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   It's really common to blame yourself after experiencing rape or any
   other form of sexual violence or abuse. You might also feel guilty or
   ashamed. But although these kinds of feelings are common, this doesn't
   mean they are true.

You are not to blame for what happened to you.


   If you need someone to talk to, we are here. We will listen to you and
   believe you. And we never judge.

   Many victims and survivors feel like they blame themselves for what
   happened, feel guilty, or feel ashamed.

   These feelings of shame, guilt and self-blame can be very hard to deal
   with. But, if you are feeling like this, you are not alone - it's a
   really common response.

   You might feel like:
     * You were 'asking for it'.
     * You are 'dirty' or there is something wrong with you.
     * If you had done something differently, then it wouldn't have

   These feelings can also make it really hard to talk about what happened
   or get support.

   If you do get in touch with Rape Crisis, we understand these feelings.
   We will always listen and never judge you.

   But try to remember - it was not your fault and you are not to blame.
   The only person to blame for what happened is the perpetrator.

Recognising self-blame

   It can be helpful to try and recognise when your thoughts become
   self-blaming. Once you recognise these thought patterns you can start
   to challenge and replace them.

   Look out for any thoughts that sound like:
     * 'I should have...'
     * 'I shouldn't have...'
     * 'If I had only...then it wouldn't have happened.'
     * 'I deserved it.'
     * 'I was asking for it.'
     * 'I led him on.'

   You might start to notice that these thoughts have a pattern, or you
   often say the same things. Or, you might notice that you get these
   thoughts in certain situations - for example, if you feel upset by
   something, or if something reminds you of what happened.

   These thoughts can be really hard. If you feel upset, distressed or
   'spaced out', you might want to do something that feels safe and
   comforting instead. You could try one of our grounding or self-care

Challenging thoughts of self-blame

   Once you can spot self-blaming thoughts, you might be able to challenge
   them. This can help them feel less upsetting or happen less often.

   We have some ideas for how to do this below.

Think of yourself as a friend

   Think to yourself, 'If a friend told me this story, would I blame them?
   Would I think they should have done anything differently?'

   Often we can be kinder to our friends than to ourselves. Try telling
   yourself what you'd say to a friend in a similar situation.

   You could even write this down in a letter or in a journal.

Think of what a good friend would say to you

   Think of someone you trust and can always talk to. What would they say?

   If you feel up to it, you could call or arrange to meet them.

Compare evidence

   Write a list of arguments that back up your self-blaming thought, then
   write a list of arguments against your thought. For example:
     * For: 'I didn't say anything, so maybe he thought I was into it.'
     * Against: 'He shouldn't assume. Being quiet can be a sign of being
       uncomfortable. If he wasn't sure what I wanted, he should've

   Compare the two lists and see if they make you feel differently.

Tell your thoughts, 'You're wrong!'

   Whenever you get a self-blaming thought - tell it "You're wrong!"

   It can also help to think of an argument against the thought.

   For example:
     * If you think "I shouldn't have got drunk" - you might say "Being
       drunk meant that I couldn't consent to what happened - and all the
       blame lies on him"
     * If you think "I should have said no" - you might say "I couldn't
       say no because of my body's automatic reaction to danger - it's not
       my fault"

   You can even try saying this aloud while looking in the mirror.

   This might be hard at first, so you could start by saying it in your
   head. Then practise every day until you can say it out loud, and
   eventually believe it.

Use positive affirmations

   Instead of saying negative things to yourself, you can challenge these
   by using positive affirmations. These are positive statements about the
   things you like about yourself.

   Whenever you feel thoughts of shame, self-blame or guilt, try using a
   positive affirmation instead.

   They work even better if you say, shout, sing or chant them out loud.
   You might feel silly at first! But over time, they can help you feel
   more positive towards yourself.

   Here are some ideas:
     * I am brave.
     * I am a survivor.
     * I am doing the best that I can.
     * I am a kind person.

   Choose something that works for you.

Struggling with shame or self-blame?

   We know how hard this can be.

   If you get in touch with Rape Crisis, we will never judge or blame you
   for what you tell us. We will always listen to you and believe you.

   Talking to someone might help - you can get in touch with one of our
   helplines or contact your local Rape Crisis centre.
   Talk to us
   Illustration of a woman sitting at a table with a phone in her hands.
   There is a vase of pink flowers and a pair of glasses on the table she
   is sitting at.

Find a Rape Crisis centre

   Our member Rape Crisis centres provide free support and services for
   victims and survivors of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and all
   forms of sexual violence
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Want to talk?

   Contact one of our specialist helplines to get information and support.
   Find out more

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   Rape Crisis England & Wales (RCEW) is a Charitable Incorporated
   Organisation (CIO), charity number: 1155140
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