My Therapist Slut-Shamed Me

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My Therapist Slut-Shamed Me
Self

What the hell kind of therapy was this?

I could feel the anger rising in me. I knew what had happened was inappropriate but I'd been so stunned that I couldn't feel much before that moment. But as I read the text from one of my best friends after I'd recounted the experience to her, my shock turned from numbness to outrage.

My therapist had slut-shamed me.

Let's rewind.

It had taken me years to enter therapy. I suffered from severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder after an abusive relationship and sexual assaults. For various reasons, I thought I could manage it well enough on my own. I was good at asking myself the hard questions, at uncovering the deepest truths at the core of my issues, and at challenging growth within myself.

I knew what therapy was about and I was doing a damn fine job of providing it to myself. Or so I thought.

At some point, it came to my attention that the issues I thought I'd so diligently and thoroughly worked through weren't resolved. Or they had become unresolved. Or something. My ability to manage had depleted. I started having panic attacks, intense anxiety, and flashbacks.

Unexpected things would trigger me and I would cry so hard I couldn't talk or breathe normally. My body was under so much stress that it was affecting my health and my normal life. It became clear that I needed some outside help. At my doctor's urging, I made an appointment with a therapist.

The first session was nothing unusual. We talked about why I was there, my history, and the things I wanted to work on. She seemed to misunderstand a few things but I figured there'd be plenty of time for clarification. At the end of the hour, I walked away feeling a little raw, but mostly indifferent.

Our next session was a few weeks later. I'd recently stopped seeing someone who had meant a lot to me. That relationship had gotten convoluted and confusing, but there was a lot of good that made walking away especially difficult.

I was reeling and horribly sad. My instinct was not to talk to the therapist about it but I supposed that meant I should definitely talk to her about it. So I did.

Bad move.

As I began to give her the Cliff Notes version of my relationship with this guy, instead of asking me questions, she very quickly started jumping in with incorrect judgments about his character. I had a lot of love for the man and started feeling defensive.

As I tried to clarify some things, the therapist interrupted.

"Was this a sexual relationship?"

I stared at her for a second. We'd been dating for six months. Neither of us are religious. We are adults. Of course it was sexual!

"Yeah."

"Well, if you have sex with men who don't love you, you will always be a do-for-now girl."

I was dumbfounded. I would be what?

She went on, saying, "From now on, you shouldn't be having sex with someone unless you're in a committed, long-term relationship with the goal of marriage."

Now I was doubly dumbfounded. Whose goals were we talking about? They definitely weren't mine. I spoke up, "Uh... I don't think I ever want to get married again." Instead of tempering her response given this new information, she went full bore.

"Well, you can't expect a man to respect you or be faithful to you if you don't get married. If you're just going to date and have sex for entertainment, then be prepared to date raunchy guys who don't really care about you. You're going to end up getting your heart broken over and over and it's not going to help you get better."

From there, she spun off into an unprompted lecture about sex outside of marriage which then spun off into a diatribe about pornography leading to threesomes, leading to women choosing to be bisexual and leaving their husbands for their third.

I had no words. Not even one.

We'd gone over my history. She knew marriage had been a hellish ordeal for me. She knew that I was traumatized from long-term emotional and sexual abuse. She knew that casual sex had been key to whatever healing I'd managed to already do.

She knew all of that, and here she was telling me that unless I wanted to get married — and unless I only have sex with men I might want to marry  I would be disposable.

I left the therapy appointment feeling numb and confused. I knew what she said wasn't true, but it got under my skin. She wanted me to feel shame. She wanted me to live by her rules. She was making me question myself, which was exactly how my sociopathic ex-husband had gained control of me.

What the hell kind of therapy was this?

I texted one of my best friends and told her about it. Because she's a good friend, she lost her sh*t on my behalf, typing back in all caps about how totally inappropriate it was. We ranted about it together until I felt the anger receding.

The next morning, I called the therapist's office and asked to speak to whomever was in charge of the practice. As I explained to them what happened, expressed my disgust and disbelief, and as they apologized profusely and agreed with me that she was out of line, I felt a wave of pride wash over me.

A couple of years ago, I wouldn't have made that phone call; I would've marinated in the shame the therapist had piled on me and told myself untrue stories about my worth.

I would've added her words to the chorus that had for so many years made me doubt myself and question whether or not I was good enough to be loved. I probably wouldn't even have told my friends, afraid that it would provide evidence of my unworthiness.

But I didn't do that. I called. I stood up for myself. I trusted what I knew to be right for me. I spoke up in case someone in a more vulnerable place than me was hearing the same crap. And then I found a new therapist — one who actually knows how to do their job.

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