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It Wasn't Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion
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It Wasn't Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  264 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Shame is one of the most destructive of human emotions. If you suffered childhood physical or sexual abuse, you may experience such intense feelings of shame that it almost seems to define you as a person. In order to begin healing, it’s important for you to know that it wasn’t your fault. In this gentle guide, therapist and childhood abuse expert Beverly Engel presents a ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published January 2nd 2015 by New Harbinger Publications
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Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am having a hard time reviewing this book because of the fact I have such mixed emotions about it. Engel's book brought to light a lot of issues I had been stuffing from childhood. It helped me to understand on a deeper level how traumatizing my childhood was in certain aspects.

But, on the other hand Beverly's book is also supremely compassionate. She guides the reader in a series of helpful exercises to help you become more aware of, and more forgiving toward yourself. It was recommended to
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
I wasn't looking for It Wasn't Your Fault, this book found me. As soon as I read the full title I realized I needed to read it and I picked it up at the library later that same day. I wish I didn't need to read this book and I wish no one ever needed to read it. Unfortunately I and many others did need to read it.

On a positive note I found It Wasn't Your Fault particularly helpful as it put a spotlight on some deep-seated internal pain I didn't know existed. At times I feel so alone in my pain
Leigh Anne
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I sincerely hope you never need to read a book like this, but if you do, or you're the collection developer in the Rs at your library, I would add this to your TBR/order list. It's a deceptively slim volume, but it's got a lot of practical wisdom packed into it. Best of all, it's not pink and it doesn't have rainbows on the cover, as many books in this particular oeuvre tend to. It is, however, a gentle break-it-down overview of how you or someone you love can get over whatever it is you need to ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book, even speaking as someone who has practiced most of the techniques over the years, between therapy, teaching yoga, and mindfulness meditation.

It helped me fill in an important element, however: compassion. I haven't been giving myself nearly enough of this. I'm pretty on top of knowing why I react to things certain ways, and have learned through diligent effort to acknowledge and process my emotions. And even - the hardest! - to ask for help when I hit the wall of deali
Paige P
We are not born with shame, it happens to us. Shame is a deep feeling of being inadequate, not measuring up, or not being enough. It Wasn't Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion by Beverly Engel is the most comprehensive and helpful book with research references that I have read on the subject of shame. Engel is a therapist who has worked with abuse victims, has a personal history of abuse and has suffered the effects of shame herself. E ...more
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, this is a 3-Star book with 5-Star content.

I bought this book after I came across an article she’d written that really hit home with me. It takes forever to start, as she spends what feels like an eternity advertising her “compassion cure” program in an almost infomercial-y way like it’s some sort of seminar she’s trying to sell (which is especially confusing because it made me wonder why I’d purchased the book in the first place if it was just going to be pure marketing spiel); howeve
Travel Writing
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone
Shame is the topic du jour in the self help circles lately.

Beverly Engel's work on shame is so practical, so grounded and offers actual exercises to work with.

That is one of the things I find so wonderful about her work- how practical she is and how unflinching she is about the hard stuff.

She has this innate ability to write so simply, yet each of her books is so dense with healing and support and information. She writes about heavy, hard stuff and is able to connect without the reader with ou
Angie Westbrook
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It helps you to understand how you feel and how to over come. This book has helped me. I hope it will help you know that you are not alone and there is help.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A necessary read for people who've faced abuse. It comes with trigger warnings too. ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trauma-abuse
This book talks about the 'Compassion Cure': self-understanding, self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-kindness, and self-encouragement. The author explains why shame can result from childhood abuse, how it manifests in adulthood, and how to resolve it. The book provides a lot of exercises to help the reader understand, forgive and accept their actions and beliefs (but not necessarily to 'excuse' them, e.g. those who have continued the cycle of abuse as an abuser are not given a free pass to c ...more
Nathan Albright
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge
It would be a lot easier to wholeheartedly recommend this book if the author had not felt it necessary to connect self-compassion with a focus on promoting aspects of Buddhism [1]. The Golden Rule tells us to love others as we love ourselves, not because we think others are exactly like us, but because we believe that as their own people they deserve to be respected as the same sort of beings we are. Yet survivors of abuse (this book, quite intentionally, speaks of victims, as a way of divorcing ...more
Leanne Albillar
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
A lot of good advice in this book as well as compassion and encouragement. However, the last section included a heavy dose of ableism and using a disabled person as inspiration porn, which was a massive disappointment.
Ellie Chappell
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saved my life.
Excellent, excellent book.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
It Wasn't Your Fault by Beverly Engel, LMFT
Freeing Yourself from Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion


Received digital copy from NetGalley for review.
How shame affects victims of childhood abuse

"Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself."
~Anais Nin

The author is a counselor who develops the effective, Compassion Cure program, based on her own experience with childhood abuse. She describes the feelings of guilt and shame which feed the PTSD most people feel. Through her pro
Tammy Hastings
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads-wins
I received this book through goodreads giveaways and gave it to my daughter. Here is her review:

It took me a while to read it since my books-to-read list is getting longer and longer. But it was a very good book. Luckily, I came from a great family and was never abused, but I wanted this book for my son, who is adopted and came from a very abusive home before he entered mine. This book really gave me some insights into his psyche and some of the things he has gone through. It helped me open a di
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won "It Wasn't Your Fault" on Goodreads First Reads. This is a very good book, full of useful advice. ...more
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
This is a great first book for adult survivors of abuse who are ready to look in detail at what happened, how it affects them now and how to heal from it. I found it very helpful.
Dianna Lyn
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent for healing
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: trauma, psychology
Abuse, neglect, addictions stem from corrosive shame which poisons love, kindness, and authenticity. Self-compassion eradicates shame by reversing entrenched patterns of self-judgment and self-loathing that harm a person on an internal level and also possibly relationally in close relationships, school, and work environments. Rather than live with the horror that a significant other is abusive or dangerous and the child is trapped in a helpless situation, the child will internalize blame and res ...more
Daniel Stern
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beverly Engel understands your shame and how you came to be saddled by it. I recommend doing the exercises in the book. What I have found useful is to set a reminder on my phone 3 times per day to perform her "check-ins" (anger, sadness, fear, shame, other) on page 222 (location 3106 on Kindle). I find myself using self-understanding and self-acceptance in the repetition of this useful exercise. I hope to add self-encouragement via a gentle inner-corrector, now that I've finished the book.

I foun
Tina Pham
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Eh. Some of the exercises were too cringy/trite/cheesy for me to take seriously. I mean....recommending you to soak in a jacuzzi to help get rid of sexual abuse shame? Girl.......ok. If that floats your boat, neat. I understand that it’s a book and not a tailored therapy session, so things that typically frustrate me could help another. Also the author is a bit too repetitive when discussing the topic of shame. I guess this book would be more insightful and helpful to those who have never been i ...more
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Difficult but truly remarkable. Unlike other books in this genre, Beverly Engel not only explains facts, but also provides actual tools and exercises to overcome the problem.

Some key takeaways:
- Shame is the most powerful negative emotion: isolating, stigmatizing, debilitating
- Shame drives the cycle of abuse (on self and others)
- Compassion is the only thing that can counteract it
- Self-compassion -> release of oxytocin
- "Instead of feeling shame about your shame, work toward acceptance of it.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-betterment
My counselor lent me this book to work through in conjunction with our sessions. While not everything in this book was applicable to me and my situation, there was so much that I took away from it. I tried to do most of the exercises throughout the book and will definitely be incorporating some of them into my everyday life. This is a really good book for learning how to lessen the inner critic so prevalent for those who experienced abuse or neglect and help replace it with self-compassion and s ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I began reading the book because I was thought it would be useful information for recognizing behaviors of people that have been abused and to learn tools for being supportive to people that have been abused. That purpose was certainly accomplished. However, what was profound for me was to see that there is evidence that many or most of us carry some form of childhood wounds that we have not consciously been aware of. It explained some of my own behaviors and became a book that facilitated my ow ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is simply a lifesaver for those trying to make sense of abuse and trauma from childhood. This book will help you journal, meditate and take a journey into your childhood to assign proper blame and have compassion all at the same time. This book may make you angry at your circumstances surrounding your upbringing but will finish with a soft heart and a complete understanding of how you can overcome the shame you've felt all this time. It's a wonderful gift to all victims/survivors. ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book, it's fantastic at explaining the issues associated with being on the receiving end of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. It helped with my own negative self-beliefs and dealing with the negative thoughts. Coming from a place of compassion seemed to be more helpful as well as using self-awareness of my own internal feelings. It's a deep book but has some great content and uses quite a few examples from different people. ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Really helped me see something my therapist was talking about how my feelings of shame aren't my own. Especially resonated with the stories of suffering from lifelong depression and nothing healing it until I started digging into why I believe I don't deserve to be happy or feel broken. Nice primer on shame and how positive self-talk (which I used to cringe at) really does help. ...more
This is a great book for someone who has been abused but also for those who have not been. This book talks about self compassion..and quieting the harsh inner critic that many of us have, among other things. I know I've developed issues just from my peers growing up as well as relationships..I think some of these exercises are quite beneficial. ...more
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Beverly Engel has been a psychotherapist for thirty years, specializing in the areas of abuse recovery, relationships, women’s issues and sexuality. She is also the best-selling author of 20 self-help books, many of which have been featured on national television and radio programs (Oprah, CNN, Ricki Lake, Starting Over) as well as national print media (O Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journa ...more

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79 likes · 31 comments
“The child who hates the parent becomes rigid—unable to let in love. He is so filled with shame that he feels that he cannot take in any further shame. He protects himself by making sure he is always “right.” Such a person often becomes controlling, shaming, and/or abusive.” 0 likes
“When we feel guilt, we feel badly about something we did or neglected to do. When we feel shame, we feel badly about who we are. Put another way: guilty people fear punishment, shamed people fear abandonment. When we feel guilty we need to learn it’s okay to make mistakes. When we feel shame we need to learn it’s okay to be who we are.” 0 likes
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