This idea has been sitting on my “To-Write” list for a while, and it actually came up when I started writing my “You’re Not Alone” series.
I have been told be more than a few people over the years that I should be ashamed to admit the things that have happened in my past and the things that I have done. They believed that no one should ever reveal that they’ve been raped, been married to a pedophile, been addicted to drugs, had premarital sex, been an awful person… You know, all the things that I have lived through.
My question is: Why? Why should I feel shame? Much of what happened was not my fault, if anything, the ones who did that to me should feel shame, not me. As for the parts that were even somewhat my fault, why be ashamed? I learned, I grew, it all went into making me who I am today. I’m not ashamed. I am no less for the hell I have faced and overcome. If anything, I’m more.
The idea of shame keeps so many people from talking about abuse and other issues. Society teaches people to feel dirty and dishonored for things they do or things that happen to them. It’s horrible, and needs to stop. Everyone makes mistakes. Many people are abused or hurt. Those who have faltered and suffered need love, support and healing, not shame and ostracizing.
As a society we need to stop telling people that they need to feel bad for the horrors that befall them. We need to make them feel safe, encourage them to open up and share their pain so that they can heal and so that justice can be done. Our society has, for far too long, made victims feel even more victimized by treating them poorly and looking down on them for things they had little or no control over.