Taking Action Against Your Therapist — Whatever Your Feelings Are

A while back, I received an email from a survivor of therapist sexual abuse. She and I had been in touch, and she was struggling with her feelings about her former therapist and about taking legal action against him.

She wrote:

The conflicting feelings that I have come and go on a regular basis. One day I am angry and want revenge for the way he treated me and I really don’t care what happens to him. But then other days I feel as though doing this is going to ruin his life, and that makes me feel like a bad person. During the time we were together he seemed like such a good person. He was spiritual and acted as though he really cared about me. I really wanted to believe this. I think about the fact…that this will completely mess up his life. I know I shouldn’t care, but sometimes I do. Other days I see him for what he truly is, a Monster. And I believe it is up to me to stop him from ever doing this again. I wasn’t the first, and probably wouldn’t have been the last.

So many victims write to me with similar stories, similar feelings and fears. They worry that their conflicted, fluctuating feelings are strange, abnormal—that there’s something wrong with them for not feeling one way all the time. They have this idea that they should feel emotionally clear about their therapist and in their intention to take action. That it should be a simple, straightforward, black and white issue.

I want to reassure all of you that having conflicting feelings following therapist abuse is completely normal. In fact, your confusion is a result of what you’ve been through. You’re confused because your therapist fostered your attachment and dependence on him (for this post, I’m referring to the abusive therapist as male, though there are many abusive female therapists as well); then he took advantage of your attachment to manipulate you and violate your trust. How could you be anything but confused?

Think of your attachment to your therapist as similar to the attachment you have to your parents. If one of your parents—let’s say your father—committed a crime, could you report him? Could you call the police and have him arrested? Even if he’d done something horribly wrong to you or another family member, wouldn’t you still have a hard time turning him in? After all, he’s your father. He’s family. You are bonded to him, whether you like it or not. To turn him in would feel like a betrayal of that bond.

Now consider your relationship with your therapist. You entrusted yourself, your deepest feelings and secrets to this person. You looked up to him as a teacher/guide/spiritual/parental figure. You believed that he would never do anything to harm you, that he had your best interests at heart. You wove that belief into your mind, your heart, and your body as the relationship became more intimate and your emotional and physical attachment to him deepened. He became more important than perhaps anyone else in your life. Is it any surprise that, even though he violated and betrayed your trust, taking action against him feels like an act of disloyalty, as if you are the one betraying him—not the other way around?

How nice it would be if, once you understood you’d been violated, all those feelings of love and attachment simply evaporated. It would make things so much easier! But those feelings are there because of your attachment, and they may linger a long time as you heal from this traumatic betrayal.

So if you believe that taking action is the right thing for you to do, you must find a way to move forward despite your conflicting feelings about your therapist.

Even though you formed intense emotional bonds with your therapist, it helps if you can approach the situation with a bit of detachment and neutrality. As I responded to the author of the email:

I’m wondering if you can find the place in between “good person” and “monster” where you know that he’s a human who committed a crime. In your opinion, should people who commit crimes be held accountable? I’m not saying it has to be you holding him accountable, but would you want him to take responsibility for his actions? It doesn’t have to be about whether he’s a good person or a monster or whether you’re a helpless victim or a hero. The fact is: He committed a crime. So what needs to happen? Try to see it in a more neutral way, with more emotional detachment.

I think it’s common for victims to regard their abusers as mythic figures—terrifying in their power—who must be vanquished, and to cast themselves in the role of the warrior-hero who’s destined to rid the world of this evil being. While seeing things in this way can help victims marshal their internal resources to take action, it’s difficult to sustain this rather intense level of motivation and sense of purpose. Taking it out of the mythic realm and humanizing it (even though you may not be willing or able to see your therapist as human at this point) may make things a bit easier and perhaps clearer.

First of all, it helps to get out of the black and white thinking. Your therapist was never a saint and he’s probably not the devil incarnate, either (though I could be wrong). He doesn’t have to be one or the other. He can be (and most likely is) human. Which means that buried in that blackened heart he has some good qualities along with the hideous ones. Yes, it would be easier if he were all bad. You would feel much less conflicted if he were. But people rarely are all good or all bad. Even narcissistic sociopaths can have some light in them.

Likewise, your therapist is also not “a good person” who’s beyond reproach. Aside from, perhaps, the Dalai Lama, do you know anyone who’s beyond reproach? So-called “good people” do bad things all the time. And many of these “good people” get away with untold crimes simply because of their golden image. Some even use this to their advantage. Consider how many religious leaders and spiritual teachers have committed horrendous abuses of power, while their loyal followers continued to believe in their “goodness,” denied any possibility of intentional wrongdoing, excused their behavior, and remained steadfastly devoted to these spiritual criminals. These kinds of abusive authority figures can be highly skilled at manipulating people’s perceptions and shifting blame onto those around them—often making it seem like they themselves are innocent victims (a classic narcissistic tendency). Their friends, fans and followers believe whatever story they’re told, and the crooks get away scot-free.

As the victim of an abusive therapist, you fell into a similar trap. You believed your therapist was a good person who held your best interests at heart. (That’s how he sold himself, so why would you have believed otherwise?) You looked up to him, perhaps like a father figure or teacher or spiritual authority—someone seemingly beyond reproach. In looking up to him, you may have also bought into the idea that he was somehow better than you, smarter, that he knew you better than you knew yourself. You put his authority above your own. Perhaps you began to see yourself as “less than.” Don’t feel bad or ashamed about this—it’s something many of us do with authority figures. We put them on pedestals and forget that we’re all human, that we’re all equally worthy—and all equally capable of bad behavior.

Your therapist liked being put on a pedestal. It fulfilled his need to be in a “one-up” position. He wanted you to look up to him, to depend on him. It gave him a sense of power and authority. It put him in a position of control. That’s how he was able to get you to do what he wanted—all in the name of love and care. That was the story he wanted you to believe.

So go ahead and knock him off his pedestal. Whether you like it or not, he’s human, as capable of wrongdoing as anyone else, and he needs to be held accountable for his actions.

If it helps, think of your therapist as a child who’s misbehaved (a serious understatement!) and needs to be disciplined. If you had a child who was running around, wreaking havoc and hurting others, would you let him continue?

The abusive therapist needs to be taught that what he’s done is wrong. You’re not doing him a favor by not taking action. In fact, you’re keeping him from learning something he really needs to learn! Yes, a civil suit and/or licensing complaint is going to mess up his life and potentially cost him his livelihood. But you are not responsible for that. He is. He was not a helpless victim. He made a choice to do what he did, and he committed grievous harm. He needs to learn that what he did is not okay. Just like that misbehaving little kid. You are not taking care of him by not holding him accountable. You may think that’s the “loving” thing to do, but it’s not. Loving someone doesn’t mean allowing them to get away with bad behavior or protecting them from the consequences of their actions. When you deny bad behavior or refrain from establishing boundaries or enforcing consequences, you inhibit others from learning how to deal with their lives and take responsibility for themselves. The best way to support someone’s growth is to let them be responsible for their own choices and their own messes. Having to accept the consequences for our actions isn’t comfortable for anyone. But this is what (hopefully) compels us to learn, grow and change.

So don’t hesitate to take action on his account.

Remember: The therapist holds sole responsibility for upholding and maintaining the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. You as the patient entrusted yourself to the therapist. You opened yourself up to him, made yourself vulnerable. That’s not something you did wrong—that’s the basis of the therapeutic relationship. If you weren’t being open and vulnerable, then what would be the point of going to therapy? It’s the therapist’s job to create a safe space for you, so that you can be vulnerable and do the work you’re there to do. You are entrusting yourself to this person. It’s the therapist’s responsibility to uphold that trust.

He didn’t do that. He completely violated the terms of the relationship and took advantage of your vulnerability. You may have felt as though he was taking care of you, but he wasn’t. In fact, he wasn’t even considering the impact of his actions on your well-being, your life, your future. He was only thinking of himself and taking care of his own needs—needs that he put before yours.

Now it’s up to you to put your needs and your life before his. Stop taking care of him. You don’t owe him anything. He’s taking care of his own life. Who’s taking care of yours? You owe your loyalty to yourself.

I know you’re worried about the impact that legal action will have on him. You’ve cared for him and, despite what he’s done, there’s a part of you that doesn’t want him to suffer. But you are not responsible for him, his choices, his happiness, or his life. You are also not responsible for his suffering. I’m sure he’d like you to think that you are, but that’s just part of the role reversal he perpetrated. It was never your job to take care of him and his needs. It was his job to take care of your therapeutic needs and to leave his own needs out of it. That is the business agreement made between a therapist and patient. He violated that agreement, and there are consequences for that. Legal consequences.

We are all responsible for the choices we make and the actions we take. Let your therapist be responsible for what he did. You can take responsibility for yourself by working through this trauma and focusing on your own healing and growth.

Again, you don’t have to turn this into some epic, mythological battle between good and evil in order to justify taking action against your therapist. He doesn’t have to be “good person” or “monster.” And you don’t have to be “victim” or “hero.” Believe me, I understand your insecurities and uncertainties and the need to somehow make your position unassailable. You may be feeling the fear that you alone are not worthy enough to do this, and that you must defend your choice and bolster your position. If he is a monster, then clearly YOU MUST DO SOMETHING! You have to protect the other innocents from the evil that may befall them. Maybe this is your life’s mission: To destroy the monster and rid the world of this evil.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to protect others and make the world (or your town) safer for those seeking counseling. It’s a very noble intention. We need people like that who are willing to put themselves out there for the sake of the greater good. Just know that it’s not necessary in order to justify taking action. You can take action on your own behalf without having to be responsible for all the other potential victims. You don’t have to save anyone or somehow make yourself more “worthy.” You are important enough all on your own to warrant taking action and holding this person accountable. And you are important enough to not have to do anything. You get to choose. You get to decide what’s right for you and your life.

Taking action isn’t a cure-all, and it’s not the only path. But it is one path—a choice that you can make for yourself. It doesn’t have to be all about him. It doesn’t have to be about anyone else, either. It can be something you do for yourself: an opportunity for you to say that you are no longer going to play the role of caretaker to your therapist—a role you should never have had to play in the first place.

More importantly, taking action can be an opportunity for you to assert that what happened matters, that you matter. It can be an enormously healing thing to do, not as a means of vengeance and payback, but as a way of declaring your own importance and value in the world. So if you decide to move forward on this path, try to see it as something you’re doing not because you hate him, but because you love yourself. Hopefully, that will give you something a lot stronger to hold onto.

* * *

Related posts:

Taking Action Against the Abuser — Emotions and Inner Conflict

7 Tips for Therapist Abuse Victims Considering Legal Action

 

 

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25 Comments

  1. Kristi,
    Great essay. You did a wonderful job of explaining how the client can be “set up” for abuse in the illusory relationships that clients too often have with their therapists. You also well articulate the many conflicts in recovering from a bad one.

    I argue that these relationships that elevate the therapist to some sort of a god-figure are never healing to begin with, for they are grooming the client for exploitation, even if abuse never occurs. Yet the profession persists in endorsing this type of distorted dynamic.

    • Thanks so much for your comments. I think a certain degree of transference is to be expected in therapeutic relationships, but I agree that an excessive amount is very harmful. And it’s definitely not good for the therapist to have that god-like status. That’s just asking for trouble.

      There happen to be a lot of therapists where I live, and I actually see that the tendency is toward a therapist-patient dynamic that seems a bit more balanced. (There are a couple of schools in the area that focus on interpersonal and holistic approaches to therapy, so I think that has a lot to do with it.) For example, many therapists are using the term “client” rather than “patient.” However, I also see more therapists sharing more about their personal lives, perhaps not being as strict about outside contact, and having slightly mushier boundaries. Hopefully, they’re savvy enough to see where they should “tighten things up,” but you never know. There are advantages to the old “blank slate” approach to therapy.

  2. Dear Kristi, while I was pursuing a civil suit against my massage therapist I went through every feeling imaginable. I was overflowing with conflict. I could not sort out, or organize in my head or on paper, what had happened to me, or where everything went wrong. I had not signed up for this chaos which seemed to be enveloping me. It was hell. Good therapy helped. I figured out that I had the right to stand up for myself and to take up and own the space God gave me here on this earth, just as much as anyone else. I finally believed that I mattered! That was the biggest, most important lesson to come from this incident in my life. The one thing I am sure of about my massage therapist is that he is responsible for what he does. He is responsible for maintaining his profession’s ethics and standards of his profession. There was no way I could have made him do the things he did to me. That was his choice. He made the decision to foster a dependent relationship with me. I could not have made him do that. I looked up to him. He came with a high recommendation, and I trusted him, and he exploited that trust. Again, that too, was his decision. We cannot control other’s behavior, we can only control ours, and then only what we are conscience of. If we’re being manipulated under these kinds of circumstances, it’s very difficult to put a finger on that. It’s also very confusing, and they know it. They count on us being confused, they also count on loyalty, trust, empathy, any good trait we might have , in order to pull off their exploitation of us to get what they want. They are experts at these kinds of games, and you can bet they’ve done it to countless other. So to this person who feels confused, take your perpetrator down to the human level as Kristi suggested, and allow him to take responsibility as a human being for the damage he did to another human being. He needs to face his choices.

  3. One really important thing is the simple fact that people who do this have often done it to more than one person and will do it again. If we are one of the people who has been exploited and we can act to make it less likely that the perp can do it to anyone else it seems like that is a good thing. sure, I felt terrible on acting against my perp, but at least maybe some future unknown people won’t get hurt.

    • It’s very true that an abusive therapist may be a repeat offender. And you may never know whether you’re the first or the fifth or the twenty-fifth… Most victims won’t come forward. But if the abuse is ever going to stop, somebody along the line needs to say “No more!” and take legal action. Otherwise, the abuser is likely to continue. Why would they stop unless there are consequences?

  4. Hi there. I really needed this today. In a few days, the therapist who abused me will know it is me making the accusations against him. I can’t say very much, because there are a number of ongoing investigations, but thank you so much for this. Today, I sent a document to release my name and statement to his licensing board so that he can be suspended. Other victims have been found. I am going through EXACTLY what has been detailed here. Thank you so much for sharing. I haven’t been to the site since I initially decided to go the police, and since then, the investigation has dragged on and on, and I have lived my life, quietly. But now, here we are. It’s showtime.

    The licensing board has a lower standard of culpability than the criminal court, and the police want him stopped now, so I have felt no choice but to take this next step.

    I am in agony tonight, feeling these conflicted feelings. Isolated because I have been told to not speak to anyone about this, until the investigations are completed. The isolation is profound. The fear, guilt, shame, etc is profound. I am scared of him. And I am scared of everyone knowing who I am.

    I love what you said about being a “warrior”. When I went into this, I did it for the other victims, and to stop him. But you are right, you can’t maintain that. THANKS SO MUCH for letting me off the hook. I don’t feel like a warrior tonight. I feel like a child, hoping that I am believed, needing validation, scared that I told on someone I loved, respected and looked up to… and needed. Feeling so much pain for his family, who are no less victims of his malpractice than I. It is messy and complicated and painful.

    And he did it to himself. And to me. Why do they do this, when they could choose to be healers? I don’t understand.

    I loved what you said about knocking him off his pedestal. Whoops, there he goes. Thanks. So much good stuff in this post and I needed it all.

    • I’m so glad you got what you needed from this post! This is such a common experience for us and it was really important to me to write about it and offer some reassurance about how normal it is to feel these feelings. Like you said: “It is messy, complicated and painful.”

      We can be vulnerable AND strong. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
      Be well!
      -K

      • Thank you Kristi. I have been looking for an article like this for ages. I am from the UK, things are different here, there isn’t that much support for victims of therapy abuse. My therapist befriended me and then denied everything that happened. The story is too long and complex to go into and I am waiting for a decision from her professional body on the outcome of the complaint I made. I still have these conflicting emotions and the betrayal is as painful as ever. Will it ever go away? I may take this to a civil court too. It has cost me financially and emotionally and her behaviour made me think I was going mad, she said as much. But I know I am an okay person, she is the one that needs help and that is one of the reasons why I have gone through a complaints procedure. It hurts though, it seems never ending.

        Thank you very much.

        • I know I am an okay person, she is the one that needs help and that is one of the reasons why I have gone through a complaints procedure.

          Yes, you are okay!! And you are moving forward in the way that feels right to you. The memories may not go away, but their impact on you will lessen over time and with some good support. Trust that you will heal, and you will. It just takes some determination and persistence.

          Good luck with the complaint! Whatever the outcome, know that you took action, stood up for yourself, and did what was right for you. That’s what really counts.

    • Dear Sophia, I hope you’re doing well. I was reading your comment above and what really struck me was the part where you talked about “feeling like a child,hoping to be believed, needing to be validation, scared that I told on someone I loved, respected and looked up to…and needed.” I cannot tell you how deep that runs for me, even dating back to my childhood- no surprise there, I suppose. I remember feeling so badly for my massage therapist when I knew he had received his notice from his professional board. I felt like a tattle tale. In fact, I unfortunately, did not report everything to the Board because I felt like I was betraying him in light of how much loyalty I felt toward him. Man these people can really screw with our heads. I recently read a very good book (The Aftermath of Rock n’ Roll) about a radiologist who had a very expensive encounter with a psychopath. My impression is that anyone can be seduced on almost any level by these types of people. But, somehow, it seems like an even worse violation when it is done by a health professional, especially when the pwer differential is so remarkably great. I wish you well.

  5. Pingback: Therapist Abuse « Kate Is Rising

  6. I can relate to this article 100%. You go back and forth from feeling really good basking in the therapy good feeling and then you feel horrible knowing you are being manipulated. Sometimes I cant even think clearly for myself.

    The situation I am in involves a coworker of mine.
    His parents are therapists. He used to be a bouncer as well as a residential assistant in college. I had long suspected that he had done therapists techniques on me at work. I am pretty certain that he is.
    When I started in the group that I am currently in I started to feel a lot differently. I used to have a lot more determination and passion in life. Then after a while I found myself not being as sociable and not going after what I wanted. It was like my brain was turned to mush, like I was being controlled. I became extremely passive. I felt sort of happy, but in a giving up kinda way.

    He took a vacation for a month. I realized that I started to become more in control of my life and felt better about myself. When he came back I realized how much I did not like whatever psychological therapy techniques he was doing to me.
    It feels like he was turning my brain to mush

    What do you do in a situation like this? I do not know if he also has legit therapist, but I know his parents are.

  7. It was back in 1979. I started seeing him and then decided to get my brother involved. Big mistake. Very big. Another family member from an extremely dysfunctional family where there were trust issues (and this brother was insulting and invalidating). Don’t know what I was thinking.

    My therapist suggested that he meet my parents. I almost flew out of my chair. I said definitely not. So what does he do? After saying he would NEVER do that…he did. To my absolute horror. My parents were my enemies. My mother, in particular, smeared me whenever she could.

    I found out my parents were seeing him when I bumped into them upon leaving my session. How do you like that? He was callous and ignorant enough to book them right after seeing me.

    When I saw him again I was enraged and confronted him. I reminded him that he said he would never do that…and then he said, “To you!” Then I asked my brother if he told the therapist it was okay for my parents to be seen in therapy and he said NO. He was shocked. He said, “Wow…that was really sneaky. He got them in and totally violated your privacy.”

    I was stupid enough to keep seeing this guy. Since there were no rules about this sort of thing…HIPAA did not enter the scene until 2003 or thereabouts…it was without doubt way out of bounds and disrespectful. I wish now I had tried to report him to whatever agency therapists are subject to…

    And he was insulting. He once referred to me as the ‘dummy’ in my family. He said other things as well. And here’s one more…he checked me out a lot…I caught him staring at my legs and butt…especially the day I had 4 inch heels on…

  8. Kristi: thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately, ensuing therapy with other professionals was not good either. My last one was a social worker and she was extremely difficult. She liked proving how tough she could be (her quote: “I will get in your face”). She called me a coward and frequently was late for our appointments. We argued and I called her out several times…she lied about it (she never said that…) She had crazy thinking herself. It was hopeless. Early on in therapy she said she did not think she could help me…nice, huh? That is all a person needs to hear…a therapist rejecting them.

    After coming out of my last two sessions with throbbing headaches I finally realized she was affecting my physical health as well as my emotional and mental health.

    It is when they betray you that you feel most enraged. She enraged me. Good riddance.

  9. Kristi,
    I have finally reached a place where I have lost enough of my idolization of him to say that he abused me and to stick to it. The medical board’s statute of limitation are long expired. I think I want to report him anonymously to his hospital but I don’t know if anyone will take notice of an anonymous complaint. My “hope” is that I am not the first one and another complaint will start to show a pattern. I’m afraid I will be sued if I use my name. I don’t know why they need it as there is no evidence of anything in my medical records.

    • Hi, I am happy to hear you feeling strong and more in your power! That’s a great place to be!

      I don’t know whether anonymous complaints are given the same weight as if you give your name. (Does anyone else want to weigh in on this?) I don’t think you should be able to be sued for filing a complaint — it’s more likely to happen if you went around saying something publicly, which could be considered defamation. If you use your name, then you may be contacted by an investigator in order to collect evidence. And it’s true that if you use your name then he is likely to find out that you filed the complaint. Would it be possible for you to have a conversation with the hospital about your concerns, without using his name? (You could also contact an attorney or a community legal service to see if you can get an opinion on this.)

      If you have any evidence at all, this will be much easier. Otherwise, it’ll come down to a he said/she said situation. If you do go ahead with filing a complaint, gather as much evidence as you can and make note of what you have. This will definitely work in your favor.

      Good luck!
      Kristi

  10. I thank you so much for putting together this site. These posts are extremely helpful. I have just ended a two month sexual relationship with my therapist that has left me anxious, depressed and unsure of who I am.

    I am struggling with the same idea of reporting him, but don’t want to destroy his life. I was in therapy with him for almost a year before the “relationship” began. We ended the therapeutic contact and began sleeping together. As soon as the sexual relationship began he started using things I told him in therapy about my insecurities about myself against me. He claims to be sleeping with 4 other women, not including his wife and insisted on telling me how attractive, smart and sexy they all are, and how much they all want him.

    I am single, 40’s live alone and struggle financially. He knows this, has been to my apartment numerous times over the two months and yet would tell me how he financially supports one of the women and pays for her apartment and food. I barely manage rent and food and yet he has never helped me. When I told him I don’t need to hear about other women or intimate details he would become irate and tell me that I was insulting and hurting him and he would start to cry.
    I think he may be in a manic episode of some sort because he seems so different than when he was my therapist and so while that’s horribly confusing for me as well, I’m hesitant to endanger his career if he’s really sick mentally at the moment.

    I feel like a bad person for contemplating reporting him, and I almost feel like he would take the licensing violation as an ego boost that other people could see how ‘desirable’ he is. Then I contemplate contacting the other women and again feel like I must be a horrible person.

    I sought therapy with an old female therapist I had in the past immediately when the sex started with him and she is horrified at what he has done and said. I have stopped responding to calls and texts from him but am left with anger confusion and pain.

    This site has been a great help. Please comment if you can as I am out of ideas.
    Thank you again

    • Feeling empathy towards your abuser is a normal response. It’s part of being in this situation. Our abusers are typically someone who has helped us in the past and it’s only natural we want to hold onto that. If you believe he is having a mental health situation, that’s all the more reason to report him.

      I’m just going to ask you to think about this question: do you think, before he initiated a sexually abusive relationship with you, that he gave one thought to how this might ruin YOUR life? You don’t need to have an answer.

      Our culture reinforces the trope that accusations will ruin a man’s life, while summarily dismissing the effects of sexual crimes on women. Look up Brock Turner for a master class.

    • Hi S,

      I too have been very grateful for this website and again thanks to Kristi and everyone else for coming on here to share their experience.

      I am so sorry for what you have been through, it is an extremely painful experience.

      It takes such courage to go and see another therapist after what you have endured, I’m so glad you did… At this stage, you need to take care of yourself and continue seeing your new therapist which she will help guide you.
      I am not sure where you are located S, but all countries are different with how they handle abusive therapist. I would definitely recommend you getting some legal advice (Which is confidential and scary I know.) find out the statute of limitations in your country for a civil law suit and also the process of the investigation when you report him to the licensing board… This information will enable you to make the right decisions for you. Whatever evidence you have, keep it in a safe place for when you are ready to use it.

      Please reach out to the people you trust and those who care about you… best friends, family… They will understand the gross violation and will support you.

      Please don’t feel pressured to make HUGE decisions right now, you are the number 1 priority… Those decisions will come once you FEEL the betrayal. The harm that you read about therapist abuse is real and 100% accurate, and you will continue reading the harmful effects to try and validate your feelings… Please know that even though everyone’s journey is different, we all have the same experience.

      Maybe check with your new female therapist if she is available to you for emergency contact between appointments?

      Please remember, that this was emotional/sexual abuse, this was never your fault, it is solely the responsibility of the professional to set and to maintain safe and therapeutic boundaries. You will get stronger and you will find yourself again!!

      Please keep in touch.

      P.S About a year ago, I reached out on this website and I had amazing people validate my experience and suggested I read some books. When you are ready, I highly recommend the following:

      * Sex in the Forbidden Zone by Peter Rutter, M.D.
      * Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie
      *Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen

      Also research Narcissist, psychopath and trauma bonding, this was extremely helpful.

      • Thank you Becky, Kristi, and TryingToStopMyDenial,

        It has made me feel so much less alone to know you are all out there and supportive. I can’t say thank you enough.
        I spent the last few days reading Sex in the Forbidden Zone, which while vastly different, honest and more informative than anything I’ve read, left me feeling bleak about men’s sexuality in general. It did however give me clear perspective on that it was my therapists responsibility and not mine, as Becky said, to keep me safe from his fantasies and desires.

        I have a copy of Stalking the Soul coming today.

        I am in the process of collecting all the texts and photos I have from him over the course of our brief relationship and documenting things chronologically.

        Although I have maintained a strict “No contact” position over the past few weeks, I fear everyday that he will show up on at my door.

        I don’t think he gave a single seconds worth of thought to how this would impact me, in fact from the very beginning he was just concerned with anyone finding out and the impact on his license.

        I think I am still in the denial stage as I am mostly just numb with an occasional moment of disbelief followed by sadness and more disbelief. I’m worried what follows this stage.

        Again, I thank you all for the support and the recommendations and sharing your experiences. It has been something validating to hold onto in the midst of this horrific confusion.

        S

        • Hi S,

          Always here for you, you are definitely not alone…

          I had the same reaction as you did to the book “Sex in the Forbidden Zone” the first time I read it. In the beginning the “why” was haunting me, I just needed to know why someone that I trusted so deeply could destroy me. That particular book helped me realize the why in a way… I no longer blamed myself, I finally gave him full responsibility. I highlighted areas in that book that resonated with me and would continue going back to those pages when my old patterns would return.

          I am so pleased you are gathering your evidence. At first, you feel that it would be the ultimate betrayal to even think about reporting him, we need to protect him at all cost and not speak of his dirty little secret…but as time goes on and you feel all the emotions, how he rocked you to your core, how hard you have worked to rebuild your confidence and trust in yourself and others, that decision which is completely yours to make is a lot clearer.

          The “no contact” rule is the only way to keep yourself safe from further harm. It is very difficult to maintain due to the powerful pull back. I went back numerous times, I just couldn’t let him go he triggered everything in me. When I was with him I was anxious and without him… it felt like I wouldn’t survive. I did escape and I’m so grateful I could get out, the manipulation was more dangerous to me then my overwhelming emotional rollercoaster.

          I have lived your emotions of numbness, followed by the disbelief and sadness… exactly what you said, it is horrific, confusing and scary. I went to my GP quickly as my anxiety was through the roof and I was suffering a very deep depression, I was given medication which helped me deal with my emotional rollercoaster and I could be more present in my psych appts. I also had a full check done to ensure my physical safety.

          S, I am thinking of you, I am happy to help if I can in any way… ask as many questions as you need.

          As you said, he didn’t give a single second about how this would impact on you… That is probably the hardest thing to come to terms with, it cuts deep. He didn’t care enough to put you first, he did not go and get help when it is available to him, he had all the resources and training. We were left abandoned and not knowing if we could trust another health care professional. No. 1 Rule is Psychology – DO NO HARM!!

          In regards to your fear of him turning up at your doorstep, have a plan in mind on how you will deal with it if it happens. Maybe tell him to leave or otherwise you will call the police. Seems extreme, but probably the only way to keep yourself safe.

          Becky

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