Gaining Independence: Let’s Redirect the Shame

By Joel Moore, author of

Your shame was too heavy, so you put it on me.
Accustomed to your shame, like an invisible cloak, I hid from everyone.
Your shame became my shame.
Clutching it close like gollum’s “precious” I became the shame.
My life, my love, all became one, the precious you placed on me.

In despair and desperation I cried out,
“It’s not mine! It’s not mine! but thine!”

Haven’t we all as survivors unknowingly carried the burden given to us by the perpetrator? The shame and horror I feel centers around something I had no choice in. I was innocent, I was a boy, an empty shell, a non-participant. The shame I felt kept this secret hidden from me for over 20 years until I was ready to discover what it was.

Because of the actions of others, shame is in us, it is a part of us, it creates part of our perception of the universe around us. It compels us to do things we don’t want to do. Shame controls us. Shame is silent, Shame begs to be kept in the dark. Shame has power when no one speaks. Yet the shame is not us. It is not who we are now. It was placed upon us by those who were weak and cowardly.

I refuse to keep the shame that held me silent for so many years. I refuse to keep the shame that threatened to destroy my family and all I worked for. I will speak and speak and speak until the shame no longer holds the power over me that it once held. I will speak and speak until the shame is but a nightmare from a long time ago.

I believe if we as a collective survivor group can refuse the shame or “redirect the shame” back onto those who once placed it upon us, we will find strength we didn’t know we had. We will find hope that was lost long ago. We will realize our dreams of happiness, love and family.

What does it mean to “redirect the shame”? Do not be embarrassed or afraid to tell your story. It is not your fault. YOU were not wrong and committed no wrongdoing. Do not be afraid to speak up when someone makes a joke about things such as rape or molestation that seems so commonplace in our society–it’s not okay. It is okay to not accept blame or responsibility or to hide what happened so you don’t embarrass others. Your victimization is not an embarrassment to you, but the person or people who committed the CRIME and allowed it to happen. If your house gets robbed, you don’t blame yourself. If someone steals your car, you aren’t ashamed to tell others what happened–you tell people without hesitation.

I believe that we as a collective survivor group as we learn to “redirect the shame” we will find independence from those shameful shackles that compels us to hide, to cover up and lie to others. I believe in redirecting the shame we will create our own independence day.
I believe that we as a collective survivor group, as we find the lost voice and speak what could not be spoken we will heal from what could not be mended. By “redirecting the shame” perhaps one day we can end this scourge upon humanity.


7 thoughts on “Gaining Independence: Let’s Redirect the Shame

  1. We need a cultural revolution in this area! No more shaming the victims and their families by the perpetrator or society. The revolution starts with brave people like yourself sharing their story with confidence. Bless you for your honesty.

  2. Joel,

    An inspirational and powerful post, and poem!

    You have identified one of the most important truths that survivors struggle with, but is absolutely vital, if one is to grow. (or heal, if you prefer)

    The shame, guilt and other negative feelings that survivors carry, ARE the property of the perpetrator/s of abuse.

    Best wishes!


  3. ‘Shameful shackles’…..great words to describe what keeps us from going forward………wonderful visual description!
    One of the many things I struggle with!
    Thank you for sharing this!

  4. I just attended a class recently that included in its foundation a large dose of shame. Hard to get away from it when religions talk about it daily.. Blaming the victim..Anything to protect criminals..

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