In the Aftermath of Abuse, Part 2 – Guilt and Shame

Sexually abused child (1910), Author Dr. P. Langenscheidt, Source “Der Sexualverbrecher” [“The Sexual Criminal”], (PD, published before 1/1/23)

‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in Me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea’ ” (Matt. 18: 6).

It is easier for children to believe they “deserve” the evil done to them, than to take in the fact an adult who should care for them actually has little or no regard for their well-being.

The Statute of Limitations and other obstacles can make it difficult to hold child abusers and molesters accountable legally.  Even with a conviction, however, the feeling of “sinfulness” may rebound from an abuser to his victims.

This in no way implies that they were at fault. Victims, however, relive the trauma of having been treated as worthless. They are often left with a vague sense of unworthiness that can permeate their lives, and undermine subsequent relationships.

Though this feeling of their own “sinfulness” can be overwhelming to abuse victims, the conclusions they draw from it are not accurate.  Victims did not warrant or invite the abuse.  They remain deserving of love.

The feeling of “sinfulness” is just one of the scars left in the wake of abuse.  Other symptoms can include anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug addiction, eating disorders, and sexual dysfunction.  These behaviors either stem from the pain or are attempts to numb it.  All of them “punish” the victim, who was never at fault in the first place!

The symptoms of abuse may, themselves, become a cause of shame to victims.  Self-destructive behaviors shift the focus away from the abuse, while silently declaring it to the world.  Imperfect as coping mechanisms, these behaviors can have dire consequences but are, in effect, a cry for help.



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse

6 responses to “In the Aftermath of Abuse, Part 2 – Guilt and Shame

  1. Anna you are so articulate! “A Voice Reclaimed” – so apt!x

    • Thank you for the compliment, Marie! Of course, many would say that lawyers are genetically inclined to talk too much. :0) Though I no longer practice law, I take very seriously the responsibility to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves. I think it is a big part of the reason I was put here on earth. And it allows me to make meaning from my own life experiences. I recommend Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” to you. Frankl was a psychologist and Holocaust survivor who saw love, work, and suffering as having the potential to give our lives purpose.

      • Yes I totally agree with you about your life’s purpose. You have been fully equipped to carry out your task and your talent is a wonderful gift from the Creator which you use wisely. I will certainly get hold of a copy of the book as it sounds very useful and enlightening. Thank you Anna, and God bless you abundantly. x

      • What a wonderful vision you have of me! I’ll try to live up to it, despite these feet of clay. :0) As you say, our gifts are from God. So I can take very little credit. Enjoy the book! Let me know what you think of it.

        Blessings Always,


      • I certainly will let you know what I think of the book, and by the way I think you are far too modest! 🙂 x

      • Lawyers accept all compliments. :0)

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