This guest blogger post comes courtesy of Joel Curtis, a Registered Psychologist with Endeavour Wellness, who practices in Australia. The topic of his post centers around survivors guilt, something that took me a long time to wrap my head around and fully understand in the early stages of my healing journey, because of the emotional toll it takes on someone who’s a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Throughout research and talking with other survivors,  this type of guilt is very common because we can often times feel guilty for having lived through a traumatic experience when we don’t believe we deserved too. We wonder why we survived when so many others do not, or we wonder why we have all of these feelings and emotions that come with being a trauma survivor and we feel like it would have just been easier to not survive it at all.  Reliving that trauma and carrying that weight in everyday life can feel overwhelming.

Joel shares some insight on ways that we can cope with survivors guilt.

Have you ever experienced such things that caused you tremendous trauma? Do you know someone who is actually a survivor of such kind and now facing survivor’s guilt?

Survivor’s guilt is a deep emotional feeling which you will experience right after you survive a certain terrible event in your life such as war or illness. It is essential that you know exactly how to cope with it before it could cause more serious emotional distress.

What even makes the situation worse is the fact that, the effects of survivor’s guilt differ from one person to another. Some survivors guilt - post image1 - surviving my past - joel curtissurvivors may only experience mild effects, while others are able to develop more serious psychological problems. The reason why a person establishes such kind of emotional distress is due to the idea of having been able to survive a particular event or issue while others did not.

Some even lose their life if the guilt comes from war or disease. However, there are now simple, yet effective ways that could help you cope and also overcome such kind of psychological problem.

Tips On How You Can Help Overcome Survivors Guilt from Past Trauma

  1. Though It’s Hard, It’s Time To Accept The Present

This is actually one of the hardest tips ever, but once you learn how to accept the truth, then you will be free from guilt. Having a terrible past is not your fault. It just so happened that you were there. But this does not imply that it is all your fault. Accepting the present will help you ease the burden on your shoulders. You don’t have to live with guilt for the rest of your life.

  1. You Are Not Alone, Bear That In Your Mind

You don’t have to think or even believe that you are all alone. You have your family and friends who are ready to help and love you. Sometimes you just have to open yourself up again so as to feel their love and care. If you continue to live in your dark past, then there will be no chance for their love and support to enter your life. Open up and start anew, soon you will see and feel incredible changes in your life again.

  1. Never Mistake Your Survival From Your Grief

It is never a good thing to take survival as part of your grief. Losing someone dear to you could certainly cause tremendous emotional issues. Once you feel you are coping with it, never assume that you no longer give importance to your departed loved one. In fact, surviving is one way in to deal with grief. Surviving will help you see the positive side of the situation without the feeling of guilt.

  1. It Is Fine To Grieve

Grieving in truth is just another method that will help you cope with your emotions. People who are grieving find survivors guilt - post image2 - surviving my past - joel curtisthemselves remembering the times they’ve spent with their departed loved one. As you recall those good old days, you don’t realize that you, yourself, are healing. You might feel a bit lost and mistake acceptance as sadness. But through grieving, you will be able to take away the guilt inside of you.

  1. Better Do Something About It

Did you know that you can help yourself heal and cope with your survivor’s guilt by helping others who happened to be dealing with the same emotional distress? You can, in fact, attend workshops and seminars. Offer a short talk and share your side of the story. You will be amazed just how many people are sharing the same things with you. This will help you learn new and more positive things from other survivors. Sharing stories and experiences is also a great way to help yourself.

  1. Never Let Those ‘Whys’ Stop You

Those ‘whys’ will undoubtedly hold you back from changing your perspective in life. In fact, those are hindrances and doubts dressed in a black cloak. If you wish to change your life and get rid of the guilty feeling, then start asking yourself why. There are things left unanswered and should stay that way for good.

Wrapping it up

Accepting the truth is never easy.  But with the right support and attitude, you will undoubtedly be able to withstand any trials. There is support and help you can quickly obtain that will certainly guide you on your emotional distress. Soon you will be dealing with your life in a new and more positive perspective.

– Joel Curtis

If you’d like to share your story as a trauma survivor, please contact me anytime. You never know just how much you can encourage someone else when you share your experiences. 


Joel Curtis is a registered Psychologists with Endeavour Wellness and has over 17 years of experience. Joel holds a Masters’ Degree in Psychology from Western Sydney University. Joel owns a number of private practices in Sydney and provides expert content for several national TV and Radio programmes.