Shame Has No Place Here

Abusive relationships and mental illness, two important causes of the month of October, can both be curtailed by an important reminder to each and everyone of us: DO NOT BE ASHAMED.


One of our caring readers wrote to us reminding us that October is Domestic Violence awareness month. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Further, studies suggest that there is a relationship between intimate partner violence and depression and suicidal behavior.

Which leads me to a second epidemic: Mental Illness. The first full week of October was World Mental Health week. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four of us will experience a diagnosable mental illness this year. Earlier this month in my role as AdFed Suncoast Public Service Chair, I led the creative campaign kick off for our 2014-15 partner, Mental Health Community Centers. We aspire to elevate awareness around this stigma.

Mindfulness is key; yet how can we further decrease domestic violence and undiagnosed mental illness? 

Many times, you do not take action to get away from a physically or psychologically abusive partner or seek treatment for your mental illness because you are ashamed.

Shame is rampant in our culture…it is an icky common denominator of domestic violence and undiagnosed mental illness.

In Brené Brown’s Ted talk, “Listening to Shame”, you learn that shame is HIGHLY CORRELATED with addiction, depression, suicide, eating disorders, and violence. Shame is your negative voice saying things like “You are bad”, “You are not good enough or you are not pretty enough or you are not smart enough”, or when you do something positive it harshly criticizes and judges, “Who do you think you are?

Brené says, “If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment.”

So how do you evict shame? When someone shares something raw and real with you, you can start by responding with these two words: “Me too.” Empathy is the antidote to shame.

When you practice nonjudgmental listening and have real compassion in your thoughts and actions, you are doing your part to affirm that shame has no place here.

Share your thoughts with me @kellymc247 #metoo

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Kelly Christiansen

A top columnist at MsCareerGirl, marketing guru Kelly Christiansen has 10+ years of strategic leadership experience and is a Senior Marketing Strategist on the Health Care team at Kahler Slater, an architecture firm in Wisconsin. An avid reader, runner, and recipe experimenter, you can follow Kelly on twitter @kellymc247

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