Misbeliefs: It’s My Fault
Survivors of trauma, whether childhood abuse, sexual assault, or domestic abuse, share a belief that the abuse was their fault. A person abused as a child may believe they were not loveable enough, or they could have stopped the abuse. Children who are sexually abused by a caregiver believe that they acted in a way that made the perpetrator want to have sex with them.
The thought that my abuse was my fault is not true. We cannot take the blame for someone else’s sin; only that person can take responsibility. God tells us in Ezekiel 18:20, “The wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Why, then, is it so easy for the survivor to believe the abuse was their fault?
Abusers themselves are quick to point to the victim as the cause of the abuse. They blame their victim for what they said as the reason for getting hit. Child victims are told they dress too “sexy” or that they shouldn’t have hugged the perpetrator. When told multiple times every day that the abuse is the survivor’s fault, it becomes easy to believe it and to take on that burden. What makes it worse is that most times, the perpetrator believes that what they are saying is true. They hide from themselves the guilt of what they have done.
Taking blame is a way that survivors try to recapture the loss of control experienced in abuse. By taking on the responsibility for the abuse, survivors try to take back some of the power lost, even if it is only in their mind.
Child abuse is never the fault of the child.
Consider these facts:
- Adults are stronger than children
- Adults know right from wrong
- Adults know it is wrong to abuse a child
- Adults use manipulation to get what they want from a child
If you suffered abuse as a child and still feel guilty, that it was your fault: The abuse you suffered is not your fault. You did not choose it, nor did you want it. Will these words convince you? Probably not. But they are true. And God knows they are true. The Bible reminds us, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:20)
I pray you have people in your life who are quick to remind you of this. Self-blame is common among survivors of abuse, and you need someone who can be gentle yet firm in reminding you that you’re not guilty, that the perpetrator is the one at fault.
If you need someone to talk to, please reach out to Freedom for the Captives on our website.
Michelle Markgraf, Freedom for the Captives