Understanding Shame: How Does Shame Affect Me? 

Written by: Brooke Byers, Social Service Work Diploma, Practicum Student 

The guilt brought on by the CSA’s subordination, authority, and control might make one feel: Self-blame for the mistreatment; Embarrassed by the abuse and their powerlessness to put a stop to it; A lack of self-worth and low self-esteem can lead to a cycle in which a survivor feels inferior, which can result in unpleasant situations that serve to reinforce such feelings; Negative mental health — Shame can make someone bury their pain, which can exacerbate psychological illness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Even bodily agony might result from shame. Chronic pelvic discomfort, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia in the neck, shoulders, and back are a few frequent symptoms that survivors may endure.  

Shame has been linked to immune system deterioration as well; Sexual relationships with others – CSA survivors may connect shame and sexual desire with sexual activities; Relationships – Survivors who experience shame worry about how others perceive them. The inability to relate to others personally might result from hiding their maltreatment from partners as well as their sorrow and distress. A person who experiences CSA may feel that they are deserving of receiving unfavourable treatment from others. 

It’s important to note that the effects of shame on survivors of CSA are highly individualized, and not all survivors may experience these specific challenges. However, understanding the potential impact of shame can help create awareness and empathy for survivors as they navigate their healing journey. Seeking support from persons you trust, including peer support groups, and psychotherapy to work on building self-compassion can be a crucial step in addressing shame and its effects on various aspects of life.

If you are a CSA survivor, how many of the impacts of shame listed do you feel that you identify with? 


Home – victim support. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/P2661CSA-survivors-shame.pdf