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16 Ways Blaming Trauma Survivors Harms Them

Table of Contents

by Heidi Hanson

artist, writer, trauma survivor

Blaming Trauma Survivors Harms Them

“Self-blame is by far, the most devastating after effect of being sexually violated. This is particularly true for former victims of child sexual abuse and adult victims of sexual assault. In fact, ninety percent of rape trauma recovery is undoing a victim’s tendency to self-blame. Ten percent is everything else.” — Resurrection After Rape: A guide to transforming from victim to survivor

Trauma survivors can unconsciously internalize blame the victim mentality from society and others around them. They silently and unknowingly absorb the inner sense that they are somehow to blame for the traumatic events. The mentality can go so deep inside that they don’t even realize it’s there anymore. It seeps into the unconscious mind and becomes an invisible weight to bear, every hour of every day, a weight that lowers self-esteem, undermines confidence and hinders taking back their life from the traumatic events.

A lot of the following harmful effects are due to shame. This article goes in-depth into the issue of shame: How to Deal with the Aftermath of Shame.

Living with unidentified shame, nameless lack of self-esteem, invisible self-loathing has numerous negative effects in life.

(Note – this is Part 2 of the Blame the Victim Series originally called Blame the Victim Part 2 – The Harm Done)

Blame the Victim and Internalized Blame the Victim) Can Lead to the Following 16 Problems

  1. Traumatizes. Being blamed for the traumas constitutes an additional trauma, on top of whatever traumatic events the victim is being blamed for.  Blaming the victim Hurts, Harms. Alienates, Abandons, Mischaracterizes, Discounts – these are all traumatizing to the trauma survivor.
  2. Stigmatizes. Unnecessarily stigmatizes the survivor
  3. Lowers self-esteem
  4. Lowers self-confidence
  5. Disempowers, Weakens. May lead to development of feelings of weakness, helplessness, powerlessness
  6. Reduces agency
  7. Reduces self-advocacy
  8. Isolates. Leads to never speaking up and getting help for fear of being blamed, shamed, hurt. Not reporting events to people who could help in a number of ways – giving the survivor helpful information, directing to services, listening, clarifying legal procedures, making connections to trauma survivor advocates, organizations, and nonprofits.
  9. Burdens. Seems to contribute to a feeling of exhaustion and weight in the body, like having a heavy burden to bear
  10. Harms Sense of Self. Appears to produce negative changes in identity, a negative self-concept, hinders creating a positive sense of self
  11. Stagnates. Seems to hinder fully taking back their life from the traumatic events.
  12. Exiles. May hinder the embracing of positive life opportunities, contributing to a feeling of living under siege, living in exile and having a truncated future.
  13. Limits. Lack of opportunities may reduce quality of life in key areas
  14. Can Lead to Self-punishment. Self-blame could potentially lead to self-punishment, unconscious or conscious
  15. Can Lead to Self-harm. Self-blame could potentially lead to self-harm and suicide
  16. Can Lead to Depression. Characterological Self-Blame (Internalized Self-Blame) can lead to symptoms of depression.

Everything in this article is the author’s personal opinion based on her experiences.

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