itself too. I felt that same thing too but I still didn’t realize the beliefs that came out of any of the events; these beliefs for me came out of being discounted as well. This particular event that I talk about in this post, I was very young.. under 4 and it would not surprise me if this memory is not the first abuse. (emotional or psychological abuse included) For a child, neglect can be traumatizing. Not having a diaper changed and not being fed can be the set up to believing that we are unworthy and not valuable enough to be taken care of. So yes… I totally get what you are saying!
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Angela,
I am glad that this resonated with you.. it is one of those food for thought articles isn’t it. All abuse, all neglect, all devaluing and discounting of another person ~ it is all abuse.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Sheryl,
Yes, for me this was huge; it was the beginning of emerging from broken. It was the jumping off place that I had looked for for SO long. That day I began to see how my subconscious worked to protect me so that I could survive, but I also saw the damage that crept into my mind that stayed with me for so long and hooked itself to so many other events, even good ones, sabotaging my self esteem and further discounting myself along the way. But the biggest thing that I saw that day was hope. Hope that I could use that same process to figure out more of what was back there. And I did.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


As someone who once abused children (as a teen) I think something that is often overlooked is understanding why people engage in these behaviors. It is very easy, and understandable, for victims and others to paint abusers as inhuman demons and wish they were all dead, but that will not help stop abuse. Most if not all abusers were ones victims as well, and honestly in this world we live in all of us are abused and are abusers of some kind. We all need healing and understanding, and a big part of it is finding a way to take responsibility for our actions(speaking of abusers no victims) in a constructive way without resorting to self-hatred, which only leads to more abuse, and instead finding a way to show love and respect for all. I don’t know if I have found a way to do this yet but I am trying.


Hi John,
Welcome to emerging from broken;
I personally believe that all abusers were victims first and that abusers abuse out of victim mentality. (this applies to all abuse) On this blog I try to highlight healing for each individual. I agree with you that ridding the world of abusers is not going to stop abuse ~ I believe that the only way the world is going to change is for victims to heal and that is always my personal focus. The only way that anyone can heal is to find a way to get through that self hatred that you speak of here. I could not find real love for others, until I went through this process that I write about on my blog. (and this post highlights a process of how I did began to do that) I know in the case of my emotionally abusive husband (we are still married and he no longer abuses) he had to deal with his childhood, and the victimization that he suffered before he could be accountable for his actions. I have noticed a definite order to the process. I think it is huge that you admit that you were an abuser (and thank you for your courage) in the past and I look forward to hearing from you more often if you are comfortable sharing your journey.
Thank you so much for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


john, i too went on to abuse othe shildren as a child. i stopped around 15yrs old and to this day hate myself for it. yet as an adult looking abck, i can see that the child committing those acts had been trained to being doing what i did. i pray to this day that they forgive me and have no lasting damage but that is another bridge to cross when i have to. i had to learn that what i did then, wasnot who i turned out to be now. yes i could have gone on to be an abuser but soemthing didnt sit right with me, and then at 17 i had my fisrt flash back and that started the long riad ti recovery u have been on to ubdo the thought patterns and reactions so i can be free. i aint there yet but i am getting the faster thanks to being able to discuss it with others in similar places


Mine was all more subtle. “Your stomach doesn’t really hurt, you just think it does…” and on and on it went. Yeah, the dynamic I lived with made me physically ill, and when it did make me ill and I voiced that I felt ill, then it was blamed on me. Also, another major factor was (for decades) that I was ignored while the favorite people were continually praised, it was a back-door way of telling me I was no good, nor to be trusted, since I didn’t even know if my own stomach hurt.


Hi Carol,
It is really amazing and wonderful the depth of sharing that is happening here! This is so healing, getting those secrets out is SO powerful and being able to discuss this stuff, (all of it) in a safe place, really does speed up the process.
Thank you so much for being here, for sharing and for supporting others here the way that you do.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Sheryl,
OH YES, thank you for this example. As I said it doesn’t matter what kind of abuse it was, all of it is so damaging. All those devaluing comments… “Oh it isn’t that bad” “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” The list goes on and on. This kind of “back door abuse” (I like your term) IS designed to tell someone that they don’t measure up. It is designed to tear a person down, until they are in such a spin that they don’t know anything. And it is very hard to put a finger on that kind of abuse because it starts so young and becomes so familiar. Sometimes it isn’t even verbal! it is just a look such as rolling eyes, or a hrumph sound… indicating “you are so stupid”… YUCK… you brought up such a great point! Thank you!
Hugs, Darlene


I truly believe that there is a strong connection with shy, withdrawn children, and the fact that they seem to be targeted as victims of sexual abuse. This could also morph into a chicken/egg discussion – which came first – the abuse, or the shy, withdrawn personality?

Another issue that crossed my mind when reading this blog entry, was: How does a young child determine what is sexual abuse, and what isn’t – if that is all she has ever known? Especially, if she is kept in a virtual bubble of secrecy, and is not allowed to visit other children’s homes to experience functional, normal family interactions?

How does the daughter know that her dad’s kisses are not appropriate if he kisses her sensually directly on her mouth? Or how is she supposed to know that it is not right for her father to hold her so close when he hugs her, that he obviously gets sexually aroused? (We didn’t know that at the time, but figured it out later… the arousal part. At the time, it was just a weird bump on daddy) Or, how is she to know that when we walked by the bathroom door, and daddy was in the bathtub, that he was just making sure that his private parts are really, really clean and that is why he washed that area for such a long time? Or, how is she to know that it’s not okay for dad to walk around naked in the house in front of family members? Or, how is she to know that it was not okay for mother to lay her across her lap, pull down her pants, and “tickle” certain parts of her body? Or, how was she to know that it was not okay for both parents to give only their young daughter and not their son, regular enemas starting at a young age for years?

The dysfunction of sexual abuse (overt or not) becomes normalized by the abusers in the family of origin if the child is not allowed to experience what “normal” even is. I used to think that our older brother was the only one who sexually abused us… but what dad and mother did was also sexual abuse. We just didn’t realize it back then.

I suspect that older brother was also abused by dad, but I give him NO free passes. I was sexually abused so badly and for so many years that I splintered into countless parts, and yet I never abused another person.

Just my opinions.


‘Because I thought I could have stopped the sexual abuse from happening, I also took responsibility for it happening. That led me to believe that I was a bad person. ‘
‘I thought I could have stopped it, but I didn’t stop it, I was filled with guilt and shame. Guilt and shame that wasn’t mine, but guilt and shame that I thought was mine’
‘I thought I should have fought and didn’t realize that not fighting does not mean consent’
‘ …being neglected or a time when you were not believed’
So all these things rang bells with me. Except the crux of this is I thought I could have stopped ‘it’, but I can’t or won’t remember it. Everytime I go to remember it I feel like I will throw up or my insides will melt and that will be the end of Lou and she will become a puddle.
Never the less I know there was an it, and I took responsibility for it and I am beginning to understand it wasn’t mine to take. I thought I could have stopped it and indeed I tried to stop it. The guilt and shame is so huge I cannot remember the reason I decided I was a bad person. I wasn’t able to fight, and I wasn’t able to speak or say what had happened. Can shame form at such a young age? How is it that we internalize this stuff without words for feelings, just from feelings and the actions of others?
When I try and verbalise this stuff I never get passed the feeling dam, or the muteness. Noone realises that I have chosen not to talk. I may talk about everything in the world but it is me choosing not to talk about this, that is all you’re hearing. It never really matters what the subject is, I am saying words but inside I am hearing silence. And often I want silence. I was watching a talk about shame and connection, about how ‘connection happens if we allow ourselves to be seen, really seen’. I don’t want to be seen, period. Ever. When I am aware I am being seen, I get the most incredible wish to disappear, I think everyone ‘knows’… But because I can’t say anything, almost like a disability, like that part of my brain doesn’t work – it’s hard to connect.
It’s the hardest thing in the world for me to do this most basic thing of human interaction. My one wish is to retreat from all of it. No one realises that is the crux of the issue. Yet isolation just seems to be retraumaising… it compounds it, and doesn’t heal. Words seem to be my biggest enemy, but converting feelings into them, seems the only way out and through, and converting feelings and their origins is just plain terrifying. It’s crazy just how much self inflicted pain I would rather go through than do that – it’s crazy how much I have already gone through. How is it we can get to this point where physical violence seems PREFERABLE! That’s insane, and yet I think that describes the level of inner pain, that is untranslateable, unspoken, and unfathomable – especially to a child.


I read about halfway through your post, Darlene, then I became physically ill, felt like I was going to throw up, I put my laptop down, and just walked aimlessly around the house, feeling sick, and feeling very very COLD. Then I got a soft warm comforter off my bed and wrapped it around myself, came back, and made myself read the rest of this post, and also the comments that followed.

I am now out of words. I think that is ok.. for now.


My earliest memories begin at around 19 months. I know this, because I vividly remember the earthquake, I was in my crib, sleeping, and suddenly everything was shaking, things were falling off of walls, off of the open shelves in the kitchen, the windows and doors were rattling. People in the hallway of the apartment building were yelling. Later, my dad and mother and I were in the car, driving around to look at the damage, I remember dad stopping the car at the place where the road had crumbled down into the sea, and I was afraid, so afraid. I know this happened when I was 19 months old, because I recently looked up the history of earthquakes in northern California where I was born, and that happened in Dec. 1954, and I was born in May, 1953.

I remember many things after that, it’s as though the earthquake woke up my memory processor somehow.

I slept in a crib that was right next to my parents’ bed, until I was 3. I remember night after night, almost every night, they would have sex. I could hear, and I could see, through the bright street light that came in the bedroom window on the other side of their bed.

I have to stop now.


oh YES! and what makes it worse is pathological parents who ENCOURAGE us to think it was OUR FAULT. With My Narcissist Mom it was my fault that:
– she was unhappy
– she acted out
– boys used & broke up with
– I had a genetic endocrine disorder (still do)
– I wasn’t perfect
– my Dad was never home to avoid her
– I became disabled at 35
– my abusive husband left me
– jobs let me go

the list goes on & on – NONE of it was my fault but I only figured that out about 15 years ago!


I can so relate to the shame and guilt. Even with my NPD mother’s abuse, I was the one carrying around the shame and guilt like her abuse of me was my fault. I was the scuzzy human being, I was the one not worthy to breathe the same air as her and thus, I truly believed that I deserved the way she treated me. And then one day, which was in the last few months, I realized … why am I the one who is quiet and keeping the abuse a quiet, dirty little secret?? Why am I the one feeling ashamed?? Suddenly I realize that the only one who should feel ashamed and guilty is my mother!! But being she has NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) she will never feel shame or guilt. I have finally been able to let go of the shame and guilt of the abuse I thought was my fault – which, in reality, was never ever my fault!! Amazing how those with NPD can turn things around on their victims like that!! They are so great at overlooking their own faults, only to blame other people for their unhappiness or for whatever other misfortune they’ve endured in life. People with NPD do not take responsibility for their actions – bad choices. But they are sure quick to put on the pride button when you succumb to everything they say.


thanks darlene
i only hurt 3 others,a boy who lived down the street who did oral if i gave him oral when i was 8/9,a girl when i was 12 and my youngest brother around 13/14, but i always wondered did that make me as bad as those thta hurt me. so i hjave done alot of thinking on that question.
i came to the conclusion that:
how did i know what to do? when i was a child there wasnt the freedom there is now to learn about sex, so where did i get the idea that oral was a good thing. where did i get the idea that it was ok for my brother who was a yr younger, to use me as his toy to make do what he wanted or that i was just there for my family to use and abuse? i learnt all this cos the family taught me this, and i had a choice not to let them when i left home at 16nhalf. this didnt stop the emotiomnal or verbal abuse but at least the sexn physiacl violence stoppped


Children act out, adults abuse…children acting out may be abusive to the other children and then those children are victims themselves…but it’s still children and they need lots of help and guidance so that they can come to peace and heal… Once children become adults, they have real choices…even if they claim to be unaware of them because they are victims themselves…and they have real responsibilities to society not to offend…to choose to get help instead…or pay the price. Statistically speaking, I think, very few victims go on to be adult offenders; but in the reverse almost all (I bet all) offenders are also victims. Since there are so many victims, that leads me to believe offenders, individually, have lots of victims. So, I believe getting help for all victims can lessen the number of future offenders. But I also believe once an adult has become an offender of sexual crimes against children, not only is help in order, so is punishment and I, personally, believe once that line is crossed there is no reason to trust the adult offender of sex crimes against children to not do it again…the risk is too high and the recidivism rates are not encouraging. The risk is another child…or numerous more children…it is not worth it. To eliminate future offenders, we need to eliminate future victims…it’s a giant cycle…got to be attacked from both sides. Mixed in with all this is the reality that the abuse is made possible by an environment, a cycle, that existed before the sexual abuse or crimes began. I believe this environment is made possible by unhealed survivors…if we can reach unhealed survivors we also may be able to help people see the need to change environments to lessen the number of possible child victims. If every child knew what was allowed and not allowed…by ANYONE – including family…what’s okay and not okay, and felt safe to TELL, TELL, TELL…no matter who they are telling on…can you imagine? I believe there are some little used legal tools (for example, accomplice type charges) that could either force family members to step up (like how mandatory reporters can be charged if they don’t report)…but do we run the risk of driving it further underground? I wish I had all the answers. One thing I do know is that nobody likes to hear about any of this…and I think that says alot about what they are comfortable with…makes me think this is a bigger problem than we will ever be able to put a truthful and accurate statistic on…because afterall, when someone gets super stressed out by my discussing anything related to abuse…I have to think…this is about me…why is it affecting you so much? What is it that keeps you from feeling compassion and turns it into anger? How is it that people can sympathize by saying…you can’t do that (turn someone in)…it’s your father/mother/brother/cousin/sister/pastor… Why aren’t they saying…how awful that someone who is supposed to love you and keep you safe is violating you…committing crimes against you – and I too think…if they can do it to someone so close to them…what else are they capable of if they can get to a certain level of comfort…For all of us at various stages in recovery, I feel hopeful that each of us, in doing something, is stopping, or at least changing, our individual cycles…and that may be the most effective way…think of how many generations before us this affected…imagine it’s going to take a few for the entire recovery process to be healed in a family…but we have to start somewhere or we’ll get nowhere.


I also believe that all of the abused go on to abuse, but most of us go on to abuse ourselves and not others, and not usually sexual abuse…however, the effect the way we treat ourselves many times, if not most, has an impact on the others around us (including and especially our children) and may be those other types of hard to identify abuse because it’s not tangible (physical or sexual) abuse on those around us…it’s not the intent that matters, it’s the reality of the effects. And the reality is that by choosing not to do anything differently, we are in effect, choosing to do it just the way we are. So, I feel like we all deserve a big pat on the back for choosing to do SOMETHING differently…that will make a difference of some kind. We are brave to be here discussing or even thinking or researching or observing this. THAT is different, that is something. It is sites like this and other survivors that have helped me to have the courage to speak…to not be afraid to address these issues…correction…I am afraid…but I am doing it anyway…and for me, that is HUGE. To be able to identify the false belief that this should not be discussed, that I should not discuss this, that it will hurt others for me to be here saying these things out loud (or in type), that my opinions can be dangerous and I should not say them, or at least not express them.


Wendi: “It is sites like this and other survivors that have helped me to have the courage to speak…to not be afraid to address these issues…correction…I am afraid…but I am doing it anyway…and for me, that is HUGE.”

Yes it is HUGE.

”Courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear and doubt, it means moving ahead in spite of fear and doubt.” ~Mark Twain

We ARE making a difference by speaking/writing our Truth.

HUGS- Lynda


~ Susa
I could write a whole blog post about the great points and food for thoughts that you bring up here. I asked my therapist, how would I even have known it was wrong, (even thinking that I could have fought back then) and he explained to me that the actions of the perp, the attitudes, (how they don’t do it in front of other people, how they check the doors (glance over frequently etc.) and windows to make sure they are closed or curtains shut, there is a whole set up that goes on that children subconscious pick up on that something being done is wrong, and they transfer all those feelings (even guilt and shame ~ on to the child) It really helped me because I remembered stuff like that, but that is only one tiny part of the question that you bring up. So many kids don’t know at all that what is going on is wrong because we just had no frame of reference for healthy. I had to re learn everything. I had to actually learn what sexual abuse was and I looked back on my life and realized that there had been a lot of it that I had “consented” to because I didn’t know it was wrong, and because I never knew that I had a choice. But I had to re learn ALL relationship too. I didn’t know what love was, I had the wrong definition of love, equality, respect, trust, etc. I didn’t know what emotional abuse was either and I still had tons of that in my life.
Thanks for being here and for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

~ Louise
The good thing about this process is that (in my case) I didn’t have to have all the memories in order to realize the belief system. I still have many fragments of very frightening memories but they are not complete memories. I don’t know how young shame can form, but I think that in my case again, I took shame from other events when I got older and applied them to the abuse shame, where the feelings felt familiar to me. I am going to expand on this in my next post. It seemed like I had this huge fight against myself, like it was such a huge risk to NOT take responsibility for what happened to me. That was something that I realized more and more as the process went on, and that also seems to be a stick point and went round and round in my head.
Those talks about connection are just great for people that don’t have huge fears due to being used and mistreated. We don’t want to be seen; it is too dang risky. For me, all that healed in time, AFTER I went through this WHOLE process. Some of you questions at the end remind me of the level of FEAR that I had. I was afraid of the pain of healing, but facing the fear and pain was no where near as painful as the pain I was already in. No where even close.
Hang in here with us! Hugs, Darlene

~ Lynda,
Please be gentle with yourself; I am glad that you came back. None of this is easy.
Thank you for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Barbara,
Thanks for sharing this, the list goes on and on!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Paulette
I just want to add for the sake of all the other readers that It is not only those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder that turn things around like that. ALL abusers and controllers turn things around like that. My husband didn’t have an ounce of NPD in him, but he made all of it my fault. (emotional abuse) This problem goes way beyond just that one diagnosis. There are many similarities, yes, but NPD is not always the issue. I only bring this up because while diagnosis can be a great tool, it isn’t the answer (in fact it can lead away from the answer) to understanding what I am talking about in this blog post. (diagnosis for the victim or the abuser) I had to let go of so many of the things that I had learned before, in order to get to the bottom of my belief system. I had to forget about all the excuses that I made for everything ~ medical illnesses ~ psychosis of abusers, the whole nine yards, and just figure out what I came to believe because of these events. The recovery had to be about me.
Thanks for sharing, you are very right that the shame and guilt was not yours and isn’t it shocking when we realize that when we are supposed to be “all grown up” LOL !
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Carol,
So much of this is learned behaviour, not having choices, not knowing we don’t deserve, not knowing that we didn’t know. The stuff that I carried that I felt so much shame about fell away when I got to the bottom of my belief system. That is where the freedom happened. I had tons of reasons in my mind about why I was such a bad person, most of it was things that I had done over the age of consent, but it was in looking at the way I was trained, groomed, devalued, and what came out of that, (belief system) that made me realize that the way I was was a result of abuse; it was the way that the damage manifested in my life, and I was finally able to let it all go.
Thanks for sharing, this stuff is SO important.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Wendi
I think that for the purpose of this blog, I am very careful about jumping from “as children we have no choices to as adults we have a choice” ~ NOT to excuse abusers, (this site is about emotional healing for everyone but it isn’t about excusing abuse) but to realize that we didn’t grow up properly. I had to realize that I had never learned anything about choice or respect or love. There are things that we can’t forgive ourselves for, maybe I never sexually abused a child, but I got in the way of a few marriages. To me that was the worst thing a person could ever do and I could not get over the guilt. “I had a choice, I was an adult”.. all those things just kept me in prison and in order to be free, in order to make a difference in this world, I HAD to find a way to realize all the connections between my childhood and my adulthood. (and then re-parent) One of the biggest things that I realized is that the “bridge” between my childhood and my adulthood was MISSING. I didn’t grow up properly. I had to rebuild that bridge, that was my work.
This really is a huge issue, and like you I think that the work so many are doing to make a difference in this world is going to pay off down the line.
On your second comment ~ Yes, survivors of abuse go on to abuse themselves in many many ways. Name calling, deprivation, neglect, withdrawal of affection, self harm, addictions, self hatred, (the list goes on) and you might be shocked to know how many sexual abuse survivors DO go on to sexually abuse themselves.
Thanks for highlighting the courage to speak subject. That is a huge subject too. This blog gets a lot of comments, but did you know that it gets hundreds of views every day? So it looks like lots of comments, but still only about 5% of the readers comment. The courage to speak is a very big subject. I am so glad that you have found your voice, and added it to the survivor community!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene; this post is a great example of following the lies back to the source.

“I could not find real love for others, until I went through this process that I write about on my blog”

I truly believe that this is the set up of how we (victims) often go on to recreate these relationships in our adult life and even (as John brought up) become abusers ourselves although for me, it was difficult to see myself as an abuser because of that self hatred that John brings up. This is another whole side of these issues; it was when I was able to stop hating others and instead hating their behavior that I was able to find compassion for them and myself like you mentioned.

“I felt a HUGE relief when I understood more deeply where the feelings of shame and guilt came from and was able to realize that I had believed false things that through a series of thoughts fears and survival methods had become my truth, but that “that truth” was not true truth. ”

It was so vital for me to be able to follow the path back to the source of those faulty beliefs that told me that my truth was that which had been defined by others in the original – and secondary – traumas where others defined me, interpreted my thoughts and feelings and telling me that pretty much I was wrong or somehow defective and at fault for all the bad that had happened in my life. This realization became the truth that set me free:)


My concern in saying my adult choices were not really choices, that they were because of how I was raised… While true that the reason is I made those choices (even if unconsciously) was/is because of how I raised, I think it is necessary for me to take responsibility for my adult choices regardless (and there are many I am not proud of, many I am ashamed of, and many I probably owe an apology to – but keep in mind that if I “hurt” other adults, they also had the choice not to allow that). For example, when I confronted someone in my life with having controlled me and manipulated some of my major life decisions…she tried to say it wasn’t so…but with one or two examples, she changed her tune to “It’s not my fault if you did what I said…you didn’t have to.” While irritating and painful to hear, it is true…and many of my friends had told me just the same as I disregarded them telling them they didn’t understand and proceeded to do what I was “told” to do.

If I cannot hold myself accountable for my actions, why should I try and hold my “abusers” accountable for theirs…no doubt their actions are also “explainable” by their childhood traumas…for me anyway, the buck stops here.


Hi Wendi,
I totally understand your concern and I agree with you but you are missing the heart of my message. I often try to describe this as separating things in order to look at them differently. I take full responsibility for the things I have done in my past. My husband had to take full responsibility for the damage his emotional abuse cause to me and our 3 kids in order for our relationship to fully heal and continue. BUT, the only way that he was able to take responsibility WAS to see what happened to him first. It totally ticked me off that he spent several months in therapy for the damage that his father did to him BEFORE he was able to even begin to look at the damage that HE himself did to US. But that is the process that works. I know why I screwed around with drugs, men, addictions, theft, etc. and hurt people along the way; I also know it was wrong, and I have made the amends but I was only able to heal by seeing the whole picture. I had to find a way to grow up, I had to fix the bridge that was missing between childhood and adulthood. I am not excusing abuse or the wrong things that I myself did even if it was because of the fact that I was abused, I am saying that there is a deadly side to accountability. I had to look at all of this from ALL sides in order to fully heal and forgive myself. This is about emotional healing, and I tried for YEARS to heal, but when I found this method, everything changed. I had to separate it and look at it all separately in order to see it properly. Does that make more sense?
Hugs, Darlene


wendi and susan, your posts sound alot like me. a lot of thinking but not always alot of feeling. i learnt how to act like all children do and that has been my quandary with healing. to admit how bad i had it as a child makes me realise how badly i was let down and abused by those who supposedly LOVED me. how was i ever gona have a proper gauge where emotions and feelings came into the equation. so i removed them and dealt with it through education and awareness. in some ways i have to stop beating myself up for not facing why i am the way i am from the heart, but maybe this was the only way i could heal. maybe i had to understand the cyclic nature of family abuse before i could even face the details of how my family actually have abused me. it has been hard to have the coldness of the past in the way of the relationships with my husband n child but have put a ‘fake it till i can make it’ attitude for them. hoping thta it will be enough till i can feel the way i act with them. not saying that they dont realise it cos my moods can be hairy at times but i am learning to take it 1 outburst at a time and go from there. its no wonder i never wanted to be a parent when i was a teenager.


thank you. some of this stuff i havent spoken about as such. i have been aware of it but havent probed into it so maybe these gentle inroads might gain me bigger ones in the future. i know headwise i am trying not to be an abuser as an adult and thta my actions as a child were in relation to what was happening ot me at the time, but it stil bothers me and probably always will


It does…thank you for that. I do agree…I did not understand why I had to talk to myself in the car the whole way home about…”okay, not gonna scream, gonna walk in and smile and everything’s gonna be good tonight…just for once I’m going to show everyone love…” then in the door and who knows what…dishwasher not unloaded, shoe in my way…BOOM! No holds barred…but why? It was all so trivial…why couldn’t I just be okay…why did everything irritate me and hurt me and why couldn’t i feel what I wanted to feel. It wasn’t until I was able to see the “history” of how I wasn’t the only one…I was living up to a false “perfection”…but once I realized that the damage was done to me, before me…and I was continuing it…I actually had/have compassion for those before me…but not enough to allow the destruction to continue. That said, I still struggle and mostly when there is intrusion…even as minor as an email or seeing a number on a caller id…and it sets me BACK! But I am aware of it and the setbacks get more and more brief and less and less world turned upside-downish…

thanks and hugs back…i get personal upset when I feel like bad behaviors get to be excused…intent matters not much to the victim/survivor…although I agree that getting to the “why” as much as one can…is the truth that set me free…


I’m with you Carol…it was the “homework” all the reading that brought me to the aha moment where I said…it’s not me…this happened before me…book after book. Til I got the courage to check it out…no confirmation like I wanted…but what I got was all I needed and then it was both like someone punched me and also like someone lifted me up…awareness…seeing the truth. I used to think it was just me…how could I be so messed up in a family that was so right.


Is that your kitty? It’s a cute kitten. I love kittens and cats. They always make me feel happy when I watch them running around and playing.

Right after I was raped, practically everyone I know said I could have done this, and I could have done that to stop it from happening. One even said I let it happen to me.
Every time ANYTHING happens, I don’t understand why all these jackasses come out of the woodwork and tell the victim it’s the victim’s fault. I mean, why can’t they shut up? Why does everyone always have to talk to hear themselves talk.
My friend’s a police officer, and he told me that a guy broke into a woman’s house intending to rape her in front of her young son-the guy didn’t care WHO was there to watch. The woman, in a panic, got away from the guy and ran out of the house w/out getting her son.
All the neighbors kept telling her how “bad” she was for leaving her son in there w/ the guy, and the wouldn’t shut up until my friend actually told them to either leave the area or be quiet.
I wish more officers were like him.
If they can’t say something intelligent, I think they should be quiet.


What if one of the abusers was a year younger than you? Then could you have stopped it, even though he was physically stronger, by saying no?
And what if you said no more times than you can count, but then you finally said yes. If you said yes, b/c you were tired of saying no for the 20th time, does that make it the person’s fault. For saying yes instead of sticking to her guns and saying no for the 21st time?


This comment # 28 is a fantastic account of the way that our minds actually spin! (well mine was exactly like that anyway) And getting to the bottom of all of this (each chunk of it) is what enabled me to stop that spin. My kids can tell you about how I used to RANT ~ and freak out. But I don’t do that anymore. The triggers just died down when I got all this stuff sorted out from the truth standpoint. The setbacks became less and less able to get to me as I grew. I learned that I could trust ME to take care of me and stand up for me. It all worked together for the good… you are doing awesome !!
Thank you so much for hanging in here with me as I tried to explain what I meant.
Love Darlene

Hi Vicki,
This is my daughters kitty ~ IKE. He has a twin named “duck”. They are all grown up now. This picture was from last spring. I am glad you like it. 😉
It is never NEVER the victims fault even if they get tired and give in. Even if the abuser is WAY younger. Even if you are 40 years old and think that you “should” know how to stop it. Abuse is never the victims fault. A victim is never accountable for the abuse that they suffer or even the abuse that they tolerate. Never.
Hugs, Darlene


I was just talking to a professional over lunch, about how I used to (and still do, sometimes) think that I was to be blamed for my reactions towards the emotional/verbal abuse that I went through as a child. I believed that I had “blown things out of proportion and overreacted simply because I wasn’t physically/sexually abused. I thought that as a child I could understand that my parents HAD TO neglect me because my sister was sick – I felt inconsiderate. I felt that I deserved to be punished and yelled at. I felt that I deserved so many things, but why do I allow myself to hurt?

John and Carol,

I cringed reading your posts. My earliest memories went back to when I was 12, I hit out roughly at a toddler at my babysitter’s. I felt that sudden surge of anger and energy, and I just slammed at her. 2.5 years ago when I was working part-time at a kindy overseeing 3-4 year olds, I remember joining in the “fun” of teachers punishing a little boy from my class. They dragged him to a dark store room to lock him in there. I jumped at it, pulled him with all my might…and relished in his helpless screams. I also used to enjoy “punishing” another girl in the class every time she was “bad”. These incidents make me cringe – for though I am fully aware of what I was doing, it scares me to think how even this awareness can give way to this “rush” and that I am just so capable of being an abuser myself if I’m not careful.


I hear so many stories like this one that I often wonder if the human mind will find the tiniest scrap of “proof” that it was indeed our own fault as some sort of survival method. (like you say that you believed that (or thought you should understand) “they had to neglect you”. No matter how severe the abuse, the survivor usually thinks that they blew it out of proportion, or that they did indeed “deserve it”. it isn’t just verbal, emotional or spiritual abuse survivors that think this way. This is one of the most common stick points for people struggling with recovery and each person can come up with this sort of “proof” of why they thought they deserved it.
Thanks for sharing this point and for the courage to share your actions towards those younger kids. I was like that a couple of times too, and I remember deciding that I would NEVER have children because I was so sure that I would be physically abusive. (I finally did have my first child when I was 30 years old after years of therapy and self help programs)
Hugs, Darlene


While there was physical and psychological abuse in my family growing up, I have no memory of being sexually abused. I was a parentalized sibling from a very young age, and trained to be physically and emotionally abusive to siblings under the guise of “disciplining” them, and I did. I was overwhelmed, immature and tired, and I was afraid of getting punished myself if I didn’t get sufficient co-operation out of the siblings I was in charge of. I also ended up being sexually abusive as well. Some was possibly excessive sexual exploration with siblings close in age, but when I was a teen there was a period of several months where I was sexually abusive to a sibling 12 years younger than I. I never touched her, it was all exibitionism and asking her to touch me, but as an older sister looking back, I feel sick about the whole thing. I knew it was wrong even at the time, and I can’t explain why it happened. I know that I was lonely, angry and depressed, but I knew it was wrong, and it never should have happened. I feel so guilty about it.


Hello “Another” and welcome to emerging from broken

It was so important for me to realize that the things I learned and ways that I learned to be were not my fault. As you say, you were trained to be physically and emotionally abusive to your siblings. You were also given a responsibility that you were not old enough to have. This is so unfortunate and it is a big part of the “missing bridge” between adulthood and childhood, that I so often write about. We are trained to be this way, and then we feel this guilt and shame for it when we grow up, really believing that somehow we should have known better. And we get this all mixed in with a million other things. It really is complicated to sort out, but it really can be done. And sometimes, just because we know “logically” that it is wrong, (like doing hard core illegal drugs is wrong or eating a whole cheesecake is wrong, or going 30 miles over the speed limit is wrong) we don’t really understand why we do it anyway. And when there is this kind of guilt, we can get really stuck with going forward in recovery.
I really admire your courage in sharing this.
Hugs, Darlene


i found it really hard to be around children when i was younger, i could be the loving aunt but htat meant i could do it as and when i wanted and not as a duty because it was my child. spent my whole 20’s saying im a better aunt than id ever be a mother, because i knew i would not be able to cope with the pressures children put me under due to how i was parented. it didnt matter that i had taken classes or learnt how to so things correctly, my instinctive reaction is to punish for defieance. it has taken me years of healing and education to understand how to manage my outburst of verbal or want to use physical abuse. i found a way to say what i felt but make it more pleasent took away the negativity i wanted to spew. that i had been taught to spew and use to a child. it has been hard and i still struggle because me and my child are trying to set boundaries in similar areas and we are clashing but it will pass n hopefully we both will have learnt a better way of coping and reacting to things when we feel of balance in a situation


Thank you “Another Abuser” for putting yourself out there like that. We are in the process of trying to see abusive past for what it was, a victimization. In doing this, we are desperate to understand why our abusers (there were 5 all of which was relatives) did what they did. Recently we have begun to teeter on the fact that the abuse may not have been something we could have controlled but it has been a very long road and still a work in progress. To be honest, our greatest fear is that we will become our mother (the main longest standing abuser). I can rationalize intellectually that we are not her and will not become her but there is still that deep fear. Being MPD/DID, there are several of us that experienced the abuse and view same events in different ways which seems to make things more confusing at times. Probably one of the scarest things we have encountered as an adult was the realization that our family was not the norm. After meeting our husband’s family we saw for the first what a normal family that cared about and for eachother was really like. It took years and years to understand that they were not faking it just because we were around but were actually good people that cared about eachother. I think it was then that we came to realize that our family, eventhough they were our norm, was far from normal and that wasn’t how it should be. Thank you Darlene and all the others for putting themselves out there like this, you are all helping so many people crack through the shell of secrecy that is child abuse in this world.


Vicky, I can relate to that. Although the outcome was not even remotely as horrific.

Vicky says: “My friend’s a police officer, and he told me that a guy broke into a woman’s house intending to rape her in front of her young son-the guy didn’t care WHO was there to watch. The woman, in a panic, got away from the guy and ran out of the house w/out getting her son.”
How could someone leave a loved one like that? I know, I’ve seen it. My best friend stayed with me a lot when her daughter was a baby. She used to put her only feet away in the living room when sleeping while we were in the kitchen. One night it was late and we were talking and I kept hearing a noise from the front door area outside. I guess I allowed my nerves to get to me. Because after hearing what sounded like the front door opening, I swear I saw someone walk through the front room. She must have noticed something was off because when I screamed and jumped up to run away, she was already two seconds ahead of me, and just about trampled me to get away. Leaving her daughter in the room, that one would have had to go through to get to the kitchen. Lucky for us there was really no one there, and it made for a good laugh.

And now to the point of this, and yes there is one lol. It is the natural fight on flight response. It takes over in situations where there is danger. My bestie is the most awesome Mom, and would do anything to protect her children. When the brain is measuring up a situation in the milli-seconds of time it takes, your brain makes the split second decision to fight or run. If they brain doesn’t think it can win it will make your legs go, whether you like it or not!

I can’t stand it when people place blame in situations like these because it’s a natural reponse to get away. But you’re right, there is no shortage of simple minded people to come out of the wood work to blame the victim. No one really knows what they would do until they were in the same situation, and should keep their mouth shut.


Hi Lisa Marie
Instinct does take over, and both you and Vicki make good points about how people can be so judgemental about other peoples reactions to fear.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hello Bearcourage and welcome
You highlight an important point here when you say “I think it was then that we came to realize that our family, even though they were our norm, was far from normal and that wasn’t how it should be.” That is so important to realize. When we are children born into that type of dysfunctional family environment, it DOES become our NORMAL… and it is hard to change the belief system that developed because of it.
Just one thing that I wanted to mention also: It never helped me to try to understand why the abusers did what they did because every time I saw them as victims ~ I felt bad for them too, and that seemed to make me want to excuse their behaviour. And that NEVER helped me to get over any of it or to deal with any of it. So while it is extremely important to realize that we had NO control over what happened to us, it is also important that we don’t find and make excuses for the abusers.
My biggest fear was also that I was going to be like my mother. I think that fear might be what ensured that it didn’t happen. That fear is one of the things that spurred me on to find a way to recover.
Thank you for being here!
hugs, Darlene


I also struggle with that fear that I will be like my parents. Looking back at all that I have learned about myself and my family system, I’ve realized just how toxic the enviroment I grew up in was. The abuse I participated in, is not me. The real me is nothing like that, and yet the pressures and abuses in my own life at that time, and the complete lack of respect for individuals in my family led me to “pass on” the abuse. I recently found out that more than one situation of sibling incest occured in my family, and yet my parents refuse to admit that they set up an abusive system that created that kind of disfuction. And Darlene is right, it is hard to recover when you yourself passed on the abuse. I feel so much shame over what I did, it is hard to feel worthy of respect or healing or trust.


Hi “Another Abuser”
something you said is worthy of highlighting. Among other things you said that the complete lack of respect for individuals in your family led you to “pass on” the abuse. There are several things about that statement that really helped me to recover and move forward with my life once I understood them properly. (remember I had to stop trying to understand my family, let go of the guilt and shame I had and focus on MY recovery ~ the rest fell into place AFTER I did that)
I had to understand that I had LEARNED the behaviours that I passed on. I did not learn to even respect myself because no one respected me. You were taught that lack of respect. The only way that I could forgive myself in all of this was to see it differently. I did not grow up and suddenly just KNOW BETTER. I grew up in a toxic family system, and I though it was normal. I had to somehow realize that truth before I could move past that stick point of thinking that I could have been so much better of an adult then I was. You deserve healing the same as everyone else does. You were not born broken. You were broken by the devaluing actions of others. Some may never forgive you, but that is okay as long as you can forgive you. If we are going to change the world, it will be done through the healing of the victims.
Hugs, Darlene


I am frustrated by the fact that so many people are obsessing over who is to blame and how they should be punished and who we are better than and who we are worse than. The truth is we are all wonderful at times and we are all evil at times we all deserve to live and we all deserve to die. Nearly everything we do could potentially hurt someone and nobody does things for the purpose of hurting people. The only things thing that heal people are love, respect and knowledge. No one is worthless and no one is noble, we are all messed up and we all cling to hurtful things and we are all hurt and we have all hurt others. Then only way we can heal is to concentrate on doing more good than harm and trying to show love (not tollerance, or other such phoney nicness) to all. When we concentrate on figuring out who is really to blame then we stir up our own anger and probably that of the person whom we blam. If you know someone is being abusive to someone else then you should confront both the abuser and the abused and tell them you want to do whatever you can to stop it, and then you must do just that. If there was abuse in the past then healing needs to take place not just aknowledgement.


I just recently started following this blog and thank you for being so honest and sharing your story. I’m not sure where my false beliefs started, probably when I was very young and was told by my parents that I was stupid and would never amount to anything, and also shown lots of pornography, leaving me to believe the only use I had was for sex. I’m not in a place where they have counselors who are real good at helping people sort these things out, but I hope someday to be able to straighten it all out and with all of the complications of the later sexual abuse, physical abuse, and the drugs and alcohol and other unhealthy coping skills I developped over time.


While I agree with you that we all are wonderful and also that no one is perfect, I don’t think that people are “obsessing over who is to blame”. Everyone is at a different stage in their healing process. I understand your frustration, I feel it sometimes too, but the success of recovery depends on acceptance of where people are “at”. I find that “telling others what to do” doesn’t work so well and “telling or confronting” abusers is not so easy as it sounds. I was in my forties when I confronted my mother… and I felt so much shame for not having done it sooner. When you say that people “should” just do certain things, you place blame for anything that they can’t face yet and that DELAYS healing. My own healing was delayed by stuff like that so I try to stay away from those kinds of statements.
The one thing that is the most important to the success of this blog is that we all stick to sharing about ourselves and refrain from giving directives.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Shellie,
Welcome! I think our belief systems start very young. I also believed that I was only valued for sex or for the way that I could make other people feel valued. I was raised to believe that my only value was in my looks or appeal to men. I write this blog to tell the broken and hurting world that it is possible to straighten all of this out. There is hope. I have done this and I have a full and happy life today.
I am really glad that you are here and hope you will share often!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I admire the wonderful BALANCE in your writings. How you maintain such a sometimes delicate balance with all these posts and issues and different personalities and perspectives, simply amazes me.

I wanna be like you when I grow up… even if you are 10 or more years younger than me, you come across as so wise and HEALTHY.



Awww Lynda!
Thanks! You know, I am really wise and healthy and I am even helathy enough to SAY that! But this was not always so. Just keep going forward! We all deserve this freedom and wholeness. We all deserve to thrive and live in fullness! I did not think that life could be this great, but it can and it is.
I am so glad that you are part of EFB!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] understanding or comprehension, and that comprehension becomes like a filter that we look through. Child sexual abuse, being put down, called a liar, made fun of and ignored, and being physically harmed all became part of my history and the way […]


Hi Everyone;
I just published the follow up post to this one. I expand on just HOW we conclud that mistreatment, abuse and being devalued can actually have been our own fault. More on how the belief system develops. You can read it here: How Blame, Guilt and Shame get Misapplied to Self
Hugs! Darlene


I disagree with John. My abuser took every bit of pleasure from abusing his sibilings or other innocent children and women. His Favorite saying was”You wanted that, YOU enjoyed it”. Yeah right I can’t tell you how high my blood presure is right now! I did not grow up to abuse or take pleasure of seeing others abused.


I assume that you are refering to John’s comment that nobody does things with the intention of hurting someone else. I agree with you Renee, some abusers delight in hurting others. It is sick.
This is not just about sexual abuse by the way. Many emotional abusers take pleasure in tearing someone else down; I often think it if for the purpose of making others as miserable as they are.. “how dare YOU be happy when my life is so pathetic” type of thing.
Thanks for posting,
Hugs, Darlene

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