Woman angry at family for ignoring trauma
DEAR ABBY: At the age of 15 I was raped by my first boyfriend. It’s how I lost my virginity. Shortly afterward, I became severely depressed and bulimic. I blocked my trauma until 11 years later, when I had a flashback. I sought out a therapist and have been seeing him for the past six months.
I feel so much resentment and anger toward my family for not having helped me through this difficult time. They didn’t know about the rape, but they knew about my eating disorder, and I’m sure they must have noticed my depressed mood. They simply looked the other way, and I was offered no help whatsoever.
I am angry with my mother especially, because she has always been detached and critical of me. I’m afraid to tell her what happened for fear of being blamed. She has now been diagnosed with cancer, and I’m afraid she’ll die before I get the courage to tell her. What can I do? — ANGRY IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ANGRY: It might be helpful to look more carefully at the reasons why you are angry with your family. It’s unfair to blame them for not recognizing something they were never told. It is not uncommon for teenagers to withdraw to some extent in order to establish their own identities, apart from their parents. Your parents may have thought that was what you were doing.
As to your eating disorder, I remember a time in the not-too-distant past when little was known about anorexia and bulimia. It wasn’t until after the death of recording artist Karen Carpenter that media attention focused on how serious and life-threatening an eating disorder could be.
This is not to excuse your mother for her inability to be the parent you needed while growing up. It’s important that you work with your therapist on how to talk to her about all of your feelings. It shouldn’t be done in an accusatory manner, and you should have no fear of being blamed for your rape. It wasn’t your fault that you were assaulted, and no one should be able to make you feel guilty for having been a victim — not even your mother — who, I am sure, will be shocked by your revelation.
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