In child sexual abuse, the blame and shame are dumped onto the victim by the perpetrator. In recovery, as survivors we need to find a way of reversing that process – and dumping back what doesn’t belong to us.
‘The Great Exchange’ is how I’ve conceptualised what goes on with that transfer, and this poster, taken from my ‘Child Sexual Abuse: Hope for Healing‘ online course details it in simple terms.
This is a free downloadable PDF.
Page 1 is a full-colour poster.
Page 2 is a low-ink, print-friendly version.
One of the hardest things to understand is why after child sexual abuse we experience so much shame. ‘But it wasn’t your fault!’ people protest to us. ‘You were just a child!’ Although that’s eminently true, the shame runs deep.
One of my big breakthroughs in coming to terms with what happened to me as a child was when I began to understand that this shame is not an accidental side-effect of the abuse, but a deliberate artefact of the blame-shifting inherent in grooming.
For an adult to abuse a child, they need to take the shame that they should feel, and dump it on the child. They need to take the responsibility they bear and dump that on the child too. It’s a form of cognitive distortion that allows them to do what they are doing and still sleep at night. Everything is inverted – the person who should feel all the guilt and blame doesn’t, and the child, as victim, instead has it dumped on him or her.
In recovery from abuse, therefore, it can be helpful to think in terms of dumping the blame and the shame back where it belongs. ‘The Great Exchange’ poster explains some of these dynamics, laid out in a way that attempts to show how the shame and blame are entirely projections from the abuser in order to facilitate the abuse.
A fuller explanation can be found in my ‘Child Sexual Abuse: Hope for Healing’ online course.
Get a free 104-page Trauma Survivors’ Resource Guide when you join my mailing list.