Victim Blaming ~ When you are Blamed for the Core of Your Pain


EFB victim blaming

“You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them” Iyanla Vanzant

I got a little note of “un-appreciation” in the e-mail a few weeks ago. I was told how wonderful Iyanla Vanzant is and that Iyanla ‘gets it’ and that I don’t when it comes to healing. Today one of Iyanla’s quotes came across my desk. This same quote was posted by a reader on the EFB facebook page a few weeks ago and I “liked it” but today I saw it from a different angle; perhaps from the angle of why I got reprimanded for the work that I do by that reader who says that “I don’t get it”.

I think it is a wonderful quote ~ I share this quote myself, but what struck me is that for the most part, people LOVE these kinds of quotes as long as the core of your pain isn’t rooted in the way you were treated and defined by your parents or your family in your childhood ~ because if it is rooted in family dysfunction or child abuse, then oddly enough, the “stain that oozes through and stains your life”, is often presumed to be your own dang fault. If the core of your pain has something to do with your family or having not been protected and validated by your family, the world is not so interested in hearing about it. In those cases the victim survivor is often viewed differently and possibly even blamed for causing the abuse or for bringing it on to themselves! Sometimes children of parental abuse are told they must have done ‘something’ to deserve it even if that abuse was sexual abuse! This is otherwise known as “Victim Blaming”

It’s sad but unfortunately true; people usually don’t respond the same way if the pain we are talking about is being caused by family or if that pain involves talking about injustice that happened to you at the hands of your family. (I suspect that it makes some people uncomfortable for a personal reason more than it is about them not understanding because interestingly enough, people who don’t relate seem very understanding in my experience.)

It is shocking how differently we are received by many if the pain we are talking about has to do with our own mothers and fathers. That’s when we are so often told that talking about the core of our pain is “gossip” and “malice” and that we should not air our dirty laundry in public. That is when we are directed to forgive the abuser or offender without ever having the offence validated in the first place. That is when we are informed to consider that the offender, ‘did the best they could do with what they had to work with”. Or we are told that they didn’t know any better. Or we are instructed to understand the abusive childhood that the abusive or neglectful parents came from themselves and that it was because of the injustice done to them, that they did it to us. (Which validates the abuser but not the victim and in fact is once again, victim blaming.) If your grievance is with your family, and you have been instructed to ‘get over it’ and to ‘leave the past in the past’ or to “forgive and forget”, consider this; NONE of those instructions deals with or heals “the core of your pain that is holding you in your past”

Victim blaming is abusive.

In order to get past this, I had to validate my pain and understand that nobody, not even my family, had the right to disregard or disrespect me. Nobody has the right to objectify me or assign me less value than someone else and that includes the way that my family of origin treats me. Love is only visible by its actions.

The core of my pain that was holding me in the past was stuck in the belief system that developed as a result of the damage done to me and the messages that I believed about myself that were communicated to me about me by the disrespectful and devaluing actions of others. Most of those ‘others’ were related to me by blood or were enabled by people related to me by blood. And most of those ‘actions’ were dismissed by the people related to me by blood.

The key to overcoming those messages has been in finding out what they were and where the roots of them lived and changing them the false messages back to the truth. I had to learn to validate the core of my pain and validate that my pain was understandable, justifiable, real and valid.

It was only then that the pain subsided. It was only then that I realized I was letting go and that letting go was a result of the validation. It was only then that I stopped bleeding. That was how I stitched myself back up and took my life back. That was how I took the action that proved love. That was how I shouted to the world that I was no longer a victim and learned that the blame, the fault, wasn’t mine. 

After that, I started to work on my relationship with me. I am learning to love myself in the way that no human beings love could have healed me. This is the action of love that I have learned to take in my own life in order to heal the core of the pain in my life.

Please share your thoughts about Victim Blaming and about how it feels to have your pain invalidated.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here in the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

For related post see highlighted phrases in Bold print  ~ also see:

When Family and Friends say Mean and Hurtful things 

Forgiveness and Child abuse ~ When Suggesting Forgiveness is Abusive

The Roots of Self Blame and Blame Sharing 


342 response to "Victim Blaming ~ When you are Blamed for the Core of Your Pain"

  1. By: Maria Posted: 3rd September 2014

    Thank you Darlene! It really is amazing how it all gets clear when you just say “ok so maybe it was not her fault or she didn’t know better and I do forgive her… This has nothing to do with the fact that I was hurt.” Then the truth leaks are a lot easier to see. You are so right. And now I do not even need others to verify that I am not wrong, I was mistreated, I didn’t deserve it and it was wrong. Thanks!
    I have been reading and reading every chance I get your articles and the comments. Many thanks to the others contributing here, some comments are so insightful.

  2. By: Maria Posted: 3rd September 2014

    It is so strange what woke me up. I thought that the reason I could not help crying was because of the injustice I felt and the feeling that I had whenever I thought how is it possible that my parents do not see how unfair they are to me. I suddenly stopped feeling this way when while confiding a recent incident to a really caring person I work with and wondering how could she do this to me – my own mum. My co-worker kept saying to me “Maria she doesn’t have love to give you – wake up” and I kept saying that I feel guilty for even saying what she has done, because she’s my mum. “…and you are her daughter” she kept saying and still I kept crying and not getting out of the fog as you say. And then I told her that sometimes if I am really patient and explain it to her – as she not very clever or well educated – she understands for a while. What if I haven’t tried hard enough and she cares but she hasn’t understood her mistakes. the conversation ended with me saying “what else do I need to see… (to understand she doesn’t care)”. Believe it or not that was the first step to feel good. Because the truth was that in fact I was crying because I accused me. I tried to convince everyone that I was not treated OK while I tried to find strong evidence to convince myself that I was not to be blamed. Shortly after that – I have said that in my first post too – I found your blog and I am sure there is no concidence there. SO very happy to have found you!!!! (English is not my native language so I hope I got you to understand how I feel).

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd September 2014

      Hi Maria!
      I understand you absolutely fine!! Thank you for sharing. I went round and round about if my mom was really to blame or if it was really ‘her fault’ until I finally realized that it didn’t really matter. The damage is what mattered the most. When I saw and validated the damage, everything changed and I began to heal. (I eventually sorted out just how much was her fault, and eventually say many of the ‘truth leaks’ that she really did know better in most cases where damage was caused and I write about that here a lot)
      Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Deborah Posted: 24th August 2014

    Hi Naomi I agree with you about actions speaking louder than words, my parents said they loved me in one breath and then made nasty comments in the next breath and treated me differently from my brother. I think it is very confusing and makes you feel like you are going crazy. I think the best way is to trust your own judgment of which I struggle with due to being told I have no right to an opinion by my mother. She will then say the opposite almost as if absolving herself of any guilt from making the original nasty comment, it really drains you emotionally

  4. By: Amber Posted: 15th August 2014

    Nancy, I’ve got to second what Kaycee just said. It is only recently that I realized that my belief system came from external messages gotten from family and took a while, perhaps months to process this after I started reading Darlene’s blog. It was a brand new idea. My beliefs came from messages and brainwashing from others who molded me to be what was in THEIR best interest for me to be. I had to think long and hard about this idea. And when I thought long and hard about it and thought of many examples that fit, then I knew this to be the truth. That is how my personal process is progressing.

    I also believed that I was never good enough, that something was wrong with me, that I deserved less than others, that my role was to be doing for others, serving and care taking for others. I believed that others had more rights than me; that their feelings and needs had to be taken care if and that I had to stuff mien inside.I felt inferior to other people. And it is all because these were the messages I got from other people. Like Kaycee, I felt that validation had to come from other people and never thought I could get it from within. I am still in awe of the fact that I can get validation from myself. I still have to remind myself to search within because it isn’t automatic yet.

    Nancy, Happy Birthday a day late. ( I’m also an August birthday, I gave myself the gift of Darlene’s ebook for my special day) I hope your birthday can be the beginning of your journey through the fog and that you emerge happy and healthy into the sunshine on the other side. I am not quite there yet, but I must be getting closer because things are starting to look brighter .

  5. By: Kaycee Posted: 15th August 2014

    Hi Nancy, I just wanted to share something with you. I often have negative self talk and feel just the way you do. I’ve recently started to realize that the way I feel about myself and the way I think about myself are a result of a belief system I have about myself stemming from my childhood.

    I’m not good enough, my value depends on some external factor, how much or how good my job is or what I have accomplished in the eyes of others. I am ashamed. I need validation from someone else, I have no value except that which is given to me by those around me.

    I’m just starting to really be able to see where this chaos that runs like a broken record in my mind came from, I am still at the baby step of recognizing these thought processes as they come up. They are the internalized belief systems I have adopted from my parents about myself.

    It’s huge step though Nancy, when you see it. Those things you learned to believe about yourself, those were not yours, they are what other’s projected onto you. They are not true.

  6. By: Naomi Posted: 15th August 2014

    Is this thing about tearing down while also idolizing familiar to anyone else? It is so awful.

  7. By: Naomi Posted: 15th August 2014

    Dave (4) and Darlene (5),
    I was just reading your conversation about undoing brainwashing and listening to actions more than words. This week I have been super confused by my dad who texted and left a voicemail about how he loves me and is hoping that I will have clarity as I “sort things out.” It confuses me because so much of the abuse and confusion that I suffer is because of stuff that he said to me and ways that he behaved. I appreciate what you said, Darlene, about undoing brainwashing being so difficult. And Dave, I appreciate what you said about your conversation with your family when you said that actions show love more than words. Something that is still screwing up my head is that my dad tore me down constantly while also so totally idolizing me.
    Thanks again for listening and sharing!

  8. By: Naomi Posted: 15th August 2014

    Hi Nancy, I have so much compassion for you. This site has been so healing for me. You have found an awesome place to share and to heal. The folks on here are so compassionate and validating. And Darlene has such a huge heart! You are not alone in this journey! I am also so glad that you are aware of the “great and wonderful person hiding inside” of you. The more you share your true self with those who are worthy of you… the more healing you will experience. That’s been true for me. The difficulty has been finding out who is safe and who is not… and it has taken many, many experiments and struggles to discover who is my “true” self anyway. For the longest time I have worked with “positive” thinking and “law of attraction” type of stuff. It has lost me though~ and left me feeling stupid and also like a loser. It has taken meeting myself in those broken memories~ feeling so abandoned, trapped, terrified as a child~ that is lifting the veil and letting bits of light in. You are a courageous woman to want to step into your healing. It’s not an easy task. It’s so worth it though… ever ounce of validation for our own experiences is like finding a piece of gold. You are not a loser. I am not a loser. We are broken people who were hurt, abused, neglected, and made to believe that we were less than valuable.

  9. By: Nancy Posted: 15th August 2014

    Still feeling exhausted and sad. Just had a birthday yesterday and am looking at my life and I feel like such a loser. No contact with family by choice, due to their toxic ways but I still struggle daily with feelings of worthlessness. I also do a job that lends to these feelings as well. I am embarrassed by this job and tell no one for fear I would be made fun of for being a loser. Husband does not help either, always looking at other woman, you know the type, grass is always greener. I feel like I am always going to feel forever broken and terrible. I don’t know what to do to feel better, I see daily quotes how to feel positive but I guess I just can’t get past all the damage that was done to me by my siblings and terrible parents. I feel lost and I just don’t fit in anywhere. I have no friends and women seem to not like me. I have two amazing wonderful kids though !!!! I just feel that I am unworthy of things and have as of yet have not had a loving relationship with a man who lifts me up and honors me. I feel like if I could have someone in my life who loves me for who I am, so much damage could be healed. Am I wrong ?? I just don’t know what to do. Regular counselling just never helped and I was ashamed to share things. What I survived was horrible. I am the only child of four that is not drug addicted due to such a hard and abusive family. So I did something right I guess. I feel stuck in the negative, my mother is the most negative person I have ever met in my life, so I am not surprised that I am negative too. I feel like there is this great and wonderful person hiding inside me dying to get out but I just can’t seem to feel confident enough to let her out. My self talk is negative, how will I ever change that ??? What do I do ??? I’m sad and lonely and lost. Am in desperate need of just a hug, a simple gesture of care and concern.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th August 2014

      Hi Nancy
      It’s wonderful to have realized that there IS that bright and beautiful person inside you! Of course the real you is in there! I totally relate to what you are sharing and I felt so much like that when I started this journey! So close to giving up and so ‘stuck’ not knowing how to get started etc. (if you don’t have my book you might find it really helpful because I outline the whole foundation of how I got started by seeing what happened to me and how my belief system formed ~ but you can also find all of that info in these pages of the site too)

      Positive quotes never helped me until I got to the root of what the issue was. Positive thinking back then was like trying to put a Band-Aid on a wound that needed surgery. It was like putting the cart before the horse. I had to validate what happened to me before my thinking began to get more positive!
      Something that really helped me was realizing that the shame wasn’t MINE to carry. I too didn’t share things in counselling because I didn’t feel safe to do so. And part of that was that the therapists that I was seeing didn’t create that permission so it is key to find a safe place or person to share with.
      You are not alone! Hugs and love, Darlene

  10. By: Callynt Posted: 12th August 2014

    Anytime babe. Today was one of those days for me. I have been mentally identifying periods of my life where I felt like I was treated as an extension as my mom as opposed to a separate person. Something as simple as her demanding that we share a soda when I was 11 and we were on vacation. I wanted my own damn soda. It seem so childish, but I realize now it’s more about the incident and how I perceived it as opposed to where it ranks on the life events scale.

    While my mother has narcissistic traits, I don’t know if she is a full blown narcissists. I do know that she uses the phrase, “What happens to you happens to me” a lot. That can’t be good 🙁 On the bright side, whenever the though, “I wish I’d known back then” comes up, I counter it with, “I wasn’t supposed to know until now”. That gives me hope 🙂

  11. By: Naomi Posted: 12th August 2014

    Thank you Amber and Callynt! I do feel scared and sound more brave than I am. Still working on speaking honestly about my feelings and not pretending to have things figured out before I do. Bad patterns. Have a great day!!

  12. By: Callynt Posted: 11th August 2014

    Congrats, Naomi! You’re so brave! Awesome news!

  13. By: Amber Posted: 11th August 2014

    Ugh spellcheck messed up my message Naomi, but I think the basic message came through.

  14. By: Amber Posted: 11th August 2014

    Naomi, I’m happy to hear about your progress! Sounds like you are uncovering false beliefs and standing up for yourself! also talking about what happened is something I find to be very healing. I don’t have many people I can talk to about thirst things, but coming on here has been very supportive and writing about my experiences also helps. I have shared some things with a couple of trusted people.
    I got Darlene’s ebook this weekend and have started reading it. I am going very very slowly so I can think about and process things as I go along. What I’ve read so far is very helpful. What I find different about EFB is that it doesn’t just work on the surface; it goes deep inside. Instead of just putting a bandaid on something it gets down to the core. I had no idea that I was walking around with so many false beliefs. I’ve been coming on here for fifteen months now and seeing some wonderful changes. Still have a ways to go but there’s nothing like a good start. It sounds like you are having a similar experience. Keep up the good work, Naomi. I am cheering for you!

  15. By: Naomi Posted: 11th August 2014

    Oops~ “becoming!” not “beconing!”

  16. By: Naomi Posted: 11th August 2014

    Hi Everyone, I want to share an update on the healing that is dominoing in my life partly as a result of finding support here on this site. For the first time in my life I am deciding to sincerely face my father honestly and to stand up for myself in our relationship. The concept of compassion for my parents not at the expense of myself~ and the importance of not protecting someone who is abusing me~ has changed my perspective and is now shifting my behavior. For ever!!! For the first time ever I am feeling like my life makes sense and like I have freedom to feel exactly as I do. I am starting to listen to my feelings without judgment. The constant struggle to make my experience fit with lies and fantasies that I was taught~ is stopping. It’s as if stories that were crowdinf out the truth are finally losing power. A friend of mine said that it’s as if a “house of cards” has fallen. This house of cards was created by my parents. During this shift~ lots of PTSD type symptoms are manifesting. Memories of childhood sexual abuse are coming into focus~ accompanied by lots of intense emotions and feelings. Sometimes so intense that I have to stop what I am doing and often begin to sobb. As memories return physical sensations also show up and have part in the process. This is where it feels supportive to have therapy and friends to talk with who have also experienced childhood sexual abuse. It is almost easier, at times, to lie to myself and pretend that something is just wrong with my brain and this thing is not possibly a true experience or memory. Those are protective mechanisms, I guess, for when the reality seems impossible to face.

    It is amazing how as those memories are witnessed other memories are also surfacing~ of enjoyable experiences that I had lost when the traumas happened. This makes me curious about the relationship between positive and traumatic memories in the brain~ around the time of trauma.

    A friend of mine spoke about letting go of her trauma from sexual abuse (through hypno therapy) feeling like there was so much space that had opened up in her brain. This is exactly what is happening for me too.

    On Friday (two days ago) I spoke about this in my sexual assault support group~ the MFT trainee who is leading our group said that memories from trauma are stored in the “reptilian” brain where they are sometimes difficult to access. She said this happens because during trauma the front part of the brain shuts down and we use this “reptilian brain” for the pure flight, fight, or freeze mechanisms. The memories that are stored here often feel dark and fuzzy and sometimes are inaccessible. She said that as we get back in touch with these experiences (if we have access to the memories) through sharing about them ~ the brain actually rearranges itself and those memories move up to the front part of the brain where other non-traumatic memories live. I am curious about the difference in the level of energy required to store memories in the back of the brain and the front of the brain. I feel so much more relaxed (although that is relative~ anxiety is still super pervasive in my life as I process all of this). It just feels amazing though to feel like I have found~ or am finding the “core of my pain.” It feels like I have a chance to live pain free~ at some point when all this has finished healing~ perhaps for the first time in like 29 years. Yahoooooooooo. I feel like celebrating that. Amidst moments of incredible anger and madness and sadness and grief and fear.

    Plus~ with encouragement from a friend~ I shared about the childhood abuse with my women’s group . Because of that~ three other women who had similar experiences opened up and are now further on towards healing.
    Love to you all for your honesty and validation.
    Thank you, Darlene!! I am beconing a huge fan.

  17. By: Naomi Posted: 7th August 2014

    Agreed! I’m all for healing tears.

  18. By: Hobie Posted: 6th August 2014

    Naomi –

    Not everyone is the same as I am, but I found a lot of healing in allowing myself to cry instead of trying not to. As soon as I was able to effectively give myself permission to cry, it became healing to shed tears, and I found that crying didn’t last that long. I had been so afraid for so long that if I started to cry, I may never stop.


  19. By: Naomi Posted: 5th August 2014

    Dee, thanks for sharing about the photo. 🙂 I look forward to trying that. It will be hard to not cry. I can feel it now. It feels amazing to have compassion for ourselves.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th August 2014

      Hi All,
      I agree with Hobie, crying is healing! I think that if this exercise (looking at a pic of yourself as a child) makes you cry those tears will be very validating!
      hugs, Darlene

  20. By: Naomi Posted: 5th August 2014

    Hi Dee,
    Thanks for sharing your story. You are not to blame for what happened to you as a child and as a teenager! I am so sorry that you have not received the validation and healing that you deserve. You have so much pain for a reason. Things were done to you that should have never happened. You have pain because someone who was an adult was irresponsible and abusive.
    I have so much empathy for you. I was also sexually abused as a child. It only recently surface in my reality…through journaling. I had so much anger and confusion. Through a “morning pages” exercise that I learned through a class, a memory surface of abuse that happened when I was 3. My dad was the abuser. It infuriated me and also illuminated what was wrong with so much of my life. There had been so many wrong things with my relationship with my dad. He had said many things that controlled my sexual expression as I matured. He created lists of who I was allowed to date and who I was not allowed to date. He criticized my clothing choices and said that my breasts were ok because “all you need is a handful.” Gross, right!? It has been so healing to find this site and to feel like there is support for our experiences. I wish you the best as you continue to heal!
    ~ Naomi

  21. By: Dee Posted: 4th August 2014

    If I may, I have learned some things in some of the reading I have done, and through the help of others. I would like to say something I have learned in response to Jenny #265 and a few others. This helped me a bit to understand why I don’t have to take ownership of the blame for my abuse. If you have a picture of yourself as a youngster, take a long look at it and ask yourself ‘could this little girl have done anything to deserve the abuse she got?’ I know I didn’t.

  22. By: Dee Posted: 4th August 2014

    I have been dealing with horrible feelings of not being worthy for my whole life. I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse, was raped in my teens, had a mother that I felt resented having me, a dad that loved me which pissed off mom. So I was always the problem, the one that could do nothing right. I have danced around her for so many years and now take care of her because she is now in a home. I was married for a short time 30 years ago and have a daughter. When I felt like her dad was treating me like my mom, I divorced him and moved back to my home state with her. As I have grown and still have feelings of worthlessness, I notice my daughter treats me the way her dad did. The 2 women in my life that are susposed to be there for me, are the 2 that fuel my feelings of worthlessness. I have been asking the Lord for help. I am glad to have found this website, am new to it. What am I hopeing for? to quit eating my pain, to find out how to give a crap about myself weather or not anyone else does. Thanks for your site.

  23. By: marquis (female) Posted: 2nd August 2014

    I mean the social worker actually hears me is what I mean by more receptive towards my feelings unlike my ex-therapist.

  24. By: Naomi Posted: 2nd August 2014

    Marquis, it’s like the world is not comfortable acknowledging pain. I have been guilty of this so much of my life. So empowered to see the validation for my own feelings here too. So happy to hear that you have a supportive boyfriend and social worker. I walked into a women’s shelter last week for the first time~ for crisis counseling and was validated also. What do you mean by “more receptive to my feelings?” Do you feel like there is not full acceptance? I am also grateful for a supportive boyfriend in my life. I have pushed him away significantly during this process.

  25. By: marquis (female) Posted: 1st August 2014

    Hi Naomi,

    My feelings are being validated on this site and my boyfriend, but elsewhere? That’s still a no and more shaming towards me! Also, my social worker at the women’s center is more receptive towards my feelings easy to talk too.

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