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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4486
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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2 Years ago I was physically and verbally abused in a

Resolved Question:

2 Years ago I was physically and verbally abused in a sexual way by my brother in law. The effect it has had on both myself and my marriage has been devastating. My husband spent the first year defending his brother. My mother in law stopped all contact with me. At the time of the assault I was supporting my suicidal son. My physical health has broken down and I have ended up leaving my job. There has never been any acknowledgment or apology for their behavior. I have tried so hard to get my husband to understand my pain... I am so angry with myself that I am ashamed to say I have been hurting myself. My mother in law said It shouldn't have affected me and to forget it. I was depressed, what did I do wrong?

Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 10 months ago.

Dr. Z. :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z. :

I am so sorry that his happened to you, I cannot imagine the hurt you must have felt and still feel after this trauma.

Dr. Z. :

So first off I have to say that you did nothing wrong at all, no one deserves to be abused in a sexual way and I am sorry that it happened to you. Also your husband, a man who is supposed to be your closest ally, sided with your brother and so did your mother in law. They did not acknowledge your feelings and what you were going through, so this felt like you were being traumatized again.

Dr. Z. :

I understand that you feel angry with yourself and ashamed, but this is called self-blame and occurs after traumas like this because you think part of it was your fault. In addition, your mother in law says to forget about it and your husband has not been as supportive as he should be causes you to feel more shame and self-blame. But this is not the case, you never deserved this and this was not your choice, your brother in law chose to assault you

Dr. Z. :

I understand that you have been reading books on depression and marriage guidance, but I actually think you are going through something called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It resembles depression in many ways, but it has other added effects of anxiety as well. Here is a good link explaining the symptoms of PTSD in more detail for you.

Dr. Z. :

I also think your symptoms are very severe if you are hurting yourself, so I think you need an ally through this and I would like to recommend that you see a therapist and possibly see your medical care doctor for a prescription of anti-depressant medication. I believe this will help you because at this point you feel alone through this, and you do not have to be alone. There are people out there to help you and be on your side.

Dr. Z. :

I am not sure what books you have read yet, but I do think these two books are excellent in helping individuals with techniques to manager and treat their PTSD symptoms.

Dr. Z. :

I see that you are online right now, so please if you have any questions or concerns you are more than welcome to respond at anytime.

Dr. Z. :

So just to reiterate, what happened to you was definitely wrong and this was in no way your fault. I am sorry that your husband and mother in law have not been supportive of you and essentially re-traumatizing you by dismissing your feelings. I think because these PTSD symptoms have been chronic and that you have been hurting yourself means that you should find a therapist to talk to you and help you through this. Also a therapist will be a great ally and someone on your side, which is something you need right now. I also think that because therapy is a gradual process of treatment, the use of psychotropic medication, namely an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications can be beneficial to you and help lessen your symptoms within a few weeks and can make therapy more beneficial to you. So I would urge you to see your doctor as soon as you can for the medication and possibly a referral to a good therapist near you.

Dr. Z. :

I see that you are offline right now, but when you get back online I would be very interested in continuing this discussion with you and talking about anything further you would like to share regarding your concern, so if you respond in the chat box I will be able to get back to you as soon as possible.

Customer:

Sorry, I've had technical difficulties! Thankyou so much for your reply. I broke down as it was such a relief to hear what you

Customer:

had to say as I thought I was going mad!

Dr. Z. :

Its okay, technical issues happen

Dr. Z. :

You are definitely not going mad, what happened to you was a traumatic event and definitely not your fault at all. You should not blame yourself for what happened, this was not your choice and no one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted.

Customer:

The actual assault was more physical... it was the verbal assault that was sexual. I haven't had anything to do with him since but the event seems to be on a video and it has replayed in my head over and over. I can be ok for a while but as soon as hes around again it plays again. All I ever wanted was for my husband to tell his brother to respect me. Its taken a long time for him to even talk to him about it.... and has involved him drinking with him which I felt as a betrayal.

Dr. Z. :

I am sorry that you had to go through this, and even a physical assault should still never happen and you definitely do not deserve that as well. The video replaying feeling you are having are called flashbacks and those are symptoms of PTSD.

Dr. Z. :

I agree that your husband has betrayed in an emotional way by going out to drink with his brother and not standing up for you to his brother.

Customer:

I have been with my husband for 31 years and there has only ever been him. But as the attack happened in front of my son, I found myself having to explain to him.... and there are some things your children should not need to know. It didn't help that at the time I was supporting him through a very bad patch so had to stay strong. I'm angry because I never stood up for myself as at the time I didn't have the energy. Thankfully my son recovered, then just as I thought things would be ok the depression hit and my health suffered.

Dr. Z. :

I understand the feeling of blaming yourself for possibly not standing up for yourself, but at the same time that does not excuse your brother in law's behavior and that this was not your choice. I am sorry that this happened in front of your son, but I am glad that he has recovered as well. I think because you have had these chronic symptoms for awhile, it would be wise to see a therapist and just talk to someone and get that strong support you deserve.

Customer:

Thankyou very much for your time. When I lost connection I was inspired to pick up the phone to make contact with a therapist. This is something I have considered for some time and my husband is keen for me to do. Many thanks.....

Dr. Z. :

Anytime, is there anything else I can do for you?

Customer:

NO thankyou, I am so glad I stumbled across the site.... I intend to be pro active now. Again.... thankyou!!

Dr. Z. :

I am glad that I was able to help you, I wish you the best of luck with your healing. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Dr. Z. :

Before you sign off though, I would very much appreciate if you could rate my performance in helping you so that I can get credit for this question. Thank you very much

Customer:

Will do.....I've been trying to rate but my screen won't co operate. I'll keep trying :)

Dr. Z. :

No worries, these technical glitches happen sometimes :)

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4486
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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