Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

On my therapist

Right now I'm in treatment for an eating disorder. I've been waiting years for this help. I feel like my therapist doesn't recognise how I'm feeling, and how invalidating CBT is to my experience. After this I'm expected to just pick myself up and get on with things, with none of the coping tools left. I had self-harm, and eventually I stopped. It left me with my eating disorder, and the trauma. No one wants to come near the trauma, except my GP and one of my best friends, who seem to be the only people who don't brush me under the carpet out of sight. I wrote this in my journal on paper, and copied it out onto one of my blogs. I try so hard not to blame myself for everything, and sometimes I manage to hate myself a little less for what I went through. But this therapy, it doesn't make that easy.

"I can’t decide if the therapist is the problem, or if I’m the problem, or if the model being used is the problem.

I feel stifled. I’m forced into boxes, to fit into her flowcharts and schematics. I can’t talk about anything but what the ‘module’ prescribes in a given session. No interest in the trauma tearing me up every night, how I wake shaking and sweating, wholly believing it just happened again. I don’t feel safe, left with these extraordinarily vivid memories which wring me dry, leaving me more tired in the morning than when I crept under the covers hoping to extinguish the sound of my past and fading future. I’m being raped every night while she tries to tell me how writing down my intake will help me. She doesn’t seem to recognise that this, having to be exposed and vulnerable to a stranger, it’s worse than what I’ve lived through already, because this time she’s stealing my only remaining way of coping and leaving me alone and frightened, with the things that got me here in the first place.

This is like him watching me in the bathroom, him waiting as I did exactly what he told me to, because I was no longer fearful, and only numb, attached somewhere to the ceiling up with the light fixtures, watching the story unfold. This is the whispers that I’ve heard as I grew up, hating the little girl I was. I shudder when I think of her and I look at her smiling face and think she is an idiot, stupid, for not fixing it or stopping it or changing it. I don’t logically know how a five year old could have, but I blame her just as much as I blame the me of now, and the two of us are detached, separate entities, not seeing each other. Any other five year old is innocent, just a child, needing to ultimately be protected, with freedom within age-appropriate constraints. Not my five year old self. She should have had the wisdom of a dying woman, should have stopped it.

I want to spit at this woman, all my fear and shame coiled around me. I want to retreat into the corner beneath the chair and see my bones again, open the scars so I can check that I am still real. I don’t think I want to be real, but the not knowing is perhaps worse. I want to wrap myself in a fluffy blanket covered in rainbows while I scream at her that she gives how many fucks? No fucks. about me, her ‘client’, ‘patient’, ‘service user’, whatever stupid term they’re using this week for me. She doesn’t care that this is breaking me further, and that every time she makes a promise and changes the goalposts, she invalidates my experience just that little bit more. She doesn’t care that the breaking is uncared for, as long as she can pass me off as another dealt-with statistic on their extensive waiting list, and move onto the next person. She doesn’t care that her telling me that the 20 hours she suddenly reduced to 10 is supposed to heal me, is perhaps the most invalidating thing I have experienced in recent years, beyond the usual onslaught that helped bring me to this place. Telling me that my 15 years of suffering in mostly silence can be fixed with her not-so-magic wand just because the piece of paper says so.

I call bullshit.

If she watched me through the glass on an old videotape and saw what they did, would she realise how much it insults the pain I have, and still am going through. Would watching them rape me help her see?"




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4 thoughts on “On my therapist

  • Sue Rose says:

    I have heard of this form of treatment and it is not one I would want to go through either. Change your therapist. You have to feel mentally and emotionally safe and supported within the care you are given and this does not sound as though this is happening to you. I would look for an art therapist. It doesn’t mean you need to to be able to paint, don’t worry about that side of things but from personal experience this is a great way to go. The therapist will engage with you, go into your past, guide you through … help you.

    Change your therapist asap xxx

  • Sam says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of this difficult and potentially harmful therapy experience you’re having, and I am deeply moved by your story. Please try to trust that it is not your problem. You are right, this is not a suitable model for you. It doesn’t sound like the therapist is right for you and your needs either.

    Please contact http://napac.org.uk/survivors-2/ or http://www.thesurvivorstrust.org/national-helplines/ (for males)

    CBT is most suited to mild depression and anxiety triggered by ‘negative thinking’. Any form of abuse and the consequent trauma is NOT negative thinking. It’s trauma. It requires specialist therapy.

    You are a survivor with coping mechanisms vital to you. This deserves respect and appropriate treatment. You absolutely deserve the right support.

    You may also have a local crisis team, through your GP or in the phone directory. They may be better trained to support you, or to refer you to specialist services to find the best way for you to work through your experiences as safely as possible.

    I’m a professional therapist so please do show this message to your GP/therapist if it feels helpful as a starting point.

    I wish you all the best and thank you so much for speaking out. Your message will strengthen and help many people.

  • lynda says:

    Hi Caty,

    As the other person said you need therapy to deal with the trauma you have suffered from not CBT. The therapist is only trained really in dealing with depression and behaviour this is not the type of therapy that will help you understand the complex problems you are dealing with. It sounds like to me and I am suffering with the difficulties your describing I am not medically trained but I suffer from complex post traumatic stress disorder and recurrent depressive illness and disassociation. You are describing similar symptoms that I suffer from being detached watching from the ceiling this is normal things to happen when you have been raped as a child. I also suffered from being numb and not feeling anything or invisible not really their or being angry quite quickly for me that is really hard to deal with at times. Your body, mind is reacting to the trauma you have suffered from as a child of five my therapist called it fight,flight or freeze in my times of s to dissociation and maybe your we flight and I guess that’s why your seeing things from the ceiling it was to difficult for your mind to cope because you where so young. The freeze I have also suffered from and couldn’t fight back because my body was to young and I couldn’t deal with what happened to me and the same for you. I too know the hate you feel the guilt and the shame I look at my inner child as well as feel the same things that you do. I personally think that art or writing therapy can help you connect to the inner child and heal your pain and the suffering you are going through at this time.
    What really helped me was I took the lead in my therapy sessions through my art and was able to talk about my pain in this way. Empowering oneself helps to make ones self talk of their pain and access and deal with it. I am so sorry that you had this experience of this therapist some therapist unfortunately do more harm than good and lack understanding of child abuse and trauma. As you acknowledge the feelings and are able to talk about the negative feelings you feel about yourself as a five year old and process it in a more compassionate way it will help you understand it wasn’t your fault. No professional should ever put you in a box your right is stifling and can be quite destructive as you start to process your trauma and talk and get the help you need. The pain and the scars over your body will lesson as you talk and learn to love you and be more compassionate to the child within. Night time is often the worse for child abuse survivors because the dreams the flashbacks and the memories surface more at theses times and were more vulnerable and our fears and thoughts heightened and we can become hyper vigilance at this time. I am glad you have a good GP and friend have you gone back to him to see someone else or another organisation where you live. As child abuse survivors it’s hard to trust and let anyone in and when people make promises and don’t keep and keep changing the goal posts we feel devastated inside and feel that were failures and not worth helping. You deserve good support this relationship with the therapist seems to not help and is causing you more distress and self harm. I know it’s going to be hard to try and find someone to help you right now because it seems you are struggling but because of the relationship with the therapist is not helping and causing you more distress maybe if you can make an appointment with the GP to ask and see if he can help you access another service quickly. You didn’t say if you get anymore support from a eating disorders unit or mental health team if so do you think that they can access another service for therapy or a RAPE service or a charity that does counselling or therapy for trauma.
    As for feeling like two people I to understand this because that’s how I feel and more at times because like you I couldn’t deal with my trauma at a young age so I didn’t say or do anything about it and my mind split so try not to be to hard on yourself because you are you and a worthwhile person and it’s a normal thing to abnormal circumstance of abuse and trauma. I think your courageous and brave to share your story on here and talk about your painful experience and let us into your world. Have courage that slowly things will get better I send my love and my hugs to you and hope that you will get the support and help you desperately need take care

  • Joanne O says:

    I had several types of therapy over two decades until I found the right one for me. What I understand now is that I was not completely honest with the therapist or my GP when first presenting with my “problem”. Partly that was to do with where I was mentally and emotionally and partly because I was deluding myself over what the ACTUAL cause of my distress was (not the obvious trauma I had lived through, but some childhood shit I had never even acknowledged). So, keep going, try different approaches – one will work. The only thing I can say is that you have to engage fully and honestly for any of it to work, and that usually means feeling a whole lot worse before you feel better.