*Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"

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Fen Starshimmer

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*** TRIGGER WARNING ****

This has been gnawing away in me since I saw my therapist last week, and I've got no one to share it with. Only read if you are feeling strong in yourself as some of the subject matter could trigger.

I've decided not to mention ANY sexual abuse with my therapist ever again after her latest comments. I'm going to drop her pretty soon.

We had slipped into a conversation in which I was forced to recall one of my abusers. She told me not to call him "an abuser". Some of her clients are men "like that" and it was wrong of me to call him an abuser. I shouldn't judge people. I could have hit the roof....! What on earth did she think she was saying???? ? I haven't even told her much about him. She knows nothing about the abuse, what he did, or how it affected me. I once wrote her an email outlining the circumstances over twenty five years ago in which I became trapped under his roof for a number of years, hoping that would halt her attacks... because initially she blamed me and made me feel really bad, as if I had chosen the abuse. She told me it was "self abuse, self-harming" on a par with cutting. Has anyone ever heard of sexual abuse being self-harming - as if you chose it? I haven't. It's the most sick and twisted and disgusting thing anyone has ever said about the abuse. Self-harming is supposed to give temporary relief isn't it? The sexual abuse by this man (who confessed to me that he was a sociopath) did nothing of the sort. It was the total opposite! I was screaming inside all the time... ALL THE TIME. Ripped apart. It was *. Worse than the year I was trapped with the psychopath who I was escaping from because it was more frequent.... I now realise I became even more dissociated.

Most people would have walked away, she said. But I wasn't "most people". I wasn't 'normal', not a fully functioning person when I wandered into this man's lettings agency to find a bedsit all those years ago. I had just been dumped in a BnB by my parents in a new city where I knew no one, escaping from a psychopath who had terrorised, stalked and routinely raped me for a year with constant threats on my life, who had controlled every moment of my day. (Sorry, I don't mean to trigger you, just get the basics down).  It's a long and complicated story. I was dumped by my family soon after my escape in my early twenties (after I appeared in national newspaper scandal - a set up) in an alien city to fend for myself in a state of chronic shock and trauma, close to destitution, close to collapse... to the point where my hearing became impaired and I could hardly speak. I was reliant on one pair of contact lenses for my vision, no specs, and had a massive overdraft hanging over my head.  :stars:

 :fallingbricks:

My therapist was helpful initially in that she helped me uncover that I was sexually abused as a four year old by my father and had spent most of my childhood dissociated and in a state of hypervigilance, but otherwise she seems to lack empathy regarding the trail of sexual - and other types - of abuse that featured throughout my life, that seemed to follow me everywhere I went. I feel invalidated, blamed and ultimately like giving up with her. Isn't invalidation a form of emotional abuse? She's had her uses, but now it's time to move on... I can't and won't take it.

Thank you for reading my post and listening to me letting off steam. It helps.






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radical

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 02:56:22 AM »
What you've described disgusts me.  People can take whatever philosophical view they like, but this view is incompatible with helping those who have been abused.  Victim-blaming  harms.  No wonder you are feeling the need to "let off steam".  I'd be feeling a lot worse than that.  I'm really sorry you experienced this from someone you turned to and (at least somewhat trusted) to help you heal.  It is equivalent to a doctor taking to a broken knee with a hammer, imo.

I don't know about this situation, but in general, this attitude seems to come from a lack of understanding of CPTSD arising from childhood abuse.  It can lead to ongoing experiences of abuse across the sufferer's lifetime, and ever-worsening symptoms, not because people with CPTSD choose being abused as some kind of lifestyle choice, but because we have not learned, or inadequately learned the skills to protect ourselves from abuse, we often don't recognise abuse, and don't expect to be treated with dignity and respect as of right, we often lack self-esteem, and are vulnerable to the kinds of tactics that abusers use to entangle their victims, and in addition, because we had to live with abuse from people we relied on for our survival, (and the very people we should have been most able to trust), we have often learned  to dissociaate from abuse, to forget that it happened, and to carry on in a fog and stay in abusive situations, paralysed in our ability to get ourselves away until far too much damage has been done. 

To an ignorant twit who shouldn't be entrusted to be involved in the care of people with CPTSD this might look like choosing abusive friends and partners, and choosing to stay in those relationships, but it is nothing of the kind.

People who are gratified by hurting, humilating and disempowering others, select people who they can get away with abusing, just like burglars choose houses they think they can rob  with impunity.  Abusers learn coercive tactics to intimidate and control their targets and remove any residual independent thought and self-respect, such as intermittent reinforcement gaslighting and isolation.  They wear-down their targets down and make them doubt their sanity.

There is no equivalence between abusers and the abused.  If she was robbed, beaten and raped, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't go home and blame herself and feel sorry for her rapist, send him a sympthy card, if she knew who he was, offer to help him with his problems. To inflict her harmful and ridiculous beliefs on you beggars belief. Given what you have described, I also doubt her competence in helping abusers, because while compassion is important, naievety is dangerous.

Fen, you've been through *.  I feel really sad. 
Good for you in getting the * away from this idiot.

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Three Roses

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 03:39:22 AM »
I agree with radical. What utter nonsense, what tripe!! What are you supposed to call him - "the guy"??  This is so invalidating that it is abuse in itself! Minimization, blaming the victim, and she calls herself a therapist! I think I'd be tempted to lodge a formal complaint.

I'm so sorry you've had to deal with this ninny, no matter how much good she's done you. Her comments are simply unacceptable.

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rosemarie

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 04:40:23 AM »
OMG Starshimmer

I am so sorry you have to deal with this crazy therapist that is so so NOT OK. I would say run like *! You can, you don't have to stay and put up with it. You do not deserve to ever be blamed or shamed as a victim or survivor. I hate to trigger you or look like I'm jumping to conclusions but she is flat out re-traumatizing you and I really sense from what you said that she actually KNOWS what she is doing. I fully believe everything you said and am in disbelief about her cruelty. What a nightmare! You never have to go back if you don't want to, she gained your trust, learned about your deepest pain, and then used it against you. And she is an abuse sympathizer!!!! Her language is flat out the EXACT reasoning that pathological abusers use to abuse victims. For example, 'a normal person would walk away' ?!??!!? "Classic" psycho reasoning! And not siding with the survivor at all like this is a MAJOR red flag and possible sign of a covert narc disguised as a therapist here. The reason you are not allowed to say abuser is probably because SHE IS ONE. This is a terrible violation of your trust and disrespectful to what you survived. Again, she is disgusting and dreadful, not you. You are a survivor seeking to heal. I'm so sorry she did that and I'm so sorry for what you went through. I support you in your decision to cut her off soon. This is the kind of person who wants to silence us so abuse can keep happening. No. You are so brilliant at catching this and realizing it wasn't ok and listening to your body when it 'about hit the roof.' You are so courageous so seek help and reach out and share your story. This is a horrible reality that happens to other survivors with bad therapists as well. Not ok. Sending you so much support.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 04:43:55 AM by rosemarie »

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Fen Starshimmer

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 06:38:53 PM »
You guys are just amazing! Thank  you so much for validating my experience with my T. It means so much to me. I just sat and read, and re-read your posts with tears in my eyes.

Radical - You are a voice of sanity in this mixed up world. You write what I've been feeling about her, that she doesn't understand CPTSD at all.  I feel used, a bit of an idiot. Should've walked away a long time ago. I dismissed what I felt was bullying as her not understanding. There was no one else to go to and I believed she had something different to offer. She helped in new ways and gave me hope. I wish there was a special qualification or training for therapists before taking on clients like me, like us, so that we could be protected, and not be in danger of further abuse and emotional and psychological harm by them. (I could add 'spiritual harm' because two other Ts abused me spiritually a few years before .) This quote from you about CPTSD makes so much sense to me. This is TRUTH:

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It can lead to ongoing experiences of abuse across the sufferer's lifetime, and ever-worsening symptoms, not because people with CPTSD choose being abused as some kind of lifestyle choice, but because we have not learned, or inadequately learned the skills to protect ourselves from abuse, we often don't recognise abuse, and don't expect to be treated with dignity and respect as of right, we often lack self-esteem, and are vulnerable to the kinds of tactics that abusers use to entangle their victims, and in addition, because we had to live with abuse from people we relied on for our survival, (and the very people we should have been most able to trust), we have often learned  to dissociaate from abuse, to forget that it happened, and to carry on in a fog and stay in abusive situations, paralysed in our ability to get ourselves away until far too much damage has been done. 

I'm due to see my T next week and that's when I'm going to break the news to her. It's really sad - not just because I've suffered - but because I have been writing a detailed account of my sessions with her, hoping it will show a clear transition, with goals reached that I set out at the start. I hoped it might work as an e-book. It's been over a year now and I feel disillusioned. Not sure what to do about that project now? ?? :Idunno:  An excerpt has already been published by a literary magazine. Maybe I could fictionalise it in order to tell the truth, the whole truth, MY truth...(?) Something to think about.

You have all helped me to trust my instincts again. Thank you.

 :yourock:

Fen


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sanmagic7

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 07:04:13 PM »
fen, i'm with the rest of everyone on this.  as far as i'm concerned, she deserves to be reported.  what she's done and said to you is abusive in itself, which is harmful and dangerous to your mental and emotional well-being.  the first rule of professional caregivers is 'do no harm'.  she broke that rule the first time she denied you your description, your words.  she was wrong to do that!  just plain wrong!

what a horrible experience for you, and i'm ever so sorry you've had to go through it.  you don't owe it to her to go back, even one more time.  i fear that she will attack you again once she has you in her office.  you can cancel by phone with no explanation.  if she would insist on talking to you about it, you have every right to simply hang up and be done with her.  she betrayed you in one of the worst ways.

i'm very upset by this because i'm a therapist, and it breaks my heart for the client, and enrages me that someone in my profession would do this to someone seeking help.  this was done to you, you have no culpability in this matter.   you're not an idiot for not getting out sooner - i stayed with a narc therapist for 8 yrs. before i was able to begin untangling from her (this was when i first began recovery, and hadn't yet become a therapist myself).  i did report her, but i had been so traumatized by her that it took me 8 more years before i was able to get up the nerve to take that action.  by then, i was on meds for anxiety and depression, most of which was caused by her 'helping' me.  how are we supposed to know?  we can't do what we don't know.

as far as your e-book goes, i think it would be a great guide for anyone suffering from c-ptsd or any other trauma as far as what to look for, what are the beginning clues that something is not going right, what kind of therapeutic words are abusive, how you became aware, how you got out from under this, and finally, how it left you feeling, what kind of experience it was for you, what you would like to leave your readers knowing so they don't fall into the same trap.  you were trapped, after all.

she really reminds me of my narc therapist who doesn't like women and feels sorry for men, believing that they are manipulated and taken advantage of by women.  she tried to tell me that my ex-hub's sex addiction was my fault.  she's in canada now, and i don't know if she's still practicing.  i hope to heaven she's not.  do what you need to do to stay safe.  that's number one.  thinking of you, fen.  big hug!

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Fen Starshimmer

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 07:14:01 PM »
Three Roses - thank you for validating my response to my T's comments. I feel strengthened by your support. I am considering lodging a formal complaint since you suggested it. I don't want to get entangled in any legal disputes, but I do feel other victims and survivors need protecting from her. I will look into this.

Rosemarie - Yes, now you've got me thinking. You're right. She KNOWS she's re-traumatising me. I didn't want to believe it, because it's so sick, especially coming from a T. But my instincts always told me she knew the impact of her words. She could see the effect written on my face, in my body language, hear it in my voice when I rejected her ideas. She claimed to be an empath, but I am seeing a narcissist hiding under an empath's cloak, a wolf in sheep's clothing.

 OMG, she groomed me in a way... like other abusers have done! This sends chills down my spine:

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she gained your trust, learned about your deepest pain, and then used it against you. And she is an abuse sympathizer!!!! Her language is flat out the EXACT reasoning that pathological abusers use to abuse victims.

and this:

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For example, 'a normal person would walk away' ?!??!!? "Classic" psycho reasoning! And not siding with the survivor at all like this is a MAJOR red flag and possible sign of a covert narc disguised as a therapist here. The reason you are not allowed to say abuser is probably because SHE IS ONE.

Makes sense, loads of sense. I am seeing it now. Whoosh, the veil has lifted.

Thank you for your wonderful support. It's given me a huge confidence boost, just what I needed!

It's all sinking in. Going take things easy for a bit now.............

Fen


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rosemarie

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2017, 02:42:29 AM »
Yeah I'm so sorry lady, it's never easy to see this stuff. It feels so icky. Sounds like you are taking good care of yourself.

But it is also wonderful you documented your progress and achieved goals! A 'good' therapist or supportive person would tell you that you are amazing and resilient and you can look back at that account you wrote as successful and still use it. Because it was about you, not her. I wish that there was a magical way we could just avoid these types forever. But it seems like this experience probably reflects your own personal growth here. I mean, look how you sensed your boundaries were being violated, and then sought support, and are now making a decision to do what feels right for you. I'm really inspired by that and I'm sure your e-book would wonderful. But ugh she's disgusting, I got the chills too, sorry if I went a little overboard I hope I wasn't insensitive. I really wanted to convey the shock, horror, and compassion I felt about what you went through, especially as so many of us have been taught to second guess ourselves about this kind of nonsense. The wolf in sheep's clothing can be so sneaky until this kind of thing comes out and then it's so confusing. Good job with self care.

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Candid

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2017, 10:58:47 AM »
Isn't invalidation a form of emotional abuse?

Yes, it is. This 'therapist' ought to be reported to a local women's centre and/or rape crisis service as someone not to be referred to. IOW, blackballed.

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She's had her uses, but now it's time to move on... I can't and won't take it.

I'd like to see you tell her that. There's a very slender outside possibility that she was testing you, because you had discussed previously staying in abusive situations for far too long. Tell her this is the final straw and you're about to fight back.

 :hug: from me. I know only too well what it's like to feel unable to defend yourself.

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Fen Starshimmer

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2017, 10:33:57 PM »
Sanmagic - thank you for your support and thoughts on my situation. You, Three Roses and the others are the reason I have just written to my local Rape Crisis Centre about my T. I haven't named her (yet) just outlined what has been going on and waiting for their reaction. There are national organisations I can contact; one step at a time. It's been a learning curve. Just shows how programmed I have been to expect and tolerate abusive behaviour, or just not see it as abusive... I am trying not to blame myself. Your experience with a narc therapist sounds horrendous Sanmagic... worse than mine.  So sorry. 

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i stayed with a narc therapist for 8 yrs. before i was able to begin untangling from her (this was when i first began recovery, and hadn't yet become a therapist myself).  i did report her, but i had been so traumatized by her that it took me 8 more years before i was able to get up the nerve to take that action.  by then, i was on meds for anxiety and depression, most of which was caused by her 'helping' me.  how are we supposed to know?  we can't do what we don't know.

I feel mine doesn't like women either...especially attractive women. I am glad you recovered from your nightmare experience and eventually took action. You are a shining example. What an achievement, to then train and qualify as a therapist yourself. I am thinking about your idea for an e-book. It would be a totally different kind of book to the one I had in mind, but it could be a useful guide to looking for a good T - the sort of book I wish I had! I was badly abused by a hypnotherapist and a spiritual healer about eight years ago over a period of three years. I was so manipulated/mind controlled that I didn't realise the group of allegedly gifted people around me - mainly clients of the hypnotherapist - were members of a cult and that the spiritual healer was casting herself into the role of cult leader (though she would deny that). Have written a lot about that experience (unpublished except for a chapter in a literary zine). So..... maybe I need to start thinking about this new guide for CPTSD victims and survivors? Could mention your experience Sanmagic in the Abusive Therapeutic Words section or Red Flags section? Or the Recovering From Therapist Abuse section? It might be a good idea to expand it to include others' experiences.... Plenty to think about  :blink:

I have decided not to have another session with my T. I think you're right - she could attack me or manipulate me (as she knows me quite well, which buttons to push). I would be analysing every word she said. There wouldn't be any therapy.  Will do either an email or a phone call. Need to do it soon.

Big hugs to you Sanmagic for all you've been through  :hug:



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sanmagic7

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2017, 02:20:45 PM »
thanks, fen.  big hugs back to you as well.  your cumulative experience with 'healers' is awful, and i wish you hadn't had to experience any of it.  i do think your e-book would be a guiding light for anyone who's been traumatized and programmed to accept what comes their way from the so-called 'professionals' and not speak up against it.  your experience shows that it can happen from many different types of experiences under the guise of healing.

now that you mention emailing her, i think that's the better way to go (i'm so old, i don't have that experience, so it doesn't come to my mind!   lol!)  it keeps more distance between the two of you, is much less personal, and you can delete anything she might write back without having to even look at it.  she could still get to you on the phone. 

i'd be more than happy to share my experience for your book.  these people are so manipulative, it's easy to get pulled under without even knowing you're in the middle of a riptide! 

when i reported my t, i did so to the governing board of our state that is responsible for licensing and credentialing therapists.  there were a lot of ethics and boundary violations involved.  they actually had people go to her office, but she had already conveniently expunged any records (she had me as client, best friend, and employee all at the same time, for starters, and i'd sent them copies of my paycheck and record of being a client during the same time period).

when they got back to me, they told me that she was in violation, but that their regulations hadn't officially gone into effect until 2 yrs. after the fact, so they couldn't take any action against her.  just knowing that they deemed that part of what she did as a violation was validating to me, and i felt good that there was a complaint on her state record in case any other clients came forward.  this was in the u.s. 

thank you for acknowledging my experience.  i don't know about better or worse  - it's all horrible.  i'm just glad you're getting out before any more damage is inflicted upon you.  also glad you're recognizing this crapola sooner so that you can get out earlier.  speaking up about this is, to my mind, important because these people continue to get away with it as long as everyone stays silent.  i know it went against my entire upbringing to take her to task.  congrats to you for taking that first step!  very brave.  good luck with this, fen.  i'll be interested to hear how it goes.  in the meantime, i hope you find a therapist who is a true helper and healer.  they are out there. 

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Fen Starshimmer

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 06:07:14 PM »
Rosemarie - thank you for reading my post and your insights. It means a lot. I have been going through a rough time digesting what happened with my T. There are parallels with other abusers: they present the image of saviour and then hurt you, violate your boundaries once you let them in. Looking back, there were plenty of red flags. Yes, this has been a growth experience for me, not in the way I expected, but I've learned something. That's the positive way to look at it.

 
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you can look back at that account you wrote as successful and still use it. Because it was about you, not her.

I have been re-reading my account [The Diaries] and she's prominent in the chapters where I cover the sessions. There's dialogue between us and detailed descriptions of the work we did. Some of it is quite 'out there', not your typical kind of therapy. But she was getting results re my dissociation and hypervigilance, and panic attacks. I am grateful for that. So it wasn't all wasted time. I would often scribble notes while we talked and then type them up while it was all fresh in my memory. I also added illustrations, so it's quite visual. If I was furious with her, I would vent in my personal journal (handwritten unlike The Diaries which is typed). She always told me to "keep it positive" in reference to The Diaries, but I always wanted to "keep it real", keep it honest and authentic. I am going to think about the e-book idea some more.... I would love to use the manuscript somehow, even if I have to edit out big chunks. There's around 70K words. It would be a shame to bin it.

Candid - thank you for backing me. I feel the passion behind your words... I've got to do this not just for me, but for all of us. Yes, she may have been testing me. I've drafted an email to her, very short, and going to send it tonight. Will post the reply.

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sanmagic7

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2017, 02:04:55 AM »
fen, once again it struck me that she was trying to edit your personal writing by telling you to 'keep it pos.'  i'm glad you kept it real instead.  i applaud you for sending that email.   just my opinion, but you don't have to open anything that she might send back.  she doesn't sound very positive, herself - kind of ironic - and i'd hate for you to get 'blammed' even in an email.  of course, i know you'll do what you think best, and i support whatever decision you make.  very brave, fen.

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Blueberry

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2017, 08:59:05 PM »
I agree with the others on this too, Fen. I can't write more though.
 

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Fen Starshimmer

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Re: *Trigger Warning* Therapist told me not to call abuser "an abuser"
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2017, 10:36:39 PM »
Hi, all you lovely people, I've been away working on this. YOU have inspired me and given me the confidence to act. In summary: The local Rape Crisis Centre has been hugely supportive; I'm blown away by their words and responsiveness. They are helping me to report her to the appropriate body. Unfortunately, they can't investigate her themselves or take any action themselves because she is not one of their own counsellors.

They said:
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...fantastic that you feel strong enough to challenge the victim-blaming!

and,
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Iím really sorry that you have experienced victim blaming and judgement, especially from a professional who should be supporting you with your recovery. Regardless of what happened or the circumstances, you did not deserve or ask to be abused and you certainly do not deserve to be blamed for it or your choices afterwards.

I've been doing a lot of detective work. She's not a member of any national body of counsellors as far as I can tell. I just sent off a long email (complaint) to the organisation that awarded my T the license to practice a modality that I believe was used against me, or at least misused. I have asked them whether licensed practitioners receive training in the effects of sexual abuse and how to approach victims and survivors, and what can be done about my (former) T.

The Rape Crisis Centre pointed me in the direction of another centre for survivors of abuse situated nearer my home - very close. I hadn't heard of it or seen it before! It must be very discreet. They offer a range of services and I tempted to check them out. You can report someone anonymously to the police and I am considering reporting the psycho who terrorised me over 25 years ago. I am feeling better about this (everything!) by speaking out and taking action.

On Sunday night, I emailed my T to cancel our next session saying I needed a 'break' from it. She sent a short reply. No questions asked. What a relief.

Sanmagic - Your experience of reporting your T is very interesting. So she knew she was violating ethics and boundaries and disposed of the evidence. Wowww..... Shame they couldn't take action. I wonder whether mine knows what she's doing..? At least you received validation, and there is now a complaint on her record. :applause: Things operate a bit differently here in the UK. We don't have state governing boards who are responsible for licensing therapists, as far as I am aware. You don't need a license to provide a service... it seems as if anyone can pass a few exams and call themselves a therapist. Some don't even do that, eg the healer/cult leader! (I was too mind controlled by the hypnotherapist when I was introduced to her.)

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speaking up about this is, to my mind, important because these people continue to get away with it as long as everyone stays silent.  i know it went against my entire upbringing to take her to task.  congrats to you for taking that first step!

Thanks Sanmagic!   

I think I'm going have to research and write this e-book, the guide to finding a good therapist for victims and survivors with CPTSD [The Guide]. I need it for myself  ;D It will need to cover USA, UK and Canada differently for rules and regulations, and resources.

Thank you for allowing me to use your awful experience of a T and how it affected you. 

My personal writing [The Diaries] needs some editing/expanding to show my full reactions to some of her comments. Although I often went against her advice and revealed my true feelings, it is still a little too positive, too unbalanced and unreal to me in places. I will probably have to change her name to avoid a lawsuit.

Blueberry -  Thank you for reading my post and adding your support. It doesn't matter to me that you can't write much. Just knowing is enough.