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Sufferer retraumatized by therapist, refusing all help

Discussion in 'Supporter (Anonymous)' started by Uvebi, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Hurus

    Hurus Anonymous

    My sufferer was re-abused by his therapist. He took it to court and lost, I'm assuming because there wasn't enough evidence. He is now refusing to go back to therapy with someone new. He's lost all trust in the medical community (and those overseeing it) or any form of help that requires him to disclose his childhood abuse.

    I've had a strict "no therapy, no relationship" policy, but in this case, I can't say I don't understand his unwillingness to give therapy the necessary second shot. I'm now watching him spiral out of control, his PTSD untreated and possibly even worsened by re-abuse.

    What do I do? I can't make him go back. I've tried (by alluding to my treatment boundary) and he flat out says he will never again be forced to do anything he doesn't want to do (trauma speaking), including getting treated because I say he must.

    He's been trying to "rough" it on his own, thinking he's got this. But he doesn't. Nobody's got this kind of stuff on their own.

    I have so much empathy for his situation, I want to be there for him. But I'm only watching him fall apart at this point.
    Supervixn likes this.
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  3. Pedahi

    Pedahi Anonymous

    You can’t change him. You can’t actually do anything to make him go to therapy.

    It really is his choice.

    I think it’s more effective to focus on what behaviors or problems you need to stopped or reduced, in a very specific way, in order to stay in the relationship, and then let the sufferer work out what it will take to get there.

    Therapy is a very good option but is useless if someone ain’t willing or ready to do the work. Trauma therapy done well is extremely difficult: it is walking through horrible feelings and experiences and it the most difficult thing I’ve ever done short of surviving being trauma. It’s really pretty intense, and it usually leads to symptoms getting worse for awhile, before it gets better. It’s *that* hard.

    I’ve been traumatized by a therapist to the degree the therapist faced severe legal consequences for what they did. If someone had set the boundary that they could not be in a relationship with me unless I went to therapy, I honestly would have been even more resistant and defensive and on guard about going to therapy. It’s a reasonable boundary for someone to make, it simply would not have motivated me to go. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, or that the boundary should change.

    When someone in my life focused on what specific behaviors or relationship problems had to change for them to stay, and used language like “when you... I feel... in order for me to choose to stay in this relationship... I need...” and really made it about them and what they felt and needed, and really emphazied the freedom of choice, and let it be up to me to figure out how to reduce the relationship impacting behavior, that actually helped motivate me explore options and eventually get my butt back into therapy. When I was ready. It took time before I was ready and that person wasn’t in my life for a season because for awhile, I wasn’t ready.

    Therapy is not the only option. There are support groups, workbooks on skills to manage symptoms, etc. There are also group therapies where it would not just be him and a therapist in a room, but around others. Skills based groups like DBT can be more like a class. He wouldn’t be required to disclose child abuse in most skills based groups. There are online therapy options too so he would not even have to risk being in a room with someone...

    That all being said, he may be unwilling to do any of it, and if your limit is that you are unable to stay in the relationship unless he seeks therapy, then that’s your limit. He’s aware and can make the decision to go or not.

    Boundaries are not about changing or controlling others, they are about managing and controlling our own lives.

    He’s made his boundary pretty clear that he’s not willing to go. Continuing to try to push over that clearly communicated boundary of his is likely to lead to more resistance. Listen to his clear “no.” Respect that he is an adult who is able to make that choice and respond by managing your limits of what you can and can’t not do in light of that choice.
    leehalf, Supervixn and NaeNae75 like this.
  4. Hurus

    Hurus Anonymous

    You're right, I can't change him. Treatment or not really is his choice. My heart breaks for him and that's my conundrum. He's been so strong, so willing and able to do the hard work of trauma therapy, the fact that he's had to be re-abused in the process is unbearably unfair.

    In fact, all of the treatment he's received thus far seems to have fallen painfully short. He had one good therapist, but he had to move away. After that he was thrown into EMDR way too soon (before he felt stable enough in real life, IMOP,) then graduated to this last therapist who broke his trust severely. So just to repeat, I don't blame him for refusing to go back. His treatment has been a shit show through no fault of his own.

    Thank you for pointing out a way to approach this from my end. I think I've made some good progress expressing to him the behaviors I cannot accept in a relationship without pointing out the (to me!) very obvious solution of starting therapy again. I hope he's getting there, but he may never.

    Group therapy, workbooks (any recommendations?!) all of the above are great options. I'm just hesitant to point those out (yet) because that already feels like "too much pushing," plus I'm weary of him going at it on his own, without anyone to monitor his potentially declining state of mind.

    I guess this is just half a rant, half a need for advice. Everything that's happened to him is unfair, and that this will potentially end of our relationship is just too much to handle for me right now...
  5. Gasoki

    Gasoki Anonymous

    One of the hardest things about trauma and being a supporter is everything we don’t have any control over. It is really painful to watch someone spiral and to be helpless to stop the spiral. My heart goes out to you.

    I recently had to set boundaries and walk away from a sufferer who was refusing to own their responsibilty for their recovery. It was so hard. I was super duper worried for them. They were even to the point of being suicidal and etc. I let the crisis folks handle that, and walked away when things were stabilized. It was simply beyond what I could do. I cared so deeply. They wanted me to stay, but I couldn’t.

    After I walked away, they no longer had me to blame for pushing and pressuring them, or me to blame at all, and they started to deal with their stuff a little more. They are not doing great, but they didn’t spiral further out of control like I thought they would. They actually stabilized a bit.

    Assuming he will continue to spiral without you is a reasonable assumption, and it may not actually be what happens.

    Being in a good healthy romantic relationship can actually still be stressful for a sufferer who isn’t far into recovery, and that stress can fill up the stress cup and lead to symptoms. There is a really good thread about the stress cup here: www.myptsd.com/c/threads/the-ptsd-cup-explanation.13737/%3Famp%3D1

    Sometimes taking space can help someone to cope and get their feet under them. I don’t recommend isolation for sufferers, or for supporters to walk away for this reason, but sometimes too much closeness is too much and space doesn’t lead to the spiral that we would expect.

    It’s also true that he could very much continue to spiral too. You could walk away but with the door cracked open, and an offer to be there for when he is ready to get help - maybe even you two could go to a counselor together... then he knows that if he hits his bottom and is ready, there is someone he can reach out to other than a therapist to help him get connected to other supports.

    Keep reaching out for support for you. There is also a private supporters section on this forum for supporters only, and you can send in a help ticket and the proper staff can connect you to it.

    Counseling for yourself is another option you might consider. Not because there is something wrong with you, but because this is hard stuff. If you are already at the limit of what you can deal with behaviorally with him, and if he gets treatment, those behaviors that are already are likely to get worse for awhile. You’ll need support to sustain it, and since he’s not willing, you may reasonably need support to deal with the anxiety and stress of stepping back and walking away.

    I’d suggest other options if you feel the right timing comes up, just one time, but he sounds pretty shut down to suggestions. He did have one good therapy experience to hang on to.

    I was greatly helped by this workbook: Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook but depending on his trauma and needs, there may be other ones better suited for him.

    The more you focus on you, and doing what you can do to manage your limits and shore yourself up, stay in this or leave, the less defensive out therapy he may feel. Will it save the relationship or his mental health? I don’t know. But staying it in after you have said you can’t and pushing for him to change is unlikely to work.
  6. Uwup

    Uwup Anonymous

    I was also traumatized by my rape therapist. He was even the director of the place. And is still working there , his word against mine. It's been about 18yrs and I still can't get over it
  7. Uvebi

    Uvebi Anonymous

    I can understand his decision and hope he changes his mind one day. Taking extra care of yourself is vital until that day. I wish you both the best and hope he can mend his broken trust enough to receive the good, honest help he deserves.
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