A Survivor's POV: How to deal with shame after domestic violence & abuse
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
Shame is a huge component of the aftermath that follows domestic violence and abuse. Even though it's been a little over 1 year since I've left my abuser, I still feel heaps of shame. Some days I don't at all, and just feel fired up, but others are filled with overwhelming humiliation and embarrassment.
Wikipedia defines shame as:
"...an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self, withdrawal motivations, and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness."
That definition feels pretty on point, to me.
One big misunderstanding I want to point out: a lot of people believe the source of shame, post domestic violence, is surrounding the abuse itself. I'd beg to differ. In my experience, the bulk of my shame stems from the ways I've reacted to the abuse, to the police trauma, to the criminal justice system trauma, and so on and so forth.
See the difference? The shame isn't about the violence or abuse itself. It's more about how I dealt with it. There's no roadmap for trauma, so every way that I reacted felt abnormal. Thus, shame.
I'll let you in on a little secret though: there's no "right way" to react to trauma.
Here are some ways I deal with the shame, and try to counteract it:
Write on Quora. If I have the wherewithal to do so, I'll write about my experiences on Quora. If my answers garner upvotes or supportive comments, which they've been known to do, then I start to feel better and not so ashamed and insane. The legal system will gaslight you into believing you did something wrong, even though you're a victim. It's insane how insane they make you feel.
Support people on r/PTSD. I think there's immense value in paying it forward. Not only do you help someone else, but you help yourself in the process. Let's be honest—true altruism is fake news. It feels good to help others. When I feel shameful, I'll browse r/PTSD and try and help others who feel shameful as well.
Run and workout. I do this every weekday morning, and it's helped alleviate my anxiety and shame levels, throughout the day, a lot. It probably has something to do with wearing my body out before it has the chance to get too revved up.
Self destruct lmao. Hey... nobody's perfect :) I've been known to go on a bender or five.
Feeling lots of shame today, so decided to write about it. Thanks for reading.