Afraid to be Open with Therapist

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I recently started seeing a therapist at my University because of anxiety, and I want to tell her about something that happened 4 years ago that I’ve never told anyone. I was 15. My boyfriend wanted me to give him oral sex, which I’d never done before, and I didn’t want to. He got really, really, angry and got on top of me and I couldn’t push him off, and I was scared of what he might do, so I said I’d do it, and I did. I don’t know for sure if he was going to rape me or if he just wanted to scare me, but at the time I thought he was going to, so I chose what I thought was a better alternative. Anyway I get anxious with my boyfriend sometimes and I think it’s because of what happened, but every time I think about telling her I feel sick and panicky like I can’t breathe. I think she’s going to be understanding and sympathetic like she always is but what if she isn’t? I can’t stop worrying about it. And I don’t understand why, because I really like her, and she’s always been kind and has never been judgemental. But all the same, I’ve imagined every possible, terrible scenario: her being angry I didn’t mention it sooner, her not believing me, her asking why I didn’t fight back, etc. So with these fears in my head, I keep putting it off. But this pressure keeps building because I really need to tell someone and I want it to be her. I want her to say “it wasn’t your fault.” But it scares me to need that from her so much because if she doesn’t say that or something similar I’m going to have a breakdown right there in her office. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve never cared about anyone’s opinion on anything as much I do hers regarding this. I guess I just need reassurance from someone on the outside, because I’m REALLY stressing over this. I don’t mean to group you therapists into one category, but in general do therapists get angry when clients keep secrets from them? And would you consider what happened rape, if oral sex, as I keep hearing, is sex? Any good therapist (which she is) wouldn’t judge the action I took, right? Because even though I think I should have fought more, I had to make a snap decision, and it’s not fair for anyone who wasn’t there at the time to judge the choice I made, and additionally I was only 16 which is still fairly young. So I should just go for it and tell her, right?

A: Please trust yourself. You have good instincts and from everything you’ve said, I think you can trust your judgment about your therapist. No good therapist is going to judge you. You were only 15. You were scared. You’ve kept it all bottled up so long, it’s hard to even think about uncorking the bottle. But you also know that part of what is making your life challenging now is that you were scared into keeping this secret. You were traumatized! Worse, you were abused by someone you thought you loved and who you thought loved you. And, yes, it’s rape to be forced to do a sexual act against your will. We therapists hear this kind of story all too often. We don’t judge someone’s pain. We try to help you free yourself of it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Afraid to be Open with Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/12/28/afraid-to-be-open-with-therapist/