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Speaking of guilt...

Old 12-19-2008, 06:51 PM
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Unhappy Speaking of guilt...

Hello everyone,

I haven’t posted here for quite a while. I had to stop even reading here for a little bit… When I first started reading here, my emotions were all over the board,(pun intended!). I began having problems with anxiety, sleep, moodiness, snapping at people, ect…

A lot of posts were triggering things I hadn’t had to think about, for a long time. One, particular, “Taking Your Abusive Parents To Court”, really hit me hard. I have been wanting to post this ever since I read that thread.

I have been struggling with a enormous sense of guilt. I don’t think it belongs to me, but maybe it does, and if so, WHAT do I DO about it now?!!

When I was 31, I was contemplating a divorce. I had three small son’s, and I was damn near suicidal, I was so depressed. I had been with this man since I was 15, and I was torn apart, and terrified about the future, but I absolutely knew, I could not stay in this marriage.

I gotta tell you folks, I was as close to a break-down, as I think I’d ever been. I went to see a therapist for help and, as is the norm, he began by getting “Patient History” info.

Well when he heard my whole story, he said he was amazed that I could recite the whole thing so unemotionally. (But…hey…I’d gone over and over it, a gazillion times, on my own and with “helpers” of various kinds, trying to process it all, ya know. Frankly I was sick to death of talking about it, and blew through it just to move on.)

Then he started questioning me about an uncle who had molested me. He asked me to name other people said “uncle” had molested. There were so many, I just gave him like ten names. (Mostly my older sisters, and uncles’ own children.).

He then told me that I had to prosecute my uncle. Right THEN. He wanted me to call the DA right from his office! Said that he would make the call for me, if I didn’t feel I could do it! He even picked up the phone, poised to dail, as he spoke!

I was shaken to my core. My uncle was now a seventy-yr. old man with cirrhosis. (Not that his health problems bother me one bit. They do not!), but my aunt, (his wife), had just had surgery for lung cancer, (three quarters of one lung removed and a lobe from the other.), also, I love my (seven), cousins dearly, and I didn’t want the stress to kill their mom, and drag them all through the trial. Not to mention their kids,my sons, sisters and brothers, my mom ect…

The stress that this whole ordeal was going to cause was something I honestly did not believe I could survive, considering my already extremely shaky emotional state!

The therapist then said, that I would be responsible for HUNDREDS more sexual abuse victims, if I would not to do this! He reasoned that if I could name ten people, uncle had molested, and each of those people could name ten people…
Seemed like a rock & a hard place to me. People would get hurt if I did this, people would get hurt if I didn’t.

But I did not feel I would SURVIVE this!! (That did not seem to be a priority to my therapist, but it was to my ME!). I had small sons, who were going to need SO much from me during this divorce, (and after)!!!

I left that appointment literally shaking. I never went back.

I knew my uncle and his wife had, for many years, been foster parents. (They had a model home . ) The Foster Care System is a pedophile’s dream. Custom made victims. You get to choose the age, sex, race, and if any, emotional/ physical problems, of the children you want to “care” for. ( Girls, ages five through thirteen, with sexual abuse histories? Yes Please! Cha-Ching! ).

Anyway, I heard they were out of the "Welfare Queen" business, and had been for years.

A year or so after that counseling session, I learned that they had, in fact, just acquired a ten yr. old girl. Rumor had it, that my uncle was already taking the child’s side in petty arguments with his wife, (alienation from “helper adults, classic pedophile strategy).

I had many sleepless nights wrestling with news. But in the cold light of dawn, I chose not get involved! I did not want to re-traumatize myself! I truly felt “barely sane”!!

The part of me that is still a somewhat human, caring, morally responsible woman, feels tremendous guilt, about these, (and other), choices I’ve made in the interest of self-preservation.

But above all I feel ANGER. Why, out of ALL the MANY, MANY, people who KNEW, (or should have known), including the state that supplied him with victims, WHY was it MY responsibility to “Do Something” about HIS behavior?!!!

I chose to save myself, in order that I might help my OWN children. I would have been no use to anyone, had I had to face the attack that surly would have come down on us, of this I am sure. “it is easier to grow a strong man, than it is to fix a broken one.”

My responsibility was to “Grow Strong Men”. In my opinion, I feel I did what I had to do, as a parent. Yet I am still so angry, that I have to feel like a callous animal, for having done so.

I faced my abuser a long time before, and outed him to everyone I knew. And NO ONE ELSE pressed charges either.
Why is that? Why did it have to be me?

Bless you if read through this!
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:50 PM
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peace to you....it is not your responsibility to report him. if you are able and willing to do so then sur eit would be great because you're getting a nother sick paedophile away from innocent children but you are not responsible for HIS sickness and i think it was abrasive of your therapist to push u so hard as it seems they did. im sorry you were molested by your uncle. its a vulgar evil and unconscious crime. you say you brought it up already
? my father is the one person im chargin with abuse and no its not easy but its what i feel i need to do in order to be honest and heal. seems theres more to it than expected but there you go. making the most of a ****** situation sometimes. you may want to do it in the future. you know your limits. and the choice is up to you but i dont think theres any one path that you "should" choose. easy does it.
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Old 12-19-2008, 09:07 PM
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Hi Utopia,
Thanks. Yes. I did bring it up in the past. To family members and to the perv, himself. My feeling was, I think, at the time...these people ALL KNEW years before I brought it out. let THEM deal with BS that goes with legally hanging a charge on him! His wife. His (adult) kids. My Mother. All of a sudden, it gets all the way down the line, generationaly, to me. And I am supposed to be some kind of a "Super Hero"? At the expense of my own children and myself? I did not want this man to affect my life anymore than he already had. Of course it's a complicated process to prosecute!! Why do you think no one else ever did? I did not want this man taking up YEARS of my life after I had attained some distance from him and HIS issues.

He had taken so much from me, that I felt I deserved not have to focus on him, see his face, go over&over the agonizing details...

Yes I decided that I deserved to go FORWARD, and put my focus and effort into effort into my own healing and not spend a couple of years,(or more!), in hell, explaing to, and consoling my sons, (when they were already dealing with the pain of my divorce). as well as battling him and his family and so forth. And I am GLAD that I didn't have to go through that!

He's dead now anyway, one down a bazillion more to go...
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Old 12-20-2008, 07:02 AM
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I have a pet peeve. My pet peeve goes something like this: "Why do they always ask 'why doesn't she leave him?', instead of asking 'why is he allowed to hit her?' "

Your situation falls into this pet peeve. Your therapist was out of line. The question is not "why didn't you report him", the question is "why does he *choose* to molest children?" You have no more control over your Uncle's actions than you do over anyone else's actions (excepting, of course, your own).

Your first priority should always be to take care of yourself. And you, and only you, know what that means.

Would it have been good to report him? Yes, of course it would. You still can. You can call social services (or whoever it is who does foster children in your state) and leave an anonymous tip with them. You can give them other names of people they might want to interview. And you can leave it at that. Oversight of your Uncle is the responsibility of Children's Services, not you.

However, nowhere have I seen a law that requires a person to report a crime. They are only required to not interfere with an investigation.

You must take care of you first. That includes making some tough choices sometimes. As for the guilt - I would like to remind you (see pet peeve above) that YOU were not molesting those children. YOU did not choose to remain silent before, others did. YOU are not responsible here. Guilt is not going to change anything, in the past or the present or the future (except making you feel miserable).

You are not able to right every wrong of the world. To feel guilty that you can not do so is to delude yourself into believing that you have far more power than any single human has. You did what you needed to do, and I applaud you for that.
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Old 12-20-2008, 09:14 AM
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Hello there Fluxion, glad you decided to post

Originally Posted by Fluxion View Post
... .A lot of posts were triggering things I hadn’t had to think about, for a long time...
no worries, we all go thru that. When I first started working on my childhood it was definetly "opening a can of worms" and I also had all those old emotions come pouring out.

Originally Posted by Fluxion View Post
... I have been struggling with a enormous sense of guilt. I don’t think it belongs to me, but maybe it does, and if so, WHAT do I DO about it now?!!...
As others have said, it's not _your_ guilt. You did nothing wrong, so you have nothing to be guilty of.

What happened to me is that I would be overwhelmed by _one_ emotion for awhile, even though the emotion was completely unrelated. Then I would switch to a different emotion, and then another. I went thru the guilty's just like you are, as well as sadness, anger, joy, etc. etc. Basically, I had "sat" on my emotions for so long that when I finally "opened the lid" it all just came out in a huge dump. Kind of like those over-filled closets they show on SitComs, when you open the closet door _everything_ piles out all at once.

As far as what to do with the guilt, deal with it the way you would with any other emotion. What helped me was getting involved in recovery meetings, you may want to check local meetings of al-anon, especially the closed, women's groups.

A _good_ shrink is very helpful. Obviously you don't want to have anything to do with that loser you already saw. Ask around at the al-anon meets for a _good_ shrink, then shop around several of them until you find one that knows what they're doing.

Originally Posted by Fluxion View Post
... .The part of me that is still a somewhat human, caring, morally responsible woman, feels tremendous guilt, about these, (and other), choices I’ve made in the interest of self-preservation...
That's called "survivor guilt". It's very common with those of us who've been raped and abused as children. I had it really bad over my own siblings.

Originally Posted by Fluxion View Post
... But above all I feel ANGER....
Good for you. That's very healthy because it is an _apropriate_ emotion. If you're feeling anger then you are far more healthy than if you are feeling _nothing_.

Originally Posted by Fluxion View Post
... .WHY was it MY responsibility to “Do Something” about HIS behavior?!!!..
That one is called "Blaming the Victim". It's a very common technique used by pedophiles to protect themselves. It prevents other adults from taking action, because they can justify their own inaction, and it places the responsibility on those who are _unable_ to take action; the victims.

Originally Posted by Fluxion View Post
... I chose to save myself, in order that I might help my OWN children....
Protecting your own children _is_ your first responsibility. You are absolutely correct about that. You did the right thing there, no question.

Originally Posted by Fluxion View Post
... .And NO ONE ELSE pressed charges either. Why is that? Why did it have to be me? ..
It did _not_ have to be you who pressed charges. In fact, as one of the victims you should _never_ have to press chargers. Never. You _should_ have been protected by the government, and by other adults. They failed to do that, and you took the actions you needed in order to protect your children. You had the strength to protect your children, and so you did the right thing by them.

Other people failed to do the right thing by _you_, and that is _their_ guilt and _they_ will have to come to terms with their failure.

Originally Posted by Fluxion View Post
... Bless you if read through this!...
Oh goodness, of course we're going to read your post. We've all been where you've been. I think you are an amazingly strong woman and I think you should be proud of yourself for having survived and overcome so much hardship in your life. I am honored that you have chosen to join our little corner of recovery and help us build new lives for ourselves. If I had a Mom like you when I was a child, I may never have been raped.

Bless you for doing for your children what nobody ever did for me

Mike
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Old 12-20-2008, 09:36 AM
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Hi GingerM,

The difference, as I see it, between your "pet peeve" example and my situation, is that in the, "why won't she leave him", scenario, people want her to SAVE herself. It's kinda like seeing a person standing on the train tracks, staring at an incoming train and saying,"Help! that train is going to hit me!". "Why is that train going to hit me?"

Most logical thing to advice such a person is to LEAVE the track. MOVE and save yourself. The "train" (or abusive partner), is just...a TRAIN. It will do what trains do. It is up to us, Then, to remove our selves from harms way. (at some point!).

In my case, I felt like I was being shoved ONTO the the track, after having gone through great effort to remove myself from harms way.

"Your first priority should always be to take care of yourself. And you, and only you, know what that means."

I completely agree with this statement! Thank you for saying that!
I am still not in the best state emotionally speaking, but I truly believe I would have had a break down, had I forced myself through that trial, back then. My uncle is dead now. for many years, I believed I was his only victim. I was "special" . He told me so himself. Only after I was able to speak out against him, did it really hit me, how many other people already knew. That was devastating!

Also, I later learned, that there WAS one thirteen year old foster child, who ran away from his home and reported that he was molesting her.
She was however, a "troubled youth". She had a history of running away, lying, all manner of delinquent behavior. I am told her complaint was internally investigated and dismissed.
You also said:
"However, nowhere have I seen a law that requires a person to report a crime. They are only required to not interfere with an investigation."

Yes. That is probably because the law recognizes our right to self preservation. Most people want to believe, that everyone else, should/would, be capable of doing, "The Right Thing", without suffering horrible, life destroying harm. That is simply not true.

Thanks for your post.
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Old 12-20-2008, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by DesertEyes View Post

Bless you for doing for your children what nobody ever did for me

Mike
No, you most likely would NOT have. At least not on my watch... I have always enjoyed a great, communicative relationship with my children. They SO know, they are loved and valued, (as do I). All of my sons are adults now and I am so proud of who they are.

If I had not been emotionally available to them, because of my "need" to prosecute my uncle, I might not be able to say that... THAT guilt would belong to me!

Thank you so much for your post! I can't tell you how validating it was. To know that someone else...ANYONE else, really "Get's It". is just so important to me right now.
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Old 12-21-2008, 08:10 AM
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The difference, as I see it, between your "pet peeve" example and my situation
Mike did a better job explaining what I was trying to say than I did - as Mike said, it's the "blame the victim" mentality that is my pet peeve. The specifics of the situation really don't matter, what matters is that the therapist was trying to make you - the victim - be somehow responsible for your Uncle's behavior, and that then is being carried forward with you in the form of guilt.

I do hope you can reframe this in a manner which allows you to let go of that guilt - it is not yours to carry. It belongs to someone else - to your Uncle, to the people who didn't listen, to the people who listened and did nothing when you couldn't do anything, to the adults who were supposed to protect and nurture you. I think you should box it all up, mail it back to them, and tell them "you left something with me that isn't mine" (metaphorically speaking of course).

I envision myself doing just that when I realize I'm carrying something that isn't mine. Or I envision myself handing it back to the person the next time I see them, if I'm still in contact with them. I always feel such a sense of relief, as though I'm getting rid of a bad house guest.
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