Issue from therapy - My T said, “She projected her shame onto you.”

Scarlet13

MyPTSD Pro
Hi! I haven’t posted here for a while, but something has been on my mind. This is a sexual abuse and also therapist issue, so not sure which area this would be best in. I was out of therapy for a while, but now am back seeing my therapist of about 6 years.
At one point many years ago, we were processing my childhood sexual abuse.

I was a 4 year old child and the abuser was a 13 to 14 year old girl. I have clear memories of most of it (not all of it) but my perception was that of her being an adult. Her abuse involved full on grooming and included oral and object rape.

In my session, my T was expressing how this girl must have been a victim herself and that she had a lot of shame. My T said, “She projected her shame onto you.”

This therapy pathway in no way helped me, but I didn’t really bring that up at the time. It is only many years later, getting back into therapy, that this has been bouncing around my brain and is bothering me.
I do plan on bringing this up to her when I can handle those sexual abuse sessions.
My issue is that I am not interested in humanizing her or understanding HER experience. I have no sympathy for her. I feel satisfied thinking about how what she did to me is a crime. I put much of my feelings into a song and when I listen to that song I literally feel like she had slowly murdered me and warped me. I don’t care that she likely learned it somewhere. I was abused and when I was a teen I was moody drew in my sketch book all the time. She was very odd too, like highly narcissistic.

I think often about this one news story where two 11 year old girls tried to murdered a classmate in the woods and it was a horrible stabbing, the girl survived. This story makes me feel better because it underlies that teen girls can be capable of heinous crimes and can be perpetrators, but my T painted her as a victim.

I also think that if my mollestir had been a 60 year old man, would she have said, “He was a victim too? And he had shame?”
An underlying issue is that I told my mother, because it had gotten unbearable. She believed me, but sort of passively blamed me like I was an equal player. The girl seemed like an adult to me and it is one of my major traumas.

Perhaps the larger issue is that it’s not super common to be hurt by a women or a teen. Also, I struggle with feeling like because this was a teen girl that it was somehow not as bad as if it had been a male and much older.
There are compounding issues like not ever getting any therapy as a child for this and being blamed. My mother also told me that I was “chosen” because I was different and wore glasses.

Anyways, I feel somewhat angry or annoyed at my therapist. Please tell me your thoughts as I always get great responses here.
 

LeiaFlower

Confident
I relate completely to people feeling as though a woman can’t be an abuser. People think because a female can’t physically harm as much with penetration (unless with objects) then it isn’t as bad as when a male does it. Or they have this notion that a female is more nice gentle and loving. Even though I understand where your therapist meant and how she wanted you to slowly gain forgiveness for this person, there’s a time and place and a way of saying it. I don’t think her humanize someone who caused so much pain should’ve happened that early on in your treatment. It should’ve waited until you reached out about wanting to move on but that doesn’t mean it has to be forgiveness either. Idk if that makes sense. But you’re not alone in how you feel.
 

Sideways

Moderator
I also think that if my mollestir had been a 60 year old man, would she have said, “He was a victim too? And he had shame?”
It wouldn't have come up in therapy as quickly as it did for you I expect, but fundamentally, yes, this very often comes up for those of us with the more stereotypical "creepy old man" abuser. It's very often in the context of a conversation around "how could he have done that to a child?"

It's actually very normal for victims of abuse to have that great big "why????" question hanging over them, wanting it answered, feeling like if they understand why their abuser did what they did, then maybe they can move on, or get closure.

With all that said? I'm with you, it's of almost zero value to me and my recovery. Partly because it's entirely guesswork. We can't actually know why unless, for some obscure reason, we get an honest and insightful explanation from our abuser about their mindset at the time. And "maybe he did it because..." isn't a sentence that has any value for me. Guessing about me and my mind is unhelpful, guessing about my abuser's mind even more so.

Add to that - it still hurts. I'm sure some people find a reasonable 'explanation' is helpful. But this is very often not the case. What I see happen more often (and what you seem to have experienced with your T) is that explanation is implying some kind of relief, or "it's not so bad because...". While I'm very sure that's not the intention behind those "explanations", it's extremely hard not to feel like that on the receiving end. It feels like it's minimising my suffering, or excusing my abuser's behaviour, or that I should feel some relief or closure now that I understand why.

For you? Your suffering is valid. Irrespective of why they did what they did. IME, Ts with more experience handling complex trauma manage the "why" conversation very differently to those that have less experience.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Sounds like a badly times and clumsy thing for your T to say. And it's something that has hit deep with you as you have carried it around with you for years.
Bringing it up with your T sounds a really good idea. I am sure she didn't mean to cause you this pain and I hope she apologies and explains what she meant.

You were abused by a female teen.
That's like a double challenge because not only was it an older child but a female older child and you've already encountered the gender and age difference to people's reactions about who abuses.

Totally ok to not want to humanise her.
Totally ok to focus on your healing and the impact of her behaviour on you. Totally ok to be angry about it and her and people's reactions.

What she did was very wrong. She would have known it was very wrong, whatever led her to that behaviour.

Personally, when I am angry at my T or something she says hurts, I'm now at the place where I look at why it hurts so much. What am I bringing into that exchange that makes it hurt so badly? Because usually it means I'm bringing in things from the trauma. She usually apologies and we look at what I need from her and what the underlying issues are for me. And usually there is another way to see what she said and to then hold it differently and trust her again.
I hope you find that with your T when you bring this up.
Could be a lot of healing that comes from the conversation.
 

prynne

Confident
My issue is that I am not interested in humanizing her or understanding HER experience. I have no sympathy for her. I feel satisfied thinking about how what she did to me is a crime.
This is absolutely okay. You don't have to forgive to heal, although a lot of people seem to believe that. There are people in this world who don't deserve forgiveness. For most of the people who have abused me, I don't give a shit about their suffering. With the teen girls that were involved in my abuse, I do have conflicting feelings over whether I should condemn them or not, but it is okay for you to not feel the same way. Our situations aren't identical and no one knows better than you when it comes to her guilt. They weren't there.
but fundamentally, yes, this very often comes up for those of us with the more stereotypical "creepy old man" abuser. It's very often in the context of a conversation around "how could he have done that to a child?"
This is true in my case, too, although the way that blame was handled was very different when it came to people who aren't my therapist. My therapist equally condemns both of my adult abusers, although one was a creepy old man and one was a creepy old woman. People who aren't my therapist give the female abuser some benefit of the doubt. She doesn't deserve it. She's just as much of a rapist and abusive pos, but people like to think that she must have been forced into it or that she wasn't as harmful to me. It's not true. She did it because she wanted to. That's it.

I did end up in a conversation with my therapist about "why??? why me? why did they do it?" and she gave me the honest answer about them probably being abused themselves and needing control over someone else. Mostly, the conversation just pissed me off. It felt like she was making excuses for them, even though she definitely wasn't. Wasn't helpful and I still obsess over the Why? questions. I'm not sure what I'm looking for.
Personally, when I am angry at my T or something she says hurts, I'm now at the place where I look at why it hurts so much. What am I bringing into that exchange that makes it hurt so badly? Because usually it means I'm bringing in things from the trauma. She usually apologies and we look at what I need from her and what the underlying issues are for me. And usually there is another way to see what she said and to then hold it differently and trust her again.
I agree with this. Thankfully, anytime I tell my therapist about something that she did that upset me, she makes it right. I think what you said about bringing it up is a good idea. When I do that, my therapist will clarify what she meant and approach things a different way next time. It makes me not upset with her anymore and keeps the issue from getting in the way of our work together.
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
@Scarlet13
I agree with you, your T shouldn’t have brought it up. I think for some people that conversation can be helpful, my T brings that up when I talk about my mom and the things that happened but it’s because I am searching for a why. With my CSA he’s never said anything remotely like that, of course he’s working really hard to get me to place the blame on him so that would be counterproductive.

Honestly, I’d say something to your T, they probably don’t know how much the statement hurt you and given you’ve been carrying it for this long it’s definitely an issue worth discussing. For me I’d want my T to know so that at the very least they didn’t say something similar later on. Also because of my trust issues I’d want to know that they had sound reasoning for bringing it up or I’d struggle to trust that their particular brand of expertise was what I was seeking. Plus they need to know that you don’t find that kind of thinking reassuring.
 

Scarlet13

MyPTSD Pro
While I'm very sure that's not the intention behind those "explanations", it's extremely hard not to feel like that on the receiving end. It feels like it's minimising my suffering, or excusing my abuser's behaviour, or that I should feel some relief or closure now that I understand why.
This right here resonates with me. I am not ready or may never be ready to humanize this abuser even tho she was a child herself. She actively groomed me and violated me and it feels good to me to think of her as a criminal as kids absolutely can be criminals. It is tricky because her being a child seems to make in a way less of a trauma which is something I’m wrestling with.

I relate completely to people feeling as though a woman can’t be an abuser. People think because a female can’t physically harm as much with penetration (unless with objects) then it isn’t as bad as when a male does it. Or they have this notion that a female is more nice gentle and loving. Even though I understand where your therapist meant and how she wanted you to slowly gain forgiveness for this person, there’s a time and place and a way of saying it. I don’t think her humanize someone who caused so much pain should’ve happened that early on in your treatment. It should’ve waited until you reached out about wanting to move on but that doesn’t mean it has to be forgiveness either. Idk if that makes sense. But you’re not alone in how you feel.
I don’t think she was reaching for forgiveness necessarily. I honestly think her own bias swayed the treatment. She is a trauma specialist and does see teens and often mainly women. She maybe had this idea of a victim in her mind.

Totally ok to not want to humanise her.
Totally ok to focus on your healing and the impact of her behaviour on you. Totally ok to be angry about it and her and people's reactions.
Thank you for saying this!
 
Hi! I haven’t posted here for a while, but something has been on my mind. This is a sexual abuse and also therapist issue, so not sure which area this would be best in. I was out of therapy for a while, but now am back seeing my therapist of about 6 years.
At one point many years ago, we were processing my childhood sexual abuse.

I was a 4 year old child and the abuser was a 13 to 14 year old girl. I have clear memories of most of it (not all of it) but my perception was that of her being an adult. Her abuse involved full on grooming and included oral and object rape.

In my session, my T was expressing how this girl must have been a victim herself and that she had a lot of shame. My T said, “She projected her shame onto you.”

This therapy pathway in no way helped me, but I didn’t really bring that up at the time. It is only many years later, getting back into therapy, that this has been bouncing around my brain and is bothering me.
I do plan on bringing this up to her when I can handle those sexual abuse sessions.
My issue is that I am not interested in humanizing her or understanding HER experience. I have no sympathy for her. I feel satisfied thinking about how what she did to me is a crime. I put much of my feelings into a song and when I listen to that song I literally feel like she had slowly murdered me and warped me. I don’t care that she likely learned it somewhere. I was abused and when I was a teen I was moody drew in my sketch book all the time. She was very odd too, like highly narcissistic.

I think often about this one news story where two 11 year old girls tried to murdered a classmate in the woods and it was a horrible stabbing, the girl survived. This story makes me feel better because it underlies that teen girls can be capable of heinous crimes and can be perpetrators, but my T painted her as a victim.

I also think that if my mollestir had been a 60 year old man, would she have said, “He was a victim too? And he had shame?”
An underlying issue is that I told my mother, because it had gotten unbearable. She believed me, but sort of passively blamed me like I was an equal player. The girl seemed like an adult to me and it is one of my major traumas.

Perhaps the larger issue is that it’s not super common to be hurt by a women or a teen. Also, I struggle with feeling like because this was a teen girl that it was somehow not as bad as if it had been a male and much older.
There are compounding issues like not ever getting any therapy as a child for this and being blamed. My mother also told me that I was “chosen” because I was different and wore glasses.

Anyways, I feel somewhat angry or annoyed at my therapist. Please tell me your thoughts as I always get great responses here.
I'm so sorry you were understandably upset about your T comments. My guess is, and this is just a guess based on friends who have suffered SA, some may find this a way to understand why their abuser did that, but that in no way is how everyone would feel or invalidates your feelings towards your abuser. A 13 or 14 yrs old to a 4yr old is definitely an adult figure, so can understand that. Personally I feel T should have asked how you feel about your abuser/why they did that, not place his assumptions on to your situation, because again, neither of you know the answer, and honestly the therapy is about you, not your abuser, so personally I feel it was a poor action on their part.
I'm glad you feel able to bring this up with your T now, and definitely dont rhink you're wrong in being upset by their comments. Personally I feel it can be really helpful for us to advocate for what we need, and what we don't when possible to do so safely, so go for it when you're ready. You may even want to think about mentioning now so it's off your chest, and could explain you're not ready to get into yet if it's not the time, but so she's aware that will be something you wish to work on later x
 
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