“Nothing can be loved into something”
(song lyrics to Breathe by Seinabo Sey)
To me this means that
after removing the stain, the shame, of trauma
there is nothing.
In that empty space
truth comes in
and from nothing grows
something to be loved
but before that the
This is Part 8 of the blame the Victim Series. This article discusses 11 things to do to heal blame the victim mentality, 5 advantages of healing it, and 4 ways it remains stuck inside the victim creating obstacles to healing.
11 Things to Do to Heal Internalized Blame the Victim Mentality:
1. Somatically shift the body sensation of shame, badness, guilt and disgust and learn to feel goodness again:
Somatic Experiencing and others (Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, TRE, Hakomi?) have techniques that can shift the internal felt sense around this body sensation of guilt slowly into something more neutral and / or positive.
Reframe Things to Shift Your Beliefs and Perceptions:
2. Reframe What a Victim Is:
Reframing includes the important reframing of what a victim is.
Being a victim doesn’t mean you’re “weak”.
You can be a victim and be powerful at the same time.
All being a victim means is someone used their free will to harm you without your consent.
Why did they choose the most gorgeous and biggest tree in the forest to violate and use?
Because it was: Strong, Perfect, Beautiful, Powerful and Standing Tall.
In this tree analogy, you can clearly see there is nothing weak about the tree that made it be chosen to be violated.
There is nothing wrong with the tree.
It didn’t do anything at all to deserve it.
It never “invited” trauma.
It never asked for it.
It never “resonated” it to itself.
It was completely minding its own business being a tree when it was cut into and destroyed.
3. Reframe all Logical Fallacies:
Reframing includes challenging all the logical fallacies of blame the victim which are explained in part 7.
4. Reframe What The Trauma Means About You and your Identity:
Analyze with logic and shift perceptions around what happened. Does it or does it not make you a bad person if looked at logically?
5. Reframe with a Friend:
Talk it over with another person who sees things more clearly and can give their feedback.
6. Reframe using Cognitive Therapies:
Go to SMART Recovery and challenge your irrational beliefs like “It should not have happened.” “I should not have done that.” “It’s horrible.”
7. Reframe using Creativity:
Engaging in creative writing about one’s story and writing it out in different ways, from different angles. Drawing from different perspectives.
8. Reframe what it means to be Lovable:
What is and is not lovable? Is a puppy less lovable because they made a mistake? Is a kitten less lovable because a car ran over their foot?
9, Reframe Safety:
Convince your body you are safe now.
Go Back in Time to Heal the Guilty Child
10. Go Back in Time using Guided Meditation:
It’s possible to go on a guided meditation to talk to the Part of the self that feels like they are to blame, and ask them what age they came about and why they feel as they do. Then it can be possible to give more resources to that Part in the moment it decided to take blame onto itself, new “good parents” “powerful protectors” and “mature caregivers”, who give appropriate messages about who is actually to blame.
11. Repeat Affirmations or Mantras:
In the video below, the message, “It wasn’t your fault,” is meant to begin to lift the burden of Blame the Victim. It is repeated several times in order to allow the body and mind and whole system a little time to relax and let the message in. This same idea could be expanded to a collection of affirmations or statements that could be repeated gently, allowing the body to relax and take them in. If emotions come up, the mantra could be stopped and a therapist (or the person themselves) could provide comfort, presence and messages of support towards the emotions.
My Healing Blame the Victim Video (also sneak preview video for the coloring book):
5 Advantages of Healing the Blame the Victim Mentality:
Releasing this internal feeling of being bad, ashamed and guilty, little by little, can lead to having an internal feeling of being more whole.
Feeling as if You are your Self again. It can bring back a sense of being innocent of any wrongdoing, a Self that is cleaned of guilt, restoring more of the original sense of self, a positive sense of self.
As this is released, the body may begin to feel new sensations, postures, and vitality.
Not blaming themselves anymore can help survivors take their power and identity back from the perpetrator. It seems strange that this would happen. One of the reasons for a survivor blaming themselves for something done to them is to feel as if they were in control. Admitting that they really were not in control, and someone else did something to them and they actually did NOT do it to themselves seems like it would be disempowering. But it’s actually the opposite.
Assigning blame correctly – placing it on perpetrator where it belongs – helps survivors clearly define boundaries. This can lead them to begin to learn more about how to have good boundaries and what good boundaries mean and feel like.
4 Ways Blame the Victim Mentality Remains Stuck Inside the Victim:
Be Prepared to Face these Obstacles to Healing:
Blame the Victim Mentality is reinforced because the victim internalizes certain messages, beliefs, and thoughts that originated from society, parents, teachers, perpetrators, and bullies. Unless they go in and ferret out these internalized attitudes, they will generally stay there.
2. New Bodily Reality:
As I mentioned before, the traumatic event itself can leave a bodily sensation of being dirty, bad, ashamed, disgusting which link to shame. Shifting this set of body sensations can take a significant amount of somatic therapy and somatic self-therapy.
3. Feedback Loop: The beliefs/thoughts and body sensations reinforce one another constantly.
The thoughts that place blame on the self can strengthen the feeling in the body of shame and guilt, and then the feeling in the body can add credence and validity to the thoughts. The external world also reinforces this internal feedback loop, making it even harder to remove.
In addition, the Avoidance component of PTSD prevents healing Blame the Victim Mentality, by blocking the necessary analysis of the event that would reveal who is truly to blame.
When several things inside oneself keep propping each other up, it can be tricky to figure out how to fully heal.
There needs to be intervention in terms of the thoughts and the body sensations, and the interventions usually have to go back and handle a number of different past traumatic events as well.
Survivor Gets to Choose Their Own Words
And another note – if committed to looking at all the “small things” that happened and defining things clearly, some cases of sexual coercion are not “rape.” Many are, but some are not.
I think it’s important for the survivor to choose the language that they believe fits their experience.
I’ve had a therapist tell me I was raped but, in order for me to own my own experience, I had to tell her that is not the language I choose. The survivor gets to define and label and describe and own what happened to them. This is part of being more empowered. I feel like it’s dis-empowering to tell someone what happened to them. The language “sexual manipulation,” “sexual seduction,” “sexual coercion” – that totally works for me. And for another person “sexual assault” or “rape” is exactly what works for them. The important thing is how to heal the way the body has been left afterwards – how to repair all the damage that was done.
I think what that therapist meant to say was, “Your sense of self, bodily integrity, wholeness, body sensations were all damaged just as much as a person who was raped, so why not label it “rape”?” I think that yes, the damage in me was similar (not exactly the same), but I am still the only one who gets to decide what words I am going to use to define my experience.
Important Reminder – Don’t Blame Victims, Seek to Understand Instead
If interacting with a trauma survivor, it is best to generally avoid saying or implying that the traumatic events or the physiological symptoms they experience after those events are their fault. As we have seen, a huge part of the healing process is to dismantle this notion, so it’s compassionate and helpful to avoid reinforcing it and to instead help alleviate it.
Usually there is a moment that the victim wants to understand their role in allowing the trauma, getting into the traumatic situation, not defending well enough, etc. When they are ready, this is a great subject to discuss in depth. It can help with self-knowledge and help them create strategies to avoid future similar traumatic experiences.
(last part of song) …Surely I did not go through all of this for nothing
Yeah nothing’s such a beautiful word, eh see
Baby surely did not go through all of this here for nothing
Yeah nothing’s such a beautiful word
‘Cause nothing can be loved into something
Nothing can be loved into something (To something, to something)
Nothing can be loved into something (To something, to something)
[Chorus] Now we moving forward – ever, backwards – never, forward – ever, backwards – never
And when the going gets rough and life gets tough
Don’t forget to breathe
Everything in this article is the author’s personal opinion based on her experiences.
I did the exercises but I still feel like I was a bad kid. I can concede that the punishment and terror instilled in me were disproportionate to what I did: from my father’s violent military-like abuse, to chinese police during a minor visa issue, to thai police for a minor passport issue, the punishment never fit the crime and I feel immense rage for this. And I feel helpless to protect myself because I cannot hide my hurt and disdain for authority pigs.