Stepdad Molested Me

Published: April 03, 2013
Dear Stepdad Molested Me,

I really don't know what to think. For about a year when I was 12-13 (when I started puberty, really), my stepdad began molesting me during "massages" at night. They started out totally innocent, when I was like ten. I was closer to him than any of my siblings were, even when he started giving my sister "massages", too. He wouldn't do this for my brothers because he said it was "gay". I know legally he's supposed to be at fault, but wasn't it at least partly mine? I was old enough to tell him to stop or push him off or protest at all. I mean, I just laid there. I was really ashamed of it, and at first I just didn't think about it and lived in denial for the year it went on. It felt wrong, but I wanted everything to be normal. I just wanted a normal family. When my younger sister expressed feeling weird about the massages (although not to the same degree as me - she hadn't started puberty yet), I couldn't ignore it, and eventually moved in with my dad, and spent another year avoiding my stepdad and openly hating him. It got to be too much, though. I was having flashbacks and feeling sick inside, and I ended up confiding in my cousin, who convinced me to tell my mom. My mom didn't believe me(she thought I was lying, then decided I was delusional, then decided I'd told myself a lie so many times I thought it was true), my cousin called CPS, and they did an investigation. They decided (largely due to the fact that my sister went back on everything she had previously told me, that he didn't molest his (biological)daughters, that my mom is a generally sane person, and because by some miracle (I thought I was being strong) I managed to choke through the story tear-free) that I was lying (even though I have a history of being truthful). Granted, I did at first tell them I was only halfway-conscious. My stepdad now lives in the house I grew up in with my mother and siblings, and I no longer even have a bedroom there. I see him every time I go with my dad to pick up my siblings, and he makes sure he's around, and I HATE him. There's no way to describe something like that in writing. My parents get mad at me because I tell him to f*** off whenever he talks to me, and I'm rude and disrespectful to and about him. I don't know what to do! It's been a year and a half since I first came out with this, and I know I don't want to kill myself. That won't ever change; I've already experienced rock bottom. And I know that this is "normal" for people who have been sexually abused and/or assaulted, but I always feel...just gross inside, filthy. I have dreams where he's touching me again. It feels like he's all over me, and I know that's supposed to be part of the territory, but I can't make those feelings go away. And what kind of a person must I be, to have my own mother not believe me? Did I do something wrong? Honestly, is there just something inherently wrong with me as a person? How do I fix it? It's like I'm unlovable, and not just that; I don't deserve to be loved anyway. I can't confide in anyone, because not only do I not trust anybody; who would believe me if I did? The one thing I look forward to is college. I'm getting out of this state, starting a new life, and most importantly forgetting about this one. But I'm still a junior in high school. I don't know how to keep dealing with this until then.

Dear Stepdad Molested Me,

TeenHealthFX is very sorry to hear that you were sexually abused by your stepfather. This kind of abuse is very difficult to deal with, to say the least. And, as you are currently experiencing, it can have some lasting effects on our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. What made your ordeal even worse is that you story was questioned when you came out with what happened to you, and you didn’t feel like you had the support and protection you needed from your loved ones. FX imagines that some of the anger you are feeling has to do with what your stepfather directly did to you, but also that you have not been believed, that you have had to go this alone, and that you have had to watch him basically get away with what he did.

FX would like to start by making it perfectly clear that what your stepfather did was in no way your fault. He is 100% responsible for molesting you. Your stepfather was bigger than you, stronger than you, and in an authoritative position in your life. You were a child, still developing emotionally, socially and cognitively. And it sounds like you were afraid of what coming out with this information would do to you and the family (which is a normal and understandable thing for any child in your position). So to blame yourself in any way is definitely an unfair and overly harsh position to take. FX invites you to have some kindness and compassion for yourself in terms of understanding the position you were in and to recognize that you are in no way to blame for this.

FX would also like to say that your mother choosing not to believe you is not a statement about an issue with you, but rather a statement about an issue with her. For whatever reason she needs to believe that your stepfather is innocent. FX obviously doesn’t know your mother well enough to know why, but clearly there is something she would have to do or deal with that would be intolerable for her if she were to believe your story. While her inability to believe you is understandably hurtful to you, it does not mean that anything is wrong with you or that you are an unlovable person in any way.

FX thinks that it would be incredibly helpful for you to meet with a reputable therapist, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist, who has experience in working with people who have been sexually abused. For one thing, it is important that you have a safe, private space where you can tell your story and sort through your emotions without feeling like you are being judged or like you are not telling the truth. A therapist can help you to work through the hurt and anger you feel, as well as to address some of the negative self-beliefs that have formed over the years. In addition, your therapist can work with you on how to handle some of the strained relationships with your family members, particularly with your mother. FX understands that it will be hard for you to open up to a therapist because of trust issues that have come up for you. Your stepfather molesting you impacted your trust of others, but so did the fact that nobody believed your story. Given that this is an issue, FX thinks that it is important to find a therapist who you find to be warm and non-judgmental and that you start with this issue of trust with him/her right away.

FX can appreciate that there will be a certain relief for you in going off to college and separating yourself from some of the people who have been so hurtful to you. But keep in mind that you take your feelings and self-beliefs with you wherever you go – and that is why FX thinks that therapy can be so helpful to you. There is nothing “inherently wrong” with you, but we do feel like you could use some support and guidance in dealing with the understandable impact that these negative experiences have had on you. That way when you do go off to college, this new chapter will have an even better chance of truly being more of a clean slate for you.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

You can also contact the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), 24 hours, 7days a week for help and information. You can search for a local counseling center on their website or use their online hotline.