Good therapy, bad therapy, after abuse or traumatic event

I had a few decent therapists. One was a short-term one whom I had right after I was raped in 2008. I liked her because the therapy was practical, informative, short-term, useful, validating, supportive, confidential, and had a beginning and end.

Not once did S doubt my word nor did she say “The patient claims she was raped.” No, our relationship was based on trust.

She didn’t rely on the opinion of other practitioners. Instead, she listened to my account, and relied on that and formed her own opinion, which she shared openly with me.

She shared information with me, for instance, what to expect next. She asked me questions about, for instance, nightmares. When I told her I felt unusual fears I had never felt before, such as fears while in enclosed spaces, she told me that feeling that way was quite common among rape survivors. I shared with her that I had gone out on a wild spree and purchased extremely bulky shirts, and was afraid to wear anything that touched my breasts. I was also afraid to wear anything that could be pulled down. She told me that this didn’t surprise her. I told her I wasn’t having panic attacks, only that I was avoiding things I didn’t previously avoid.

I still lived in the same building he lived in. This was problematic. I kept running into him. He assaulted me again, but this wasn’t rape. It was scary enough as he was forceful with me. My therapist urged me to stay away from him. She realized just how difficult this was for me. She suggested that I move. Sure enough, I had to  move anyway due to construction. I relocated to a different building. End of story. Therapy ended with this therapist and I found someone else.

S did me a favor. My previous therapist, G, had completely ignored that I was raped. And my  psychiatrist likewise. It all flew over their heads. Had it not been for S, I probably would have suffered far more trauma than in fact I did.

Rape has been around forever, and most likely, it isn’t going to be eliminated entirely. I wish, though, that there were “hospital abuse” therapists you could go to. There are all sorts of trauma centers, but not one that I’ve found recognizes medical abuse, or its subset, psych abuse as legitimate sources of trauma.

I don’t think abuse in medical facilities and nursing homes can be entirely eliminated. I’ll tell you why. There’s a hierarchy in such places where workers are caught in the middle. They are under stress, working long hours and also, nights and weekends. They work with dangerous equipment and drugs and sometimes, items of high value. All these are high risk factors for abuse and workplace bullying. The patient is on the bottom and has very little legal protection.

I think should abuse occur, the abuse should never be denied. The abused patient should never be told it didn’t happen. The patient’s trauma should never be trivialized. If possible and practical, the law should become involved. A trained person might be able to assess whether legal matters should be pursued and where to go to find legal help. A trained person would help the victim escape further abuse. A trained person might get the victim in touch with the media so the victim can share his or her story and be safe from retaliation. A trained person would know medical people who do not abuse.

I believe I now suffer from trauma because I didn’t have that. I was told it never happened. I was told I deserved what I got. I was told the unit didn’t exist. I was told human rights were trivial. I was told they were only doing their job. I was told their reputation was more important than my life. I was told I “needed” the abuse. I was told I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I was told I had a “perception problem” I was told I was “oversensitive.” I was told I was “ungrateful.” I was told something was “terribly wrong with me.” I was told, “You are just complaining because you didn’t like it.”

Okay, what if you went to a therapist after being raped and the therapist said the following:

“You are complaining that you didn’t like being raped.”

“He couldn’t help it. He was doing his job being a man.”

“You asked for it, didn’t you?”

“You’re making a big deal over sexual assault.”

“You’re just oversensitive about sex.”

“You deserved it because you are a woman. What did you expect?”

“He gave  you good sex and you are ungrateful.”

“So you slept with him and then you twisted the story around.”

“You’re a mental patient and something is wrong with you, so anything you say won’t be taken seriously.”

So for me, the abuse was denied. I was told it never happened, and no way could I possibly be suffering from trauma. Sorry to say, I still suffer today.

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