Hi, I am a 46 year old female and have never had a relationship. I never had a boyfriend and never dated or married. When I was young I was s/a regularly for a few years. Now I am very afraid of men and the idea of a relationship. Actually Im an extreme introvert in general. Im also afraid of going to the doctors and have rarely gone in my whole life. Probably no more than ten times in total. The abuse happened a long time ago and I never told anyone about it. I thought it was all behind me, but I dont know if it really is or not. Im wondering where I went wrong on everything. Am I the only person in this situation? Any thoughts?

A: Thank you for offering your question for us to review. It takes strength of character to begin the work of undoing the aftermath of sexual abuse.

Whatever protects, inhibits. I think not having a relationship was your way of protecting yourself from future abuse. But the downside of this is that you have not been able to experience the joy that can come from intimacy. Don’t let the abuse that happened to you in the past dominate your future. You have suffered enough.

Three things make sense to me. The first is to have a complete physical. There may be a women’s medical center nearby, or a female physician who could orchestrate a checkup. I think getting a clean bill of health is a very good way to begin.

Secondly, I would interview a few therapists to begin therapy. Find two or three people close by and go in and tell them exactly what you’ve written about here. After the interviews decide who you felt best with and make a few appointments and see how it goes. Finding someone to share your pain with can be very helpful in having you move on. You may find a therapist by clicking the “find help” button at the top of this page.

Finally, I recommend contacting your local women’s center and asking them for services. Most women’s centers will have support groups for survivors of sexual abuse. They often offer these services on a sliding scale or for free.

I hope you continue your quest for a relationship. You did not go wrong on everything at all –it is simply time to heal.