Guilt and Shame after Rape

HomeGuilt and Shame after Rape

Why didn’t I stop the rape from happening?

Why didn’t I stop the rape from happening?

Many people who have been raped feel ashamed that they let it happen. If you could have stopped yourself from being raped, you would have.

It is likely that the rapist was much stronger than you, and there would be no way that you could have fought him off. Perhaps he was threatening you with violence or even death if you didn’t do what he wanted. In this situation it would be impossible for you to stop what was happening.

Perhaps you weren’t threatened, but the rapist didn’t stop when you asked him to. In this situation you were probably very distressed and shocked by what was happening. Such feelings can make it really difficult to react and people who have been in this situation say they have felt ‘frozen’, and unable to move.

Was it my fault because of the way I was dressed?


Men who rape girls and women often say that the victim was “asking for it” because of the way they were dressed (e.g. short skirt, low-cut top etc.) This is an excuse they are using to try and blame their victim for what has happened, instead of taking responsibility for the crime they have committed. It doesn’t matter what you wear, nobody has the right to force you to have sexual intercourse.

Why do I feel so ashamed?

Most people who have been raped feel shame about it, which means that it can be really difficult for them to talk about. There are lots of reason why people who have been raped feel ashamed. Many men who rape women try to make the victim feel like it is their fault, or that they have asked for it in some way, maybe by the way they look or dress – this is NEVER true.

Maybe you were really drunk when the rape happened, and feel like you didn’t take proper care of yourself. Although it is true that you are an easier target for a rapist when you have been drinking or taking drugs, it is important that you don’t blame yourself for what happened, as it is the fault of the rapist, not you.

Some people who have been raped say their bodies responded sexually during the attack, and feel terrible shame about this. The fact is that our body is made to respond to touch, even if we don’t want it to. It is something we have very little control over and if you felt your body respond in a sexual way, try and remember that this is a normal way for a body to respond and does not mean that you wanted the rape to happen.

If you have anything you would like to know or discuss, please e-mail us and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

If you are under 18 and tell us that you ( or someone you know) are being or have been sexually abused or raped, we may have to share this information with Social Services who will then help you get the support you need.


The feelings that you get when you are anxious are similar to those of feeling afraid or frightened. This means that you may get physical symptoms such as sweating, quickened heart beat, or ‘butterflies’ in your stomach.

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Drugs and Alcohol – Some people who have been affected by sexual abuse or rape may use alcohol or street drugs as a way of coping with the painful feelings they are left with. Often, it can be a way of blocking out what happened and all the terrible thoughts and feelings.

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Guit and Shame

Should I feel guilty because I didn’t stop the abuse? No, even though it is very common for people who have been sexually abused to feel this way. When an adult sexually abuses a child, they are using their power over you to make you do things they know are wrong..

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If you are feeling different to your usual self, are not interested in the things you used to be interested in, feel sad a lot of the time you may be depressed. There are lots of different feelings linked with depression and they are unique to each person.

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Eating Disorders

The National Centre for Eating Disorders state that there are thousands of people suffering from eating disorders who feel they have weight problems and may be obsessed with food and weight. Eating disorders include Anorexia, Bulimia and Compulsive Overeating or Binge Eating.

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Nightmares and Flashbacks – A flashback is like reliving a distressing event that may have happened recently or many years ago. Many people who have been sexually abused or raped experience flashbacks. They can be triggered by a place, a smell or even a sound.

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