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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Do These Sexual Abuse Stories "Count"?


 ModestGoddess - Tue May 08, 2007 5:13 pm

Hi. I'm a 23 year old female, been have diagnosed with a variety of things since adolescence: PTSD, generalized anxiety, depression....I think PTSD probably most closely describes it. As a child (between the ages of 3 and 6) I was sexual abused several times by my cousin, who is 12 years older than me. I never told anyone until I was 15, when I started having a lot of depression, anxiety, and what I call "rage-attacks" (just starting to scream and throw things). My parents believed me but my extended family basically cut ties with me and my parents. I attempted suicide a week after my 16th birthday and was in a psych hospital for a week. Then, I was in an abusive relationship from age 16 to almost 21. The abuse was predominantly emotional/verbal (he put me down in front of others, wouldn't let me have friends aside from him, threatened suicide, would deliberately keep me from sleeping, monitored all my phone calls and internet activity, etc etc) and got much much worse after we lived together when I was 18-- also turned physical too, but sporadically. A "final straw" incident happened, and I left and moved to attend a different college in another state. Then, two years ago when I was 21, I was forced into having sex by a guy I had been dating for about a month.

I have a couple questions. I've been in some form of therapy (and some kind of meds) since I was 15. I had a hiatus in it from age 17-21 when I was in that relationship, but I have been again since age 21. I've done a lot of work and finally come to certain understandings, although I know I have a lot more work to do. Unfortunately, I've had to change therapists a couple times due to me moving or me graduating or me getting different insurance. Anyway, I've been seeing this therapist for the last 3 months, and I feel like I am now questioning everything all over again. First off, I get the feeling that she doesn't want me to talk about any of these things because every time I start to, she'll direct it to my job or my current relationship (2 things that are actually quite good and I don't feel the need to talk about). I understand that many treatment models, like CBT (i'm a social worker and in grad school for counseling, so I am fairly knowledgable about different theories), focus on the present, but I feel like my past is affecting me IN THE PRESENT. Also, certain things that she says make me question the validity of my experiences. Like, in relation to the abuse from my cousin, she outright said, "Well at least there was no penetration, that tends to affect people worse" and "It wasn't really violent, just an uncomfortable experience." And, in regards to the sexual incident two years ago, she basically said it wasn't rape because I didn't fight back, that I could have gotten up and walked out the door "but now you are so much stronger and you won't let it happen again". I was so hurt and angry, I almost got up and walked out of the session. So my question is, am I being overly sensitive here? I already canceled my appointment for this week (not cancelled all of my recurring appts) and have scheduled something with a different person. I'm just worried that maybe she told me something I didn't want to hear, that I'm just looking for validation and pity and that what happened really wasnt' that bad after all. Do you think these count as "abuse" or "assault"? With the cousin, there was no penetration, no oral sex, mostly fondling and "grinding." With the guy 2 years ago, I had sex with him before (although I felt pressured and he sometimes did things I found uncomfortable or said degrading things). However, I did say no to him on this particular occasion because he refused to use a condom. However, he went ahead and had sex with me anyway. I did not fight back at all; in fact, I totally froze and somewhat dissociated. I feel like my passivity and the fact that I probably would have consented to sex if he had agreed to use a condom somehow discounts the whole experience. I don't know why I'm so obsessed with labels and validation, but if you can help me out somewhat, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.
 mouse - Tue May 08, 2007 6:25 pm

helo mg

i just wanted to reply to u as another survivor of abuse. ur counsellor should never have said that to u. u deserve to b heard and not brushed aside. its hard to do but if u could find another one who has experience in helping ppl with abuse, i think that can help u more than this ignorant person. i kind of feel shes not listening to how u feel and surely thats what therapy is really about.

i hope u didnt mind me replying i just felt i needed to give u ur values back as a person who needs to b listened to.

tgc xx
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sat May 12, 2007 12:17 am

User avatar Dear Modest Goddess:

Repeat after me:

ANY KIND OF SEXUAL CONTACT WITH A CHILD OF ANY AGE IS SEXUAL ABUSE.

NO MEANS NO!!!!

Now, of course, I wasn't in session with you when your therapist said these things, but I personally believe that if there are any absolutes in life, these two issues (really only one issue) qualify as such.

Sex is not for children and it is not for adults who do not consent. I think that, especially since the sexual contact a couple of years ago involved non-use of a condom, this was a violent act.

We know that rape is about control, and not sex. Since he insisted on having his way with you AND he insisted upon leaving his mark on you, potentially changing your life forever, without your consent, is good enough for me. Yes, you were raped.

Is it possible there was a misunderstanding between you and your therapist? If not, I think you should run, not walk, to a mental healthy professional who has some experience helping women who have been sexually abused.

Good luck to you. Please let us know how everything works out for you.
 ModestGoddess - Sun May 13, 2007 5:19 pm

Thanks, Mouse and Dr. Eisele,
I don't believe there was a misunderstanding between myself and the therapist. Even if she didn't mean it to be blaming of me (which is how it felt), whenever I bring up issues of abuse, she steers the conversation to something else, like she is uncomfortable with it. All in all, I don't feel she is a good fit for me, for whatever reason. I am in a sexual assault survivor group, and after talking with the facilitator about what the therapist said, I feel comfortable with my perception about. I canceled my appt for last week, and I'm going to call tomorrow and cancel the rest of my appointments, possibly even explain to her why I am doing that (if I don't just get the secretary on the phone).
In the meantime, I had one appointment with a new person last Fri. Supposedly, one of her specialities is sexual abuse and physical abuse. I talked to her some about what the therapist said, and she seemed supportive. I feel comfortable with her so far, but I'd still going to explore a couple other options.
Thansk for your support. I have some other questions, but I think I'll post a new message for those!

"T"

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