Most people when they go through trauma where they have been victimized believe it is their fault. Effective trauma therapy examines how this was internalized, and how consciously and unconsciously, it drives your current behaviors and affects your life. The internalization of “fault” when unresolved, perpetuates further trauma and dissociation, ultimately making it very difficult to feel empowered, forgive yourself, and truly heal.
When someone experiences being a victim, they are filled with powerlessness, shame, and guilt. Common ways of feeling and thinking may include internally asking yourself things such as:
• If I hadn’t been at that place or time…
• If I had behaved better (especially children) ….
• If I had tried harder or done something different…
• I should have made better choices…
It is important, even after the fact, to recognize when you were a victim or felt like a victim, and truly work on forgiving yourself for feeling ashamed, guilty, powerless, angry, and for wishing very bad things would happen to the one who hurt you. That is natural and human; we all do that when we feel victimized.
Forgiving yourself takes courage because you have to compassionately face the vulnerability you felt at the time – to reflect and realize more fully and more adaptively – that no matter what happened it was not your fault. That you were left traumatized, and that is human and trauma-therapy can help your body and mind realize that the trauma is now over and you can forgive yourself and move on.
Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do. Brene Brown
When someone is or was a perpetrator and if they are able to become conscious of their actions, they become filled with the same shame, guilt, and powerlessness that their victim(s) felt. In fact, they perpetrate to not feel that way ever again; a part of them says “Never Again” from when they were perpetrated on, and felt like a victim, in some way themselves.
Initially, the perpetrator was traumatized themselves, and to not feel the pain, they internalized “I never want to be a victim again”. So in order to not feel like a victim, they need to have the power over another and become the perpetrator.
Of course, in doing so they never actually heal their pain, and whenever they feel, even the possibility, or threat of, shame, guilt, or powerlessness, they are compelled to perpetrate, again and again, to avoid and keep these feelings and associated memories dissociated. In other words, only reinforcing the cycle. They can move out of this vicious cycle, and good trauma therapy will support this work. Studies show that trauma therapy for perpetrators is highly effective if the person is ready and conscious in doing the work. It takes addressing the pain, moving through it, and forgiving yourself. See our video on what is trauma.
On the other hand, other’s who have been traumatized, instead internalize “I never want to make someone else feel powerless, ashamed, and/or guilty”. Rather than becoming a perpetrator, they tend to continue to be perpetrated on or at least taken advantage of, throughout their lives because they continue to hold the guilt internally and dissociate their power, which wasn’t safe to feel. If this is you, trauma therapy helps you move through the pain, and self-forgive so you can take back your power.
Need resources and coping skills that work? DBT Skills Groups
Victims and consciously aware perpetrators, (who consciously regret their actions) tend to hide and dissociate their feelings of fear inside and unconsciously give up. This is where it is important to forgive yourself, and the parts of you that were frozen in pain or were involved in some way. Do the necessary trauma therapy work, as that is what true healing, growth, and awakening are all about.
This is about healing trauma and dissociation. I am not saying this is easy, and most of us need support and help, but I am saying it is WORTH it. This is what it takes to become WHOLE again.
If only the entire world could do this deep work and heal! When you can do this work, you ignite your own personal power, and it lights up your higher self (self-energy).
Interested in IFS, EMDR or trauma therapy?
You might ask, but what if someone violates me again? What if they abuse their power again? or Would if I violate someone else again? Remind yourself, when you forgive yourself and others, you actually take your power back!
You collect and reconnect, importantly, with the parts of yourself that have been taken, given, shadowed, exiled, and/or dissociated away. In other words, you become whole again, before the trauma(s) shattered and fragmented your internal self.
Consciously allowing yourself to heal while setting judgment aside is a huge step. Then you can learn to set healthy boundaries in relationships and release toxicity and toxic people from your life in a more compassionate way. They are no longer drawn to you unconsciously and you are no longer drawn to them unconsciously.