This study is a little limited, in that they only surveyed women, and admit that it is a correlation study, meaning they didn’t attempt to determine if this was a cause and effect relationship, but I have talked to enough survivors of abuse to feel like this is pretty common.
“In other words, participants who reported more severe child maltreatment were more likely to agree with statements such as “I feel that I don’t deserve to be kind and forgiving to myself” and “I fear that if I am more self-compassionate I will become a weak person.””
So, are abuse survivors more likely to develop this lack of self-compassion, or are people without self compassion more likely to get abused as children and adults? That’s hard to say. What is clear, though, is that survivors are more likely to not only believe they deserved the maltreatment in some way, but are also afraid to try and develop any self-compassion. Is that because it goes against our natural tendency for hyper-vigilant behavior?
Do we feel unsafe if we start to develop compassion for ourselves?
Also, if you read the article below, you’ll also see it seems to be worse for victims of emotional abuse and maltreatment, which would, in many cases, be a direct attack on the development of self-compassion as a child, such as being scapegoated or blamed for things well beyond our control.
There’s more research needed, for sure, but I do think it’s clear that abuse and maltreatment go hand in hand with an inability, and unwillingness to develop compassion for ourselves.
That’s a problem.