Possible Sexual Abuse

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’ll describe what’s bugging me in a few paragraphs, questions at the end.

About a year ago when I was at my friend’s house, at night when everyone else was asleep (he probably thought I was too), my friend’s dad kept uncovering certain parts of my body (pulling my shorts legs up/pulling my shirt down) and doing things with himself (you know). After that night, he’d do those things whenever I slept over. I was too afraid to make it known that I was awake because I thought he might do something worse. I’ve never told anyone about any of this because I’m scared that if I try they won’t believe me, or they’ll accuse me of not stopping him when I should/could have. I still think about these events daily, and I hate myself because of them — I feel dirty, worthless, and stupid.

Recently, the stress of intense, excessive school work has been affecting me negatively. I’ve fallen into an unhealthy sleep cycle: falling asleep around 3:00, tiredness at school causing me to lose focus, getting home and falling asleep for hours from the exhaustion (causing me to start/finish my homework late), shower, and get into bed around 2:00 AM (where the cycle continues). This lack of sleep only worsens my stress. I have really bad OCD, which is also affecting my ability to focus/function. My grades have been dropping, and my dad is getting upset, which in turn upsets me.

I think the stress has caused rapid weight loss in a short amount of time (from 120lb to 104lb in a few months; I’m 5’5). I’m not trying to lose weight/starving myself. Every time I try to eat normally, it makes me feel sick. This has left me looking rather sickly.

A combination of everything I’ve listed has left me rather depressed. For much of the day my mind is clouded with thoughts of what my friend’s dad did, troubles with school are upsetting me greatly (and I feel like a huge disappointment to my dad), and my unhealthy appearance is adding to my insecurity (I’ve always been extremely self-conscious: I have next to no self esteem, I absolutely hate everything about my physical appearance and the things I do, I’m always comparing my failures to the success of others, etc. I’ve always considered myself completely worthless and inferior to all others). The depression just turns it all into one big cycle of self-loathing and stress.

I have three questions:
- Is what I first described considered sexual abuse?
- Is it actually possible for stress and/or depression to cause weight loss?
- Should I get help with my depression? If so, how do I tell people? No one even knows I’m depressed at all — not my best friend, not my parents, not anyone. I hate when people waste time worrying about me, so I’ve always pretended to be happy. The thought of suddenly telling people I’ve been depressed for over a year is daunting.

A: The short answers to your questions are yes, yes, and yes. What your friend’s father did is inappropriate and abusive, and yes, one of the symptoms of depression is weight loss.

Finally your email is incredibly well-written and thoughtful, sensitive and clear. I think if you have a chance to talk about these issues with the therapist you will do well.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Possible Sexual Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/25/possible-sexual-abuse/