Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

When therapy goes too far

Sometimes,mental health "professionals" also practice victim blaming.After my father hit me,i did everything in my power to expose him.That led to my first experience in therapy.I went to his office with huge expectations.I wanted not only emotional support and validation,i also needed practical help.Being a case of domestic violence,the doctor was supposed to report my father to the police,in order to put him in jail.Maybe he could even find a shelter for me,anything to help me get out of the hell house i was living in at that time.

And what did i get instead? The doctor asked me shocking things such as:

Have you ever needed a shrink before? implying that i was the one who needed medical help
What do you do around the house? Do you help your parents with chores like cooking,doing the dishes etc? suggesting that my laziness made my father hit me
Do you follow any hormonal treatement? I was NOT at the gynecology,so that question was totally out of place.

All my life,i had been forced to answer all types of abusive intrusive questions that my narc parents had asked me.So,in the doctor's office,it never crossed my mind that i had the right not to answer.So,as i had always been groomed,i started answering all the humiliating questions of the therapist.I didn't realise that the focus of the discussion was slowly shifting from my father's dysfunction and aggressive behavior to me.I even forgot the very reason for which i was in therapy.I forgot that i was there to finally break the silence,after 33 years of emotional,verbal and physical abuse.What had brought me in therapy was my parents violence towards me.

I left therapy feeling retraumatised,shamed and humiliated.It was like i failed a mental sanity test.Like the doctor had proven that i'm mentally ill,and that my parents hit me because they are at the end of their rope with me and they can't handle the situation anymore.On my way home,i looked at the people around me and i studied their behavior,trying to find out what was wrong with me.I was thinking that i should be like them in order to be considered normal.It was my first contact with a therapist.Back then,i did not have any info at all about therapy abuse or about victim blaming.

Many times,victim blaming is not direct.The doctor did not tell me directly that it was my fault,but he somehow did it through his questions.

 

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One thought on “When therapy goes too far

  • Tamsin says:

    Sorry this happened to you and thank you for bringing up this subject. I once had a therapist say that ‘these things will happen if you take those kinds of risks’ when, aged 14, I described climbing out of a window after being raped and locked in a house. I doubt the therapist had any understanding of the damage that comment had but it was immense.