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What grooming victims, sexual assault and abuse survivors need to know about shame

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

For survivors of grooming, sexual abuse and assault, shame can be one of the most difficult emotions to cope with. Shame is a deep sense of self-loathing, embarrassment, and humiliation that can be caused by a traumatic experience like grooming, sexual abuse or assault. It can lead to feelings of worthlessness, isolation, and hopelessness, making it incredibly hard for survivors to move on from their experience. In this blog post, we will discuss the effects of shame on survivors and some tips to help them cope with these feelings.

Shame is a natural reaction to being groomed, sexual assault and abuse

Survivors of grooming, sexual assault and abuse often experience a deep sense of shame, guilt and humiliation following the attack. These feelings are normal and are a natural response to the trauma experienced. However, this intense shame can have damaging effects on a person's physical and emotional well-being.

It is quite normal for victims to feel ashamed that they fell victim to the grooming as well as for falling victim to abuse. Victims will often think about what they could have done differently and a lot of times instead of looking at all the things they did right they focus on the one thing they think they could have done differently and are ashamed or angry they didn't think of it or realize it when it was happening. This also happens in situations that are completely out of the victims control and they did what they needed to survive in that moment.

Victims of grooming often also feel ashamed because even though logically they know it wasn't good they miss the attention a groomer gave them or they romanticize the time with the groomer due to the programing from the grooming that can create a trauma bond. (This will be discussed in a future blog post)

Shame can cause physical and emotional symptoms

Physical symptoms associated with shame after grooming, assault or abuse can include: headaches, chest pains, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, PTSD and general feelings of physical discomfort.

Emotional symptoms can range from feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, sadness, irritability, lack of motivation, depression, and anxiety. Shame can also lead to social isolation as survivors may feel too embarrassed or unworthy to interact with others.

Shame can be overcome with treatment

While shame can prevent people from seeking help especially in victims who are isolating themselves, it can be overcome. The first step is to find someone you feel safe with being vulnerable with and openly and honestly talk to them. This can be a family member, a friend, a coach or a counselor. The more you talk about it the easier it will be and the feelings of shame will lessen. If this is not an option for you at the moment try journaling.

Other steps you can take are as follows

  1. Make some time for Self Care this can be taking a bath or a long shower, taking a break, listen to music you really like and enjoy, reading a book, ect.

  2. Practice Mindfulness this can be done through breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, sitting in nature and listening to all the sounds.

  3. Create positive distractions this can be done through, exercise, doing hobbies you enjoy ( art, crafts, cooking, rock climbing, hiking), volunteering, ect.

  4. Work on changing your mindset. I know from experience this can be really hard without a support system. Some of the steps I used for this are listed below.

a. I created a morning routine that included a few affirmations such as

1. I release the need to dwell on the past and am focusing on the present

2. I release the need to punish myself with guilt and shame over things that have happened in the past.

3. I release the need to think negatively about myself and negative thought patterns

4. I will think positively about myself today

5. I am worthy of my own love and acceptance

6. I forgive myself and let go of the past

7. I am forgiving myself and releasing the need to harbor unforgiveness

8. I release the need to hold on anger/resentment towards people who have hurt me and am free to live happily

b. Acknowledge you feelings towards your groomer/abuser and the abuse instead of fighting them whatever they are. The more you acknowledge them the easier they will be to accept as valid.

c. Start acknowledging the positives in your life every day and yourself. You can start this by finding 1 thing every day you like it can be the way your eyes look or you might think your hair looks good.

d. Acknowledge this is a process and you will have good days and bad days. Learn what triggers bad feelings such as certain words/ phrases, a certain smell or taste ect.

Healing from grooming, sexual abuse and assault is possible. It is a process that will take time but it can be done. The one thing I learned is having a support system for the process is extremely important especially having someone that will cheer you on and keep you motivated on the hard days. If you do not have someone in your life that can do this for you please feel free to book a call and see if my coaching would be right for you.

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