Feeling "Less Than"
Feeling "less than" means that survivors feel such a sense of shame from being abused that they believe others can somehow see how they are damaged or flawed. Some survivors speak of feeling "dirty." It is not unusual to hear of survivors taking baths in scalding water and scrubbing themselves almost raw to try to rid themselves of the dirty feeling. Addictions and compulsions are all forms of defenses to ward off feelings of shame. Other defenses that ward off shame include withdrawal, rage, perfectionism, exhibitionism, and arrogance.