Survivors Guilt

Trigger Warning: This post is all about triggers. Triggers are different for everyone. You never know when they are going to show up. I am sharing in hopes of helping others.

Survivors Guilt

Over the last 6 months there have been a lot of domestic violence murders in the news. Each one sent me spiraling a little more. To which I am grateful as it led to more personal growth.

I am grateful for an article by Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D. Titled Six Tips for Handling Survivor Guilt. It states: “When tragedy hits those closest to us but leaves us unscathed, some of us thank our lucky stars, but others feel guilty. “Why not me?” we ask, or, “What could I have done to prevent this?” These statements are the hallmarks of an unofficial but very real phenomenon called survivor guilt.

When an individual believes they have done something wrong by surviving a tragic event where others have died or otherwise succumbed, survivor guilt takes hold. It can manifest a”cross the spectrum, from bittersweet feelings to all-out despair. Most commonly, survivor guilt occurs after a large-scale catastrophe (like battlefield deaths or plane crashes), but it can also pop up in unexpected ways.”

I have not personally know any of these victims or their families there has been guilt associated with getting out my relationship. I was told by our marriage counselor that X would kill me if I stayed. On of the women kill had gotten out of her relationship, but she was being stocked and blackmailed by her X before he killed her. This triggered nightmares which lead to the discovery that it was survivors guilt I was dealing with.

In an article by Diana Raab Ph.D. titled What Everybody Should Know About Survivor’s Guilt stated, “In truth, it’s not logical for someone to feel responsible for another person’s fate, but guilt is not something we necessarily have any control over. However, survivor’s guilt is a normal response to loss. Not everyone experiences this type of guilt, but it’s often a feeling that is difficult to shake. It’s been said that some people are more prone to it, such as those with a history of depression and low self-esteem.”

Which makes so much sense to me. I have struggled with depression and low self-esteem. And I know that my thoughts around domestic violence are not logical. I often wonder why I was able to get out and stay safe while others have not.

In 6 Ways to Survive Survivor Guilt By Ellen Hendriksen, PhD, Savvy Psychologist states, “In situations where you couldn’t possibly have known but you still feel guilty, guilt may be functioning as a false sense of control. By feeling guilty and taking responsibility, we tell ourselves that it wasn’t all pointless and random.”

I have putting into practice the tips and ways to survive survivors guilt are the same in the articles quoted above. They have really helped me continue my process of healing. Those tips are as follows:

  1. Ask who is truly responsible
  2. Remind yourself you can handle sadness and loss
  3. Think about how people who love you feel about your survival
  4. It’s not a zero-sum game
  5. Do something meaningful for someone else
  6. This goes without saying, but take care of yourself

The most import tip for me is #3. Thinking about how people who love me feel about my survival has been profound. I find gratitude that I did survive and that I am able to continue to heal and grow. I find joy and peace as I look at all of the amazing things that have taken place since getting out of my abusive relationship. I am also able to share my experiences to support and help others.

Everyone has his or her own journey. I honor Warrior for sharing hers with you. We each have our own triggers and interpretations of life. My intent is to add in the healing process not cause anxiety or pain. Our experience may be similar but they are each unique. Even though many people could have been at the same event each person experiences and remembers those events through our own eyes and will recall the event differently. My blogs will be from my perspective of my life. I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend. I am not a Doctor, Counselor or Therapist. I believe it is important to work with Doctors, Counselors and Therapist along with Essential Oils, Energy Healing and spirituality to find health, healing and balance.

Know the cycle and the statics



70% of batterers also abuse their children.

75% of batterers witnessed abuse between their parents.

50% of batterers experienced abuse themselves as children.



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