Home » Ask the Therapist » Parenting » Potential Abuse from Stepfather

Potential Abuse from Stepfather

Asked by on with 1 answer:

At the age of 12 I lost my biological father from a rapid stroke. I’ve witnessed the moment when the stroke happened and when his body was convulsing on the sofa while I watched and cried terrified. A few years later by my encouragement, my mother registered on the single dating site. She successfully found this man who might be the beginning of all my next troubles. Maybe a whole year has passed by and I as a fresh model was insisting to live in the capital city of Poland as it was easier for me to continue my modeling carrier and get a better education. My mother agreed but insisted that I would live with this man that she was in a relationship with for a year or so. I agreed. I liked him somewhat. One of the first red flags was the thought that I had while entering the new “home” do the neighbors think that I am his girlfriend or something? (at the time I was around 16 and he was over 50). My mother was to visit me and him every other weekend or we would visit her (4hr ride distance). At the agency, I was constantly encouraged to get “skinnier” and lose weight. Once like every other visit, the agency told me to lose some weight. After coming home, I told this man about this (he was very invested in my loosing-weight journey as in many other things e.g. school). He proposed to me this massaging machine and told me that it might help. So I took it and tried to massage the front and back of my lower part of the body (hips, thighs). Throughout the days he has been insisting to help me with massaging myself because I “could not do this properly myself”. I rejected his offer once or twice but at the end, I gave up. So there I was, laying down on the bed while he was putting oil and massaging my legs with this massaging machine. I had shorts on and thrown over a towel on the shorts. Yet I felt naked. I tried to do something on my phone or talk to him. Just to break the silence. The worst part was when he was massaging me near my private places and between the legs with this thing. I want to underline that he never penetrated me or anything. And because of that, I am so confused. Because it wasn’t abuse now was it? After that, it maybe occurred a few times more. I remember that I just wanted to tell my mother what had happened but I just brushed it off. After that on the spectrum of years, I have suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts and failing at committing suicide, self-harm, thinking I was a male —suffering from gender dysphoria (I still would like to change gender), suffering from Ptsd and recently at age 19, being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. In the meantime, I was having non-major eating disorders, undiagnosed and untold. I am currently on antidepressants and recently I got myself drunk and cut my leg by scissors. The fact of potential abuse and Asperger syndrome is constantly on my mind. I want to tell my mother and my therapist is encouraging it but I didn’t think she can handle it. I am living alone at my apartment now so I don’t have to see very often that garbage that this man is. I hate him yet I don’t think my feelings are.. valid or legit? I am confused. (From Poland)

Potential Abuse from Stepfather

Answered by on -


There is a lot here — and you’ve displayed a great deal of courage by explaining all of this in your email. I am very glad you are working with a therapist. Having someone guide you through all of this is important.

Since the therapist thought it was a good idea to tell your mom, ask him or her if they would be willing to have a session where you invite your mom in to talk about what you are thinking and feeling — and perhaps to then talk about what happened. This is a very difficult situation you are in, but the fact that you ate still caught in the middle between having these feelings and the man still with your mother makes it particularly uncomfortable.

These things typically have many layers. To begin with, the internal conflict you are having and struggle with your mental well-being isn’t known by your mother. If the therapist is recommending and is willing. Taking care of this layer of communicating with your mom is important. I’d begin by talking to your therapist about this prospect and then take it from there. Keeping it a secret may be causing many of the difficulties or at least contributing to them.

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


Potential Abuse from Stepfather

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

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

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Potential Abuse from Stepfather. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 27 Sep 2019 (Originally: 27 Sep 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 27 Sep 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.