Why I Want(ed) to be a Counselor

I have been in and out of the mental health system for the last 15 years.

Let me be totally honest; the system sucks. I could go on and on about just how badly it sucks, but I just don’t have the energy for that right now.

I’ve had quite a number of therapists. Most of them have been horrible. Some of them, I seriously question how they were (and likely still are) allowed to practice counseling.

My first therapist enjoyed talking about herself more than about me.

My second therapist avoided any topic that was mildly serious. You self-injured? Oh. How is school going? 

My fourth or so therapist: Your mother loves you. You’re just overreacting.

The social worker assigned to me after my first hospitalization: I think you have an attachment disorder. You can never leave your family. You should try drinking wine (knowing I had a history of alcohol abuse). Your mother loves you. She’s just overprotective because she cares. I get it, I have problems with my mom, too. All children have problems with their parents. It’s okay to be suicidal.

I could go on about this woman. I had been telling her for weeks that I felt something wasn’t right, maybe it was my medication or what, I don’t know. But I told her that I was suicidal and concerned about ending up in the hospital again (or worse). That’s when she told me it was okay to be suicidal, and basically ignored my concerns. For the record, I ended up hospitalizing myself shortly after that, and my medications were changed.

Unfortunately, they sent me right back to this woman. I used to refer to her as SSW (shitty social worker). It had gotten so bad by that point, that I sought out a therapist just to help me cope with SSW (I didn’t want to risk missing my appointments with SSW and being re-hospitalized). I dealt with her for a few more months.

During what would turn out to be our last session, I told SSW of my plans to run away and leave my family behind. She immediately shot me down, telling me I could never leave my family. You can’t abandon your family. They are your family. What? How could you tell me this, knowing my history? I was so angry, so filled with rage. I knew I couldn’t go back to her. It was not healthy. She should not be a counselor in any capacity. She is dangerous.

That was my final push. I told myself I needed to become a counselor because people in need should not be subjected to people like her. Victims should not be invalidated by therapists. Clients should not be put in danger. Clients should not be ignored. I wanted to be everything my previous counselors were not. I wanted to change the profession. I wanted counselors to know that mothers abuse their children, and that they need to acknowledge that it happens instead of telling the person they are just misunderstanding their reality.

I wanted to be a counselor to make a difference in others’ lives. I wanted to go on that journey with them. I wanted to witness their growth and transformation. But I also wanted to initiate change and make a difference with a larger impact. I wanted to change the way counselors were being educated. Why aren’t they being educated about female-perpetrated abuse? Why are they not being educated or trained in dissociative disorders? Why is the system continually dropping the ball when we are perfectly capable of being better?

That is why I wanted to be a counselor.

But things change.

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PAFPAC blog

I have created a separate blog for PAFPAC: pafpacorg.wordpress.com

From now on, any PAFPAC-related posts will be on that blog, in order to separate my professional identity from my personal story.

I will also be focusing more on posting about female-perpetrated abuse there: facts and figures, research, education, etc.

I would also consider sharing blogs and posts from survivors who would like to be featured on PAFPAC’s blog.

(I will be deleting this post in a few days).

I was wronged.

In November 2014, my nurse practitioner called an ambulance to her office to have me escorted to the hospital for suicidal ideation. No one in my family was told the real reason why I was going – I said I was having tests done and to please leave me alone. Despite my mother’s endless calls to the office to find out information, my nurse practitioner revealed nothing. It made my mother so angry that she actually became threatening. Fortunately, my nurse practitioner knew that my mother was my abuser and saw right through her bullshit and kept my privacy intact.

My experience in the hospital, however, was a different story. Before I even made it to the psychiatric floor, my mother already knew I was admitted to the hospital and to which exact psychiatric unit. She had already placed several calls before I even got there. I did not want my family to know where I was. I needed to feel safe more than ever, and that was taken away from me.

My mother continued to call the hospital dozens of times a day, despite my outright denial to speak to her. Some of the nurses provided her with information on my status. This was after I made it clear that I wanted my family to have no information about me. I was 28 years old and a fully capable adult. My emergency contact was someone who maintained no contact with my family, and I instructed the staff that any issues concerning my care should go through that person and no one else. The social workers and nurses were aware that my mother was my abuser – I was open about that during our initial meeting the day after I was admitted. Yet still, my mother was allowed to call and allowed to gather information about me. The hospital would not release me unless my parents picked me up. They literally sent me right back into the hands of my abusers.

The same issues (and then some) occurred in my subsequent hospitalizations. The second time I was hospitalized, I admitted myself. I took a cab to the emergency room after work without telling anyone where I was going. As I laid on a bed in the hallway of the ER, I saw my parents approaching the front desk. I started to panic and asked the watcher if I could hide, but obviously I couldn’t. Within minutes, I saw my mother approaching my bed from the other side of the hallway. I turned towards the wall and hid myself in the sheet, refusing to talk, and struggling to catch my breath from the panic attack I was having. My parents continued to talk and I continued to ignore them, banging my head against the wall to make them go away. After a few minutes, I felt the anger in my father’s voice when he told me “I don’t know why you are doing this to us” and then walked away.

During that whole time, I just wanted someone to make them go away. Why did they tell my parents where I was in the first place? Why did I have no right to privacy or confidentiality? I wanted the watcher or the nurse to see my panic, to sense my pain, but no one noticed. Once again, when I needed to feel safe, that was taken away from me.

As my second hospitalization ended, I was released at night and the nurse called a taxi so I could get home. Freedom. I contemplated going to a motel, but I still had so much fear inside and ended up going home. As I walked up the last landing before our apartment, I could hear my parents arguing. Apparently my mother found out that I left during one of her many calls. My parents were furious. I could hear my father screaming that there would be no more secrets in his house. There was so much irony in that statement, since my whole existence and our family’s existence was built on secrets. He just didn’t like it when HE didn’t know something.

I knew as I unlocked the door that night, that I would be walking into a shitstorm. I wish so badly I would have gone to a hotel instead. I wonder if I would have been able to escape the pain and the heartbreak that continued for months after until I finally moved away. I wonder if I could have avoided that third hospitalization had I just not gone home that night and ran away forever.

I feel like I was wronged. The hospital continually violated my privacy and put me at risk by allowing my abusers access to me and to my information. Why is there an automatic assumption that, because someone is family, that he or she is a safe person and should be given access to information? Something isn’t right here, and I can’t be the only one who this has happened to.

If I was a minor when I was hospitalized, my mother would have never been given access once I revealed her as my abuser. People don’t realize that child abuse continues into adulthood. They didn’t see the severity of my situation. They only made it worse by handing me right back over to them, again and again. I will admit, my social worker was concerned about sending me back to them – but her hands were tied. There is no help for adult victims of continued child abuse. We continue to be abused by our families as well as the system.

I’ve been failed. We’ve been failed. Something needs to change.

Pardon me while I rant

There’s been a story going around on social media about a woman who makes her son take her out on a dinner date and pay as a way of showing her son how to treat a woman.

The story bothers me for a few reasons. One, I don’t think it’s right to impose expectations of sexuality on a young child. She is telling her son he has to grow up and take women out on proper dates. What if he doesn’t want to date women? What if he is gay, or even asexual? She’s not giving him that option; only that he must date women and treat them this certain way.

I could go on. But what bothers me the most about this story (and others) is that focus is centered on teaching boys how to respect women. We don’t teach girls how to respect men. Instead, we teach them what to expect from a man, as if they deserve something greater just for being female. Respect is not gender-specific. We should be teaching children to respect other people, regardless of their gender.

Most people ignore the fact that just as many women perpetrate domestic violence against men as men do against women. Or they say that men are stronger, so their violence is obviously much worse than what a woman could do.

This sentiment makes me want to put my head through a wall. Yes, I’ll agree that in general, men have the capacity to be physically stronger because they can develop more muscle mass. It doesn’t mean they all are. And it doesn’t mean that women are weak little creatures that couldn’t hurt a soul. I can easily overpower most of the men I come into contact with on a regular basis, and I (unfortunately) have before.

I watched my mother beat my father. I watched her hit my brother. I, too, was a target of her violence more times than I could count. It doesn’t take much strength to stab someone, to set them on fire, to beat them with a hammer, or to shoot them with a gun. My mother used her hands, paddles, pans, or even rolled up magazines if she was desperate (though those were mostly for beating the cats and the occasional whack to the face). She wasn’t gentle. She caused damage. My mother is not a fit person by any means. She hadn’t exercised in all the years I knew her. But she hurt. Just as badly as any man would hurt. Angry people like her find strength wherever they can pull it from. She didn’t need a penis.

Outside of my family, I’ve come to know many male victims of female-perpetrated violence. Very few of them ever admit in public what happened to them. Why? Because of that sentiment I mentioned earlier. Men are strong. You can take it. It was a woman. It couldn’t have been that bad. Suck it up. You’re just a wuss. Meanwhile they suffer in silence, not only from the physical damage, but from the psychological damage initially caused by the female attacker and perpetuated by society’s gender-biased views.

This exact sentiment and attitude pours over into female-perpetrated sexual abuse. It was a woman? It couldn’t have been that bad! I bet you enjoyed it! She was probably gentle. Women don’t do that. You just misunderstood. It couldn’t have hurt. You should feel lucky. I could go on, but I don’t have to. If you don’t get it by now, you won’t get it at all.

I can only speak of my own hurt from my experiences opening up about the abuse from my mother. Some therapists ignored it entirely. Other therapists outright denied my experiences as abuse. “She’s your mom and she cares about you, you’re just misunderstanding everything.” Yep. That’s it. I just misunderstood. All mothers should bathe their children into double digits and have special nighttime sessions. My bad. If I said it was a man doing it, or my father, EVERYONE would say “that’s abuse!” before I’d even finish my sentence. But for some reason, when a woman is involved, people automatically jump to the gentle, nurturing view of women and deny the legitimacy of the abuse. It was aggravating, disheartening, and saddening to have my reality denied by other people for years. I can’t even begin to imagine how others, including men, feel when their experiences are denied.

Woman continue to get away with domestic violence and abuse because of the attitude that women are weaker, more gentle, and less violent. I am telling you now that women are just as fucked up as men are. Stop letting women get away with crimes that any man would be imprisoned for years for. Stop making victims feel ashamed for being victims of :gasp: a woman. It happens. Let’s acknowledge it. Let’s deal with it accordingly. Because if we continue to teach girls what to expect from others, they will continue to feel entitled to things they don’t necessarily deserve. And if we don’t teach boys AND girls respect, women will continue to think they can get away with whatever they want to because they are a woman.

Perhaps I should have been a man, because women are going to hate me for this and see me as anti-woman. I am not. I am for equality.

PAFPAC Support Forum

The PAFPAC support forum for survivors of female-perpetrated abuses is up and running. There are a few members, but no one is really comfortable with posting yet. If you are a survivor of any type of female-perpetrated abuse, please consider joining the PAFPAC Support Forum.

It is a private forum, so you will need to ‘apply’ – I receive a notification and can approve you the same day. This is so members feel more comfortable sharing and it helps weed out people who may be there for the wrong reasons. The forum is really for anything, not just talk about abuse, but also healing and everyday struggles.

If you or anyone you know can benefit, please pass on the information.

Thank you.