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Harvard Mental Health Letter (1996, April) Childhood sexual abuse and eating disorders. 7. Pope, H.G. and Hudson, J.I. (1992) Is childhood sexual abuse a risk factor for bulimia nervosa? American Journal of Psychiatry, 149,(4), 455-463. Pope, H.G. et al (1994) Childhood sexual abuse and bulimia nervosa: A comparison of American, Austrian, and Brazilian women. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151 (5) 732-737.
I am a 43-year-old retractor. At the present time, I am very lost and confused.
After six and a half years of therapy with an MSW in Texas, I began to wake up to my true reality and come out of the fog I had been living under. I originally went to this person for depression after being in a treatment center in Tulsa, OK for an eating disorder. When I first started seeing this therapist, I was sure I’d be safe because he was also a minister and that was extremely important to me. That proved to be a false sense of security.
I told my therapist that I knew I had been raped at the age of 15 by a friend of my father’s and that this had continued until age 19 when I married. I also told him I remembered being sexually molested by an uncle in my preteen and teen age years. I told him my father was an alcoholic and I told him that I was the oldest of five children – four girls and one boy. These things I knew. I knew my father was demanding and that he could be physically or verbally abusive.
I knew I had a lot of resentment and anger toward him but I also had a great deal of love at the same time. When I started therapy, I was in a marriage that was having problems. I was concerned about that. I was unhappy when I started therapy but in just a short time I was living in pure hell. I went from being a depressed person, but someone who could carry a 4.00 in college to having a diagnosis of Clinical Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder and being in a state where I could not take care of myself or anything else. During the time I was a patient of this social worker, I was seen by three different psychiatrists and hospitalized between 16 and 18 times. Each hospitalization was from five to thirty days at four different hospitals. Six of those times were for suicide attempts. I was led to believe that I was physically, sexually, emotionally and ritually abused by both my parents, a grandfather, several other family members, doctors, pastors, police officers, family friends, and almost anyone you can think of.
My marriage, which had been on shaky grounds, was destroyed after 23 years together. I put my family, my husband, children, parents and siblings through pure hell. I was totally dependent on my therapist. If I questioned my memories, I was told I was in “denial.” I think the stress reached its peak when my then 16-year-old daughter started thinking of suicide and had to be hospitalized. In February 1994, I began to doubt the memories. When I returned to my parents’ home after the divorce, I was certain the memories were not true. I started to question my family in detail and read school and medical records. None of these things agreed with what I had been told had happened.
The night before I left, I sat down with my parents and siblings, nieces and nephews and my own children and told them that I did not believe in the things I had been thinking for the past few years. I asked each one of them separately to try to find it in their hearts to forgive me and I told them I would understand if they couldn’t, but I prayed that they would. To my surprise they all hugged me and told me they loved me and welcomed me back.
My father, who had never confronted me on any of these accusations, stood up, held out his arms and told me, “Well it is about time. I have missed my girl. I love you. Don’t ever forget that please.” What joy I felt. I cried and said, “Daddy, I love you and always will. Please forgive me. I am so sorry.” He told me to hush, that he did forgive me and that he had known that someday I’d wake up. The next day, I went into town and told my now ex-husband what I had told my family. He said it was about time I woke up and he hoped I meant it. I never saw my therapist again. Life has moved on. I stopped taking the medication I had been on for 6 1/2 years. I had to file for bankruptcy and that was especially horrible because I had been able to deal with financial matters my whole life. I felt another part of my life had been shot. But now I am supporting myself, my daughter and my granddaughter. I am trying to deal with everyday life and trying to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life.