How shame, and guilt breed more of the same

Being sexually abused makes you feel, dirty, ashamed, and guilty.

DIRTY is the feeling that I could never really shake after a sexual interaction and today I still have to be very careful to only have sex with men I really like, other wise I will feel dirty.

SHAME was etched so deep into my bones and was/is so horrible to feel that I never really felt it properly but it was there working away creating more and more opportunities for shame and immense pain. Even now as write this I can feel there is more shame to release – this will happen in time.

GUILT is there because with sexual abuse there is often pleasure associated with it. The pleasure is experienced because they are touching parts of your body that are designed to release pleasure when touched. So, it’s not your fault that you feel pleasure but you feel guilty for feeling pleasure when it’s something you actually don’t want. And what’s worse is after a while you start to look forward to the pleasure because that’s how the brain works, it likes pleasure so when it happens you feel pleasure; you feel disgust and angry, you feel like vomiting but at the same time pleasure is there. It’s an extremely confusing situation to be in and it sets the scene for very problematic sexual relationships moving forward. High school is where these effects of childhood sexual abuse really became apparent for me.

High school (Girls): Age 13-18 I was at high school. I moved from the farm into an urban environment, was finally free and had high hopes of finding some true friends! Sadly, this dream was quickly crushed when I arrived at boarding school, only to find the year I was in, again full of catty girls who seemed to just want to be mean to someone. My situation wasn’t helped by the fact that I didn’t fit into any of the groups: I wasn’t a commercial type, nor a grunge girl, I wasn’t a geek, nor a metal head. I was just me, a creative, deeply hurting, nature loving, sensitive soul. I tried to fit into the group I resonated with the most, “the cool group” but my years of being picked on at primary school had done way too much damage and the gossipy, catty things that were also present in this group wore away at my already damaged self. So, the first year of secondary school was also very painful. I didn’t realise at the time that constantly trying to fit in and be like others was no way to develop friendships.

Thankfully, my mother could feel my pain, and helped me move to private boarding in my second year. Yay! Here I was finally more free to be myself. I managed to find a group of beautiful girl friends, who really were great friends. I developed a very deep connection with my best friend, who in many ways saved my life. I know that sounds dramatic but that’s how it felt. I doubt she ever knew the full extent of the pain I was in, but definitely had a sense. The comfort she gave to my heart is something I will never forget. She accepted me, loved me, held my hand through high school, was my companion and gave me the love and acceptance that I’d never experienced before. For a few years, her family became mine. Likewise, I know I also helped her get through some very hard times. I will always be so grateful to her. If you are reading this (you know who you are), thank you so much for being my friend.

One of the hardest times for me was when she got together with her boyfriend as I again felt abandoned by my best friend. This was because I didn’t have a close loving relationship with my parents or bother so my best friend became everything to me. This is why I was so devastated when she left me for someone else. Those two are literally high school sweet hearts but if I had, had my way she would have never married and disappeared but that was just my scared, heartbroken self-speaking, we had to go off and lead our own lives.

During the years when my friend and I were besties we did everything together; went to school, lived in the same house, snuck out at night, experimented with alcohol, drugs and sex. I feel the way we engaged in these things wasn’t that healthy as it was all done in a binge/taboo manor which meant we hit it pretty hard for 14-18 year olds. My friends and I were rebels and we didn’t want to follow rules. We snuck out at night on school nights, dated boys who had left high school or who were a lot older than us, wagged classes, smoked cigarettes, had sex and “got waisted” on the weekends. I personally pushed the boundaries as far as I could, never got suspended but just road a tight line doing as little as possible to graduate high school. A lack of self-worth, confidence, direction, good parenting, combined with thinking I was stupid, a terrible relationship with my parents, feeling unloved and just going through the normal changes of adolescence meant I was in continuous emotional turmoil and was the creator of all of these behaviours.

Again, when I look back all of my girls at the time were experiencing deep pain that ranged from sexual abuse, separated parents, parents with severe mental health problems, death of family members, divorce, neglectful addict parents the list goes on… we all were in a large amount of pain and I’m certain this is a big part of what brought us together. Our disregard for authority and our desire to get waisted was a way for us to express the chaos and pain that we felt inside but couldn’t really talk about in a way that healed us. The nicest part about this group of girls was we were all lovely people who cared for each other. We were all in pain and helped each other get through adolescence alive.

High School (Boys): My first consensual, “full sex” experience was horrendous. I only did it to be different, to standout and ultimately to try and find love. I was 14 years old. My friends and I had snuck out late one night, we had been drinking, smoking marijuana and driving around in older boys cars who were very drunk, stoned and who knows what else! I actually don’t know how those boys managed to survive their teenage years! Anyway, thankfully they did, so we did. One of these debaucherous nights we hooked up with some boys, we went back to one of their flat (they were old enough to be living alone) and you know the saying, one thing lead to another. Before I knew it, I’d had sex for the first time with a guy I’d just met, on a blow-up mattress, on some boys, dirty lounge floor! 😦 The sadness, the disappointment, the shame, the disgust I felt after this had happened I was not prepared for. My coping strategy for anything like this was to just pretend I was fine, stuff down all those feelings, chin up, laugh it off and when I was asked about it, to make it into an exciting adventure, surpassing any sadness or true emotions. But what I can tell you is I was devastated, so upset, so angry at myself for allowing this to happen. I can honestly say I still haven’t forgiven myself for this yet but it’s on the top of my priorities to do so.

I was still playing the game of wanting to feel loved. I wanted him to love me and I thought if I had sex with him maybe he would. It didn’t work. I felt so, so, so much worse, I felt dirty that’s the best way I can describe it. DIRTY. It was my choice; I had chosen to do it in the least beautiful way I could think of other than being raped or forced. I don’t put any blame on him. He asked me if I was a virgin I said no. I guess I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t cool or something like that? He asked if it was ok, I said yes. I consented but it was the last thing I wanted! Every girl wants their first time to be special, mine was so far from that and added more shame and guilt on the already large pile of emotional baggage I was carrying.

The worst thing about that experience is I fell for that guy. But he wasn’t interested. He wasn’t mean, he just wasn’t interested. I had sex with him a few more times trying to get him to love me but alas, we know that never works. I was learning a big lesson, in a very painful way. I ended up feeling used by him which technically I was, he just wanted to have sex as most boys of his age do and had no idea how I felt. I’m sure if he knew, if I told him (which would never have happened), or even if he had thought to ask and he had known, he wouldn’t have gone there. But it happened. My first consensual sexual relationship was a complete failure, adding new layers of scaring to my already fractured soul. So on went more rejection, and more heartache to the pile.

For the next year, I engaged in other painful sexual interactions. The worst of them was a guy I kind of dated – way against my better judgement, just because he was my friends, boyfriends, best friend. He was a complete creep, I never liked him and he had a terrible reputation but I was desperate for love and attention and it seemed I would do almost anything to feel some sort of love. He had sex with me one night when I was unconscious, after my friends had put me in his bed as I had drunk way too much. I had never intended on having sex with him. Yuck, so I was raped, another large sexual trauma was added onto the pile of undealt with emotions. This is where the pain became so very deep. It got to the point of feeling nothing, depression was next and along with this came debilitating physical pain that ended me up in hospital with excruciating stomach pains and unrelenting vomiting. Finally, the emotional had created a severe physical problem, a problem that I could no longer ignore! That being said I did ignore it, I didn’t ignore the physical pain but I continued to suppress my emotions, however to give myself some credit I noted that the pains always started after a period of emotional stress.

I feel the unfelt shame I experienced as a child, created a perfect breeding ground for more shameful situations to be created. LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE, that’s the simplest explanation I can give for this. Thankfully when I was 15 I got into a steady relationship that help fill this gaping hole in my soul and slowed the opportunities for more shameful experiences to pile up. 

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