June 7, 2012 | relationships

On Guilt, Shame & Getting Over It

I’ve shared a lot of my life on this blog. Some things haven’t been easy to share, much like this post today, which will most likely be my hardest. I’ve kept this experience buried for about three years under thick layers of guilt and shame. I’ve analysed and overanalysed why it is I feel the way I do about it and well, suffice to say, I’m sure a lot of women will relate. And so, in the interests of this blog being a place that hopefully provokes thought, discussion and helps people, I felt it was time to share.
I was living in Toronto at the time. I found it a very difficult place to be. I was lonely, isolated and in the depths of a very down phase. I had made a rare decision to go out with friends (going out had become harder and harder, the more my isolation dragged me into myself). We ended up at a stuck up bar I had no time for. Eventually we left and I was ready to write it off as another failed night out in Toronto.
We sat outside a Jamaican restaurant for a second and could hear all this music inside. Great music. We went in to investigate. There were tons of people in this back room, dancing – the DJ was insane, playing incredible tracks. I think it might have been someone’s birthday party but at this point, I didn’t give a crap, I just crashed it. We went in, bodies crammed everywhere, everyone losing their minds to the beat. It was one of those sticky summer nights, where it’s uncomfortable but it doesn’t seem to matter when all the other factors are right. And for the first time since I’d been in Toronto, all those factors finally seemed right at that moment and I could just dance. Sweat dripped from the ceiling, bodies writhed together, people I didn’t even know smiled at me. I felt like I belonged. After a while, my friend wanted to leave, but there was no way I wanted this moment to end. I let her go and I just stayed, dancing by myself, enjoying these incredible tunes.
A guy started talking to me. We danced a little. He’d been to England a few times, had family there, blah blah. He was nice, charming. After a while, he said ‘let’s get out of here.’ We got in his car – I remember looking at the stars through the sunroof as we drove around the city. I hadn’t even thought to ask where we were going. I’d assumed we would go to an all night diner or another club. Before I knew it, we were back at his condo. He was on the 20something floor of this building right next to the CN Tower. We hung out on his balcony while he smoked weed. I remember the CN Tower being all lit up for something or other. We went inside and he started kissing me.

I thought it’d just stop there. I thought I could stop it at any moment.

He wanted to go further and further and further, I kept saying no, but then at a certain point, no just wasn’t alright anymore. After all, I’d come to his apartment. For some crazy reason, I felt bad. I felt like I couldn’t say no or back out. However uncomfortable I was, I felt obligated. And trapped.

And so…the inevitable happened. I laid awake all night hating myself. I couldn’t wait til he woke up so he could drive me home. I couldn’t even call for a cab because I didn’t know where I was. How bloody stupid was I? Eventually, he woke up, he didn’t even speak to me as he got ready. He didn’t speak to me in the car the whole way to my house. He didn’t even ask for my number. Couldn’t wait for me to get out of the car.
I got straight in the shower and cried. And it wasn’t ’cause he didn’t want anything to do with me – I think that feeling was pretty mutual. I was disgusted with myself. Disgusted that I did something I didn’t want to do, that I didn’t stick to my guns and say no. I had just wanted that feeling I had when I was dancing to go on all night. I just wanted, for one night, to not feel lonely and isolated and sad. I wanted a human connection, rather than being stuck in my head, I wanted intimacy, someone to stroke my hair, kiss my forehead. Instead, I did something stupid, really stupid and the way he treated me when it was all said and done just reaffirmed it.
I don’t remember how the ‘act’ itself actually was. I just remember crying and scrubbing myself in the shower and an overwhelming feeling of shame. I was raised catholic. Good catholic girls just don’t do those things – been engrained in me since I was a kid. I’ve never told anyone for fear of the judgement, because no one will hear all the circumstances that surrounded it, they’ll just focus on the act. But I think I’ve been judging myself enough for everybody. I’ve never made a bigger error of judgement in my life.
So why talk about it now? Recently a young woman came to me relating a similar situation. But she said no and she kicked and screamed and ran. She then confronted the man (with a mediator present) to let him know how the experience made her feel. She told me how she too, felt it was her fault for agreeing to go to his house. I’m not sure she fully understands the magnitude of what she did by speaking out, by confronting him, but hopefully one day she will. I wish I’d had her strength.
I’m sure, sadly, there are plenty of young women who’ve found themselves in these situations and I’m equally sure that the men involved remain clueless as to the effect it has on us. I’m sure the man involved in my incident went on with his life without giving it a second thought. I’ve replayed it a million times, then buried it, learned from it and moved on. I guess I got round to the ‘speaking about it’ part a bit late, but better to deal with it now…
And so, young ladies, if you find ever yourself in this position, please think of the strength of my young friend and stand firm in your choice. Young men (actually, ALL men), please respect our decisions. Your ‘gentle persuasion’ turns into force, turns into something altogether different. Don’t be that guy.

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Wendi B

Wow. I commend you highly for being able to speak about this, it could never be easy. Karma will get that guy xx

Angel Dee

I am crying as I read this and I know you know why.

You are amazing for sharing this, it is not easy speaking about this topic. Being ashamed and allowing that shame to engulf portions of your life is awful. So much I want to say to you right now.

Thank you. Big love.


Bangs, amazing article and I love you so much for sharing it. I think as young women many of us found ourselves in silly situations amongst misjudged intentions. There is absolutely nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about it. If anyone should still be harbouring any feelings about that night it should be the sleaze bag – not you. Big hugs xx


Hi Bangs, thanks for this great post. I’m a teacher in SE London and have been in a similar situation. I use the experience to help formulate discussions on issues surrounding sex and relationships with the young people I teach (without divulging my own identity!). Your post reaffirms the need to equip young people with enough self-belief to be able to say ‘no’ and be taken seriously (and on the flip side, to hear that ‘no’ and respect it!). Thanks for being such a great role model. Xx


Beautifully written. So deep and powerful. Reminds me of a situation which was not the same but brought out similar feelings in me. That wanting to turn the clock back.


Well done, very needed. I know many women who have gone through similar experiences. Very deep and thank you for sharing.


Sadly I think most of us girls find ourselves in similar situations and only by speaking out, whether the next day or 3 years later, will others be able to identify or gain something from our experiences. Even now I can remember exactly what it felt like being groped in the middle of Southampton town centre when I was 12. I just have to take that memory and help other young girls not stand up for such behaviour.

Bangs – I thought your were a badass before I read this post and now you are the Queen of Baddassery for having the strength to address a subject that is too often brushed to the side.


Bangs, thank you for sharing. You are not alone. Let go of the shame. Use your voice, find that strength and forgive yourself. This wasn’t your fault.


I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said but I still had to say something if that makes sense??!

You are so very brave to share this and I hope it helps you to further heal from it and keep moving forwards. You are (to quote a certain someone) truly ‘awesomesauce’.

Thank you


A very important posting. Have been in similar situations and all you can do is learn from it, and also be thankful that you emerged safe. Kudos xx


Thank you for sharing this Bangs.
The amount of women who experience this, and the ‘type’ (there is absolutely no bloody type) of women too. I was in a year long relationship where I felt ‘I had to…’ and that experience has shaped me, for the better. I don’t ever want to feel the way I did about myself again, so now I make the best choices for myself, even if that puts people off.
You learn from your mistakes, and if this hadn’t happened you wouldn’t be the woman you are today…. you know.. the ruddy fabulous one? x

Irene Robertson

Been there. Done that.

I think most of us have done something similar. It’s a lesson we all have to learn, one way or the other. You have definitely earned the right to be rid of that shameful feeling. Turn it into something powerful, meaningful to yourself and others.

Pip Carlton-Barnes

I agree I think many women have been in this situation sadly. Very few women would have been able to write about it so accurately. I hope that now you have sent it into the world you will be able to move on from your feeling of shame. I for one don’t think you should feel shame in any way.


Thank you.

I think this is a really common experience. I hope we can teach the next generation to say no and hear no x


What lots of others are saying. So brave to put this out there, and it is so common. I can name at least a couple of friends I know this sort of thing has happened to, and each of them has blamed herself for it.

Let’s talk about the man for a moment. He knew you didn’t want to go where you went. What we really need to do as a society is to call time on the men who do this. The ‘nice guys can accidentally rape’ myth is shit – nice guys make bloody sure that the person they’re about to be intimate with is really into it. Drunk or stranded or homeless-if-we-split-up isn’t consent – it’s predatory behaviour. I have known men who would behave in this way and they are predatory dicks with no respect for woman.

HUGE hugs to you. x


Bangs, thank you for sharing this post. This will help so many different women.

I’ve heard this story a lot. In fact, it’s a variant of the same story most women on earth probably have. It hurts my heart that as women we’re expected to carry the misplaced burden of shame and guilt which has no business lying with us. The fact is, men still believe they have sexual ownership over women, and that fact is at the core of all misogyny, all abuse, all rape, all sexual shaming, and even the little comments that men think it’s okay to toss around. In my opinion there’s no learning we have to do, and no responsibility we have to carry as women when it comes to preventing these things. Only MEN can. Until we teach our sons/brothers/cousins/friends (and until men teach other men) not only that ‘no means no’ ALL THE TIME, but also that they don’t have any entitlement over us sexually, this story will unfortunately continue to be a reoccurring one.

Big cuddles x

The Jaded NYer

Bangsy, I’m so sorry that twit made you feel ashamed! I applaud your courage in sharing, especially in this uber-judgemental forum we bloggers subject ourselves to.

Just know you are not alone; even this Jaded NYer has dealt with a similar situation. But you are much stronger today and that asshole is not worth another moment of your thoughts. *cyber hugs*

Betty Bee

I hate to use the term “brave” as its so overused but this post is brave and brilliant.So many women find themselves in this situation and feel its impolite to say no whch when we think about it later is simply crazy. Thankyou for sharing this which can’t have been easy. x

Tom Flay

Of course I agree with the moral of the story. And I completely understand that feeling – sister I’ve been there. But I know a few members of the fairer sex who are more than a little guilty of this gentle prodding of their prey in the right direction, getting the deed done, then disposing of said target (be that a boy or girl) like an old chewing gum wrapper and moving on to their next. It kind of offends me that this post suggests that women aren’t guilty of that kind of act themselves, and I’m also offended at the suggestion that, and I quote, “all men” share the same messed up notion of right and wrong that the guy you encountered does.


Wow, it took guts to write about this and I felt for you as I have been in a similar situation. These men are worthless ,selfish and manipulative and they know damm well what they are doing. thankfully not all men are like this.
I learnt that guilt is useless and destroying and I stopped feeling guilty a long time ago. It also took me time before i could forgive the guy, (not that he deserved it) but I needed to let go, to set me free from him.
However shitty this is, it has made you the strong, ambitious, determined person you are today. The person who inspires other women/girls, who inspires people who have never even meet you (in real life) like myself.
Thank you for sharing.


I’ve been in a similar situation, but thankfully he asked me if I really wanted to and I said ‘no’, so he stopped. I told my friend about it and she actually said ‘Didn’t you feel like you owed him something though?’ just because he’d given me a lift back to uni. I couldn’t believe that she actually thought like that. It just shows you how as girls and women we’re taught that we don’t have the rights to our own body, and that we don’t have the right to say no. It really made me angry. Argh.

Katie Khan //

Thank you for sharing; perhaps if we all get good at saying it to women, we’ll all get better at saying it to men.


Tom – I understand your point regarding not all men think like this (very true), but regarding the ‘gentle prodding’ comment this isn’t about a one night stand or a quick booty call, it is about when someone says No, and when that isn’t listened to that is called rape.

Eleni Drinks Tea

In my younger years, I would probably have done exactly the same thing. I’m a people-pleaser, I would have felt almost rude not to have sex with the guy after all that, I would have thought to myself “dont worry about it, people have one-night stands with random people they’re not bothered about all the time, it’s no big deal.” But I would have felt exactly the same way afterwards. Whenever I have talked myself into doing something I have not felt 100% comfortable with, just because “everybody does it” and “I need to loosen up” I have regretted it. It takes years of experience to gain the confidence to know yourself well enough to be able to stand up for yourself, when you know what you’re going to like and what you’re definitely NOT going to like, without having to “just give it a try.”

Well done for sharing it, and I sincerely hope you don’t fell guilty about it any more.


Hey babe. You know me very well….and I darent comment on here as m sbecause I am ashamed of being in the same situation many times. In my younger, reckless years many friends and I would be in the same situation, where you get to the stage where you HAVE to, you feel obligated, like it’s rude not too. I have also been there as a result of rohypnol….not something many people who know me know. Brave post. I am brave about many things on my blog but I darent admit to this one publicly so please pardon the anon. Love you. xxx


I had experiences like this during Uni! I wanted attention because I was in this new world but it went too far on more than one occasion. Now I am with a truly amazing man I realise how I was taken advantage of. Thank you for sharing this xxx


This made me sad, because it reminded me of a time when I was lost and lonely and just out of a 9-year relationship, and trying to do what I thought I should. I went out with friends who weren’t really friends, and this guy chatted me up and my not-really-friends didn’t think that maybe I was too vulnerable to be going home with him. I told him ‘I’m coming back but just for more kissing’ but somehow by the time we got there he expected a lot more, and kind of took it for granted that of course I would sleep with him because I had gone back to his. And I said ‘no’ and stuck to my guns at first, but he took me taking my clothes off as a ‘yes’ even though I just wanted some drunken fumbling. He eventually persuaded/guilt-tripped me to ‘let him put it in, just for a minute’ and then once we were doing it I couldn’t really stop him even though it was sort of painful, and I did say yes, so he did have consent, and he wasn’t to blame really, just a society that makes men think women have an obligation to have sex with them if they smile at them/accept a drink from them/dance with them/ go home with them.


is there ANY girl anywhere (other than one kept in a tower her whole life) who hasn’t had some kind of unwanted male attention? it is just SO part of life, and it’s unfair and it sux.

spirit sixtyseven

a very valuable story to have shared, bangs, & wonderfully written as always.
i’m one of those strong ones that can take control of a situation & say no, i have extracted myself from such a scenario several times – including once in my own home – if you think it’s difficult saying no & leaving a bloke’s place, try getting the protagonist to leave your place!
the thing is i get on really well with blokes, to a large extent i find them easier to get on with than women. but that leaves me in ‘when harry met sally’ territory – IS it really possible to have a strictly platonic relationship between a man & a woman?
i have a lot of male friends (lots of girly friends too!!) but there is not one of my male friends (& a couple of the girls!) about whom i have not at some point questioned their motives – were we really ‘just good friends’, or if an opportunity arose, would they seize it?
not that i’m some sort of super hotty, i’m REALLY not. but there’s the thing – each time it has crossed the line i have drawn in my own mind & i’ve had to tell a bloke exactly where that line is & he’s on the wrong side of it, it is ME that feels i’ve done something wrong!
whether you successfully extract yourself or not, as a woman i think it’s very difficult NOT to feel guilty – i must have lead him on, i should have made it clear where the line was, my chatter clearly wasn’t the ‘banter’ i thought it was, it was FLIRTING!!!!
let’s face it, since eve offered adam that damned apple, it’s been our fault! for 2000 years it has been engrained in society that only a woman can be a temptress, a tease, a man could never be capable of such a thing, he doesn’t have the guile.
– not very good at accepting responsibility either, hence their seemly guilt-free existence!
fear not though ladies, there are men out there whose reaction to the word ‘no’ is slightly different, a breed more gallant! on at least two of the occasions i’ve had to use that word, it has been greeted with mortification, embarrassment & an apology for reading the signals wrong, & once we BOTH know where the line is, we have gone on to be good friends without any hang ups.

still can’t help wondering though, IS it possible?…….

just one question bangs – you said you couldn’t leave because you didn’t know where you were to call a cab. but you mention the CN tower being very close twice – could you not have gone there & called a cab to pick you up at the main entrance?

Link Love (19/06/2012) « Becky's Kaleidoscope

[…] “He wanted to go further and further and further, I kept saying no, but then at a certain point, no just wasn’t alright anymore. After all, I’d come to his apartment. For some crazy reason, I felt bad. I felt like I couldn’t say no or back out. However uncomfortable I was, I felt obligated. And trapped.” On Guilt, Shame & Getting Over It – Bangs and a Bun […]


Oh I just want to hug you. I am a mother of five who are grown. You deserve so much more than this slime. You are loved by God. Though you feel guilt and shame over this, His love forgives and draws you close like good Dad’s should. Don’t let your past define your future or your mistakes determine your worth. Hold your head up:)

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