I think a lot of us keep secrets about things that we did, seemingly of our own volition—things that cause us to wonder, later, whether the abuse was our fault, even though we know better. When we think of what we did we feel guilty and ashamed. We don’t dare say anything to anyone, lest they tell us we really were to blame for our own abuse. Instead, we keep our secrets to ourselves, zipped up inside. At some point, perhaps, we find someone we trust (or at least someone who can’t hurt us) and confess our secrets to them, hoping that we’ll be reassured that the abuse would have happened anyway, that it wasn’t our fault.

Maybe you think my whole story is here on these pages. It’s not. There are a few things I’ve held back from public exposure. But more and more I’m realizing that in order to heal, the more I need to reveal. I’m still carrying a load of shame, and believe me, that shit weighs a ton.

So here is one of the secrets I’ve been keeping:
Of my own volition, I took off my shirt during an appointment with Dr. T.
I removed the rest of my clothes not long after.

Oh yeah, and then we had sex for the first time.

My getting naked didn’t exactly come out of the blue. The seed had been planted a few weeks prior when Dr. T had asked me: “Would you rather let me read your journal or see you naked?”

I’d taken to bringing my journal with me to my sessions. Sometimes I’d read from it, other times I’d just have it next to me, knowing that I was in there—my words, my thoughts, my feelings. I found a kind of reassurance in that. And I knew that if there was something I wanted to communicate to Dr. T and I couldn’t find it in my mind, I could find it in my journal.

On this particular day I was reading from it. (Something wise or clever or profound, I’m sure!) And then he reached out his hand and asked to see it. I balked. There was no way he was getting his hands on my journal. The thought was terrifying. Horrifying. There was so much in there about . . . him. I couldn’t bear the idea of him finding out just how much I was thinking about him. Or about the effect that his words, his touches, his very presence were having on me. Or how much I wanted his love. We were having physical contact every session at that point, and I could not afford to reveal to him the truth of what was happening to me on a psychological and emotional level. What if he decided that all that physical contact, all that “love and affection” were having a bad effect on me, on my therapy?? (!!) What if he decided we shouldn’t have that intimacy anymore and took it away from me?? I had become totally dependent on the contact and was terrified of losing it, losing him. I needed him to think that I was handling everything just fine. I couldn’t let him know what was really going on inside of me, that I’d become practically obsessed with him. All my secrets were there in my journal and I could not risk that kind of exposure.

So I refused to give it to him.

He acted surprised, jokingly offended. “Don’t you want me to really know you?” he asked.

I stammered, “Well, yeah, but—it’s my journal. It’s . . . private.”

“Even from me?”

Was he serious? I felt confused. I was entitled to some privacy, right? Was I really supposed to tell my therapist everything? I had felt so sure about withholding my journal, but doubt was starting to creep in and cloud my sense of conviction. I prayed he wouldn’t press the issue, that he would just drop it. I didn’t know what to say to get him to back down.

Then he began a little game. Playfully, he’d offer me a choice: “Would you rather let me read your journal or . . . ?” In other words, what would I be willing to do, what aspects of myself would I rather reveal, than allow him access to my journal? The choices, which started off as relatively banal, quickly turned provocative.

“Would you rather let me read your journal or . . . dance?”
Dance, of course! No problem.

“Would you rather let me read your journal or . . . see you dance half-naked?”
My reply: “Which half?” His answer: “Whichever half you want.” My choice: “Dance.” Exposing my body felt safer than exposing my secrets. He’d already had his hands on my clothed breasts, so maybe letting him see them wouldn’t be such a big deal. Besides, I’d be dancing. My movement would function as a distraction, right?

Then he asked me whether I’d be willing to be half-naked without the dancing. That I wasn’t so sure about. Could I handle just sitting there and letting him see me? Maybe. There was no way he was getting my journal.

But when he offered his final choice and asked me whether I’d rather let him read my journal or allow him to see me completely naked, I was stumped. I had no answer for that. I could not conceive of showing my entire naked body to my therapist.

Thankfully, we left it there. Perhaps our time had run out, or perhaps he was satisfied with the results of his button-pushing.

After that, I stopped bringing my journal to sessions. For a while.

But Dr. T’s question continued to simmer inside of me. If I had to make a choice, which would I choose? Didn’t I want him to see me? To know me? Why wouldn’t I let him read my journal? Would I really rather show him my body??

As I wrote in my journal in response to his question (which perhaps I should call a dare):

What would happen if someone saw the real me? All of me? Unmasked, unaffected. Has anyone ever? Or, more pointedly, has anyone ever and still accepted me, unconditionally? Have they seen me bare and not somehow taken it personally, as if my nakedness somehow affected them more than it did me? Is that what [he’s] after? A metaphorical nakedness with someone who won’t judge me, who will instead accept me unconditionally? . . . Full exposure, eh?

In the weeks that followed, our contact grew even more intimate. His caresses became more open, more deliberate. Our kisses, which had been constrained by his set of rules (on the cheek—okay; on the lips—only if our mouths were closed; short duration only), became less “chaste” (if you can call a therapist kissing a patient “chaste”) and had me longing for something deeper.

Then one day, as we sat together on the couch, he asked me what I wanted and I dared to respond: “To really kiss you.”

He’d been trying to get me to ask for what I wanted for ages, and I’d always refrained, afraid of doing something wrong and evoking his disapproval. But our contact had become so easy, so second-nature, that I finally felt comfortable enough to take the risk and put my desire out there.

Even at that point I wasn’t thinking about sex. I still couldn’t go there. I wouldn’t let myself go there. I did not want to imagine having sex with my therapist. That territory felt far too dangerous. Kissing was another matter entirely. Having his hands all over me, turning me on, and not being able to kiss him was driving me crazy. I could no longer handle taking a passive role in the contact; I needed to give something back. So I made my request. He happily obliged.

We spent the rest of the session making out.

The next day he left on vacation.

That weekend, I went not-so-quietly insane. Can you imagine?? I’d just made out with my therapist, and now he was out of the state, completely unavailable! I needed to talk to someone and I couldn’t. I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone what was going on between us. I’d promised. And he was . . . gone. I spent the weekend freaking out, wondering what was going to happen—to me, to us—and trying desperately, impossibly, to contain my anxiety.

It felt like years until our next session, which was scheduled for a Tuesday evening. Although I normally saw him Monday afternoons, we’d rescheduled to accommodate his travel plans. The wait was agonizing.

Tuesday finally arrived. As I got ready to go to the session, I knew I was preparing myself for something. I didn’t want to have any expectations because I was very much afraid of disappointment. But I knew something would happen. We’d just kissed—we couldn’t have a normal session after that! I hoped we’d do some more kissing. It had meant so much to me to finally be able to kiss him. I just wanted to feel that connection again, that closeness. I wanted to be able to express all that love for him I’d been bottling up inside. Hoping to increase the odds in my favor, I made sure I looked good and smelled good, and I took care in choosing my top (a pale lavender sweater).

I needn’t have worried. There was no “therapy” that session. When I got there, we pretty much picked up where we’d left off the week before, kissing and rolling around on the floor.

After maybe ten minutes, we came to a rest with him lying on the floor and me sitting on top of him. He asked me: “What are you going to do?” And then, without really thinking about what I was doing, and with that question of his still ringing somewhere in my mind, I took off that lavender sweater. I told him: “I want you to see me naked.”

Apparently, I did, in fact, feel safer exposing my body than my innermost thoughts and feelings. And so that’s what I revealed to him, during that last appointment of his day on Tuesday, May 22, 2001. Yes, he planted the seed. And he watered it and put lots and lots of fertilizer into the soil. But I’m the one who took off my clothes.

His shirt came off shortly after mine did. The bottom half of my clothes stayed on for a while—until he suggested that if I wanted him to see me naked, shouldn’t he be able to see all of me?

All of me. He wanted to see all of me.

I wanted desperately to be seen and for him to love me and appreciate me. More than anything, I wanted to please him. So I very shyly took off the rest of my clothes.

I wasn’t comfortable being naked. I felt very self-conscious and kept trying to cover myself with him. We continued kissing and rolling around on the now quite uncomfortable rug. At some point his pants came off (though I believe he left his underwear on).

And then he asked if he could be inside of me.

Oh shit.

I panicked. Okay, he’d brought up sex before, but I’d never really taken it seriously. How could I? He was my therapist. He was married. Were we really going to go there? Now? Did I even want to have sex with him? This was a big deal. Didn’t he realize this was a big deal?? Kissing was one thing, but sex?

I started to have trouble thinking. My comfort level was pretty maxed out by that point. I was naked and a little cold, and the rug felt rough and unpleasant. I really wasn’t ready for this. Kissing him was enough for me—I didn’t need more than that. What was I going to do? I didn’t want to have to say no to him. But I was the one who took off my clothes, and here I was naked, kissing him, so didn’t that mean . . .


Instead of saying no, I shied away and just kept kissing him, trying to convey in body language what I could not speak in words. Maybe he’d get the hint. He seemed to pick up on my reluctance and we continued the kissing and rolling around for a while longer.

Then he asked me again. He said he really wanted to be inside me. It could be for just a little while—he’d pull out if I didn’t like it. If I didn’t want to keep going, he’d stop. He’d do whatever I wanted if he could please be inside me, just once.

Oh my god.

I felt horrible. What was I going to do? He’d never really asked me for anything—not for himself. How could I refuse him something he wanted, now that he was actually asking me? I felt such love and gratitude toward him. I just wanted him to be happy. But why did it have to be this?

I felt paralyzed, split between his needs and mine. A voice in my head was saying, over and over again, It can’t be him! It can’t be him! Sure, I’d been wanting to manifest a relationship partner. I’d made a nice long list of qualities I wanted in a man and had worked on setting an intention to bring the right person into my life. My mind started running down the list, noticing just how well Dr. T matched up to it. But my partner couldn’t be him . . .

We could never be together as a couple. The man was married. So what if he and his wife had some kind of “arrangement” (as he’d told me)—where would that leave me? Would this be one more time that I wouldn’t get what I truly wanted? Was this what God/karma/fate had in mind for me?

I knew that if we had sex it would change everything. I knew that I would fall in love with him (as if I hadn’t already). And I knew that I could not afford to be in love with my married therapist. But I didn’t know how to say no to him. What would happen if I did? What would he do? I was terrified of losing the connection we had, losing his love. For me, everything had changed. I couldn’t go back to the way things were, doing “normal” therapy with no physical contact. If I said no, would I lose him?

He was waiting for me to answer. I had to give him a response. I wanted to say no, but I simply did not know how not to comply with what someone else wanted. I did not know how to choose myself.

So I did what I’d always done before: I ignored the sense of dread, prayed it would all be okay, and submitted.

I don’t remember what I said. Maybe I whispered okay or nodded, or maybe I just went straight into denial and said yes with a smile on my face, happy to be able to give him this gift. I don’t remember.

I do remember hoping he’d pull out a condom. He didn’t. That confused me. He seemed so careful—wouldn’t he want to take precautions? I managed to mumble something inarticulate about “being safe.” He joked that he’d been in a monogamous relationship not having sex, and I’d been celibate for six months after having been in a monogamous relationship, and that sounded safe enough to him. All right, I guess that was settled . . .

And so.

We didn’t do it for very long. Maybe he could tell I was freaking out and decided not to push it. I don’t remember much about it except that it didn’t feel like I thought it would feel. I’d really believed that having sex with him would have some transcendent spiritual quality to it. (Really!) It didn’t. Other than that, the experience is pretty foggy. I’m pretty sure some part of my being took off for parts unknown and didn’t come back for a long, long time.

We ended our “session” not long after. (And yes, I’d put a check on his desk when I entered the room.)

I left his office feeling completely spaced out. At the time, I thought I was “high.” (Now I know better.) I went home and wrote something blissful in my journal. I’d made my choice—I’d chosen him. And now I needed to tell myself I’d done the right thing. I had to make it all be, not just okay, but the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. The alternative was to sit with the fact that I’d just had sex with my married therapist, even though I hadn’t really wanted to, and felt confused and terrified and completely, utterly lost. Since I couldn’t deal with that reality, which might have caused a complete emotional breakdown, some part of my brain took over and made up a new one, turning an act of violation into an amazing gift of grace.

I did not write in my journal that we’d had sex. That evening, Dr. T had slipped from his god-like pedestal and exposed himself to me as something much more compelling: a naked human man with wants and needs, a man who happened to want me. His vulnerability sealed the deal. Now I felt duty-bound to take care of him. The role reversal gave me a sense of value and purpose that I hadn’t felt in a very, very long time. My whole being rallied around this new purpose, dedicating myself to Dr. T’s happiness—and to his protection. While before I’d felt primarily concerned with protecting my own thoughts and feelings from exposure, now I needed to protect him as well. I could not let him get in trouble for giving me this incredible gift. No one could know. I became doubly careful what I wrote in my journal.

And so began my four-and-a-half year sexual relationship with Dr. T.

*  *  *

Long after that, when it was over and I was “telling” and trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I was suing Dr. T for sexual misconduct, I was terrified to tell anyone that I’d taken off my clothes that evening. Though it hadn’t bothered me for four and a half years, now I felt ashamed. It wasn’t like me to do something like that. I’d never been comfortable with nudity—how could I have taken off my clothes? What if people blamed me for the sex? What if people thought I’d wanted it? Had I wanted it?

I wasn’t sure about anything anymore. Everything I thought I knew about the past five years of my life had been turned on its head. People were using the word “abuse” to describe my relationship with Dr. T, but I felt sure I’d been making my own choices. Hadn’t I consented? Didn’t I share responsibility? Aside from having “agreed” to have sex with my therapist, the fact that I ‘d been the first to take off my clothes didn’t exactly scream “victim” to me. Instead of feeling relieved every time some new therapist would tell me, “Even if you danced naked on his desk, it’s still his responsibility to uphold the boundaries and not do anything,” I’d feel mortified. It was just so close to the truth. No, I hadn’t danced (though that had been one of the options), but I had been naked.

I was sure that I’d done something wrong and was at least partly to blame. Even though I was spilling secrets left and right, I decided to keep that one to myself. Here I was saying I’d been abused and suing the man for sexual misconduct. I needed to know that people would believe me, that they would be on my side. I couldn’t take any chances that I would be blamed for the sex.

But my taking off my clothes wasn’t really about sex. It was me saying:

Okay. You want to see me? Here I am. I’m taking the leap and exposing myself to you, just as you wanted. I’m choosing to believe that you really do love me unconditionally, as you’ve said, and that I am safe in doing this. I want to experience being completely loved and accepted as I am—not for what I do or give and not feeling that something about me has to change in order for me to be okay. So I am giving you this gift of me. I am trusting you to hold this gift with honor and respect.

To be fully seen, fully accepted, is to be loved. That’s what I wanted to experience that evening.

What I wanted was to be naked and have it not be about sex. I needed him to see me, love me and appreciate me—without having to stick his penis inside of me.

But that’s not what happened.

In the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time punishing myself for the choices I made over the course of my involvement with Dr. T. I wish I could have said no to so many things. Even with everything I know about therapist abuse, it has been hard for me to forgive myself for choosing him, for abandoning myself over and over again. But I also recognize that I simply did not have the internal resources, the strong sense of self, value, and “okay-ness” I needed to be able to walk away from him. Taking off my clothes—and having sex—was a way for me to try to get from him that sense of approval and value that I couldn’t give to myself. I wanted love, so I gave him my body.

I also believe that so much had transpired by that point that our having sex was probably a done deal. If it hadn’t happened that night, it would have happened some other way, some other time. The man was a brilliant manipulator and he knew me. He knew that I was afraid of loss and that I had a history of going along with what other people wanted. I suspect he also sensed my loyalty and devotion to him. In his mind, I was probably a sure thing.

We need to understand that we do not “cause” our abuse. The things we do that we feel ashamed of are, more than likely, responses to the grooming process. (If Dr. T had not already been touching me, would I ever have kissed him? If he had not spent six months wearing down my boundaries, encouraging my dependency, would I ever have had sex with him?) We are not responsible for the actions of our therapists—or anyone else for that matter. Though many of us may be used to holding ourselves accountable for what others do and feel, we need to learn to let people take responsibility for themselves. This is part of developing good boundaries.

In writing about my story, I am, once again, getting naked. Through my writing, I peel off layers of denial and shame and expose myself, saying, I want you to see me. I want you to understand how this sort of thing happens, what it’s like to go through it. For those of you who’ve been through it yourselves, I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that you can heal.

Writing is also an act of defiance against my fear of exposure, my fear of what people will think and say about me if I am honest about my feelings and my experience. I push through my fear of judgment, blame, rejection and abandonment and write anyway. I reveal myself and try to let go of my attachment to any particular outcome. Here I am, I say. Do what you will. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve published a post, fearing the reaction, wondering if I’d be vilified. Yet here I am, still writing. And I’m realizing that whatever happens, whatever the reaction, I will be okay.

*  *  *

For more about the grooming process, check out my post “Don’t Call it Consent: Being Groomed for Sex”

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  1. Kristi-

    Thank you for writing this. I can relate to so much of what you are saying. I’m sorry this happened to you, and I’m proud of you for being able to write about what happened to you. Thats great that you are finding the healing you need through your writing and exposing yourself.

    Yes, we will be OKAY.


  2. Kristi, I want to acknowledge and praise the courage you have shown in sharing these most intimate details of your abuse. I must admit that I still struggle with the shame and sense of responsibility I feel toward what my massage therapist did to me. I almost always want to say ” what I allowed him to do to me.” I realize by now what a “brilliant” manipulator he was too. I get so scared for other women, I just want to scream. I don’t know what to do. I pray for them, and I pray for him. I believe God is powerful and he will protect the others. I am carefully speaking about my experience when I can, trying not to get into legal trouble of another kind.
    Again, thanks. Seeing the similarities between your experience and mine tells me that these abusive individuals are all very much alike.
    Also I have a new email address, and would like to receive these messages there . The new email address is listed when I make a comment but is still being sent to my old address. How can I change this?

    • Thanks for your comment!
      I think it’s possible, at some point in the healing process, to start taking responsibility for ourselves without taking responsibility for the abuser or the abuse. For myself, I want to be able to acknowledge my own choices and my own vulnerability. I don’t want to be a “victim” for the rest of my life, and that requires me to take a certain amount of ownership of what I bring to the situation. It becomes a question of: How can I own my life and my choices and acknowledge my conditioning without blame, without putting all the responsibility on others? How can I move out of victimhood and look at the choices I’ve made that have created my life as it is? This may not be a popular perspective with everyone, but it’s what I want for myself. It’s how I can get my power back.

      I think abusers and victims each share similar traits. We create these symbiotic relationships where our wounds are perfectly matched for each other. They get off on control, while we have learned to submit. As long as they’re controlling, we’re submitting; as long as we’re submitting, they’re controlling. They love their feeling of power, while perhaps we shy away from ours. It’s how each of us has learned to be in the world, in relationship. We give, they take. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. It’s easy to get used to it because on some level it’s something we are already familiar with. And it keeps going and going until someone is able to “wake up” and step out of the cycle. However, if, once we get out, we don’t look at the pattern and see how it was created, then we’ll keep getting into those parasitic relationships.

      I’m not sure about your email question. I don’t think I have any way to access that information. (If someone knows differently, please let me know!) If it happens again and there’s information you want, email me through the Contact page and I can send it to you directly.

      • Kristi, many of the things you said are also things my therapist has been teaching me. I haven’t been back for a while because sometimes it takes time for me to work through to a different place and perspective. She says it’s difficult for her to treat me because I keep getting re-traumatized by my civil suit, that it’s hard for me to make real progress. Since it’s not likely that I will go all the way to court, and I am reaching a point of personal closure with my case, I have decided to delay any further therapy, because when I do go back I want to focus on the bigger picture of my whole life up to now, not noly including the abuse by my massage therapist.

        • That makes good sense. It’s really not just about the abuse. The abuse was a result of everything that came before it. It’s not like this happens to anyone… So we have to be willing and able to work through all our previous stuff so that we can sort out the abuse. And never get into those situations again!
          I’m so glad to hear you’re nearing closure with your case! I hope you have some good support while you’re not in therapy. (Yes, there’s more to life than therapy!!)
          All the best!!

  3. Kristi, thank you for sharing you deepest feelings with this post. I became very sad when reading how this man manipulated you into meeting his needs. As also angry.
    It is fantastic that you can share all that and and bring into light how this subtle process of grooming goes on ,it is important to expose it not only for victims/survivors but also for potential victims.
    I still wonder if you really took of you clothes by your own volition. May be I am wrong but to my opinion you were emotionally ‘blackmailed’ into doing so . Asking for your journal or taking off your clothes is as giving you two options to choose between no privacy of thoughts (journal) or no privacy of body (naked). He did not allow you to have any privacy in any level ,so in fact he gave you no other choice but submitting to his volition.Anybody in your situation would choose to take of her clothes.! There is an unspoken threat… If you said no to the two sides of the same option he offered you , you would risk to loose his affection which would be much more traumatizing. So you had to chose to take of your clothes to protect yourself from an eventually worse trauma of loosing him .,along with his love and affection.
    I understand how you felt mortified when hearing that he had to set up boundaries.When the therapy is replaced by an erotic or sexualized relationship of course boundaries become as a threat or deprivation of this love connection. Really mortifying..
    A lot of my own feelings toward my therapist came again to surface when reading your experience. Please allow me to share some lines out of my own journal. It is a dream : ‘I dreamed that I was sleeping.Someones fingers were touching me.It was a mans fingers.It was my boss’ fingers.He oppened my journal and started to read it.I told him that what he was doing was unacceptable. He was amazed. He had no idea that it could be wrong …..’…..
    He often required me to read my journal for him and I submitted. Also the fantasy of dancing for him was common..,as also the taking of the clothes …. When not meeting his needs had a rather disastrous outcome…
    So think what would had happened if you had said NO.?may be something even worse, as in my case.Its just a no win is all about them.
    It makes me very angry to read about his clothes poker game which he billed as therapy sessions.It would be more honest if he had said that he liked you or was in love with you,which means that he had to stop the therapy, refer you to another therapist and then give you a real choice if you wanted to take of your clothes and have an erotic relationship with him without risking loosing you therapy. I also as you felt that it was my need of unconditional love which kept me imprisoned emotionally in this relationship which was billed as therapy.
    I am very glad for you creating the ‘creativity’ page. I hope I will be able to submit soon ,some drawings and writings I have but I feel still very limited by the language.

    • Hi! Thanks for your comment and for offering your perspective.
      What happened just goes to show how well the grooming process wears down boundaries and inhibitions and “inspires” us to do things we would probably never do otherwise. It’s very much like being under the spell of a magician or a cult leader or a false guru. Through their narcissism and our devotion, the therapist achieves this incredibly elevated status where we will do anything for them—and in the process, we discard long-held values, morals, etc. The greater their authority (and our dependency), the more susceptible we are. Anything they say can turn into something akin to a “post-hypnotic suggestion.” Eventually, we become as they want us to be, where they don’t have to ask for anything—we just do it because we want to give them what they want. That’s when they’ve really got us, because we appear to be acting on our own impulses, under our own power. Maybe we want to gain power or status by association. When we’re not comfortable with our own power, we have to get it by attaching ourselves to someone who knows how to own theirs. I definitely brought my own needs and vulnerabilities to the situation. No doubt about that!

      So your therapist had you read from your journal too? It’s just crazy how alike these guys are. And we survivors are probably a lot alike, too…

      I look forward to seeing your own creativity someday! I’d love to get other people’s stuff up on that page!

  4. Kristi ,you are so spot on.!!!! And very intutive…..!
    My therapist sometimes gave me ‘titles’ to write about in my journal and demanded that I should read it for him next session,which I always did.(sometimes excluding my feelings for him ) So yes ,his words were akin to posthypnotic suggestions..! In one ‘chapter’ I found that I am repeating his words in my writings exactly as suggestions. It is creepy and scary to slowly start becoming aware of this ‘hidden’, silent music I was sometimes sensing underneath his words and actions.. But I was not trusting my guts… I was trusting him more than myself thinking that it was therapeutic….
    Thank you for your very helpful comments .I am so glad I did discover your site typing in despair ‘therapy abuse’ and trying to reach out of the suffocation of silence.. I am also glad that you are so creative despite what you have been through with your therapist… Making something creative out of a painful experience is I guess the art of life..
    Take care.

  5. Kristi, a word that stands out upon reading your response to my first contact, is the word blame. Blame has played a big role in my judgement of myself throughout my life, so have the words “right”, “wrong”, and “should”. These words almost always speak to judgement, either of ourselves or others. My counselor pointed that out to me, prior to that, I used those words often, not so much now. Blame is pointless, pointing fault does nothing toward bringing healing or growth, so I’ve learned, in fact it thwarts it. Learning to take responsibility, as well as properly place it, is much more important.
    When we become conscious of what we are really trying to say about what we experienced or what we are feeling without using these words, we tend to get in touch with what was really happening within us during our abuse. It then becomes more clear as to who holds responsibility for what was occurring- on both sides.
    I am trying to learn to live both intentionally, and in the moment so that I am in a conscious state of mind as much as possible. I’ve learned that that rarely occurred when I was with my massage therapist, because he triggered so many childhood memories, associations, and abuses. My counselor called it “the perfect storm”.
    I’m coming up on the third anniversary of my last appointment I had with him, and I still miss what I now realize was an illusion. The needs I have go way back to my childhood, he could never have met them, though he was trying feverishly to convince me he could, or to at least let him try! It’s over now. It’s in the past. He cannot harm me anymore. Each day I spend a little less time with him on my mind, and a little more on the things that I always used to love and enjoy doing. I’m getting my life back a little at a time.

  6. Kristi, Thank you so much for this post. It is triggering me in a major way, and I’m unable to read the other comments at this time, so I’m sorry in advance if I repeat what someone else has already said here. If Dr. T had kept strict boundaries with you, like an ethical therapist would, you would have never, ever thought about taking your clothes off or kissing him. He so obviously (to us readers – maybe not you at the time due to the control he’d established over you) planted these thoughts into your head in an attempt to get you to act on them. My therapist did the exact same thing. I would walk out wondering WHY I just done what I’d done. The answer is because of transference and countertransference. I was unable to actually consent to any of the things I did. Saying “no” to him would have been like saying no to my parents growing up – I never did it because I knew better. I wanted to please this man because he was the first person in my life who accepted me with all of my flaws. My heart broke for you when I read the part about him wanting to be inside you and you being unable to verbally respond, and you attempting to send another message by just kissing him more. What a jerk! He knew you so well, he knew this (wanted to be loved and accepted) was a weakness in you, and he exploited it. Kudos to you, Kristi, for writing this out. I hope it helps in your healing.

    • Thanks Amy!
      Yes, Dr. T, should have kept strict boundaries with me. But I also acknowledge that I had gone out of my way to please other men in the past, doing things that later surprised me. It’s part of the vulnerability I brought to the situation—a vulnerability that Dr. T definitely exploited. And yes, I do believe he planted some pretty pernicious seeds in my head! He knew how to manipulate, and I didn’t know how to resist. They know when they’ve got someone who doesn’t know how—or feel entitled—to say no. It’s a deadly combination.

  7. Kristi, I have to say that I am VERYconfused, so I am glad to see what you wrote here. I told my therapist that I thought I might benefit from some coaching with you, and her response shocked me. She knows somebody familiar with your case (she wouldn’t say who), and has read much about the case. She told me that our cases were very different in some important ways. She said that you had received from Dr.T the pamphlet “Professional Therapy NEVER Includes Sex” BEFORE you became sexually involved with him (my therapist gave me this pamphlet and it explains everything); that you were working with at least one other therapist (Maybe more! Really?!) WHILE you were involved with Dr.T; and that you won several hundred thousand dollars in your lawsuit. All of this is very disturbing. I feel duped and betrayed by you because you present your story as if you were duped into the sexual relationship like most of the rest of us, and that your story is eerily similar to our. Well it isn’t, and as I write this i am become more angry with you and I feel betrayed! My therapist believes that you are a fraud and I am starting to believe her. She says you are probably faking the PTSD symptoms, is that true? I was SO impressed by your “ability” to handle your symptoms without medication. But Kristi, I can no longer trust you or your story because you have hidden the truth about some HUGELY important aspects of your relationship with Dr.T. Is this all a big show for you?! You talk like you are poor and can’t afford therapy, but you became fairly wealthy over this. And now you asking for our donations! Now I read this and I am happy to hear that you are starting to take some responsibility for your part, and perhaps you are ready to tell the truth, although my therapist warned me that by now, you may not have access to the reality of your own case. So, apropo of what you wrote here, i have to ask you a question to you in the way that it was asked to me: in your case Kristi, just who was grooming whom? I would like to hear your answers to all of this, I really would. Just as it is important for you to share your experiences here, I feel it is important for all of us to know the real truth about your case. OK, Obviously, I am very upset by this, but I hope that you have the courage to let all of your readers know what I now know about your case, and not delete this.

    • Hi Annie,
      Thanks for writing. I see that you’re very upset. Let me try to address your questions.

      First—the pamphlet. I never received that pamphlet from Dr. T. I never saw the pamphlet until a subsequent therapist gave it to me after I got away from Dr. T. The reason your therapist assumes I got the pamphlet is this: When a person files a civil lawsuit against a therapist, their confidential medical notes are subpoenaed from the therapist. Since Dr. T had apparently never kept notes on me, he made them up. He included in those made-up notes (in which he gave me a false diagnosis different from what was on my monthly statements and had all the significant dates incorrect) that he had given me the pamphlet. I assume he did this to make himself look less blame-worthy. That piece of fabricated information was included in the General Allegations for the civil suit. Let me repeat: General ALLEGATIONS. He ALLEGED that he had given it to me. Not everything that is written in the General Allegations is true, because the document contains what each party alleges is true. This is the document that can be found on the web with Dr. T’s licensing information. Consider this, however: if a therapist gave that pamphlet to a patient and then proceeded to have sex with her, doesn’t that make the therapist look worse? It’s even more manipulative, since it’s always, in every circumstance, unethical for a therapist to have sex with a patient. The bottom line here is that, no matter what the patient does, there is NO CONSENT for sex with one’s therapist. The therapist ALWAYS holds responsibility for the boundaries. If the therapist is not manipulating the patient, then wouldn’t you expect, at the very least, that he would terminate therapy and refer the patient to another therapist?

      Second: I was referred to Dr. T by a couples therapist, with whom I continued couples therapy for a few months. She and Dr. T were colleagues. Dr. T did not introduce physical contact into our sessions until immediately after my boyfriend and I had split. I had stopped seeing the couples therapist long before that. When, after the abuse, I told her what had happened, she never doubted me and, in fact, was the person who recommended I consult an attorney.

      Third, at least three subsequent therapists, two acupuncturists and a host of other medical professionals can confirm the diagnosis of Complex PTSD. I did not want to be on medication, so I did everything I could to avoid that. Perhaps I would have been more “capable” if I had been on medication, but that was not the route I chose. I’m a bit of a health nut, and I wanted to avoid putting chemicals into my system.

      Fourth, I did receive a settlement of $200,000 in February 2007, of which my attorney received 40%. Then there were court costs. I was about $20K in debt at the time, so you can deduct that. I was not able to work much at the time due to the PTSD and I was also in therapy twice a week and spending a lot of money on other health care. Given that I was living off the settlement and spending about 15K a year out of pocket on health and medical expenses, the money did not last as long as I would have liked. I made the decision not to include the settlement amount on the blog because I did not want anyone else who would be filing a lawsuit to be influenced by what I received. Amounts can range from around 25K to 500K or more. So my case is not necessarily “typical.”

      I have to wonder why your therapist has any vested interest at all in my case. She presumes to know the truth, but has she ever spoken with me? She’s making a lot of assumptions about what she thinks happened, without checking any of the facts. Who is it that she knows? Clearly, if she is connected to Dr. T in some way, she’s more likely to be on his side. Why else would she be biased rather than have an impartial or objective opinion? And why would she pass on her assumptions to you? If she truly is impartial, then it should be her responsibility to check both sides of the story and then make her decision. If she doesn’t want you to discuss your case with me, all she has to do is say no and leave it at that, rather than say anything antagonistic.

      I also want to point out that no one can ever really know “the truth” about the case, because truth is subjective—it’s always in the eye of the beholder. Even if you asked both Dr. T and myself what “really” happened, you’d obviously get two EXTREMELY different stories! So how can anyone else claim to know the real truth? I’m still figuring out what the truth is!

      I hope this addresses some of your concerns. You have the right to your own opinion, the right to make your own decision about whether or not you believe me. I’m not interested in trying to convince anyone. That’s not why I’m doing this. Of course, I’d prefer not to have to defend or justify my position, but it’s not for me to try to sway you one way or the other. If what you read here is of benefit to you, great. If not, then that’s your choice.

      I wish you the best.

      • Annie,
        I responded pretty quickly to your comment and, after taking some time to consider it, I just want to add a couple of things.
        First, with respect to the lawsuit and settlement, I want to note the following: I had substantial evidence to back up my case and Dr. T admitted to the charges. Dr. T’s insurance company would never have offered me the 200K if they did not believe Dr. T was guilty.

        Second, with respect to monetizing the site, I did feel very ambivalent about that. I initially just set up the Amazon link—mainly because I’m a book lover and have found books to be an important part of my recovery, so I felt that would be okay. Some people suggested I put ads up on the site, but that really didn’t feel appropriate to me. I had seen the donation button on another abuse-related site and eventually decided to try it out because, yes, I was feeling very poor. A scarcity mindset can definitely be a by-product of abuse and I have had it in spades! Interestingly, to date I have made a total of $25.00 from the site. (Scarcity thinking breeds, yes, scarcity!) While I feel very grateful for that contribution, I am reconsidering the donation button. I do want this site to be an offering and I do not want to reinforce in my own mind the idea that I need others’ money to support it.

        I hope that people realize that my intention for the site is to bring awareness to therapist abuse by writing about my experience and to offer resources. I also write to increase my own awareness and understanding about what happened and how it happened. It’s not an easy process! (And really, why would anyone make this shit up?) If what I wanted were to slam and vilify Dr. T, I could easily do that. I could also have named him at any time, since there is no confidentiality agreement to the settlement. I do hope that people benefit from the site, but of course it’s up to each person individually to discover that for themselves.


  8. Annie,
    I just read what you posted. I can understand you being UPSET after what your therapist told you, but in my opinion your therapist was completely out of line by saying those things to you. From reading what you said, I believe your therapist was completely UNPROFESSIONAL with how she approached this with you. She had no right going into detail about Kristi’s case. Obviously, this therapist either knows Dr. T , or maybe she is feeling a little guilty about something she maybe has done…. I don’t know, but then again neither do you or does your therapist know the details of Kristi’s situation. And as for the “Pamphlet” that you are talking about. Well, I never received a “Pamphlet”, and even if I had, it still could have happened. Have you read about “Transference”??? And the whole money issue from the lawsuit is really none of your business anyways!!!! Do you really think this was easy for Kristi to come forward and talk about? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t, but she did it. I have to say that I am pretty upset and disgusted with your post. Maybe you should do a little research and get YOUR facts straight before you go posting something like this.

  9. Kristi,

    I just wanted to say that I, for one, have never doubted for one instant that you were abused by your therapist just as you say. Moreover, you are not responsible for anyone’s belief or disbelief.

    As I recall, your therapist also lost his license because of what he did to you. Wonder how Annie’s therapist got around that fact?

    Personally, I think Annie should be looking for a new therapist….

    Melanie Jula Sakoda
    Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
    SNAP East Bay Director
    Toll Free Phone: 1-877-SNAPHEALS (1-877-762-7432)

  10. I have a little more that I would like to say and then i will drop it. First of all, Kristi, like Melanie said, I have never questioned your integrity with all of this. And like you said, why would you make this SHIT up. Why in the heck would anyone…. Annie, I can understand you being upset like I said, and wanting to believe what your therapist told you. Thats exactly how we get into this mess in the first place. We hold them on a pedistol, and want to accept and take to heart everything they say, but they are not GOD and we need to not treat them as such. When i read what you wrote last night, I have to admit I was not only very upset for Kristi, but it also struck me on a personal level. What your therapist said is exactly why we remain silent. Because of the fear of people judging and not believing us. I for one would never have the guts that Kristi has with coming forward and telling her story to everyone. She is really putting herself out there, and she is doing it for us, and also trying to help herself along the way to better understand what happended to her. I just wish you could have calmed down and thought about things a little first. A more appropriate way for you to have handled this would be for you to have sent her a private e-mail first, giving her a chance to explain things to you. None of us understand what happened and why we couldn’t just say no and walk away. That is why we are here, to try and make some sense out of what happened to us. And then the “Grooming” question. Annie, where do you get off asking a question like that? In my opinion THAT was completely out of line. My own experience was similar to Kristi’s in alot of ways. In the way it all played out and how at the time I was stuck, I didn’t know how to say no and run. Do you know how badly I wished I could go back in time and change all of that, and be stronger? So I ask you, Annie, was I grooming my therapist, were we all grooming our therapist, and what about you??? I’m done. Thanks

  11. Kristi, I respect your decision to not medicate, during counseling and recovery. For Annie’s and anyone else’s information, I CANNOT medicate, I have a genetic liver pathway condition that prevents my being able to metabolize antidepressants, MAOI inhibitors, as well as many other types of medication. Choosing not to medicate must always be up to the individual, especially since it is very difficult to get off these meds once one has been on them for some time. Only in the case of serious suicidal thoughts would I ever suggest these kinds of treatments, or only if meds are accompanied by therapy. Listen to your therapist and weigh the costs/benefits carefully. Talk to a physician, even a pharmacist, but use your brain as well as your instincts when it comes to psychotherapeutic medication.

  12. Kristi, sorry it has taken so long to respond. It seems that I owe you an apology. I was not aware that your therapist was/is (God forbid) a priest. That changes everything for me. I am confounded, though. Why don’t you mention this in your stories?!

    I also think you owe ALL OF US an apology as well, though. The”subjectivity” of the truth stretches only so far! There are facts. One fact is that your therapist and priest engaged you in a sexual relationship. A serious fact, and I am very sorry you had to go through this! Another fact though, is that you ARE lying about some verifiable facts, Kristi. In fact, you seems to be lying in just about every way a person can lie. Why? Why lie about the financial terms of your settlement? Why tell us TWO acupuncturists diagnosed you with PTSD? Really? I happen to be an acupuncturist, Kristi. I was trained one of the two most prestigious schools in the States. WE ARE NOT TRAINED TO MAKE PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSES. And I searched for a diagnosis of “Complex” PTSD. Where did you come up with that one? Why omit the fact that you were seeing more than one therapist? Why would you someone as strong and courageous as you are stay in a relationship that was by your report so unequivocally unrewarding for four and a half years? And please don’t tell us that you were both suffering from PTSD AND suddenly found an inner strength to fight back! (Most of us can barely get up in the morning). Why would you be so sure Dr.T’s version of the story would be “EXTREMELY” different from yours? Is it because YOUR story is highly fictional? Isn’t it enough to tell the truth? My God, a sexual relationship with a therapist and a priest is enough to get my attention!

    For Melanie: My therapist is helping me tremendously. She does take a different tact. She takes a non-violent approach. She is helping me to avoid what she calls the “very deep abyss” of becoming a victim. The power that many seem to find as a victim is a dead end. For me, not taking responsibility and violating other people because I was hurt is a way deeper into the hole I am trying to get out of. I understand that your organization (SNAP) is a bit of a vigilante group. I am trying to let go and move on. And really, Melanie, who do you think you are, telling me I should find another therapist? Not all of us are so lost that we will turn to just anyone with a ring of authority in her voice for guidance.
    I am shocked by the violence that is coming from OUR corner. Yes, we are all hurt, but aren’t we trying to heal? Perhaps we should work on forgiveness and get out of attack mode. Mother Theresa said to forgive others we should start by forgiving ourselves… I don’t feel entitled to hurt someone else just because I was hurt. I am working on a settlement with my former therapist that will compensate me (if that is possible) for his failure to hold the boundaries and manage his responsibility, and at the same time protect the innocent people that are harmed with the approach that you, Kristi, and your friends at SNAP feel justified to harm. Just how many people are you willing to hurt to get at Dr.T? Think about it.

    I know this is not what most of you want to hear. I am grateful to my therapist for helping me see the light. Would anyone care to join me in taking a non-violent approach to healing?

    • Annie,
      I’m posting your comment but I am choosing to not even attempt to reply to all the things you say. I will make the one point that my therapist was not a priest; yes, he was a disciple of Siddha yoga and devotée of Gurumayi, and I have written about that somewhat, but he is not a priest and I did not write that he was.

      You say to want to take a non-violent approach to healing, and yet I feel attacked by your comments. You are the first person in the 5 1/2 years since I got out of the situation with Dr. T to take me to task, accuse me of lying, and practically demand that I justify and defend my actions. And you know what? I’m not going to do it. I have spent the last few years of my life in fear of not being believed—possibly every survivor’s worst fear. And yet, despite a few hurtful remarks from people who truly didn’t understand, I’ve never had to face that fear. Until now. You are the first person to call me a liar, to demand that I explain myself. I honestly never expected that from someone who had been through their own experience. And I really never expected another victim/survivor to ask me why I didn’t leave sooner. The question that victims dread, perhaps more than any other.

      The irony is that, after spending so much of my life hiding my truth from other people, I have used this blog to say and express my real feelings and experience in about as bare and naked a way as I possibly can. That you would call me a liar seems absurd.

      I sense you are very angry and hurt by what has happened to you and that you are struggling to get through the aftermath. You were betrayed. But I am not the person who betrayed you, so I will ask you to not take out your anger on me. And I will ask other readers, who may be upset by your comments, to not take out their anger on you. We have all suffered, and we all want an end to the suffering. To me, a non-violent approach means having compassion for others as well as oneself. Sometimes we have to get through the healing process before we can get to that place. For victims of abuse, it’s important that we take the opportunity to truly feel our feelings and accept them before we let go of them. Feeling the feelings is part of healing. And, I believe that self-forgiveness must come before we can forgive others. Until we have healed our own hearts, we cannot truly forgive others.

      Annie, you can continue to submit angry comments, and I will continue to publish them, but I see no purpose in responding to your accusations. I’ve been through one deposition already—I’m not going to go through another. If you have a particular question you’d like answered, then ask it in a respectful way and I will answer. If you want to practice non-violence, then start here.

      I continue to wish you the best on your path and in your own healing.

  13. Although I have not had an experience, such as this, I think every woman alive has experienced a situation to where power has reseated itself into a sexualized role. Redefining abuse in this type of dynamic, is devastating. You need to look no further than society and sociology, to see where this power dynamic, (to replace that love feeling, of acceptance), is perpetuated to replace the norm, of a healthy, balanced relationship. I find your article highly informative, and educational. It seems like it may feel as though it is a tough path, for you, as the writer, and the person going through the experience, but those are always the ones most rewarding, in pursuit. I feel as though you have an amazing courage, and a great talent for writing, and speaking the truth. This is rare; it is also the main ingredient for character development, and becoming exactly whom you want to be. It is also a way of changing lives, and being a guiding light for others, even though sometimes the truth may hurt others- as denial can be prevalent in others, I would not concern yourself with critics; they have their own biased reasons for believing the way they do, concerning their own experiences and enlightenment… This action of your writing has evolved you from victim, to advocate. The flaws bared, truth and all, make this a highly powerful article, and better than anything I have read, in a while; (and I read alot).

    • Thank you so much for your gracious comments! I feel deeply moved by your acknowledgments. It’s when I receive comments such as yours that I know that I am on purpose. Blessings to you!

  14. Kristi,

    I am a forensic psychologist with a background in criminology. I have been fascinated with cases involving a sexual relationship between doctor and patient for a while now. I know attorneys who deal with both the doctors and the patients.

    I have read your story, and many of your interactions here on your website. All I am willing to say at this point is that you have a classic criminal mind. It is a clever web of deceit that you have woven here.

    • Really? That’s the first time anyone’s told me I have a “classic criminal mind.” I’m not sure how to respond to that.

      As for the “clever web of deceit,” oh how I wish that were the case. Even (or perhaps I should say especially) the people who know Dr. T have no doubt that the story is true. But whether any given person believes it or not doesn’t really mean anything about me—they are simply showing their own bias.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • Wow Gail, are you diagnosing someone without actually seeing them in your office? Isn’t that unethical? Are you receiving any money for court testimonies on behalf the the abuser?

      After 20+ years since abuse by a so-called “therapist” Kristi’s writing still brings up the memories of the seduction process and abuse and facing reality that this was not love or therapy at all. A traumatic process to be sure. What an idiot I was…that is still how I feel after all of that worthless and expensive therapy.

      Even worse was the legal process and feeling I was being totally judged. (I was after all.) Shame and PTSD are life long issues. Not entirely sure the lawsuit was worth it for feeling more “exposed” in my case…. However, the report to the State Board that removed his license WAS!!!

      It was described to me as being “soul rape” and I would agree with that. But also a darn good way to make money off of your victims to boot. And that is criminal.

      It is not sex for the sake of sex but power over vulnerable people ….sick powerful and extremely manipulative therapists need to be held accountable and stop making money pretending to be therapists- as they are criminals!

      Kristi has every right to speak her truth of experience with this sort of “therapist.” And thank you for your courage, Kristi.

  15. Trough the years there are two known, classic methods of silencing the voices of victims abused by people in positions of authority.
    One of them is to try to attack the credibility of the victim by pathologizing him/her as delusional,psychotic.
    The other way is to try to criminalize the victims behaviour and intentions as deceiptive.
    I am saddened when mental health proffessionals identify with the agressor against the victim.But I am not surprised….
    Αs a victim of abuse by my psychotherapist I have been through hell when some subsequent therapists disbelieved me ,tried to discredit me and made me feel as I was committing a crime when I dared to search for support for my traumatic experience.(the crime of ..revealing the abusers true colors..)
    As far as I know as a simple clinical psychologist , ‘criminal minds’ hardly have the ability to be insightful of their deepest emotions neither do the have the willingness to express and share their vulnerabilities.
    It becomes obvious that to become a survivor one must be capable of defending oneself from anyone trying to shutter ones selfconfidence and silencing his/hers voice..,using that sort of classic methodology…
    I admire Kristis work with this website who helps me and so many other people with similar experiences to find a place and put our unspeakable and painful feelings into words without being afraid .
    I think also it is disrespectful to try to devaluate or’ criminalize’ ones personal search for healing.
    Kristi ,I am in gratitude for your genuinity which has helped me and other people to see,feel and explore our feelings with exploitive therapists.
    Exposing ones wounds to the ‘ sunlight’ is a way of healing….

    • Thank you so much for your gratitude and your generosity in sharing yourself and your insights here!
      The commenter you refer to did not offer much of an explanation, so there’s no way of knowing exactly what she meant. I’m trying not to make any assumptions, but it’s challenging not to wonder what she’s thinking! I try to keep in mind that what people see is a direct reflection of their personal experience and their beliefs—everything’s basically a projection of one kind or another.
      Thanks again for another thoughtful comment!

  16. Kristi,

    I think you are a wonderful strong woman with a big heart. You’ve given me strength and hope in my darkest hours. As survivors we have to be willing, if we are emotionally ready, to put ourselves out there and tell our stories so that we can help others not feel alone. Because of you and others I don’t have to suffer through this feeling as though I’m the only one. That has helped me so much and has gotten me to the point I am now. I still have a long way to go, but with your help I feel comforted more than I would have if you had not made this site.

    Thank you, Kristi!

  17. Kristi,
    Thank you for speaking up for yourself and sharing to help others. It is hard to face feelings of shame and self-blame that many abuse victims have when trying to heal. It is soooo difficult to tell your own story.

    It is usually hard to trust other therapists or professionals after these things happen to a person….usually women. (My experience at least.) To anyone that might be helped I recommend the 12 step programs such as Co-Dependents Anonymous for a positive support group with no therapist. (Just my opinion of course. )

    Thanks again for your courage in writing and sharing your story.

    • Thanks so much for your comments and for sharing your experience. I just reread Gail’s comment—and to be honest, that last line makes me laugh! First, the idea that anyone would make this sh*t up and then devote a website to it is just incredible. What would I possibly gain from that? And perhaps I’m just the teensiest bit flattered that someone thinks I have a classic criminal mind and would be capable of weaving such a web of deceit. In a weird way, it’s kind of a compliment. Anyway, all I have to say to Gail is that you find whatever it is you look for. If you’re looking for deceit and manipulation, that’s what you’re going to see. Her comment is really more a reflection of what she’s got going on inside of her than anything about me.

      Thanks also for mentioning Co-Dependents Anonymous. Many people find help and support through 12-step groups. You can find more information about CoDA by visiting

  18. Kristi, as I read this again, I must say that I am so sorry you were manipulated like this. It’s so hard to say no to someone who has come to mean so much to us, what’s even harder is knowing they set it up to be that way. Thank God- He loves us, and allows us a lot of grace to learn from our experiences and even goes through them with us, so that He knows exactly what we are feeling, and how we’ve been hurt. He loves us so much, and values us so much, and wants to be able to protect us so much.

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