The Stench of Guilt

If you break a rule, you should feel remorse over that. If someone next to you breaks a rule, you should feel nothing but maybe a bit of apathy. The problem with sexual abuse and crimes that are perpetrated by family members is that most of their victims take the responsibility for the action of the family member.

This should not be!

I had a dream last night that I was driving in a truck with my father (now deceased) and the other man who helped murder the women in ’68. We all were trying to figure out ways to hide the evidence on the truck we were driving. I was an accomplice, not a witness.

I woke up with that old feeling of guilt trying to creep in. It was telling me that I was complicit in the murder, too. That I held a place of involvement in the illegal activity.

“I am not responsible,” I vehemently replied when my eyes opened in the night hours last night. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I prayed again for the millionth time that God would bestow on the true accomplice the desire to confess. Without his confession or the body, I cannot help solve this murder.

G U I L T! Such an ugly sentence for a crime I did not commit.

When I ask myself why I struggle with this, the understanding is not very far away. My father wanted me to feel that guilt. In compliance with all of his commands as a child, I was as guilty as he. I think this alleviated some of his own burden; he’d made me responsible to carry it.

That is — Until I showed up on his doorstep and handed the responsibility back to him.

The residual effects remain. That I cannot change but when they come, I shoo them away, after a small dissection to make sure I’ve learned and healed what I need to.

As a noun, the word guilt means, “the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.” Most of us can easily agree that we did not commit the crime. However, used as a verb, the word guilt means something very different, “make (someone) feel guilty, especially in order to induce them to do something. Used in a sentence as a verb, “Celeste had been guilted into going by her parents.”

A very odd thing seemed to happen after I’d been guilted into an action. The word guilt now turned back into a noun and I felt as if I had committed the crime.

With everything that is good, I tell myself to remember that I hold no guilt around my abusive past and all the crimes that occurred there. They belong to the perpetrators, not me.

My father put the knife in my hand after he killed that woman and walked me into the bathroom where she laid in the bathtub. If he wasn’t trying to establish guilt in me, what else could it have been?

I will not believe the lies of my past that try to encroach and keep me imprisoned today. I did nothing wrong. God holds me accountable for none of it.

Originally published at on September 8, 2020.




Incest. Murder. Rape. Then, I turned four. This is my story.

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Jodie Tedder

Jodie Tedder

Incest. Murder. Rape. Then, I turned four. This is my story.

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