Sexual Abuse and Depression

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

From when I was 8 years old my parents were in a ‘Swingers’ Club. They did this openly in front of me and my siblings. They held meetings at alternating homes of members. The night it was at my home we were told to stay in our rooms. I couldn’t stay in my room as it was used to put members babies so I stayed in my brothers room. My mother came in naked to show us how she had been body painted. I’d also seen a photo of her that she showed me from a previous party with her naked and painted.

Eventually one of the women in the group was a ‘second’ wife to my father. Weekends I would stay with her,sleep in her bed. She eventually moved into the family home with her two children. She was lazy and I was left to parent the children most of the time. However, she was very loving whereas my parents, especially my mother never showed affection, was cold, emotionally distant.

This went on for many years. I was also sexually abused by one of the members and also an uncle but that is another story really. What I am writing to you for is that I thought I had worked through this but it is literally ‘haunting’ me a the moment to the point where I feel suicide will be the only relief. I know that is irrational but this ‘feeling’ I am carrying, anguish, stress, anger I fel like I’m about to explode.

I haven’t seen my father for over a year and currently I’ve told my mother I can’t see her. She is still cold, blames my father for everything. I have tried therapy with both of them but they blame each other, skip around the entire issue and do not validate or acknowledge what they did. The weekends I spent alone week after week when I was a kid while they went out to thier swingers club. I was going to take my uncle to court for molesting me but my father said ‘why would I want to do that, *hit happens’ No support, just gives you and idea of how bad things were.

I could go on for hours. Just would like to see written from you what this would do to a child growing up. Why does it keep coming up to haunt me? When I see my parents I feel numb, because I have to hold down my anger, shame etc you name it every human emotion that would rip a person to pieces.

A. Abuse in childhood can and often does have a negative effect on development. Good parenting can have an avalanche effect. One positive action can affect hundreds or perhaps thousands of other areas of the child’s life. Unfortunately, a similar truth exists for those who experience poor parenting. Poor parenting creates a negative avalanche effect. Parenting is critically important in the development of a psychologically healthy individual.

The easiest and most efficient way to deal with this problem is to go to counseling. You’ve tried counseling with your parents and it was unsuccessful. It was worth a try but it didn’t work. Individual counseling would be a much better option for you at this time. At some point during the counseling process it may be advantageous to confront your parents. No apology, no matter how profound or sincere, can change the past and the emotional pain that you have endured. You cannot change your past but you can change the future and counseling can help you to do this.

It is important to understand that while you have been damaged by your childhood, healing is possible. Others have been successful and you can too. You are considering suicide because your emotional pain and suffering is so great but please understand that suicide is never the answer. It takes time and therapy is a process but personal growth and healing is the expected outcome.

I am so sorry that you had to endure the things that you wrote about. It was unfair, terribly unfair. Many people have undergone severe childhood abuse. No one that I am aware of has endured this abuse and been left unscarred. However, every case that I am aware of has responded very well to counseling and almost all of these victims of childhood abuse are all now leading happy, successful lives.

Good luck in your efforts.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Sexual Abuse and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/09/sexual-abuse-and-depression/