The reason why trauma therapy so often emphasizes that abuse and neglect is not the victim’s fault is, so often victims of abuse and neglect show up strongly believing their experience IS their fault. 

Trauma therapists didn’t pull this out of thin air. 

People blame and shame themselves for their own abuse or neglect so often, and it is so destructive to trauma (or addiction) recovery, that we’ve learned that that “I deserved it” belief really does have to be dealt with first— and explicitly. 

Sometimes people assume this means trauma recovery is about “blaming” someone else. 

I can assure you: no one gets into trauma therapy to obsess about blaming anyone else for their pain. 

Trauma recovery doesn’t philosophically hinge on blame. 

The main reason we deal with blame in trauma treatment is to place it where it belongs— and to remove it from where it does not belong, i.e., on conscience of someone who was abused or neglected. 

i cannot express how much it annoys me when people— including some therapists— take shots at trauma-focused treatment to the tune of, “it’s all about blaming (whoever) for your problems.” 

The assumption that trauma-focused therapy doesn’t ask a person to take personal responsibility for how they feel and function is absurdly incorrect. 

In trauma recovery we know, very well, that we are responsible for how we feel and function. 

Recovery generally is about taking responsibility— and giving up the fantasy that we’re going to be rescued. 

I WISH trauma recovery WAS all about blaming those responsible. That would be more fun. 

In trauma recovery we direct blame for abuse and neglect where it belongs for the purpose of freeing ourselves up of a terrible burden that was NEVER ours to carry. 

Abusers and manipulators go to great lengths to make their victims feel responsible for and ashamed of their abuse. 


Often abusers and manipulators have been in positions of authority and influence to do a VERY good job of conditioning victims to believe they really ARE responsible for their own abuse. 

In correcting this, we DON’T swing to the other side of the spectrum, where “nothing is you fault and everything is your responsibility.” 

That’s not realistic— and recovery doesn’t work if it is not brutally, consistently realistic. 

With the hundreds of trauma survivors with whom I’ve worked, “accepting responsibility” has never been the problem. 

The problem has usually been the exact opposite: getting okay with letting go of responsibility that is not ours to take. 

Accepting that NOT everything is our fault or our responsibility— especially things that happened to us when we were in disadvantaged or disempowered positions. 

Don’t buy into anyone’s argument that trauma or addiction recovery will lead you to fail to take responsibility for your life. 

And don’t fall for the argument that trauma recovery tries every problem you had or have back to your trauma, either. 

Trauma recovery is about getting real about how what you went through, affected you. No more; no less. 

It’s about getting real about the fact that, when something is as overwhelming as trauma and post traumatic reactions, that issue HAS to be first on the agenda to manage EVERY day. 

It is not becoming obsessed with or preoccupied by trauma— it is realistically acknowledging the reality of what we’re up against. 

We can’t “make too big a deal” out of something that has effortfully tried to ruin every minute of our life since it happened. 

Taking realistic responsibility is hard. It requires us to step up— and also to let certain things go. 

Humans aren’t great at that. 

Th good news is: you don’t have to be great at it. 

Just take it one day at a time. 

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