Survivor Poetry – Come into my Parlour, Said the Spider to the Fly

I am excited to share with you a wonderful poem written by one of our readers. I am sure you will enjoy this creative and moving piece, which can also be found on the Survivor Creativity page. ~Kristi

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Sue McDonald writes:
Although my abuse was not sexual, I feel emotionally raped by my lesbian therapist. I am a heterosexual female, seeking to heal from an abusive relationship with my mother, and have attachment issues and probably complex PTSD. I am a therapist myself, yet still fell into her trap of physical holding, telling me she loved me, and promises of always being there. I am trying to address this , but suffer enormous shame and so many confusing and mixed feelings. I am including a poem, written a year after I ended our relationship, which became co-dependent and spilled out of therapy.

Come into my Parlour, Said the Spider to the Fly

Lured inside your spider’s web with promises of care
My wellbeing your prime concern – you promised to be there.
Despite my early warning signs, I listened and believed
In all you said, it all made sense. Inside I felt relieved.
“Come talk to me, tell me your story. I want to hear it all
I’m interested in all you say.” And so I bared my soul.
I trusted you with all my pain, and shared my deepest fears
I gave you everything I had, and cried so many tears.
Until one day, when I awoke, I realised my plight
My therapy had been a joke, and so began my fight.
I fell into your sticky trap, ensnared by all you said
Believed in your integrity. Believed in what we shared.
Slowly, I began to see, your self loathing and your shame
But when I questioned I received your anger and your blame.
Now stripped of my defences, had exposed my infant self
So fragile, left wide open – for you to help yourself.
Hoodwinked and fooled, felt so ashamed – how could I be so blind?
You stole my soul, broke all the rules – and you were so unkind.
Terrorised and terrified, confused, entangled too.
Attached so firmly, lost myself. I thought I needed you.
Your cruelty and ignorance have caused me so much pain
Maleficence and arrogance – to meet your needs , not mine!
Finally I saw the truth, saw through your little game
Of cat and mouse, spider and fly – a creature filled with shame.
To feed your soul you preyed on mine – and so I did comply
My pattern, history, destiny – our relationship awry.
You had become my jailor, your web my darkest jail
I lost all sense of who I was, confounded, stuck, impaled.
To free myself I had to find a part of me unknown
A wily cunning creature – a spider of my own.
I wove my own protection, a silky soft cocoon
And lured you in with empathy – I understood your moves.
I retrieved my tiny infant, and held her very close
You rescued and you shamed her – in my book, that’s abuse.
I gave you understanding, you felt my empathy
The tables turned and you exposed your hidden self to me.
Horrified, re-traumatised – I needed to escape
from your traumatised imposter. My emotions had been raped.
One year on, the residue of our encounter still affects
I trusted you with heart and soul, and deserved all your respect.
The bitter truth still haunts me – that you were not yourself
You stole my child, abandoned yours, and then you harmed my health.
How can I forgive you for what you did to me?
I feel such rage and hatred for all your cruelty
Yet understanding is my goal, my mind to live in peace
I see your plight – your wounded soul – this torment has to cease
Revenge and retribution is not my scene at all
Forgiveness is the answer, to dissolve this mighty wall.

©  2014 by Sue McDonald

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  1. Thank you for sharing your story Sue. I’m a Social Worker with 30 plus years experience and am working on my story of emotional abuse by a therapist…It helps to know others experience this too. Part I is the trauma. I would like to hear about Part II!… moving from the lonely sadness to healing , growth, and new possibilities that lay ahead as you care for that inner person, ready to face and embrace greater intimacy in relationships…

    • Thank you for your comments Mary. Part II, for me, is finding my own inner mother to care for and respect that forgotten infant, and learning to listen to her and to protect her form others who might harm her. Learning to trust my instincts, to feel them in my body and to grieve fully for the lost infant who is now a part of me. Sharing my story helps me to do this, as well as writing poetry and journals. I wish you well with your own story.

  2. Thank you for sharing that Sue! It is beautiful and raw. I relate so well to your eloquent words. They touched my heart. My abusive therapist used to say, “I see you” – what used to be the three most amazing words to take in. Now, when I say it about him, it takes on a whole new connotation. And in seeing, I finally started to be free.

  3. A beautiful and so genuine poem..Ι recognized many similarities in my feelings of pain and betrayal as also deception from my supposed to be therapist who traumatized me to the extend that for several years my life was as most a struggle to survive pain , dread and stress. My emotions were also raped as yours.
    Art and poetry is in itself a healing process and recovering from abuse in therapy can become a strenghtening experience as also creative. I wish you the best !

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. I have been having a hard time today dealing with my experience. Not that I want others to suffer, but knowing there are others out there going through similar feelings is very helpful to know I am not alone. I hope everyone the best on their way to healing and I will post my story soon, when the investigation is over. Goodluck everyone!

  5. Thank you so much for having the courage to post your amazing story! I understood you at so many levels. To hear another person say so many of the same things I felt is so comforting. For far too long, I was so confused about what happened. I was certain I would never find myself again. Like Mary, I too am a Social Worker, though I have only 15 years of experience. What I went through was nothing that I had ever experienced before. Nothing in my life or my training prepared me for this. The worst part was that I had not even sought out this therapist for me. I took my 2 young children to see him. He told me I needed to see him and then used the children as pawns. I spent almost a year after the abuse trying to understand what the heck happened to me. I was just a shell of the woman I had been before. I didn’t know if he was trying to help me or kill me. I wasn’t until I found a victim’s advocacy group that I learned what a Malignant Narcissist is. With the help of a subsequent therapist (whom I finally got up the courage to see) I filed a complaint with the Ohio Board of Psychology. Despite hundreds of emails from the abusive therapist, statements from fellow group members who saw the abuse unfold, and insurance statements showing he billed for sessions that never happened, the Board of Psychology totally dismissed the case. They never contacted the Ohio Board of Insurance. They refused to let me see my records he sent. This was especially upsetting because the last time I saw him he was screaming, cursing and throwing things telling me there was something seriously wrong with me that he couldn’t tell me until I came back to see him. To this day, I don;t know what he was screaming about, what my diagnosis was or what his treatment goals were. He won’t give that information to my current therapist and the Ohio Board of Psychology is protecting him. I am currently writing a book about my experience. No one should ever have to go through this.

    • I am so sorry you had to go through that! I would like to read your book, so I hope you come back and post on this site about it.

      I am not sure what is going on with Ohio’s Board, but if you had proof I don’t know why they didn’t act on it. It is a great fear of mine, that everything will be dismissed because my ex-therapist says “my patient was crazy and is making everything up, is controlling and abusive”. I wonder if any of that matters, when I have so much proof of what I said happened.

      I hope you can come to some sort of peace with what happened to you. Writing your book might help out a lot!

  6. I find the lack of action and inappropriate action by boards quite shocking. For Michelle, I imagine the insurance board would be quite interested in a therapist charging for visits that didn’t happen…When you don’t get the validation expected by the board I imagine you’re injured all over again…
    Sorry to all of you going through this and wishing you healing and peace.

  7. Wow Michelle! I have the same exact proof that you mentioned and am just sending it all in to my state board (not Ohio). Did the board give you any feedback? Depending on what type of therapist he was, you might be able to go a step up: the national board for his licensing and/or a possible civil suit. This website has great info related to this, as does TELL. You can also email TELL to share your story and see if they have any advice.

  8. Dear Mary and Anonymous. I am so sorry I am just now seeing your replies here. I didn’t get any explanation at all from the board about why the case was dismissed. The therapist who co filed the complaint with me tried to contact the board to find out how they could dismiss such a serious complaint (she had talked to the Executive Director prior to filing the complaint and he seemed very concerned). We were given no explanation at all. In addition, there was so much missing information from the abusive therapist in the notes the subsequent therapist obtained (there was no diagnosis, no treatment plan, no diagnostic work and nearly every clinical entry was illegible). The board has refused me or the subsequent therapist to have access to any of the missing clinical information (information that he would have been asked to clarify in the investigation).

    The board also failed to notify the Ohio Department of Insurance about documented concerns of billing fraud as well.

    I did not have the ability to file a civil suit because first it took me about 9 months to finally put the pieces of what really happened together. For the first 3 or 4 months after the abuse I was trying so hard to protect the abusive therapist. Then when I did slowly learn the truth of what happened (with the help of TELL- they are amazing!), I was urged to consult an attorney. Afraid that doing so would hurt the board’s case, I asked the Executive Director of the board if I would hurt their case by doing so. He was very short with me, and he then assured me that I did not have a statute of limitations to be concerned about with seeking legal counsel. Luckily TELL urged me to consult an attorney anyway. I was less than 2 weeks away from the statute of limitations running out. No one would take the case because of this.

    I tried contacting the APA several times. They initially spoke with me and then they just ignored me. I have since filed a complaint with the Ohio Inspector General and they are investigating what happened.

    I have since become an advocate for serious change in the mental health profession and the way victims of Narcissistic abuse are being recognized, diagnosed and treated. I think the most troubling part of this whole journey for me has been the difficulty with finding the information I needed to understand the reality of what I went through so I could heal. I spent way too much time combating the terrifying symptoms of PTSD after the abuse simply because I had no framework to understand what the hell happened. I would reply the events of what happened again and again trying to make sense out of what happened. The truth is, it should not have taken me that long to find the path to healing. This type of abuse is incredibly common and yet so few mental health professionals really know anything about it. That part has to change.

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