Not my shame

*graphic sexual abuse detail trigger warning. 

*photograph of me looking in the mirror by me

The things that have been done to me are NOT MY SECRET. The things that have been done to me are also NOT MY SHAME. 

“Such shameful things should not be spoken of,” she said. 

“You don’t need to tell everyone the nitty gritty of what happened to you,” he said.

 “No one wants to know the details of the abuse,” they said. 

“You are tarnishing the family name,” she said. 

“You are making us look bad,” he said. 

“You are going to hell for what you have said,” the wife of the man who abused me said. 

Abuse was inflicted upon me. It started when I was a very young girl. The man that took me skiing every afternoon on our lake, took me to his house and abused me first. This happened for years. He made me feel ashamed. He made me feel small. He made me feel unworthy of love without hurt. He molded my brain by repeated sexual abuse. I was rubbed around on his penis, layed on top of, touched repeatedly sexually, and forced to watch porn. He groomed me to be his victim. I was trapped in his web. He silenced me. It would take me 30 years to find my voice again. I was shamed into silence by him. 

A friend of his abused me during the same time.  I was 14 years old. He made me pull out his penis and I was unable to say no. I was frozen. I was petrified. I was ashamed. I just a child still. I wanted to be a child still. He took that away from me. The moment he grabbed my hand. The moment he ordered me and I was unable to say no to him, he took the rest of my childhood. The inability to say no was programmed. The inability to say no was fear based and trauma inflicted and trauma induced. I could not speak. 

That same year I was sexually abused at a ski school by another friend of the man on my lake. They were all connected to the waterskiing world. Three men had sexually abused me before my 15th birthday and I was overtaken by shame. 

All I knew was abuse and shame. I felt dirty. I felt used. I felt like I would rather be dead more often than not as the years went on. During my late teenage years, when men showed interest in me I jumped at the chance to experience something other than abuse. I was so conditioned to be silent though that I fell into abusive relationships that I ended up being trapped in time and time again. 

I had a guy friend during those late teen years. He thought I was a virgin. He wanted to take that from me. I thought I could take back myself by controlling what happened with him. He offered me a large sum of money for my virginity. I needed the money to pay my bills. I was so sick and living off of ramen noodles that I just wanted to pay my bills and be taken out to dinner. I allowed him to have sex with me for a price. I thought the price was me regaining back control over my body. I was clearly not a virgin due to all of the previous years of abuse. He thought I was though. He thought I had worth because of my virginity. He wanted to take that. I thought by being in control of this decision I could regain my choice of my body.  I thought I had to say yes. I had never said no. I thought yes would mean my choice. Yes was not yes. He knew it and I knew it. I had just sold myself and it was a shame that would not be washed off for a long time. 

I searched for love. I wanted to be loved with no strings attached and no shame. I wanted love that did not involve feeling used. Loved beyond physical. I did not find that kind of love. The boyfriend that I had at 23 years old was the worst. He put a ring on my finger to ensure the use of me.  He got to me after 11 years of constant sexual abuse. He came in at my weakest moment and took the last parts of me. Someone recently asked me if I wrote about domestic abuse. I naively said no. I wrote about sexual abuse. I had not come to accept what had happened to me with my fiancé of a year when I was 23. I would like to change my answer to yes. I do write about domestic abuse… now. 

He gave me the greatest shame. If there is a shame greater than another. By the time he got to me I had given up. I allowed him to use my body in some of the most vile ways I had never even heard of. I couldn’t say no. I never said no. He used every square inch of my body at will. I was at his disposal at all times. That is all I ever knew. I had never known the idea  of love without suffering. I love you always meant harm to my body. He said he loved me. He also caused great suffering. He was fixated on feces. He enjoyed pooping on me. I just lay there. He was also into sodomizing. Something I had never had happen in sexual abuse before. I thought domestic abuse was being hit or beaten or berated. I just never thought of being bent over a table and sodomized as domestic abuse. I never said no. I never said no to anyone. I never said no when I was 11. I never said no when I was 14. I never said no when I was 18. I never said no when I was 23. I took on the shame of everything everyone of those men did to me because I felt because I never said no that it was my shame. I didn’t say no but he knew perfectly well what he was doing to me. He was pathological. He was a sociopath. He had no real feelings just his sexual urges and how often he could use me to satisfy those at a great cost to my body and my soul. 

I felt such guilt and such shame for all of these years of abuse. That was before. This is now. 

I know now I could not have said no when I was 11. I was conditioned. I was silenced. I did not have a chance to say no. That man worked on manipulating me for years. By the time he was finished with me, “no” was not in my vocabulary. I will NOT feel shame for what a 60 year old man did to me as a child! That shame lies solely on him.

The man that abused me at ski school was in his late 20’s. He came to me in my sleep and layed on top of me. Woke me up with his tongue in my mouth. I was only 14. I was scared. I was horrified. I could not say no. I shouldn’t have had to. I was just a child. I will NOT feel shame for what he did to me. The shame lies on him. 

The friend of the original abuser who made me touch him when I was 14. He was in his 30’s. He trapped me. Grabbed my hand. I was frozen. I could not speak. I didn’t know what he was going to do. What was going to happen to me now? I was alone in another country at the mercy of this man. I will NOT feel shame for what he did to me as a child. That shame lies on him. 

These men are predators. They preyed upon me. The shame lies on them. 

The fear stays with me in the form of hundreds of PTSD triggers. I am working on that. Getting rid of the shame was the first step. 

For years I felt I did deserve shame for allowing a man to have sex with me for money.  Until now. He knew I had been abused. He knew how fragile I was. He also was willing to pay money for my virginity. He is deplorable. He is disgusting. ALL of the shame lies on that predator. As he was having sex with me I never moved. I cried. I lay there and cried. He did not stop. He simply finished and put money on the table next to me. I was desperate. He took advantage of that. A man willing to pay his “friend” for her virginity is an abomination to human kind. I no longer feel shame for allowing him to pay me for sex. All of the shame lies on him. 

My fiancé. He was a sexual deviant. He liked to have sex with anything. Fruit. Holes in the wall. It did not matter to him. He also allowed his brother to watch. There was a secret place in the door where he let his brother watch. When we moved in together and he knew there was no one to curtail his behavior. His violence and repulsive behavior escalated. I had no idea how to get out. I knew that he would kill me in the end. Not physically. Mentally. I knew that what he was doing to my body physically would eventually end my life. I had given up. When he would wake me up and force himself on me I just lay there and took it. I thought it would stop. It didn’t. He would go on for hours. He damaged my body. You don’t imagine that your fiancé will rape you. Mine did. Does the shame lie on me for not fighting him and telling him no? It does not. The shame lies on him. He knew what he was doing. He knew that this is not what I wanted. The words did not need to be spoken to any of these men. That is just another way to blame women and children in their inability to speak. No. I will not allow that to continue. A child or woman’s inability to tell a man no while he is assaulting her does not make it her fault. The man committing the act holds all accountability for the shameful acts HE has committed. Lack of voice is not an open door to a child’s body or anyone else’s. 

All of the sexual abuse commited against me was just that. Sexual abuse. It was not consentual. I did not consent. I was a victim of repeated sexual abuse. I was unable to consent.  They KNEW that. They knew exactly what they were doing. Pedophiles and sex offenders know wha they are doing. They will trick you into thinking it was your fault, you were to blame, or you should have said no. It wasn’t your fault. Ever. Listen to me when I say this. Get their lies and their words out of your head. Listen to my words when I say that it was never your fault. 

These are a few men that have violated my body. I share these words and as I do it pains me. It hurts my actual body to remember. My body remembers. Every part of me remembers. They are hard words to speak and write. Predators do not want the truth of what they do to be told. Social media is afraid to tell the details of sexual trafficking which is essentially what happened to me. My family does not want me to speak of these details. They have even blamed me for some of them. Society does not want to hear these words. They don’t want to hear rape, sodomy, sexual deviant, rapist, child molester. Ouch. The words hurt to hear. Put them on the face of an 11 year old girl and no one wants to know these details. In this silence the bad guys keep their power. We regain our power. We take back our power by using our voice to release THEIR secrets and THEIR shame. 

I was sexually abused when I was 11 years old. That is when it all began. He destroyed my innocence, my free will, my self esteem, my self worth, and  my essential sense of self. After him there were predators just sitting in wait for me. There are many predators out there. For those of us who have been through an entire childhood of sexual abuse, I can only speak for myself, I was an easy target. And that is not my fault. 

Lets keep the blame where it should be, on the predator. 

Nothing was my fault. I may not have said “no” but I didn’t need to. Each of these men knew they were committing horrific crimes against me. They knew it and they enjoyed it. 

They are predators. I cannot say it enough times. All of the shame lies on them. They are shameful criminals. 

It took me until I was 43 years old to speak the full truth of the things that have happened to me. Those men threatened me and used fear to silence me. I am not afraid of them anymore. I am not afraid of family who blames me. I am not afraid of any of THEM. I am working on recovery. I am striving to heal from traumatic abuse every single day. It started with me breaking the silence. 

These men I have spoken of are now in my past. Unfortunately, the years of repeated trauma as a child caused severe PTSD. I have learned through therapy that PTSD and “freezing” and “dissociation” that began as a child carried through to the other abuses. The dissociative states of PTSD happened every time abuse occurred. Therapy has helped me to understand why I could never say no and how I lost my voice as a young child. I am regaining my voice. I am speaking the truth. I am setting boundaries. I am saying “NO”. I have rebuilt my self worth. I have learned self love. I have taken back what was taken from me all of those years ago. I am here now to share my story so that we can come together as survivors and let go of the shame that was put on us. 

I have been married now for over 20 years. I have learned what true love is. I have learned what true love means. I have been loved. I know love. In true love there is no suffering. My husband has allowed me a safe 20 years to heal and know what being loved is supposed to be. 
I no longer feel shame for what others have done to me. 

I no longer feel silenced by what others have done to me. 
I look into the mirror and I know…This is NOT MY SECRET. 

I look into the mirror and I know. This is NOT MY SHAME. 
Release the shame. Put it back on the perpetrator. It was never yours to begin with. 

60 thoughts on “Not my shame

  1. There was so much strength coming through in this post – you’re just amazing! You’re right – none of the abuse was your fault – NONE OF IT!!! …and any regrettable ‘choices’ you made before you knew you had a choice, aren’t your responsibility. It’s ALL on the abusers. None of that shame belongs to you.


  2. Every time you write about yourself. I learn something new about you or something I didn’t fully understand, but I have a better understanding of now. Every time you write about yourself. I just love you that much more. I couldn’t be more proud of you if I tried. Your family. Your dad and brother in particular are pricks. They are so blinded by their own hate and anger and their own skeletons that they don’t see the truth. Honestly I don’t think they ever will. When I see you in that mirror I see a woman who I have grown to love not just as a friend, but as a sister. You are so much more brave than I am. I am honored that you are sharing you story. I’m glad you fought your way through and shared your story. If you hadn’t I would have shared mine and I would never have realized what you have realized it’s not my secret. It’s really not. So thank you!! I love you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this painful sharing, Bethany. This helps me to better understand the long-term suffering of those who have been sexually abused. There are some critically important messages here that need to be shared.


      • You’re welcome, Bethany. Sometimes when I read about males abusing females, I feel guilt – by association. I feel the need to do something – in reparation – and yet, it wasn’t my crime. Just thinking out loud. Be at peace.


      • That’s just awful!! I’ve never thought about how an innocent man must feel about other men committing crimes against women and children.
        Don’t you worry! All men are not lumped into one sum. I appreciate the empathy and compassion you are giving. There are so really monsterous men out there but there are equally honorable men. I have been blessed with many honorable men, my husband included who has integrity and kindness and gentleness. As a man, reading my words and sending kindness is a wonderful thing to do so thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This was an amazing awe-inspiring post. So much strength and power in your words. What a grand way to release shame and place it where it rightfully belongs. I want my daughter to read this! It’s amazing. She’s struggling with shame since the incident at my moms, when my sister called her a whore and blamed my daughter for her own rape. This will help so many of us truly understand the stolen power and voices behind sexual abuse. We needed this thank you.


    • I so help that my words can help your daughter.
      That your sister called your daughter a whore for being raped…hurts my inner soul for your daughter. That show would ever have to hear words like that after trauma is unfathomable to me. The cruelty that it takes for a person to do that to your daughter, still a child!!!! Your daughter has my full love and support through her healing. Anything I can ever do to help show her that those people are wrong, I will.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. You are already doing everything you can, by just telling your story, your way, by being a voice to be heard a force to be reckoned with can
        Teach not only my daughter but so many other females who have no one to show them the way you are. I’m so privileged and blessed to have met you and be a part of your tribe!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. If I could reach out my hand to proudly shake yours all the way from Australia, I would do so! I too lived through and beyond horrendous child abuse. I knew at the outset that your post would trigger flashbacks, yet I chose to read it. I too have written about all that damage and the ongoing PTSD making its unwelcome presence felt even now, five-decades later. So I shout BRAVO! I know just how much pain it would have caused you to share this. I’m proud to have met you. Thank you for helping to shine the light on an often misunderstood subject.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so appreciate you commenting on my blog so I can go over to yours and follow and see the things that you have shared.
      I am so sorry that my message gave flashbacks. I imagined it would. I knew it would be as hard to read for others as it was for me to write. But the message I felt still needed to be said. Thank you for reading it. I am so sorry you have lived through abuse too. You must understand me very well as you have just spoken about the ongoing PTSD. It does just go on and on doesn’t it.
      Thank you again for your kind and loving response. I truly appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 🌹 I believe that wherever we live on the crazy old planet, we are united with all human beings who have been to that dark, dark, place of abuse, irrespective of gender. We are co-joined at the soul. United we stand as a force for understanding and action. How many more friends will take their own lives rather than live with ongoing pain of the memories? One, is one too many.
        I’m weary of saying goodbye. So … we are made of tough stuff, my new friend.
        For here we still are.


  6. thank you bethany. thank you for this wonderfully written post. i feel so much gratitude and love for you having written it. thank you for making me see that i had no choice in the abuse, it was not my fault. i couldnt have said no. i tried but i couldnt. and i shouldnt have had to. i was a child. they were the adults. thank you for allowing me to think about it and thanks for sharing your story too. you are brave and strong and courageous. xxxx


    • I am so very very glad that this could help you. That was my full intention, to tell my story in hopes that what I have learned I can help others to understand too. Way to many years I blamed myself or thought I could have changed something and carried shame. Understanding that it is NEVER EVER a child’s fault is the real key to putting the shame back on the abuser. So many of us could not say no BUT WE SHOULD NOT HAVE HAD TO!. We were just innocent children!
      I think you are brave and strong and courageous too!!!
      It was never your fault.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You are very brave and you are a miracle of recovery. So many people don’t survive this kind of abuse but here you are, thriving. You are in a healthy, loving relationship, facing your abuse head on and sharing it to the world. This is very inspiring and I hope you can acknowledge your own power, strength and light. ⭐️

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Courage arises in a multitude of circumstances, but the courage to reclaim one’s life is extraordinary. You open doors in the hearts of those who are just finding courage. Thank you for writing of your experience and your journey, Bethany. All of heaven and all of your readership walk with you. ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    • My husband had some similar sentiment. But I do not lump all males into pedophile sex offender category. Thank heavens we have understanding, loving, compassionate, strong, protective men that off set the monsterous ones.
      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time to read and leave your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Bethany, you are a beacon of light guiding lost souls to safe harbor through the darkness. Like you, my body remembers. My body spoke before my mind recollected. Then came the struggle of purging the lies and shame. To tell you the truth, I don’t care if they ever own their heinous deeds; I’m simply grateful I’ve been able to release the guilt and humiliation I once believed was mine. Thank you for stepping forward and being a voice for those who have yet to find theirs. I hope you’ll accept a hug from someone who feels you are a sister 💚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I MORE than welcome a new sister!!!!
      You have such wise words. I never thought about how my body spoke before my mind or voice but you know what, that is absolutely true! Mine was the same. I am just becoming aware. How crazy is that. 2 years ago I started on a path of healing and had no idea how UNAWARE I was. I’ve become acutely aware now of everything. It has helped me to heal. I have shed the shame and it has taken longer than I had anticipated. There was A LOT! But that part is gone. Shame is crossed off the list. Now I need my body to heal from the memories. Working one day at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • One day at a time / staying in the moment is the most effective road to recovery. This enables us to see more clearly and purely, without the influence of past pressures and future desires. It focuses our intention to heal. Living in the moment can be challenging, but it is so rewarding. We each become aware and reclaim our power when the time is right, Bethany. I don’t think your timing is at all crazy. Consider this: If you had become aware and started blogging sooner, perhaps you would not have reached as many needy souls, or those of the ones with whom you were intended to connect and help. I met John only recently. It was through him that I found my way to you. And I’m so grateful I did. Welcome to my circle, sister! 💚


  10. I am so sorry that you not only suffered so many years of abuse at the hands of these vile men. I hope time and justice has caught up with them. Brain washing you into believing that you had to be compliant is heartbreaking. Such cowards. I am so pleased Bethany that you have found sanctuary and love in your marriage. Very brave post thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I look forward to when I am in the place where I can say I trust enough to allow myself to be in a healthy, loving relationship. Thank you for your strength to share and your frank words. I am learning to find my voice in so many ways. I am learning to say, It’s not my shame, one day I will believe it. ❤


    • Trust and safety and boundaries are big big challenges and goals. I work on them every day.
      Thank you so much for reading my blog. I’m just so happy to hear you are finding your voice. Hoping you believe it is not your shame soon, like tomorrow! It is a huge step just to say it!


  12. I’m crying right now. My shame is from not saying no, too. Our details are different, but it’s the same. Half my family is upset with me for disturbing the peace with my 30 year old secrets. I too am longing to be loved without feeling used, and I’m heartbroken right now because I’ve realized it most likely will never happen. I actually thought it was coming close to happening for me over this past month, but I was wrong. I ended up feeling used. I don’t think he meant to make me feel that way, but it is what it is. I think sometimes you can try as hard as you can and do everything you’re supposed to do but you just can’t shed this stuff. I totally understand that I was abused, but I still can’t help but wonder if things would’ve turned out differently if I had said no…


    • My heart breaks for you. It breaks knowing that your family would not support you and wants you to keep 30 year old secrets. It breaks knowing you are not loved!
      I am not loved by them either. Shit I am not spoken to by any of them. Not one of them speaks to me. They HATE that I have spoken the truth. I’ve also realized it will never happen and they will not be coming back. Having them gone made me realize though how damaging having someone not respect, validate, believe, and support you is.
      I’m so sorry you ended up feeling used. After EVERYTHING. THAT IS THE LAST THING YOU SHOULD HAVE TO FEEL.
      This IS hard stuff to shed. There are so many layers. We shed one and another pops up.
      That’s why I started my little mindfulness walks. It may not last long. Maybe one hour a day. But one hour a day I am NOT thinking about my health, or abuse, or my family or ptsd, etc.
      The saying no part. I really did just have to not go there anymore. I tore it apart into little pieces and went over everythign in my mind and AT THAT MOMENT I was not capable of saying no. So to say what if is just absurd because there was no what if. It is easy to do as a 45 year old but back then I was incapable for hundreds of reasons.
      There is also something else. I was assaulted about 12 years ago by my best friend’s husband. I DID say no. And it DID NOT MATTER. That is why I just axed it out of my vocabulary. It doesn’t matter anymore what I did or did not do. It matters what THEY did and THEY know what they did was wrong. That is what matters.


  13. Oh wow….Bethany K, this took me by surprise. Thank you. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone. I’ve felt that shame, in fact, I don’t recall a time when I didn’t feel that shame. I really needed to read this today. ❤


    • I am so sorry you have felt the shame. It is such a heavy burden to have. And they put it on you and it is hard to shed. But i just felt it was really important to lay it all out there so that someone like you woudln’t feel they were in it alone. I am truly glad it helped you. Really really glad


  14. Thank you Bethany. I think I am starting to understand a little bit of how this is not your shame and not my shame. I have not been through the hell you have been to but I too was called a ‘dirty girl’ and shooed away when I reported rape at age 12. It is not your shame. It is not my shame. I still have difficulty to really believe that but reading your posts helps me. Thank you.
    xx, Feeling


    • The reason laws were created to protect children with or without their consent under a certain age is because a child CANNOT consent to something like this. A child is manipulated, groomed, and forced. They don’t understand. I did not understand. It was put upon us. We did not ask for it. No part of us decided when we were born that yes this is what we wanted at this age. Therefore it can never be our shame. It can never be our guilt to carry or our burden.
      We have enough to work through with the thoughts, the memories, the flashbacks. We should not have to carry shame along with it. That lies strictly, solely on the perpetrator of the crime. It is a crime. It is a vile vile criminal act from a monster to do something like this to a child. The person who does it…they are dirty…they are disgusting. We are still innocent and will always have that innocents in our hearts and souls.
      Hoping this helps some too.
      I can promise you that it was not your shame. No one should have shooed you away, called you names, or disrespected or disregarded your words. You should have been fought for, believed, validated, and the criminal should have paid the price for what was done to you. I’m very very sorry any of this happened to you from the perpetrator to the secondary victimization to those who did not believe you. That is on them. None of it on you. 100% not your shame

      Liked by 1 person

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