How do I overcome this unrealistic guilt?

I am new to this and looking for help. My sister and I along with some other children were beaten and raped at our day-care. I was one of the oldest at 6 and when I resisted I was told that my younger sister sleeping in another room would be murdered. In order to protect her I forced myself to disassociate the sheer terror of being raped and ride the physical and mental anguish until he left. I tried telling every adult I thought I could trust but with fear and a lack of vocabulary it sounded to them like whining. This is what trapped me there for 4 years of hellish survival for me and my sister.

Now 30 years later I still feel this overwhelming guilt of not doing enough to stop this. I feel like I committed a heinous crime and have gotten away with it on a technicality. I blame myself for my sister's drug abuse. I feel I owe society and always think higher of others more then myself. I hate the person I see every morning in the mirror and wish I was dead. No matter what I've done or accomplished in my life I feel like its insignificant and I am still a horrible person. I never think of anyone else in this way so why do I feel thit? Why can't I overcome it?

Thank you dare, I wish there were more people that understand or at least listen to what I try to say. I have started seeing a theropist about a year ago. She helped me remember some things that are associated with the guild I feel. I remember forcing myself to not just lie there and be sodomized but to try to 'satisfy' or 'preform' better to keep his attention on me and not my sister. I remember luring him to me when he stared at my sister. This is where a lot of the guilt comes from. Just knowing that I was protecting my sister when nobody else did motivated me to hang on and push myself to endure this madness so that she wont be dragged into hell with me. I was always full of fear but the hope of them not touching my little sister gave me the fortitude to endure. This only lasted for so long though. I had to attend school and she was left there. The school bus dropped me off at this place for a few hours until my parents arrived to pick us up. When I thru the kitchen I heard wimpering and what sonded like a dog eating food out of a dish. When I turned the corner it was my sister forcing herself to eat dog food! We both remember this vividly from our own perspective because it was a very significant event for us. She was told that if she didn't eat something by the end of the day she would starve and die. To a 4 year old and after so many beatings this sounded real. It was just a way to torment her. She was raped before this too. When I saw her shivering uncontrolably and forcing each piece of dog food into her mouth my world shattered all around me. I knew immediatly that they had gotten to her and voilated her. I was about 8 years old now and was overcome by rage. I ran around the corner back into the kitchen and saw not the rapist but his mother on the phone (she, was the physical one). I screamed as loud as I could the only word that was burning in my head 'NO', she calmly turned and looked at me... 'NO', She took a step toward me and I can feel my face is wet with tears freely flowing down my face, 'NO'... She adjusted the phone to free up the hand she uses to choke us, 'NO'. Once she silenced me I could hear my sister behind me begging me to stop I couldnt stand to live anymore knowing that I failed to save her. I felt all the fear leave me and I stood in defiance at this evil as she tighened her grip and I couldn't breath anymore. I just closed my eyes and begged god to take me because I couldn't continue taking this abuse anymore. I blacked out and woke up locked in a dimly lit room in the basement with toys thrown around me as though I was playing. I just laid there crying and waited for my parents to arrive. This was the first day of this horrible guilt and depression I try to deal with. My sister told me much later that on that day I was her hero. She was never bothered when I was there. Unfortunately I was so ashamed of myself that I didn't bother to see this. If anything good came out of this is that it taught me to overcome my fear and I could take anything they tried to do to me. I continued protecting my sister for 2 more years before we were old enough to stay at home but sank into depression and by the time I was in high school I cut deep lines into my arm and was suicidal. I joined the Marines right when the first gulf war was happening just so that I could go there and die with dignity. Instead what I found there was lifechanging. For the first time ever I felt pride, honor, courage, bravery and respect. Although it didn't take away the guild it took away my depression.

I hope that if someone reads this they can find courage too. I hope they can overwhelm thier fear and defy the horrors that happen to them. For me I just wish there was a way for me to feel free of this guilt.

I think guilt and shame are such incredibly difficult emotions to handle and get rid of. it is so common though in trauma victims though. maybe it's the complete lack of control we felt at the time of the abuse and also probably what we were told about the abuse itself during that time. it's so sad what happened to you Jason. I agree with dare in that your sister made her own choices of how she has coped with the trauma and those choices have nothing to do with you.

I was bitter with my parents because they were the first ones I went to for help. I remember running away from that place back to where I lived, it was next door. I did this because my mother was at home from work and not feeling well. I was a child and it was terrifying. I was afraid I would get caught or they would kill my sister but I thought I could end this. I was full of adrenaline and excited and that is all my mother saw. I didn't get to say a word before my mother disciplined me. After this and to my young mind at the time it felt like I was completely on my own without help. As my mother spanked me I felt myself falling into despair. I didn't cry, I didn't resist her, I just laid there unmoving undesponding and took what she gave me without feeling any physical pain at all. Later in life this upset me even more that she couldn't see that there was something wrong. I had assumed that they knew what was happening to us and they would punish me worse if I ever complained about it again. This is one of the reasons why this abuse lasted for so long unchecked. Later in life thru high school I was so depressed that I cut these deep wounds into my arm. My parents didn't even question this! I had cut my arm on a highly visible place and even my teachers that had to of seen this never asked me about it. Only one did. He was my shop teacher and I looked up to him. I lied to him and told him it really was an accident because I felt like I was letting him down. He had real concern and worried about me. Ill never forget this.

My sister noticed the cutting too but never approached me she was shocked to see the 'hero' she looked up to doing this to himself. So she did it to while in school. The same teachers that seemed to ignore me were alarmed to she my sister doing it. She was immediately sent to a hospital then admitted into a secure mental asylum. This is the first time my parents found out about what had happened. For me I was too bitter about it to participate in my sisters theropy. My attitude was -if you didn't care about me then why do you care know.- I was also so depressed that I overlooked watching over my sister like I used too. When my parents approached me I maintained my attitude and focused on joining the Marines. When I left to do that my sister fell into her drug addiction. Right now she is the best support I have. We have talked many times about what has happened to us, shed many tears and most of all we loved each other for the support we provide each other. I hope that when people read this they can maybe learn that they are not alone and not without hope for a better life.

Dear Jason, as I read this thread, I can't help but have tears running down my face. I am so very sorry about what happened to you and your sister. I have to say as well, that I am so proud of you for being able to talk about it!! There is an amazing man here who's been abused himself, but has dedicated his life to raising awareness about sexual abuse. His name is Charlie and I really want you to meet him. He will truly have the most amazing advice and support!! He was a councelor for lots of years and now teaches at a university AND he helps us all here at SG. He's the best!!!! Truly we think he's a superhero so don't be surprised if you see a cape!!! :0)

Truly I am so sorry for what you've been through, but I am so incredibly glad that you found this place!! Welcome to support groups, we are very glad you are here!!!

All my strength and hugs, Suzee

I'm 38 years old now, married and have 2 kids. Seven year old boy and a one year old girl. I honestly never wanted to have kids. I was afraid that I wouldnt be able to protect them. My wife threatened to divorce me if I didnt want to have kids so reluctantly I did. It was very hard because she thought that since I didn't want any kids I was intentionally not cooperating with her. We went to fertility doctors, taken many tests and she took many different fertility drugs and none of it worked. Still she blamed me for this failure and for a year it was all my fault for some reason and only when she gave up and wasn't stressed she got pregnant. When my son was born it was very powerful for me. He was premature but they took great care of him. I love him very much and he gives me strength to be there for him and to protect him. We had almost the exact same experiance trying to have my daughter. Stress, frustration, tests, fertility drugs, all futile. Only when she gave up and calmed down, she was able to concieve. I love my daughter just as much as my son. Her innocense inspires me to confront the pain I have from my past. Without my kids I would not be here shareing this. I do it to better myself for them. I want them to experiance a good long life.

My sister is plagued with nightmares and it does effect her. I encourage her to steel herself and face her fear. I tell her that doing this is very unnerving and difficult but it will build self confidence. I tell her that what she confronts in her dreams is what her mind has locked away in her self conscious. Its wrong what happened to her and she hasn't found and taken back what has been stolen from her (her self respect, her dignity, her self esteem). For me I have taken some of that back by facing it head on. My sister sees these things in her dreams and in the form of panic attacks. I tell her when she has thes
e dreams or if she feels panic rising inside her to stand tall, look at what is hurting her, what is scaring her, what is damaging her psyche and think of something inspiring for strength. In her case it was when I screamed at the woman who abused us so much. When you see what is trying to control you, what is trying to terrifying you, you realize just how weak and pathetic it really is. She will see what cowards the people who did those things to us really were. Adults beating, raping, tormenting small children! I tell my sister that she is no longer a child and in control of her own life. Don't let the actions of a weak and pathetic coward push her away from what joys life does offer.

The things that plague me are more subtle. My self confidence gets slowly eroded until it collapses and I sink into depression. Guilt is one of these things. When I see myself as that cowardly ******* who couldn't get help I feel responsible for it. What I try to do now is be strong for my kids. Its not easy and my head is often full of racing thoughts and distractions. This results in small mistakes or forgetfullness. It causes problems for me at home and over time my wife gets sock of it and constantly questions me. "Why wasn't our sons homework done?" "Why didnt you give the Kids a bath?" "Why didn't you fed them a good meal?". On and on it goes until I start questioning myself. That can lead to me wanting to withdraw from my own Kids because I think I am hurting them somehow. This is incredibly painful without some kind of help.

Well that's the frustrating part. Before I ever got married I made her look up sexual abuse and tell me what effects it has. She did and I told her about my past. I refused to marry unless my partner knows this and can accept it. She did and everything went well until we started trying to have children. Then my problems were ignored. She even gets upset now whenever I bring up what I'm trying to deal with. She tells me " That's your past and it happened a long time ago. Just forget about it!" If only it was that easy... She even thought that my theropist was really my secret girlfriend that I'm cheating on her with. She also likes to look at me and tell me "Your fine. that theropist just wants to take our money." That about sums up the support I get from my wife. She refuses to participate and wont tell me why. This leads to arguments and tension. For the last three days she hasn't spoke to me at all. I can understand there is a lot to do with kids but I only want her to just be there when I go. She doesn't have to say anything, just be there with me. I don't think my marriage will last to much longer like this.