How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Shana Parsons Your Own Question
Shana Parsons
Shana Parsons, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 13
Experience:  Masters Degree, 8 mos shy of PHD and a license to practice in TX (in process of full licensure)
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Shana Parsons is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

A woman in her early forties has confided in me that she

Customer Question

A woman in her early forties has confided in me that she endured 7 years of extreme sexual abuse, as a child, at the hands of an older relative and his friends. She feels that she must have been to blame, feels totally responsible for the relative's suicide, and has been cutting herself in an effort to "cut out the dirty parts of her" ever since. She is also grossly overweight, as a result of her self hatred, fear of men and sex, etc. I'm old enough to be her mother and I'm not a qualified psychiatrist. Her parents are very wealthy and could afford the best of care if they knew, but she is deathly afraid of disappointing them. Should I encourage her to open up to parents and close friends so she can get the help she needs, although she is totally resistant to that idea at present. I think she needs the very best of care if she is to be able to have any quality of life in he future.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Shana Parsons replied 8 years ago.
First and foremost, you must reinforce over and over to her that what happened IS NOT HER FAULT.
She is in no way to blame for what happened to her. Period. Or for anyone else's behaviors (suicide).
It will take her awhile to probably realize this herself but her shame about what happened can really prevent her from getting help and healing from this trauma.

second, asking her to open up to her family is VERY RISKY considering it was a family member who abused her. Find out if she thinks her family will believe and support her in getting help. Whatever her answer, you must respect it.
You say she is in her early forties, why does her family need to know in order for her to get initial help?
can she pay for counseling or treatment on her own?
However, if she is in danger of hurting herself or someone else, she will need immediate care. Dont hesitate to call 911 if you think her cutting is endangering her life.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
She has a very menial job, despite the fact that she is college educated and highly qualified for professional status. She did work in Boston for a few years, professionally, and then felt that she needed to return home. She has lived both alone and with her parents, in alternating cycles. The family member in question was a step uncle of her mother's, only a few years older than the mother, who had been in trouble, apparently lived with his mother and a great deal of access to the individual in question. Parents have been trying to make daughter more independent, realize that she has problems but don't know what they are. Daughter is extremely fragile, emotionally, and even in her early forties is devastatingly afraid of disappointing her parents by having them know how "dirty" she is. I have used every way I can think of to convince her that nothing that happened was her fault but she steadfastly refuses to believe it. I think she needs serious help and I know that the parents would pay for the best if she were ever to tell them. I just happened to be there, waiting for a musical program that we were all to be in, when I walked into the kitchen area as she was having a series of panic attacks and she told me, even though I think she is sorry, now, that she ever actually told anyone. I told her that the time must have been right for her to begin talking about it and to begin healing. She does call now, and e-mail me, but It's always about how much she hates herself, how "dirty" and "worthless" she is, etc. All of this has happened since Sunday afternoon -- just three days ago.
Expert:  Shana Parsons replied 8 years ago.
HOw lucky she is to have you!
Could she just tell her parents she needs help without saying why?
If she is ashamed of them knowing she can still get the help without telling them exactly what it is, or she could say "i'm not ready to talk about that yet"

Is her cutting deep or superficial?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I don't know about the cutting, as I've never seen it. All she said is that she's been cutting since she was fourteen, that it's "where no one would ever see it," and that she's trying to get rid of "the disgusting and dirty parts" but that they're always still there. She also said that she's afraid to go to sleep because in the last few years she's relived the whole experience with the uncle and his friends every time she goes to sleep. Apparently her uncle was alone quite often but he would often stay with her and her younger brother on weekends, when the parents were away, and he would send the younger brother off to spend the weekend with the grandmother or with one of the brother's friends. Then, in her own words, "His friends would come over, they'd have a party and I'd be the entertainment!" She said she could often feel that she was outside her body, looking down on what was going on and trying not to feel anything. She can't even make herself see a gynecologist because the experience is so terrifying.
Expert:  Shana Parsons replied 8 years ago.
YEah. what she describes is dissociation...common for people who experience trauma.
Would she be open to getting treatment that didn't involve talking about it first?
Then maybe she could get more comfortable with the counselor and then open up about it.

There are two treatments i know of that she could try.. One is EMDR which is commonly used for Trauma, esp war veterans, etc.
There is also neurofeedback.
But whatever she decides she does need someone who specializes in the treatment of sexual abuse.
Does she know that 1/3 women is sexually abused in her lifetime?
and 1 /5 men
and that's just what is reported.. maybe that statistic will help her feel less alone.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I'll get this information to her and hope for the best. I'll try to find out some information about counselors in her area (Old Lyme, CT) who specialize in sexual abuse and talk it all over with her. I doubt that she knows thise staggering abuse statistics. I did not realize, myself, that it was that widespread and I taught school for 31 years and dealt with several childhood sexual abuse cases. I'll pass on the information about EDMR and neurofeedback. Thanks.
Expert:  Shana Parsons replied 8 years ago.
Your'e very welcome I hope this helps!!
Good luck!
Shana Parsons and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Many, many thanks to Shana. This was my first time using JustAnswer but I am very impresssed and I will definitely be back again.

Expert:  Shana Parsons replied 8 years ago.
AW. You are so welcome.
Hope this helps you.
Good luck!!