Abuse Problem?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am struggling with something that I don’t know how to talk about. I have a psychologist and I’d be horrified and ashamed if she knew but at the same time I feel like someone needs to know, someone needs to stop me if that’s even possible. I’m 21 and I’ve not had sex.. apart from probable child abuse that I struggle to have memories about. Being with men or intimate scares me. I want to run away. I feel a lot like a child all the time. I comfort myself with soft teddies and cartoons. My father emotionally abused me as a child and sometimes physically. I know I have a lot of problems now. But a lot of them I don’t know how to talk about. I’m so confused. I joined a fling site because I wanted to meet someone for sex but only someone who would take advantage of/abuse me. I have some kind of a desire to be abused. I think I’m having mixed messages. Because being sexual is a normal part of life and yet to me it freaks me out and I feel disgusted sometimes thinking about sex and that it’s dirty and that I’m dirty. So I get that good/bad message. And I feel that in regards to sexual abuse because you can respond physically and I don’t know what happened to me but I know some behaviours of mine and thoughts are off and not normal. It’s so confusing. But anyway I keep going back to these sites and it makes me hate myself.. I recently put something up about taking offers of money for my virginity and I know that’s potentially dangerous so why am I doing these things and what if I actually go through with it and traumatize myself even more? What’s wrong with me??

A. It is apparent that you endured several types of abuse as a child but it may be impossible to fully determine what exactly occurred. Sexual abuse is a realistic possibility. According to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, some of the most common problems experienced by adult survivors of sexual abuse include (among others):

  • sexual dysfunction

  • compulsive sexual behaviors
  • difficulty trusting others
  • depression and anxiety
  • excessive guilt
  • disassociation

Having some of the aforementioned symptoms may suggest that you were sexually abused but again, it may be difficult to determine that with certainty.

Not being fully honest with your psychologist is a problem. You are deliberately withholding very important information that stops him or her from helping you. Your psychologist is there to help you but cannot effectively do this if you are withholding important information. It is not unusual to have difficulty initially trusting one’s psychologist or therapist but over time this should improve. The more honest and open you can be the better it is. It speeds up the treatment process and it makes therapy more efficient.

Psychologists and therapists receive extensive training and have been exposed to virtually every type of possible psychological problem and behavior. In addition, they are motivated to go into their respective profession because they sincerely want to help people. Some psychologists and other mental health professionals work with individuals who engage in extreme abuse of children or others. Physicians do not pass judgment on their patients with medical problems; nor would psychologists and therapists pass judgment about their client’s behaviors or psychological problems. They are there to help, not to be judgmental. They expect their clients and patients to have problems and they truly are there to help them overcome those problems. That’s the career they have chosen for themselves.

I hope that you can be fully honest with your psychologist. The information you presented in your letter is very important and ultimately for your psychologist to effectively help you, he or she needs to be fully informed about what you are thinking and how you are behaving. No detail is unimportant.

I wish you well. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Abuse Problem?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/24/abuse-problem/