Monday, December 23, 2013

Side effects of shame...

A few days ago, I wrote about a man who sat in prison for four years because of a lie.  A teen was caught looking at porn and her mother repeatedly asked for an explanation.  She wondered if the girl was looking at the sexually explicit material because she had been abused.  Apparently, it never crossed the mother's mind that perhaps her daughter was just horny or curious.

The girl, apparently ashamed of what she had done or perhaps just worried about being punished for looking at pornography, proceeded to tell a very damaging lie that horribly affected an innocent man.  For whatever reason, she didn't feel able to tell the truth.  It never occurred to her that her lie might injure another person.  She told a lie to save her own skin and in the process, almost ruined an innocent man's life.

If you read this blog regularly, you may know that I'm not too big on shame.  I think shame is often pretty useless, because instead of focusing on what's messed up, it focuses on who messed up.  A person who fears shame may say or do whatever they can to avoid that feeling of self loathing and remorse that comes from shame.  They may make false accusations to take the heat off themselves.

My husband has often said that the cover up is almost always worse than the original offense.  All the teenager needed to do was 'fess up to her mother and say that she was looking at porn because she was curious or horny or whatever.  Mom might have been very angry with her, but eventually the anger probably would have passed.  That poor guy who went to prison based on a lie could have enjoyed the early half of his 20s instead of losing his liberty.

Moving on to a different example.  The abortion debate has been raging in this country for about 40 years.  Many people think abortion should be illegal, though quite a few people recognize there are times when perhaps it should be an option.  One situation in which people tend to forgive abortion is when a woman has been raped or molested.

Though I personally find abortion sickening, I believe it should be safe and legal.  I also think that it would be a mistake to allow it only in certain situations.  Allowing abortions only in cases of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest opens up the risk that some men will be falsely accused of sex crimes and they may end up having to go to prison for crimes they didn't commit.  While we'd hope that most women wouldn't lie about sexual assault, we also know from the case I cited at the beginning of this post that sometimes women do lie very convincingly.  Unfortunately, there are people out there in the world who don't care what happens to the other guy as long as they get theirs.

I also have a problem with selective ethics.  A child conceived through a criminal act is still as innocent as a child who was conceived through love.  If abortion is not okay when a woman gets pregnant because she's careless about birth control, how can it be okay in other situations like rape or incest?  I don't think it's right to force women to be pregnant, even though I don't like abortion.  So, I think it should be legal, though I do agree that late term abortions should be outlawed in the vast majority of cases.

I think that shame and fear of humiliation leads to a lot of problems.  It causes some people to try to cover up the truth.  In many situations, it's far easier to just face the problem and accept the consequences rather than try to bury the truth.  Lies almost always complicate things, cause pain and loss, and make things much worse than they need be.  Worse yet, lies can really hurt innocent people and sometimes even ruin their lives.

Those who have read this blog regularly already know that my husband's relationship with his children was ruined, in part, because his ex wife told their daughters lies about him and used shame and humiliation to perpetuate her untruths.  My husband's life was not ruined, but he sure went through hell for many years due to her lies.  Those lies also had a ripple effect that have hurt many other people in my husband's family… and they will continue to hurt people as time passes.  When my husband's daughters start having their own kids, they will very likely perpetuate the lies into a new generation.  I wonder how it must feel to them to think that half their DNA came from a monster…  Of course, now that I think about it, half their DNA probably did come from a monster, though not from the side of the family they think it did.

Fortunately, Bill has overcome the lies somewhat…

Does this man look like a violent porn addict who hates women?  He's not… but that's what his daughters think he is, thanks to lies told to them by their mother.

This post was mostly about women who lie, but I don't mean to single them out.  Shame affects people of either gender and sometimes leads to damaging lies that hurt people.  


  1. Well articulate, I say, especially on such incendiary topic for many, too! :o) The shame problem is even worse in Asia than it is here, I think. There, losing face is sometimes worse than dying... or so many think. :oP

    Anyhow! Popping in to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy 2014! :oD


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