Advice for Therapists From a Medical Child Abuse Survivor

Personal Narrative | 0 comments

To well-meaning therapists,

I was a victim of severe medical child abuse, but it has taken me over 20 years to even start to feel anger at my abuser (my mother). Obviously there are a lot of complexities to this kind of abuse and her being my mum, and also her being sick my whole life have made it very hard for me to see her as an abuser and me as a victim, but there are things that happened throughout my therapies, and the way medical child abuse has been termed that have made it so difficult.

Here is what I found has not helped. Maybe it will help and be beneficial after being able to feel the pain, but all this stopped me from letting myself be angry.

  1. The term Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome. This has recently changed to Medical Child Abuse, and because of this I now view myself as being abused by a perpetrator, rather than someone having an illness. The original term made it all about the abuser, and the victim was just the “proxy” so that’s all I became. I saw the abuser as someone with a disorder who could not help what they did to me.
  2. I have had past therapists call my mother “that poor woman” and spent the time trying to unpack my mother’s upbringing that led her to abuse me. Again, this positioned her as “a victim” and while she may have been, I was the victim in what she did to me. So much focus was placed on why she did what she did, which made me think I forgave her, just because I felt bad if I didn’t. This never allowed me to really work through my pain (still doing that), so I was never able to heal. Again, this may be important in healing, but was not the way that worked for me. If you don’t do this when working with a sexual abuse victim, why do you do it when working with someone who has been physically abused by a parent?
  3. Similar to #1, but focusing so much on them having a syndrome as to why they did it. Yes, it explains it, but does it excuse it? When working with victims of Medical Child Abuse please remember that they are the victim. Most of us were under 5 years old when most of our abuse happened. While I understand that you may be trying to get us to see that we were not to blame for this, try work on doing that without getting us to also see the abuser as a victim.

I hope this can help you when working with victims like myself. Of course, we are all different, and my experiences and what I need will differ, but please remember that without realising we are a victim, we can not heal.

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