ABUSIVE DAD & PUSHY THERAPIST

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q:Hi! I’M LOOKING FOR ADVICE ON A PROBLEM I’M HAVING WITH MY THERAPIST.I STARTED THERAPY BECAUSE OF SEVERE ABUSE GROWING UP AND ALSO AS AN ADULT. MY DAD HAS SEXUALLY ABUSED ME FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE UP TO AGE 28. I SPENT MUCH TIME IN AND OUT OF MENTAL HOSPITAL’S GROWING UP DO TO MULTIPLE ABUSER’S AND SEVERE P.T.S.D. SYMTOM’S PLUS I HAVE D.I.D. / M.P.D.

MY THERAPIST SAY’S THAT MY DAD HAS CONDITIONED ME MY WHOLE LIFE TO BE UNDER HIS CONTROL. MY DAD WAS ALSO PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE TO ME TO THE POINT THAT I KNEW HE WOULD KILL ME IF I DIDN’T DO WHAT HE SAID. THAT’S WHY THE ABUSE CONTINUED SO LONG BECAUSE I CAN’T SAY NO TO HIM, I’M TO AFRAID OF HIM PHYSICALLY.

I TRIED ONCE AS A TEENAGER TO REPORT HIM FOR THE ABUSE DURING A TIME WHEN I WAS IN A PSYCHIATRIC BOARDING SCHOOL FOR A YEAR. I TOLD THEM BECAUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME I WAS AWAY FROM HIM AND MY LIFE WAS GOING GOOD AND I JUST COULDN’T GO BACK TO THE LIFE OF ABUSE BUT WHEN I REPORTED HIM THEY CALLED THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IN MY HOMETOWN COUNTY. PROBLEM BEING THAT MY DAD DEAL’S WITH POLICEMAN IN THREE COUNTY’S AS HIS JOB, SO THERE ALL REAL CLOSE AND LOOK UP TO MY DAD. WHEN THEY CAME TO DO THE INTERVIEW THEY KEPT ASKING ME WHY I WAS LYING ABOUT MY DAD THAT MY DAD WAS A GOOD MAN AND WHY DID I WANT TO HURT HIM. THE CHARGES CAME BACK AS UNFOUNDED AND THEY DROPPED THE CASE.

ANYWAY’S I’M 36 NOW AND MY PARENT’S DIVORCED IN 2000. I HAD MY OWN PLACE BUT MY DAD CONTINUED TO COME TO MY APARTMENT AND ABUSE ME THERE. I MOVED IN WITH MY MOM AFTER SHE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE AFTER THE DIVORCE AND MY DAD DOESN’T COME AROUND ANYMORE, HE HAS A NEW FAMILY WITH HIS NEW WIFE AND DOESN’T SPEAK TO ANYONE IN MY FAMILY ANYMORE. WHICH I’M TOTALLY GRATEFUL FOR! BUT NOW I’M IN THERAPY AGAIN AND MY THERAPIST IS PUSHING ME TO CONTACT MY DAD AND SEE HIM AGAIN. SHE WANT’S ME TO SECRETLY TAPE HIM AND ASK HIM WHY HE ABUSED ME IN ORDER FOR ME TO PRESS CHARGES AGAINST MY DAD AND GET HIM BEHIND BARS BUT I’M TO PHYSICALLY AFRAID TO DO THIS! I DON’T WANT HIM NEAR ME YET ALONE IN THE SAME ROOM AS ME! I UNDERSTAND MY THERAPIST POINT THAT MY DAD SHOULD BE PUNISHED FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE, BUT I WILL BE RISKING MY LIFE AND MORE ABUSE BY DOING THIS BUT MY THERAPIST IS VERY PUSHY FOR ME TO DO THIS. WHAT SHOULD I DO? I WOULD RATHER KILL MYSELF THAN SEE HIM AGAIN! THERAPIST JUST DOESN’T UNDERSTAND HOW AFRAID I REALLY AM. CAN YOU HELP? I REALLY DON’T WANT TO DIE!

A: From my point of view, your therapist has become over-involved. If things are as you represent them, she has forgotten that there is a difference between social control (which is the province of the legal system) and therapeutic work (which is the province of therapy). Her job is not to punish your father. It is to help you heal. If coming into contact with your father will retraumatize you or put you in danger, doing so is at cross purposes with your therapy. I certainly understand your therapist’s anger on your behalf. But she needs to work that out in her supervision, not with you. Talk this over with your therapist. If she continues to push you, then it may be that the healthiest thing for you to do is to find another therapist to continue your journey toward healing. You can certainly appreciate the good work you’ve done together but that doesn’t obligate you to continue. In fact, saying no to your therapist, another authority figure, may be an important step toward taking control of your own life.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Nov 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). ABUSIVE DAD & PUSHY THERAPIST. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/11/20/abusive-dad-pushy-therapist/