The victim has been essentially asked to live a lie by the abuser from the time the abuse began. It goes like this: The abuse episode happens, and the abuser claims they aren't to blame, and blames the victim. The victim knows this isn't true, but because they've been carefully selected by the abuser, they don't run out and tell everyone who will listen what has just happened. They are shocked, jarred, and knocked off center. So they are immobilized instead, trying to figure it out, wondering what sparked the episode, wondering if they could have done to prevented it.
At some point, following that episode, or some future one, the abuser goes to the next step and becomes "sorry." First they deny they did it, or meant it, or that it was their own fault. But, then, eventually, they admit it,cry and are full of remorse. They are so sorry, it wasn't the "real" them, they did it because they were tired, or drunk, or had a bad childhood, or are having trouble at work, etc. They beg for forgiveness and promise it will never happen again.
Does the victim look them in the eye and say, "Right, it won't ever happen again, because I'm outta here.! No, because the victim is a kind and loving person who wants to understand, and also wants to believe. Does it never happen again because the victim says, "Right, because if it does, you will have to sleep sometime, and I have a nice cast iron skillet in there that will fit the corner of your block head just right." No, because that wouldn't be the nice thing to say. Does the victim at least go and tell everyone who should care? No, because that would be cruel to the poor creature who has poured his heart out in anguish--it would humiliate him! She stays silent.
Fast forward to years later when the victim finally stops believing the lies and the promises and reveals the secret she's been hiding. She has been, for years, humiliated silently and secretly every time she had to appear in public with the man and not shout out what he's been doing to her. She's also humiliated because he's helped her feel insignificant and defective, because she's made a bad choice in a husband, because she's not been able to get free, because she knows she's been living a lie and didn't know how not to because she thought the cost was too great if she stopped.
Being willing to face that feeling of humiliation is a first step to letting it go and realizing that it's not the feeling they have to have, that they can go on to pride in being strong enough to face it, strong enough to stand up for themselves, strong enough to not care so much "what other people think," strong enough to move beyond focusing on the abuser and focusing on themself instead.
The humiliation is greater for some people than it is for others.When it is, it takes that much more wisdom and strength to face it. One woman was married to a fellow psychologist and had written a book on marriage with him as co-author. They were also in business together in the same clinic, and had a blended family. She discovered he was having an affair, and didn't want to break up with the woman he was involved with.
They had signed a contract with the publisher to promote their new book on marriage together on TV talk shows across the country and had to honor it. She told me that she had to appear on those talk shows with him, sitting beside him onstage pretending they were not divorcing, and in spite of the fact he was living with another woman. (She'd asked him to at least wait until the tour was over to move in with his new love. He had refused.). She was completely discredited, she felt, in her profession and publicly humiliated. She quit her own radio show, left the practice, and moved to another state to start over.
There are public figures, including public Christians, who face the loss of their livelihood, trashing of their books, and national derision when they divorce their spouses. A case in point, Anita Bryant. How do you imagine she felt, having written good things about her marriage, when she divorced her husband, knowing she would face the destruction of her career writing for the religious marketplace as well? Humiliated? Probably. And then she moved on.