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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate:As I said, I was really upset about our conversation

Customer Question

Kate: As I said, I was really upset about our conversation yesterday. You were saying that I need to get over the self-blame if I am to recover. You said that I am choosing to hold onto the shame/guilt/self-blame and that I refuse to see things in a different way. You said that if I don’t stop blaming myself, I will carry this with me forever and not heal. So, you were therefore saying that I am choosing not to heal and to carry this with me for the rest of my life. I already know that my choices in (not) dealing with this after it happened have created big problems for me, and have created the situation in which I now find myself. But I am trying now. And now you are saying that I am choosing not to move forward and heal. That really cut me. You think I am choosing to blame myself. But it is more complicated than that, Kate. I feel like I have made progress on that issue, but this is something I have firmly believed for a long time. I get the point that it is a way to hold on to control (or the illusion of control), and that may be part of it. But most of it is because that is how I have felt and that is how I feel. But you and Dr. M and Linda are telling me that’s wrong. The blog you quoted was helpful in explaining why I might feel that way, and was very helpful when it said that people feel in their gut that they are at fault. That really helps. Because I feel it in my gut - it’s like I just know it’s the truth – to some extent. And I assumed since I felt so strongly about it, it must be true. Knowing that most others feel as strongly about it, even when it may not be true, opened my eyes a little. But I can’t just “decide” to look at things another way. You are right when you say there’s another way to look at it - that they are at fault for everything that happened. There are many ways to look at it. For instance, I could look at it from the perspective of knowing they were mentally ill (or at least the mean one), and feel it’s okay for me to be used by them because that’s what their illness was compelling them to do, and they can’t help it. I could look at it thinking it was karma. I could look at it a bunch of different ways. But I can’t just decide to look at it differently and decide to change my feelings. I can consider the different ways to look at it, and I should. But I can’t just change my view of it unless my feelings have changed. I feel what I feel. I am not saying that my feelings can’t change, but I cannot just direct them to change. I do not want to believe something just because it gets me off the hook or makes me feel better, only to find out later that I was wrong and then have to question my reality. I’ve been there, and it is hurtful. This isn’t something that I can just do because you and Linda and Dr. M tell me to do it. I realize it is frustrating to all of you, but it’s not like you are telling me to write in my journal or sit down, and I refuse to do it. None of you were there. None of you saw what I did. If you had seen me dong those things, you would have been appalled. All of you would. I am appalled and I was the one doing them. You guys believe in the blanket opinion that it is never the “victim’s” fault and whatever anyone does in that situation is fine. I pretty much discount any blanket statement, because all situations are different and there is not one truth that covers every situation like that. I want to be clear: (1) I do not think I caused it to happen. The fact that I had been drinking, and the lame reason I left the party clearly put me in the position where I was the one it happened to, but I don’t feel bad about that. It was going to happen to someone. I am glad it wasn’t someone else. Also, I realize that this was a very disproportionate consequence of drinking and walking alone. (2) I do not think I wanted it to happen - on any level. I never thought that. (3) I know that they chose to do that and I did not choose for it to happen. (4) I know that they did not have the right to hurt me or to have sex with me or whatever, without my consent. (5) I know that I was scared, in pain, bleeding a lot, and uncertain about what was going to happen at any given time, and I think I may have been in shock, from what Linda has said. (6) I know did not want to do the things the mean one told me to do. (7) I know I did those things because I was scared or hurting or tired of fighting. (8) I know that physically, they could have done anything they wanted to me, and there is little I could do about it. (9) I know I chose to do those things because I believed (whether right or wrong) that compliance would save me from further pain. (10) I do not know how much I actually reasoned this in my mind at the time, but the fact is that I decided I would rather beg them to have sex with me, give them permission to do that, move with him and put my legs around him, say that I liked it, give him permission

to sodomize me, offer that to him and ask him to do that, perform oral sex on him and lie there with my legs spread asking him to do whatever ---- than have them use the bottle. That is the botXXXXX XXXXXne. Although he used the bottle again anyways, I thought that this is what I was trading for, and in one way or another, I made the decision that I would f*** him every which way in order to avoid the bottle. I think I would have done anything (I know did do almost everything, but you know what I mean).


I am not just being obstinate. This is not easy stuff to figure out. You can’t say I had no choice in the matter – because I did make choices. I am not saying they were bad choices necessarily. I don’t know. I am just saying that I traded something for another. And the issue for me is that I feel sometimes that I made these choices because I was weak and couldn’t handle the pain. I am convinced that he would have done these things with or without my compliance – but having them done to me as opposed to my participating, would be easier to live with, even if I got cut up a little more.


I know you think I am being defiant or stubborn. But this is just not the kind of thing where you or Linda or Dr. M can say: "think this way and believe this" and I will or can. That may have worked when I was little, but it’s not that easy anymore.


Also, I don’t process things that fast - especially when I am tired and/or emotional. I need time to think things through – and frequently I need to think them through over and over. I can’t process things of this nature instantly.


I am not purposely hanging onto this. I guess if you think I am, you are entitled to your opinion.


Shay

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

I don't mean that you need to get over the self blame. I mean you need to work through it. No one just "gets over" how they feel. It takes time and patience to understand why you feel as you do and to work it through.

 

This is not about blaming you for how you feel. This is about helping you see what is holding you back, at least part of which comes from what you were taught as a child. It is a choice, yes, to hold onto how you feel. The point was to say you do have choices. You don't have to be caught in the dysfunction your parents taught you, which is to blame yourself.

 

Yes, there are many ways to look at what happened to you. But some of those ways are much more harmful to you and your recovery than the other ways. And the way you are choosing to look at it comes from what you were taught as a child, along with some of societies point of view of women who are attacked. But overcoming your parents point of view and societies as a whole is important to your recovery.

 

I know you feel that if Linda, Dr. M and I saw what you did with the attacks we would be appalled, but that is making an assumption on your part. You are taking your feelings about what you did and putting them on us without taking into account what we think or feel about it. People cooperate with attackers for many reasons. For example, people wonder why Jaycee Dugard didn't just run away after she was kidnapped. While her situation was different than yours, she was still held under the same psychological power that you were. Most people do not understand something like that. Being under the total control of an attacker creates psychological trauma. People will do anything under that type of trauma. That is what makes the survivor blameless in the situation. People often make the mistake that physical power is what makes someone do something against their will. That is not true. The psychological force is at least equal, if not more powerful.

 

It is ok to feel like you are to blame. No one is saying that you cannot feel anything you need to. What I am saying is that in order to heal, working through your self blame will make your recovery easier. If you hold onto the guilt and self blame, there will always be a part of you that continues to hold onto the attack and it may never be resolved like it could if you worked through your feelings.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Kate:

You said:

I don't mean that you need to get over the self blame. I mean you need to work through it. No one just "gets over" how they feel. It takes time and patience to understand why you feel as you do and to work it through.

Then why are you upset with me that I haven't totally let go of it? And what am I supposed to do? I thought I WAS working through it.

This is not about blaming you for how you feel. This is about helping you see what is holding you back, at least part of which comes from what you were taught as a child. It is a choice, yes, to hold onto how you feel. The point was to say you do have choices. You don't have to be caught in the dysfunction your parents taught you, which is to blame yourself.

But isn't some sense of personal responsibility a good thing? I hate when people blame others for their problems or feel like they are entitled to things when they don't work for it. Is it enough for me to be able to say "this is what they did, and this is what I did"?

I want the truth. I need to be convinced that I wasn't at fault. If I was at fault for some of it, then I need to work through that, I guess, to forgive myself. But I can't just believe something for the sake of a quicker recovery, because it is my wish not to be culpable. I have to actually believe it.

I know I have choices. You have made that clear. But I can't just CHOOSE to believe in something I don't really believe. The issue is how to get there.

I'm not sure I understand fully what my parents have to do with it. I think they had a lot to do with the fact that I was alone afterwards, but how do they play into this issue? They don't even know what I did. And I don't take blame for everything - I can see in situations where I am wrong and where others are wrong. In fact, if I'm not careful and prayerful, I have a tendency to put people in their place, so to speak. So my upbringing doesn't effect my attitude about everything. Are you sure that my parents' influence is playing into this self blame I feel? Can you break it down for me and explain how?

Yes, there are many ways to look at what happened to you. But some of those ways are much more harmful to you and your recovery than the other ways. And the way you are choosing to look at it comes from what you were taught as a child, along with some of societies point of view of women who are attacked. But overcoming your parents point of view and societies as a whole is important to your recovery.

Okay - but it's not about point of view - it's about truth, isn't it? I can certainly see how the way I look at something can complicate recovery or make it easier. But I think I must find what the REAL way to look at it is. For the last 19 years, I have looked at it as though it was not a big deal and did not effect me or bother me, and I was over it. Looking at it that way, then, should have quickened my recovery. But it didn't, because it turned out not to be true.

I know you feel that if Linda, Dr. M and I saw what you did with the attacks we would be appalled, but that is making an assumption on your part. You are taking your feelings about what you did and putting them on us without taking into account what we think or feel about it.

But how could you know or I know what you guys think or feel about it - you weren't there. It's easy for you guys to say what you think you should, because you can ignore what I did. If you saw it or could visualize it, you would probably not feel the same. Imagine I was your daughter at age 21 (just for the sake of this example - ignore the fact that we're almost the same age), so you knew me. Imagine you walked in on your daughter doing those things with those guys. Imagine hearing her beg them to have sex and anal sex with her, willingly giving him oral sex, acting like she enjoyed it. Wouldn't that change your opinion?

People cooperate with attackers for many reasons. For example, people wonder why Jaycee Dugard didn't just run away after she was kidnaped. While her situation was different than yours, she was still held under the same psychological power that you were. Most people do not understand something like that. Being under the total control of an attacker creates psychological trauma. People will do anything under that type of trauma. That is what makes the survivor blameless in the situation. People often make the mistake that physical power is what makes someone do something against their will. That is not true. The psychological force is at least equal, if not more powerful.

That all makes sense. Interesting - especially the part I underlined.

 

It is ok to feel like you are to blame. No one is saying that you cannot feel anything you need to.

Well, I felt yesterday that's exactly what you were telling me - that to feel that I am to blame is unacceptable and an indication that I don't want to heal.

What I am saying is that in order to heal, working through your self blame will make your recovery easier. If you hold onto the guilt and self blame, there will always be a part of you that continues to hold onto the attack and it may never be resolved like it could if you worked through your feelings.

Again, what is it I'm supposed to be doing?? I thought I was working through it, or at least trying. Do I just need to think about it for some time, and come back when I am on the same page with everyone and believe how you all want me to believe? Maybe I need to take a break from therapy until I am at that point. It's wearing me out anyway.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

I am not upset with you and I am not here to judge you. I am only trying to help. And you are working through what happened. But when you say that you blame yourself and there are no other options, then that is an issue that is going to prevent you from working through this. There are many kinds of "truths" depending on what the situation is and how the person sees the situation. A person full of hate may think it's true that everyone is mean and cruel. A person who is dependent may think it's true that everyone is more important than they are. Taking what you believe as truth and questioning it is healthy. No one is absolutely right in the truths they believe.

 

Personal responsibility in life is good, but when it comes to being attacked, you are not responsible for what happened. The bad guys took any power you might have had to make choices away from you. You could not be responsible for what you did even if you wanted to be.

 

Your parents are part of this because they taught you that you are responsible in all situations, even in ones where it was impossible to have any control. And that is the one way you are looking at it. You were confused as a child because it made no sense that you were blamed for something you did not do. So you adapted a belief that you are personally responsible for all actions you have, even when you are not. I am trying to help you see that there are other ways to look at what happened to you. That is what I mean by choices.

 

One of the main points here is to see what you feel you gain by blaming yourself for the choices you made when you were in the middle of being attacked. Does it benefit you in some way?

 

The important thing here is whether or not you are recovering from what happened. And recovery involves looking at how you see the attack and how you feel about it. This is not about what you are supposed to do, think or believe. It's about taking what you do, think and believe and helping you see that you are a human being who responded to something horrible in the best way she could and is now hurting and needs to feel better. And that is what we are working towards. Making you feel better. Sometimes that means you may feel worse before you feel better, but it means you are recovering.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I know you're trying to help me, and I appreciate it. I just know I am frustrating you. But I felt hurt during our conversation yesterday. Isn't that allowed? I'm not saying you were trying to upset me or were saying anything untrue. It just upset me, and I felt like you were saying, basically that I didn't want to heal from this and I wanted to carry it around with me. Which is fine. You can say that. But I just was disappointed in myself, which made me upset.

I don't understand what you are saying about there being different truths. There can be different points of view and perceptions, but not different truths. Take a car accident for example. Two cars collide in an intersection. The first driver believes he had a green light, and therefore he second driver must have run a red light. The second driver is sure that he had a green light and that the first driver ran a red light. It happens. Both drivers truly believe what they are saying, and neither is lying. But the fact is - one of them ran a red light. The fact that neither believes he ran a red light does not change the truth that someone ran a red light. Perception doesn't change reality. And I feel like it is dangerous to treat perception as reality. I used to do that. But then when you find out your perception is wrong, then you have to question your "reality," which can shake you to your core. So I don't really understand. You say "no one is absolutely right in the truths they believe." Beliefs are different from truths. If someone is not absolutely right in a belief, then they are not believing the truth. Just because I believe something doesn't make it true, not matter how strongly I believe it.

I don't know if it benefits me in any way to blae myself. I mean, I can see that feeling responsible gives me some illusion of control, and I think that may have been a bigger issue before, but I don't feel that's a major issue now. At least I don't think it is. I don't gain a sense that it won't happen again, because I don't blame myself for it happening. I guess I gain a sense of thinking they were not as bad as I might otherwise think. But how does that really benefit me? I guess it could provide an illusion of more safety or something - like I know there are bad people in the world, but even these guys weren't that bad. It lets me avoid hating them sometimes. Hate is not a pleasant feeling. But guilt isn't, either, so I don't think that's really a benefit. But I also don't want to hate the other guy. He saved my life, maybe. And he was gentler than the mean one. I feel I owe him something. I guess I feel more honest and stronger if I accept some responsibility. By not taking on the belief that whatever I did I had to do and it was okay, and by accepting some of the blame, I feel stronger and more honest and more acceptable and respectable. And I also don't have to categorize myself as a "victim" (or a "survivor" - I hate that word). Also, in my experience, somebody has to bear the punishment for something bad. Those two guys weren't punished, because of me, so I guess I'm the only one left to be punished. And I guess I feel the right thing to do I to accept the punishment, and that could be worthy of - what? I don't know. That someone could be proud of my accepting responsibility even though I did what I did? Tha it could cancel it out maybe? I don't know ... just writing what I'm thinking.

Actually, now that I think of it, the control thing might be a bigger issue than I thought. When I was just thinking about things and thinking I didn't have control, it feels like when he pushed me up against the tree. The thought that I was their puppet for a few hours really upsets me. And, ultimately, the choice of whether I lived or died - if I didn't have control of that, then my life is the result of their whim or the other guy's conscience. And if I had no control, why did I do things? Why weren't they just doing things? If it wasn't in my control, then if I were in that situation again, I would make the same choices. Someone could make me do those things whenever they wanted. That's a scary thought. Not a likely possibility - but possible nonetheless. I think that's also why I don't like it being called an attack or rape - because it implies something done to me and not with me.

 

 

 

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
You know, I don't really want it to be my fault. I think I want someone to convince me it's the truth, though.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

Of course you are allowed to be upset about yesterday. It is part of therapy to feel as you do. It is very hard to look at these things. This is your life, your belief system, your feelings and your thoughts. Changing them can be upsetting. And you are not frustrating me. It is very hard for you to know what I feel when I say something because you cannot read my face, hear my voice or see my gestures when I talk with you. It is very limiting to talk on line. But it does allow you to project on to me, which tells us both a lot.

 

I understand your point about perception and truth. But who told you that your perception was wrong? How did you get burned when you chose to accept your perception as reality?

 

I think you have discovered something about your situation. You already knew that feeling responsible gives you some sense of control. But you also recognize that by blaming yourself, you don't have to feel the bad guys are that bad. For to make them totally responsible you would have to face feeling anger and hate towards them. How do you feel about your anger towards them? How strong would you rate it?

 

Owing the one guy something for not being as mean as the other is a bit tricky. He did participate in the attack. He did help the mean one. He did not try to stop the attack. He actively participated. So he is responsible. If he was arrested for the crime, he would be held just as responsible as the mean one. But I can also see your point that you might have survived because of something he did to help you. In such a life threatening situation, any thread you can hold on to is important. But did this man help you, truly, if he did not do anything to stop the attack? I am thinking of these two a little differently than you. More like the strong one and the weak one. One is more sick, more strong and angrier than the other. But the weak one is with the mean one when he does not have to be. So what makes him better?

 

You mentioned that by accepting some of the blame you feel stronger, honest, acceptable and respectable. What about participating in the attack makes you like these qualities? (I mean that as a true question, not a comment or opinion). Your feeling that if you accept responsibility someone could be proud of you sounds like something your mother or father might say to you. Doing what you need to do to survive is not about responsibility at all. It's about surviving. Responsibility does not come to play in this, unless you are talking about the attackers. If a child conforms to his abusers wishes and does what he says to avoid being hurt, does that mean he is more respectable, or does it mean he is doing what he needs to do to survive? These attackers took away your choices and left you with only one choice, do what they said to do. And that is what you did to stay alive.

 

It is upsetting to think that someone could have that much control over you at any time. That is part of the reason people develop PTSD over such situations. The loss of control is very frightening. You literally lose control over whether or not you live or die. There is nothing you can do. And that can shake you to the core. Anyone who has lived through a trauma has a unique insight into what that feels like and that is often why survivors feel so alone and like no one understands. Your eyes have been opened to a world that most people do not see. It's why letting go of feeling responsible is important. Accepting that you did what you could during the situation is a difficult truth. But it is a truth that makes you strong. Look at it this way- you had two people attack you, take away all the control you had over your life and you still found a way to stay alive. You did what they asked because your intelligence, instinct and determination told you, maybe subconsciously, that this was the best way to make it through. That is not about responsibility. It's about strength.

 

Shay, it's good that you mentioned attack and rape. It's the first time you have written rape out as a word. It's a good sign that you are accepting your feelings about what happened to you. I know you don't like using either word because of what it means to you. And no one wants to label you. You are a person first and foremost. How would you view yourself in light of what happened?

 

Kate

 

 

 

 

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Kate:

 

You said:

 

It is very hard for you to know what I feel when I say something because you cannot read my face, hear my voice or see my gestures when I talk with you. It is very limiting to talk on line.

Well, that is true, but you could just tell me.

But it does allow you to project on to me, which tells us both a lot.

What is it telling us, exactly?

I understand your point about perception and truth. But who told you that your perception was wrong? How did you get burned when you chose to accept your perception as reality?

Well, obviously I was told when I was younger that my perception of things was wrong (like if I thought my siblings were favored or I was being treated unfairly, or I wanted to hug on my parents or something). And you are saying my perception is wrong, aren't you?

As far as getting burned, let's see: One thing is that my perception of the world was that everyone is pretty much good. Nobody really wants to hurt someone else, or at least hurt them a lot. I also thought I was invincible and nothing bad would ever happen to me. But I certainly learned that those perceptions were dead wrong. Also, if I had been a bit more aware of the bad in this world, perhaps I would have known to be more careful or to be more suspicious or to tell something wasn't right. Second, I really thought people were honest and that I could trust people. But I discovered that a lot of people lie and manipulate and are not honest. I also learned that when you tell someone something in confidence, even a close friend, it doesn't always mean that they will not share it with anyone (or everyone). Third, I thought that if someone said they loved you, it was true, and that it would be the same way I felt being in love, only to find out that some people say it when it's not true, or even if it's true, it doesn't mean their feeling of "love" is the same way I feel it, or that it is as "sacred" (for lack of a better word) as I do, and it doesn't mean they tell you the truth and don't hurt you. When you trust someone fully, and believe what they say, then find out they have been lying and some things were never true to begin with, it is painful. Those are all examples of being burned when your perception differs from the truth.

I think you have discovered something about your situation. You already knew that feeling responsible gives you some sense of control. But you also recognize that by blaming yourself, you don't have to feel the bad guys are that bad. For to make them totally responsible you would have to face feeling anger and hate towards them. How do you feel about your anger towards them? How strong would you rate it?

I don't know. It varies. Sometimes it seems very strong, especially towards the mean one. Sometimes I feel nothing at all towards them. Sometimes I feel sorry for them and hope they found Christ. Right now I am moderately angry, I would say, but I think I may be a little higher on the hate scale today.

Owing the one guy something for not being as mean as the other is a bit tricky. He did participate in the attack. He did help the mean one. He did not try to stop the attack. He actively participated. So he is responsible. If he was arrested for the crime, he would be held just as responsible as the mean one. But I can also see your point that you might have survived because of something he did to help you. In such a life threatening situation, any thread you can hold on to is important. But did this man help you, truly, if he did not do anything to stop the attack? I am thinking of these two a little differently than you. More like the strong one and the weak one. One is more sick, more strong and angrier than the other. But the weak one is with the mean one when he does not have to be. So what makes him better?

Because compared to his friend, he was practically prince charming. During it all, he was so much better, because he didn't cut me and he wasn't as rough. And after a while, he just stood off to the side and didn't even participate. And eventually, he was not even laughing with or reacting to the mean one. And most of all, he didn't talk much. If the mean one would have shut up, it would have been so much easier to bear.

I know he was willingly with the mean one, and I do think he was in agreement with the plan to rape someone, but not the other stuff. But you are right - legally speaking, he was just as guilty. Kind of like robbing a bank - if you agree to commit a felony, and one of your co-conspirators ends up shooting someone, it doesn't matter that you didn't want him to do it or know he was going to do it. You are still criminally culpable, to the same extent as the guy who actually pulled the trigger. But it's hard to look at it that way. What if he hadn't been there? The mean one may have had a little more trouble controlling me physically at first, but not much. They were both fairly large guys. But without the other one there telling him not to kill me, maybe he would have gone with his first instinct.

You are right - the mean one was stronger and angrier. But I kind of feel like he was not only dominating me - he was kind of dominating the other one, too. I mean, who knows what kind of hold he had over his friend? You even said that psychological control can be stronger than physical control. But he still had sex with me, which was wrong. He chose not to participate in other things, but he did do that, and seemed to enjoy it, I guess. He could have chosen not to do that, either. And you're right, he didn't stop it. Physically, the two would have been a good match, so who knows? Except that if he engaged the mean one in a fight, I maybe could have gotten away., Or he could have gotten help (as unappealing as that sounds to me), but I am sure he wouldn't want to do that, since he had had sex with me, too.

I have a question: I know these guys were fairly young (early 20's probably), but they weren't adolescent boys. In that kind of situation, would the guy just automatically get an erection, with me not having pants on and having just watched (in very close proximity) his friend having sex with me? Can guys get hard in any situation pretty much? I mean, I don't know if the blood and my hurting and stuff aroused him, too (since it seemed to do that for the mean one), or if it is just kind of automatic, or if he could get an erection, even if he didn't like the blood and pain part, just because he wanted to have sex with me. Do you know?

And, you know, even if I did owe the other one something, I guess I already gave it to him, don't you think? I mean, he might not think so, because he might not think sex is a big deal, but I pretty much gave him (or he took) a third of my sexual experience with men, his friend being another third. Right? So he has that. I don't think I could give him anything more valuable (to me) than that, could I?

I sometimes think about him. He looked so normal and nice when I saw him that time. And I think he was truly afraid I would call the police. I wonder if he continued to hang around with the mean one and I wonder if he feels bad abut what they did. On the one hand, I don't want him to be consumed with it (I know first hand it's not fun), but on the other hand, the fact that he didn't know who I was at the bar, and the thought that this was no big deal for them and he never thinks about it or has somehow twisted it around in his mind, really pisses me off.

You mentioned that by accepting some of the blame you feel stronger, honest, acceptable and respectable. What about participating in the attack makes you like these qualities? (I mean that as a true question, not a comment or opinion).

It's not the participation that makes me feel that way - the participation makes me feel like a piece of crap. It's the fact that I can accept responsibility for my own actions that makes me feel that way. It makes me feel like at least I retained my sense of personal responsibility and character.

Your feeling that if you accept responsibility someone could be proud of you sounds like something your mother or father might say to you.

I know. They would probably want me to accept some responsibility, because they think that blaming others for any situation you're in or any of your actions is a cop-out. I know that comes directly from them. Because I don't know anyone else that would spin it that way.

Doing what you need to do to survive is not about responsibility at all. It's about surviving. Responsibility does not come to play in this, unless you are talking about the attackers. If a child conforms to his abusers wishes and does what he says to avoid being hurt, does that mean he is more respectable, or does it mean he is doing what he needs to do to survive? These attackers took away your choices and left you with only one choice, do what they said to do. And that is what you did to stay alive.

Well, first of all, I'm not sure the abused child examples really fit - there are huge differences between defenseless children being abused by those who are supposed to protect them, with whom they have no choice but to live, and on whom they depend for their basic life necessities, and an adult in a park with 2 strangers.

Did you mean "respectable" or "responsible"?

Okay, let's look at this: my choices were: (1) to comply; or (2) to be hurt more or killed. Okay. But: [a] that wasn't really true. I complied with everything from th time he peed in my mouth forward, and I said everything they wanted to say and acted like a total slut at his command - but he STILL used the bottle again. So I wasn't totally right in the assessment of my choices. I can never be sure whether he would have really killed me. And my compliance seemed to have nothing to do with that decision. But, I guess I thought he would, or didn't know. I was so floored by how much he hurt me that I could not even try to predict what would happen. And - in this kind of situation, I guess I had no choice but to depend on my perception of things, because there was no way I could know what was really going to happen. I'm not sure they knew ahead of time. And [c] aren't there certain things we shouldn't do, even if we might die if we don't? There's a line somewhere, but I don't know where it is. Certainly, if someone holds a gun to your head and tells you to hand over your purse, you should just hand it over. But what if someone holds a gun to our head and tells you to stab someone? What if they told you to rape someone? What if they just tell you to punch your child? And what if they tell you to denounce Jesus? There's a line - where is it??

That being said, I do agree that sometimes, our minds just take over and act out of a sense of self-preservation. Consciously, that night I didn't care if I died. But subconsciously I probably really did care, right? And on all levels, I didn't want to feel that bottle again.

It is upsetting to think that someone could have that much control over you at any time. That is part of the reason people develop PTSD over such situations. The loss of control is very frightening. You literally lose control over whether or not you live or die. There is nothing you can do. And that can shake you to the core. Anyone who has lived through a trauma has a unique insight into what that feels like and that is often why survivors feel so alone and like no one understands. Your eyes have been opened to a world that most people do not see. It's why letting go of feeling responsible is important.

I'm not sure I understand the correlation between having seen that world and the importance of letting go of feeling responsible. Can you explain what you mean?

 

Accepting that you did what you could during the situation is a difficult truth. But it is a truth that makes you strong. Look at it this way- you had two people attack you, take away all the control you had over your life and you still found a way to stay alive. You did what they asked because your intelligence, instinct and determination told you, maybe subconsciously, that this was the best way to make it through. That is not about responsibility. It's about strength.

But ultimately, it was their choice and ONLY their choice whether I lived. I made a gamble, I guess. I was wrong thinking that complying would mean not having the bottle used again, although maybe he would have used it more. I don't know. And according to Dr. M, one more time may have killed me. But I don't know whether my compliance had any bearing on him letting me live. It didn't seem to, although maybe he would have been angrier if I hadn't done what he told me. I have to face the fact that everything I did probably had no bearing on what he decided to do with me.

 

Shay, it's good that you mentioned attack and rape. It's the first time you have written rape out as a word. It's a good sign that you are accepting your feelings about what happened to you. I know you don't like using either word because of what it means to you. And no one wants to label you. You are a person first and foremost.

Yeah, I typed it without realizing it, then noticed it. But I left it. (I thought you would appreciate that :) )

How would you view yourself in light of what happened?

I used to feel like I just had this big black spot on me that I could cover up, but it was there and I couldn't let anyone know, and was afraid someone would find out. I felt ashamed about what happened, although I didn't think about it a whole lot, except in and after my nightmares. But I was also kind of thinking I was tough - like all these people have such an issue with it, and I was able to get over it with the only "side effect" being the nightmares.

Now I feel kind of like I am broken some. Like my DNA make-up was changed when that happened. I feel different from others, and different form how I really am or am supposed to be. I feel like they not only took what they took form me that night, but I inadvertently gave them the next 20 years of my life, as well. I feel tethered to them - like it's somehow my fault that they did such terrible things. But I know intellectually it's THEM, not ME. I want to be off this leash that they have had me on. I feel like I am somewhat less than other people in some areas - in a lot of areas, I feel just fine or even better than others, but in other areas, I feel like I am less because of what happened. When someone uses you that way, it's hard, I think, not to think of yourself as "a person who can be used in that way." I feel sexually stumped. Either the thought of sex with a man makes me cringe, or I think I really want to experience loving, gentle, caring sex that actually feels good, but then I feel guilty for feeling that way - like my having sexual desires, or if I did have sex and enjoyed it - would somehow retroactively approve what they did. I know it sounds crazy, but that's how I feel sometimes.

Right now, I just view myself as confused and messed up. I feel like a jumble of thoughts, feelings, pain, justification, and exhaustion. And it's like I need you and Dr. M and Linda to unjumble things for me (or rather, to help me unjumble it). You know, like, when you have a delicate chain necklace, and you put it in a box with no cotton or stick it in your purse or something, and when you get it out, it's all tangled up? It's like that, except with more dimensions. It's like I know it's a pretty necklace, and I want to wear it, but it's going to take time to untangle it, and in the process of untangling it, I have to be careful or I will break it and it will be useless. And even when I do untangle it, it still may have bent links or something, from being tangled so long, and those are REALLY hard to repair.

 

Thanks.

 

Shay

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Good morning Shay,

 

I need some time to read through your post and think it through. I will try to answer you as soon as I can.

 

I hope your day goes well,

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry it's so long. I will try to be more brief in the future!
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

There is a lot of energy around this for you. Taking the time to break down each answer, analyze it and refute it is taking energy away from the real issue here: your feelings. Facing your feelings is terrifying. By intellectualizing and refuting everything, it help you keep your feelings at bay.

 

Trust is a huge issue for you. Questioning what I suggest is one way this is expressed. Breaking down my words and the meanings and trying to find the botXXXXX XXXXXne- what you can trust and what you can't- is only a way to gain control over the situation. Your parents taught you that you cannot trust yourself or others. So you accept that unless it can be proven to you, then it can't be trusted.

 

It is clear from the energy you are putting into refuting everything that you are terrified.
I am here for you. I know you are hurting and I will not leave. You keep searching for the reasons you chose to do what you did. You are not going to find them. At some point, accepting that you did the best you could is your only choice. Self-blame, self-destruction and self-abuse are not going to help you heal. You are only finishing the job they started, mostly out of guilt.

When I tell you that you are not guilty you are convinced it's wrong. And there is no way to convince you otherwise. You will not accept that this happened, you are not at fault, and that you can move on. It's taken over your life and convinced you that you are not worthy of being loved. But your value is not based on what happened to you. It is on what God says you are. Loved. That cannot be changed. You are trying to pay a debt of wrong (yours for allowing this) that has no payment. The only payment that will satisfy you seems to be accepting total responsibility for this or even your death that day.


You are angry and you feel broken and you are using your intellect to tell you that you are worthless. I am telling you all the things that you know are right but cannot accept. This helps you transfer your anger on to me instead of where it should go, which is with the attackers. You seem less angry at them than anyone else, especially yourself. But pushing me away won't make your feelings go away. They will still be there until you accept them.


As a Christian, you know God loves you. And you know that God does not fault you for what happened. He loves you and wants you to feel better. Pray he opens your heart and lets you heal. Accept that He loves you and he does not want you to hurt yourself through self blame and hatred. He wants only the best for you and for you to love yourself as He loves you. And God cannot be refuted.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Wow. Ouch.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

What does ouch mean to you?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Truth hurts, I guess. But I am glad you are being straightforward with me.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay, I just want to help. You are in pain and it's obvious that you want to feel better. Some of the defenses you are using are preventing you from getting there. You do not deserve what you are putting yourself through by trying to prove you are at fault. You deserve to be free of your past and to have a happy life. And I want to be here for you to help you get there.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I know, Kate, and I really do appreciate you. You are a blessing to me.

 

The emotional consequences of my not being at fault for any of it and my not having a choice in any of it seem enormous.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, ShayLaughing

 

I understand. You bring me to tears just with your acknowledgment of how enormous it does feel to you. You are going against your life long belief that you are responsible for everything that happens to you and especially everything you do. This was drilled into you and became part of you. Undoing that belief and asking you to accept you were not at fault brings up all the consequences and fear you would have had if you had done that with your parents. It's instinctual to do what you are trained to do, blame yourself.

 

And the thought that you had no control may even be more terrifying. Control over yourself is very important to you, as it is for anyone. But even more is the thought that you can lose control over your own life. But it is a fear that you share with everyone. No one wants to think of those things. No one wants to be at the mercy of someone else, especially when the intent is to kill you. That is a very unsettling and frightening realization. Accepting that you felt that way and you still got through it can help you see how strong you were. But only one step at a time. You can't just suddenly believe this about yourself.

 

If you can let me help you, we can get through this together. You can trust me. I will not be perfect. I'd be the first one to admit that! But I also mean you no harm. I want to help.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Kate,

 

I know you mean me no harm. But sometimes it is easier to fight with you or to try to rationalize away what you say than to accept what you say.

 

I feel like my chest caved in just thinking about the prospect of all this and what it might mean. I guess you were right. I am terrified. This is the second time this week I'm sitting here crying at my desk, and I can't help it, and I don't want things to stay this way.

 

What do I need to do first? I don't think I can handle big steps at the beginning. Can we start with baby steps?

 

Shay

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
By the way -- is your real name Kate, or do you have to use a different name on the internet?
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay, baby steps are just fine.

 

Yes, it is easier to fight your way through. And I understand your fear. You want to know that it is safe and that you will be ok. I can tell you that it is. You are in good hands with Linda and Dr. M. P cares about you and I do as well. What happens as you work your way through may not be perfect or feel good, but the more open you are with how you feel, the more genuine it will be. And trust is part of it. Letting us help you will give you what you need to work through what you feel, find the peace you are looking for and to leave the past behind.

 

Keeping your guard up protects you but it also does not allow the good stuff in. And so far, that is what you have doing. You are hurt, Shay. Protecting yourself is normal. But there also comes a time when you need to think about letting the shield down and accepting the pain, the help and the tears. You cannot heal if you are always picking the wound open. That is what happens when you live your life through the attack and you blame yourself. It's keeping the wound open.

 

I am sorry that you have to face this. It makes me feel like crying when I think of what you suffer with. Crying is ok for you to do. Tough to do at work, but it's good and cathartic. Remember just a few months ago that you were wrestling with whether or not you could cry. Now you allow the tears and it's good.

 

We can start with focusing on what you feel. It will help you move forward if you practice asking yourself as often as you can "How do I feel right now?". Checking with yourself can help you develop the habit of being aware of your feelings. The more aware you are, the easier it is for them to become part of you.

 

JA doesn't allow us to talk about personal information in our posts (it can be blocked out if it's noticed). What makes this information important to you? Really think about that and let me know what you come up with.


Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I guess it is important to me because I am supposed to trust you, and I don't even know who I'm talking to. I'm sure you are a woman, I'm sure you are qualified, and you are probably the age you said. But I don't know who you are, really. And you know a TON of personal stuff about me. I understand why JA doesn't allow personal info. I also think it is a good idea not to post too much personal info, because I would imagine being in your field, and especially doing this online, really leaves you open to stalkers and such. You need to protect yourself and your family. I also understand that in therapy, the therapist is not supposed to share personal info, although Linda does all the time, actually. I probably know a lot more about her than I should, but a lot of it is because she answers the questions I ask her.

It just feels weird knowing that your name might not even be Kate. And it also makes me curious to know if your name is XXXXX XXXXX why did you choose to use that name on JA? I didn't ask what your real name was - I just wanted to know if Kate was your real name.

As far as what I am feeling, right now I feel so overwhelmed and upset that I can't really pick out anything. Except tired and upset.

S

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

Trust is one of the central issues for you. And there is nothing wrong with that because of what you have been through. Your trust was broken as a child. You were mistreated by your parents and siblings. You were told to mistrust what you felt and what you thought and that your perception was wrong. This has had a profound affect on you and your ability to trust your own judgment and trust the intentions of others.

 

It is scary to share yourself with someone you do not know face to face. You want to be sure you can trust me. We are starting to talk about some very deep issues. And we are talking about you dropping your defenses with me. This probably triggers some deep seated fears for you. What do you fear I will do if I know all about you and you do not know all about me? What do you feel I will do?

 

You are right, the therapeutic relationship is more of a one way street when it comes to personal information. But it's the only way to prevent our lives affecting the people we work with. And it helps prevent a person from getting to involved with the therapist rather than their own issues.

 

JA does thoroughly check out the experts credentials and personal information. And I have been truthful with you. My age, my picture and my degrees are all real. And there is nothing on the internet about me because that is the way I keep it so I can protect my family. Also, because it is part of my ethical code to always remain professional even in my personal life. So I cannot give out personal information in a public forum. I do not have a Facebook account, give opinions on anything or participate in any forum that could change a person's opinion of me as a therapist.

 

At some point, you will need to look at our relationship over the past few months and decide for yourself if you feel you can trust me. It is a stepping stone for you. All I can do is reassure you that I have no intention of hurting you. And I can help you learn to trust again. You have to do the rest.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It occurred to me a little bit ago that I didn't really want to know -- it would change the way I feel about ths whole thing. I tried to post that to you, but it didn't post and I got a message saying that somebody has posted ahad of me, because you had apparently just posted your reply. I will just ignore it and call you Kate.

 

I don't think you will do anything with my info or anything -- but it feels a little uncomfortable to me for the other person in any kind of friendship, professional relationship or any kind of relationship to have all of the information and therefore, the power. I think that's why I ask Linda a lot of questions about her. But I can see what you say about it interfering with therapy -- I do notice that I take certain things Linda has told me into account when I tell her something, and it was perhaps easier when I saw her as a blank slate (I don't mean to imply I didn't see her as a person).

 

Trust is difficult. But I trust P totally. I also trust Linda. And I trust Dr. M to the point I need to. I just haven't spent a lot of time with her. I don't totally trust C, although I do to a certain point, and trust him more than pretty much everyone else.

 

I think I trust you --- I mean, I have already trusted you with a lot. I never felt like you were trying to hurt me. It's just that doubts creep up, and I am feeling really vulnerable, I guess, with the thought of stripping away these "defenses," and it panics me a bit.

 

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Oh yeah - and I know you are a Christian. That helps a lot. I will trust you, Kate. Just please don't leave me in the middle, hurting.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

The therapeutic relationship is difficult with trust issues. You want to know about the therapist because it is easier to make a judgment about them.

 

Plus the fear of getting hurt is strong. But you can get hurt even with people you think you trust. This happens in marriages all the time. One of the partners is blindsided with an affair. Trust goes away and the marriage is in big trouble. You have had your trust taken away as well through your childhood with people you were supposed to be able to trust and through the attack. Rebuilding your trust is important.

 

You also have to trust your own judgment, Shay. Regardless of what your parents told you, you can trust yourself. Some of your beliefs and perceptions have been affected by what your parents did and the pain you went through, but overall you make good choices in friends and your therapist (and psychiatrist). You are trusted by others as well.

 

It's scary to let go and let your defenses down. But like you said, we are going to do this slowly. Anytime you feel you need to back off, say so. It's ok to take time to think things over. And tell me when you feel afraid. It's ok to say I don't feel safe.

 

I will not leave you. As long as JA doesn't go down again (!) I will be here. I will let you know when I cannot be here, like a seminar or going out of town. That way, you know when to post again.

 

And being Christians does help us bond. The love of the Lord and all He can do to heal you is vital to your recovery. I pray for you that you will find healing and peace from what you have suffered. All things are possible to those who believe!

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5402
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Okay then. Embarassed

Since it is okay to tell you when I am afraid --- I am afraid. This is so scary, and I'm upset that I'm so scared, especially after all this time.

I will try to keep asking myself what I am feeling periodically. Do I keep a log or something? What if I am feeling a bunch of stuff?

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It is ok to be afraid. It is scary to face how you feel and share it with someone. I know how you feel. And I am here for you.

 

You can keep a journal if you want to and if you feel it will help. Or you can just check in with yourself. The goal is to make you more aware of your feelings. You do not have to do anything with them.

 

It's ok to feel a lot of emotions at the same time. It's also ok to not know what you are feeling. Sometimes it is confusing. As long as you know when to take a step back, it's fine.

 

Allow your feelings to be. And remind yourself that you are safe and that you are ok.

 

I will be out tonight. If you post, I will get back to you but it might be late.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks, Kate. I need to think about a lot, so I'm not sure if I will be posting again today or not. For the rest of the work day, I need to calm down. And I guess whether I post later depends on how I feel and if I have questions.

 

I hope you have a good time tonight! My big plans are to watch the new muppet movie (I am a huge muppet fan) and sleep! I have a really busy day tomorrow and seem to be getting less and less slee each night, so a good night's sleep would be excellent. :)

 

 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

I did have a good time tonight, thank you! I visited my sister who I don't get to see too often because she is nurse and works crazy hours. We had pizza and caught up with each other.

 

I loved the new Muppet Movie! Animal is my favorite, though I have a soft spot for Kermit. And the guys in the balcony are funny as heck. I hope you enjoyed it.

 

I'll be checking in tomorrow in case you need to talk.

 

Good night,

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I just got home from work, so I'm not sure I can stay awake to watch the movie. I've been looking forward to it. You should get the DVDs for the first season of the muppet show (1976). Reminds me of watching it when I was younger. I like Animal as well, more so since I started playing the drums. They put a picture of animal playing drums on my 40th birthday cake last year. It was cute. I'm also a fozzy/Kermit fan. And love the Fraggles, too, although I haven't seen them in forever. Have you seen Emmit Otter's Jugband Christmas? Muppets and a little John Denver music, too. Can't go wrong.

I'm glad you had a good time tonight. I'll check in with you tomorrow, but I have a banjo lesson, choir practice and a 3 year old's birthday party, so not sure when. I am so excited for the birthday party. It's for my legal assistant's daughter, who I adore. She calls me "aunt Shay" and if her mom gets her out of the nursery early and brings her into church, she will run up on the stage thing when we're sing the ending song and jump into my arms. Melts my heart. Ever sinc she saw me play the drums, she's been telling her mom she wants to play. So her mom let me buy her a drum set for her birthday. It's actually a pretty decent set, but it's really small and pink. I got her a little drum throne and little sticks and it has a bass drum, snare, Tom and cymbal. I can't wait till she sees it! She is so cute, and is a little spitfire. I've also discovered she will mimic anything anyone does, so I try to be careful :). .
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

I remember Emmit Otter's Jugband Christmas, but can't recall if I saw it. But I do love John Denver so I need to make it a point to see it soon! I recently saw on Netflix that you can watch the Fraggles through on line streaming. I was quite tempted.....

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My kids want me to buy the new Muppets movie but I think we'll rent it again to be sure. We saw it at the movies when it came out and really liked it.

 

Three year old's are so adorable. I just love when they are that age. They are so wide open with their feelings and just pour the love out. Please let me know what happens when she sees her drum set. What a nice "Aunt Shay" you are! She is going to love it.

 

Have fun tomorrow,

 

Kate

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