PTSD: Do You Blame Yourself For What Happened to You?

If the answer if yes, you’re not alone. Often times, survivors of sexual abuse and assault, as well as other types of trauma, blame themselves on some level for what has happened to them. Feelings of guilt and self-blame are actually far more common than not. Over 75% of victims of physical or sexual trauma report intense feelings of guilt.
This tendency of survivors to blame themselves actually increases the chances that a survivor will develop PTSD as a result of the abuse. Survivors who blame themselves are also more likely to become depressed over time. As a result, survivors are often forced to struggle through depression and PTSD at the same time, which can be both overwhelming and debilitating.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) has been proven to be more effective than other therapies in treating these feelings of guilt and self-blame. Through CPT, you can learn to challenge and change some of the following beliefs you may be experiencing if you are a survivor of trauma struggling with feelings of guilt.
blame myself

Common Beliefs We Can Help You Work Through

If you are a survivor experiencing feelings of guilt or blaming yourself, know that you are not alone. These feelings are sadly more common than not and many survivors report experiencing the exact same types of thoughts and feelings. Here is a list of some of the most common beliefs reported by survivors in therapy with us:


Believing that what happened to you was foreseeable and preventable

Survivors often believe they knew what was going to happen and that they dismissed the “signs.” If this feels true for you, you may feel that you are to blame for the attack or abuse because you believe you saw it coming and did not prevent it from happening.


Believing that you are primarily responsible for what happened to you

Survivors often take on a large chunk of the responsibility for the abuse or for the outcome. At times, if you report the abuse, this belief can extend to you feeling responsible or guilty for “ruining” the lives of your family, your relationship with your partner, or your abuser’s life.


Blaming yourself for your reactions when the abuse or attack was occurring

Survivors often experience feelings of guilt related to specific reactions during the abuse such as staying as still and quiet as possible, not fighting back “enough,” not reporting it afterward, or bodily signs of arousal during the attack. It is more common than not to question your specific reactions during the attack and to blame yourself for not doing something differently to stop it.


Believing you have done something personally or morally wrong

Survivors often believe that because of what has happened, they have gone against their personal beliefs of who they are. As a result, you may begin to think of yourself as a bad person because of what’s happened to you.


Cognitive Processing Therapy can help free you from some of these thoughts that can keep you stuck reliving your worst moments. CPT is one of the highest recommended treatments available for PTSD and survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.


If you are in the Orlando area and would like to set up an appointment to begin Cognitive Processing Therapy, please contact us directly at (407) 603-6132.


Kubany, Edward S., and Tyler C. Ralston. “Cognitive therapy for trauma-related guilt.” Cognitive-behavioral therapies for trauma (1998): 124-161.
Nishith, Pallavi, Reginald DV Nixon, and Patricia A. Resick. “Resolution of trauma-related guilt following treatment of PTSD in female rape victims: A result of cognitive processing therapy targeting comorbid depression?.” Journal of Affective Disorders 86.2 (2005): 259-265.
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