Managing Trauma Impact


Is it normal to feel so much guilt and shame even years after the rape I experienced at the hands of my then boyfriend? He has lied and deceived me and that has added to my trauma. I also have incomplete memories of the event that I cannot remember clearly.


Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. It is not uncommon for survivors of sexual violence to experience lingering feelings of guilt and shame even years after abuse, especially when the assault was perpetrated by someone they trusted such as a partner. Particularly if there are complicating factors such as deceit and memory gaps, making sense of and managing this shame can be especially difficult.

Sexual harm violates physical, emotional, and sexual integrity and is thus notorious for perpetuating shame in the aftermath for survivors. In fact, research has shown that sexual trauma whas been associated with higher levels of shame than other traumatic experiences, with some studies finding that up to 75% of survivors experience trauma-related shame after these experiences. 

If you are still experiencing feelings of shame, you are not alone. Shame thrives in silence, so thank you for being brave and sharing that shame with us. Remember that abuse is never your fault, no matter what the circumstances.

I encourage you to talk about this shame with someone you trust when you are ready. If there is no one in your life that you trust with those emotions right now, you may want to seek supportive counseling or find a space where you can meet other survivors, as their stories of how they have managed their shame may give you the hope you need to keep going and ideas on how to move forward. You may also consider separating yourself from people who trigger your shame, if they are still active in your life. This can help you forge a path forward.

To learn more about how you can cope with the incomplete memories you have related to this event, read our previous FAQ here

We hope this helps. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. You are not alone.


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