Managing Trauma Impact
Sharing Your Story


I recently remembered my perpetrator, who I had just started dating, sort of apologizing after he raped me. He cursed himself, calling himself a "bastard," but didn't fully admit what he'd done. He then told me I was "amazing and special." Was he feeling shame or manipulating me? Do perpetrators often use manipulation to avoid consequences? Also, when I've tried to speak out about my experience, I've gotten very negative reactions. I thought I was helping other women, but now I feel more guilt and shame for talking about it. Is this normal?


Thank you for sharing this deeply personal experience. What you've been through is incredibly difficult, and it's understandable that you're grappling with distressing emotions and memories. 

Regarding your perpetrator's behavior, the situation you're describing is complex and confusing. His self-deprecation, vague apology, and compliments could be due to a mix of shame and manipulation. Some perpetrators might feel momentary remorse, while also trying to avoid consequences. The "apology" without fully admitting wrongdoing, followed by compliments, could be seen as a manipulation tactic. However, it's important to remember that you're the expert of your own experience. Trust your instincts about what happened and how it made you feel.

Your observation about perpetrators often using manipulation to escape consequences could be accurate in many cases. Remember, if manipulation occurred, it's not your fault. These are choices made by the perpetrator. Perpetrators often use various manipulation tactics to avoid responsibility, maintain control, or prevent the survivor from seeking help. These can include:

  • Gaslighting: Making you question your own memory or perception of events.
  • Minimizing: Downplaying the severity of their actions.
  • Blame-shifting: Trying to place responsibility on you.
  • Love-bombing: Showering you with affection or compliments after the assault to create confusion.
  • Playing the victim: Expressing self-loathing to elicit sympathy, as you described.
  • Threats: These can be direct or indirect.
  • Isolation: Attempting to distance you from your support network.
  • False promises: Vowing to change without taking real accountability.

These tactics can be subtle and may occur in combination. They're often designed to create confusion and self-doubt. However, trust your instincts about what happened - you know your experience best.

Regarding speaking out about your experience, it's disheartening that you've faced negative reactions. It takes courage to share your story, and you deserved support and understanding. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for survivors to face such reactions. Society often struggles with the reality of sexual violence, and people may react with disbelief, victim-blaming, or avoidance. These reactions can lead to feelings of guilt and shame in survivors, even though you've done nothing wrong.

Your desire to help other women by sharing your story shows great strength and empathy. However, it's also okay to step back if speaking out is causing you more harm. Your healing and well-being should be a priority. Feeling guilt and shame after disclosing assault is common, but try to remember that these feelings don't reflect reality. You're not responsible for the assault or for others' reactions to your disclosure.

Consider seeking support from a therapist specializing in sexual trauma or a survivor support group if you feel it might be helpful. These can provide safe spaces to process your experiences and feelings without judgment. They can also help you recognize and cope with manipulation tactics you may have encountered.

Remember, healing is a journey, and it's okay to focus on what feels right and safe for you at each step along the way. Trust your instincts and be gentle with yourself as you navigate this healing process. Your feelings and perceptions are valid, regardless of what anyone else says or does. Thank you for reaching out to us. You are not alone.

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