Why am I still hanging on?

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I was sexually abused from the ages of 8 until 12 by an ex-stepfather. I was forced into so many activities and roles I didn’t want to take place in. I told my mom what had happened when I was almost 13 and we had gone to court. After months of switching lawyers and prosecuting attorneys, he was sentenced to five years of prison time and 25-year probation. The way the prison system worked where he was at counted 1 day of “good behavior” as 2 days, which cut his prison sentence in half to 2.5 years instead of 5. I was also in an abusive relationship about 2 years ago. He was trusting at first but then he also forced me into things I didn’t want to do. I am scared to see my ex-boyfriend out of fear, I’m terrified of what he would do to me if he could. I am also terrified of what my ex-stepfather would do if he ever saw me again. I am now 18 and I am in college, but I am still filled with images and memories of the abuse. Why can’t I let it go? I want it all to stop.

I have been through 2 different therapists and I am currently meeting with a new one, although she doesn’t seem to be very helpful. My new therapist compares my trauma to hers, which makes it seem like she is trying to one-up me with abuse and it doesn’t feel like a healthy therapy session. I stay awake at night traumatized with nightmares and scenes in my head that won’t stop. My mom had a child with my ex-stepfather so now every time I look at my little brother, all I can see is his father. 

I’m sorry this is really long, but I just want all these memories to stop. I don’t want to be attached to these memories anymore. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Sammie101 Volunteer

    Hello missnoname,

    Thank you for having the courage to share your trauma with us, it really is a powerful step, and I hope it helps your healing process. Firstly, I am so sorry you had to experience any of this at all, from both your ex and your step-father. I am glad you were confident enough to seek therapy, but have you considered switching therapists? It’s wrong for her to bring up her own trauma, and the sessions should be about YOU, not anyone else. When you have someone who will listen only, it will probably help more. You are not alone though, and you can always reach out to us here, love.

  2. Leximcclelland Volunteer

    Hello missnoname,
    Thank you for coming to us at AVFTI, it takes a lot of courage to start talking about trauma.
    I’m a bit late, so I really hope you are doing well now. You deserve to feel comfortable and safe. Please seek help with the authorities if you ever feel in danger.
    Don’t be afraid to make yourself and having a healthy, productive therapy session the priority. You deserve to come from therapy feeling like you’re healthier and happier and making progress towards healing, and if your current therapist doesn’t provide this it’s okay to find a new one.
    I hope you’re doing well and had a good holiday.

    – Lexi mcclelland

  3. eagle206 Volunteer

    Hi missnoname,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. We are all here for you. I’m sorry to hear about all that your ex-stepfather and your abusive ex put you through. Its really hard to let something that big go, even as you get older. I’m glad you’re currently seeing a therapist. Maybe your therapist is just trying to relate to you and show you she understands how you are feeling. Everyone’s experience is different but she might feel that by sharing her story with you, you can see how she may be able to help you work through things. Talking things through with your mum might also help since she knew your ex and ex-stepfather she might have some insight on how to work past this.

    Stay strong,


  4. Jordan Volunteer

    Dear missnoname,

    I am so sorry that you have had to experience these traumatic events at such a young age and leading into your adulthood… I can’t imagine how difficult it has made things for you regarding school, exams, etc. you know, all the basic college level stressed stuff. Therapy can a lot of the times be trial and error, you really have to find that person that is going to mesh well with you. I will say, it does seem a bit unprofessional for a therapist to be talking about their experiences with you. That can quickly turn into that it is about them and not you, I am sure that is not the intention, for she is probably just trying to relate to you? But it does not come across that way. Telemedicine is a growing industry, have you ever tried the app Better Help? I know that this is a well recognized one, but to my understanding you sign up and then you pay a monthly fee, but then you are able to either video chat or IM with a professional multiple times throughout the month. Perhaps this could be something worth checking out?

    What are some things that really make you happy or just feel good in general? You gotta remember to take care of yourself in these difficult situations, for it can be easy to let our thoughts and memories take away from how we should be feeling in the present. Self care is super important <3 But remember, you are strong and you will get through this. You deserve a happy, healthy life, and you will get that <3 Sending you many hugs.

    – Jordan

  5. colton95 Volunteer

    I am really sorry for what happened to you. You did not deserve to go through all those horrible and traumatic events. If you really don’t like your therapist, you can choose not to meet with her anymore and seek a new therapist if that’s what you want to do. I really hope that you will stay strong. Feel free to reach out to anyone here at avfti if you need to vent and get something off your chest. Everyone here cares for your well-being and wants to see you be okay!

  6. mikaylaanne11 Volunteer

    Hi missnoname,

    Thank you for coming and finding a space to share this story. I hope that sharing your truth helped to ease your mind a little bit. You haven’t deserved to have these experiences. We believe you and support you on this healing journey.

    I think that it’s very common for survivors like ourselves to experience nightmares, flashbacks, and similar anxiety-inducing experiences. I’m glad that you’ve been seeing therapists to try to work through those experiences. It is unfortunate that your current therapist seems to be trying to one-up you. I had a therapist like that and, although I knew she was just trying to relate with me, I had to find a different one. It can sometimes be exhausting and stressful to find another therapist, of course. However, I think that would be worth your time. Finding a therapist that you click with really can make all the difference in the world!

    We’re here for you any time you want to share your thoughts. Remember to be patient with yourself. You’re doing the best you can right now, even if it doesn’t feel like it!

  7. Erin Kaileen Volunteer

    Hi missnoname,

    I can completely relate to the therapist aspect, it’s completely okay to not connected with a certain therapist. Have you talked to the office about a possible switch? I know that’s what i had to do before I found one I fully trusted and felt heard with.
    Regarding the abuse, it’s okay to be afraid you just can’t let that fear control you. Maybe if you feel safer possibly getting a restraining order against you ex-stepfather just to be sure he won’t bother you. As for the ex-boyfriend I can also relate to that, but what helped me was realizing how big the world is and that i really won’t see them again unless either intentionally or where we were from/met.
    You are a strong woman, I can tell that about you. Don’t ever give up, you are going to do great things.

    We are always here for you!

  8. Jevati Volunteer

    Hi missnoname,

    I’m glad you felt ready to come here and talk to us about the things you’ve been through. What your ex-stepfather and ex-boyfriend did was awful. Nothing they did was your fault, missnoname. You didn’t deserve the horrible things they did to you, and there’s nothing wrong with you.

    It can be really tough to know that you went through all of that with your ex-stepfather (the lawyers, the court stuff, all that time) only for him to have his sentence cut in half. It can feel so frustrating and panicky, because you hoped you’d have more time before he was out. I hope you have caring, supportive people who believe in you (and of course *we* believe in you!) and are able to be there for you and help you sort through your feelings about the court process and your ex-boyfriend.

    Therapists can be wonderful, but they can also be awful. It’s pretty common for people to have to go to multiple different therapists before they find someone who is a good fit. I say that just so that you know: it’s not you. There’s nothing wrong with you. Sometimes therapists are just bad (they shouldn’t be in that line of work) and sometimes they’re okay but just not a good fit. Like music that is clearly done well but just isn’t your cup of tea to listen to, or clothes that are clearly made well, but they’re just not something you’d want to wear. Finding the right therapist can be downright grueling, especially when you feel like you need to open up and build a trusting relationship, only to realize this one isn’t the one, and then find a way to break it off, and then get back out there and keep looking. I do hope you find the strength to keep trying, though. When you finally do find the right therapist, it’ll be a wonderful fit and be a powerful tool for healing. We’ve got some great resources for counseling at the top, under the Find Help tab.

    It’s okay for you to write as little or as much as you need. We are here for you, and you can always come back and share more with us.

    – Jev

  9. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi missnoname,
    I’m really sorry about what you’ve been through. You didn’t deserve any of it, and none of it was your fault. It’s understandable that you want these memories to stop and that you’re terrified of seeing the people who abused you. It can take a long time to heal from traumatic events, and healing can be a nonlinear process. The good thing is that there are multiple ways to cope, and we can see what works for us.
    I’m also sorry that your therapist is comparing her trauma to yours. Each person has different life experiences and circumstances, which is why traumatic events cannot be compared. Trauma is trauma, and your feelings are valid. It could help to tell your therapist how you feel when she compares her trauma to yours. If she keeps comparing, I would recommend finding another therapist. It’s not easy to find a therapist who is a good fit for us, but I think it’s worth it to keep looking.
    I’m so sorry that you’ve been having nightmares, and I can’t imagine how terrifying these are. Here’s a link that might help you: https://aspirecounselingmo.com/5-ways-recover-anxiety-attack-nightmare/. It outlines a few tips for what you can do to recover after a nightmare. It may also help to talk about these memories with a therapist in order to process them.
    I like what Solongago said about your little brother, and I think it could be helpful.
    Thank you for trusting us with your story. We’re here for you regardless of the length of your story. If you need anything, please reach out to us. You can do this, and you are strong.

  10. Breanna Grunthal Volunteer

    Hi missnoname,

    Thanks for coming to share. I’m so sorry for all that you’ve gone through. Healing takes a lot of time, unfortunately, so it is very fair for wanting all of the memories to stop. But it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen and you won’t get there! And therapist-client fit and rapport is one of the most important factors for successful therapy. So if you don’t think this new therapist is a good one, I recommend you go look for another one. I’m sorry you’re going through such a hard time. Feel free to explore our Find Help tab, there are some good resources in there. Remember to be kind to and patient with yourself. Stay strong and keep your chin up! We are here for you!

    Sending love and support,

  11. Samantha Harris Volunteer

    Hi missnoname,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. You didn’t deserve any of this. There’s no need to apologize. We’re always here to read whatever you feel like sharing, regardless of how long it is. If your current therapist isn’t working out, you can always keep looking around. Finding a therapist that works for you can be difficult sometimes, but don’t give up. Once you find a therapist that you can really connect with, it can be incredibly helpful. If you ever need anything, let us know. We’re always here for you.

  12. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear missnoname,
    Thank you for trusting us with your story. There is no need to apologize for any part of the telling…this space was created to hold stories no matter the length. I am so sorry that these things happened to you and that you are living in fear and caught in the memories. Remember that none of what happened to you is your fault. There are some great suggestions about talking to your therapist below and others have given the number for Crisis Text line. Our Find Help tab has a variety of resources that range from finding a therapist in your area to books, articles, and hotlines. The RAINN hotline is specifically for sexual abuse/assault and they have a web-chat if you aren’t comfortable speaking on the phone to someone about it (1-800-656-4673 or http://www.rainn.org). There are also some wonderful self-healing accounts to follow in Instagram if that is your thing. Please feel free to write to us as often as you would like. You aren’t alone.
    Sending you love and strength,

  13. Shannon Volunteer

    Hi missnoname ,

    Thank you so much for sharing with us. I am so sorry for what you have been through. Finding a therapist that you can connect with can be tricky, but don’t give up, if you really don’t like this therapist, try to find a new one. There’s no need to apologize, none of this is your fault. we are here for you and here to listen. I hope you come back soon to update us with how you are doing. Be kind to yourself


  14. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi missnoname,
    I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m also sorry therapy isn’t helping either. I know that finding a therapist that you like can be very tough. I think once you find one that you like, it will help you a lot. I would let your mom know that you don’t like this new therapist. Talking to a therapist that will actually help you recover will help you let go of your fear with your trauma and teach you coping skills.
    You don’t have to apologize for your story either. This is your story and you can tell it however you want to tell it. If there is anything you need help with please let us know. Thank you for trusting and sharing your story with AVFTI. Continue to stay strong.

  15. CarmenR Volunteer

    Hi there missnoname,

    I am so sorry for what you have been through. You didn’t deserve it, and it was not your fault. Thank you for trusting us with your story. You are so brave and you are clearly strong. We are here to support you. We believe you, and we want to help you any way we can. Is there any one in your lif that you have confided in or could talk to? Sometimes shairng with someone you love and trust can really help. Have you also considered looking into a new therapist? I’m sorry your therapist is trying to compare trauma with you. I hope that you know you are always welcome here and that we support you. Stay strong, and let us know if there is anyting else we can do for you.

  16. Kayla Volunteer


    Thank you for reaching out to us. Please don’t worry about the length of your posts – we’re here to listen. You can post as much and as often as you’d like. I find sharing your story can be like lifting a weight off of your chest and can help in healing. Finding the right therapist can take time, but I’m glad you’ve been searching. Trauma should never be a one up situation, and I’m sorry you’re experiencing that with your current therapist.
    I would try to remember that your brother is not his father. He is a child deserving of love just like you were.

    Sending you love,

  17. dzreid Volunteer

    Thanks for sharing. Please don’t feel sorry for how much you share. It sounds like these feelings/emotions you’re experiencing is causing anoverwhelming feeling. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with so much. Have you tried journaling? I often journal or do some deep breathing especially if I’m having memories. Finding the right fit when it comes to therapists is no easy task. I’m sorry that you’re on your 3rd one & seeming like you’re not accomplishing anything. You are brave & strong. I hope you can connect with a therapist. You have the right to ask the therapist questions. I found one who is a trauma focused therapist. Keep on keeping on. You deserve it & are worth it

  18. Knina7 Volunteer

    Hey Missnoname,
    I am so sorry for what you have been through. What happened to you was not your fault. Don’t get discouraged about not being able to find the right therapist, keep searching because the right one can make all the difference. In the meantime journaling could be a good way to start processing your emotions, or even writing a letter to your step father telling him how it felt that he hurt you (it never has to be send to him if you choose not to). Thank you for sharing your story with us, please come back and write to us whenever you need someone to talk to we are always here for you.

    Sending Love and Hope,

  19. sam Volunteer

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Don’t feel discouraged by your encounters with unhelpful therapist. Finding the right counselor can be a lot harder than people realize, so if this one isn’t working for you, there’s no shame in trying to find someone who does. I’m so sorry you’ve been through so much, and you deserve to have a professional who listens to you and can help you productively work through it. We are always here for you, too!

  20. musicislove

    Hi missnoname,

    I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through. You didn’t deserve any of the abuse and none of it was your fault. 2.5 years in prison is definitely not enough time for how much he hurt you and I understand being upset about it, everything you’re feeling is valid. The fact that your therapist is comparing your traumas in your sessions is very unprofessional and you don’t need that, you need help working through your own trauma-not hers. Maybe talking with her about how she’s making you feel would be helpful. If nothing changes, finding a new therapist might be best. I understand how you feel about your brother, but I hope that over time and progress with your healing you can start seeing him as your brother instead of his father. Be gentle with yourself and try to find some time to do things you enjoy. We are always here for you and believe you so please come back and share whenever you need to talk. If you need immediate help, texting VOICE to 741-741 is a great idea, as mentioned below. Thank you for trusting us with your story.


  21. Amysue43 Volunteer

    I’m sorry you have been through this and that these feelings of anxiety are rising. As you mentioned, it’s very hard to “let go” and to be honest, you never really “let go” as it’s more of how to cope with the feelings and images. This takes a lot of time to come to terms with the events that you encountered and by no means do you just forget about it. The journey is more about how you can reflect and accept your own feelings and thoughts. I would suggest that you journal about your thoughts and feelings by perhaps scheduling an hour or two a day to just get it all on paper. This could help you think more clearly and feel less anxious when you do think about it when you read back. The good part about journaling is it doesn’t necessarily have to be in order or clear either. It’s simply for the point of clearing your mind and organizing your feelings.
    In terms of your current experience with your therapist, perhaps sharing your feelings about how her comments make you feel would be good feedback for you and her to allow you all to work together. These are your sessions!

    Thank you for sharing! Feel free to share as much as you want. We will read it and support you through it.

    Stay strong!

  22. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hi there,

    Thank you for trusting us with your story. You are so strong and brave. I am so so sorry that you experienced all of this. What happened to you was not your fault and you did not deserve it. How you are feeling is valid and normal. I think it is awesome that you are seeing a therapist to help you heal from what happened. But it is very normal and common to try out a few different therapists to find one that you like. It will be most helpful to talk to a therapist that you a feel comfortable with and that you feel is a healthy session. I would encourage you to talk with your therapist about how you feel or even try a new one if you would like! We have a FIND HELP tab at the top of our website to help you find resources to help you on your healing journey. We also have a help text line if you would like to talk to someone immediately – as Erin mentioned below just text VOICE to 741-741. Let us know how we can help. If you would like to share more, please do! We are here for you! We support you!

    Sending love and support your way,

  23. zelda Volunteer

    You’ve gone through so much so it’s understandable that you feel traumatized. Even though you’ve gone through hell, just remember that you’re a survivor and a fighter.
    Take everything one day at a time.

  24. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    You don’t have to apologize. Thank you for coming here to share with us-I am so sorry for what happened to you. You didn’t deserve any of this, and this wasn’t your fault. I know that re-experiencing these memories is really painful and scary. Can you switch therapists if this one isn’t helpful? That may be best-you can also text our crisis text line, VOICE to 741 741. Let us know how else we can help-we are here for you.


  25. Lizzi

    Hi missnoname,
    I’m so sorry for the abuse you’ve been through with those two people. It wasn’t right of them to force you into things you wanted to do. It wasn’t your fault. Even if it’s been a few years since the relationship, healing can take time. It’s not unreasonable at all that you’re still struggling with memories of the abuse. I’m also sorry that you’re having trouble finding a therapist that is helpful for you. Sometimes it does take trying a few before you find the right one. Not every therapist is going to work for everyone. You deserve to feel heard by your therapist and not feel like she’s trying to make your abuse seem less traumatic than hers. I hope that you’ll continue looking for a therapist that can help you so you don’t have to deal with these memories. Remember that we’re here for you and support you, and we do have resources that might help on our Find Help tab at the top of the page.

  26. Ashley Day Captain

    Thank you for taking the time to confide in our community, missnoname.

    Your ex-stepfather had the responsibility to care for and protect you; he had no right to inflict harm upon you. The fact that you made the courageous decision to tell your mom about the sexual abuse is admirable.
    I wish that your ex-stepfather would have been required to complete five years of prison time since that was his original sentence and he needs to be held accountable for his actions. Since your ex-stepfather and ex-boyfriend are people who have hurt you, it’s understandable that you’re fearful about what might happen if you encounter them.
    It can be difficult to find a therapist that we connect with, but I promise it’s not impossible; please know that it’s not abnormal to visit with more than one mental health professional. If you continue to feel like your current therapist isn’t helping, I encourage you to find someone else because it’s important to feel heard.

    If you need support, you can always come back to provide us with an update.


  27. Megan Volunteer

    Hey missnoname,

    I’m so sorry that his happened to you. You didn’t deserve any of this and you deserve to be treated so much better. It is totally normal to have that fear and recurring memories and images. I think this is something that therapy will be able to help with. If you’re not liking your therapist now and not feeling like you get along with her, it’s okay to switch therapists. I’ve switched therapists a bunch of times and it’s definitely worth it to find someone that you really get a long with well. It makes a lot of difference in how comfortable you feel talking in therapy and the progress you make. I can imagine that everything that is going around in your head must be hard to deal with, but you are strong and you will get through this.

    I believe in you,

  28. candyappleb Volunteer

    Hi missnoname,

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through all of those things. None of it was ever your fault. Finding a therapist that fits with your individual needs can be difficult sometimes. Remember, you are in charge of your healing journey. If you feel that the therapist you are working with isn’t helping you, it’s okay to try someone else. Healing had no time limit. I understand how frustrating it can be to relive painful memories over and over again. We’re here for you. Please feel free to share with us again as much or as little as you want. We believe you, and will support you in anyway we can. If you feel like you need to speak with someone immediately, please feel free to reach out to our crisis text line by texting VOICE to 741741. Hang in there.

    All the best,

  29. Solongago Volunteer

    Hi, thank you for sharing. I am sorry you have had this experience with your Mom’s X.

    Can you say, flat out, to your therapist, “I understand that by telling me of the trauma you underwent, you are trying to make me feel a connection, or let me know that you understand how I feel. But, it feels like what I went through is no big deal, because you’ve suffered worse.”? If your therapist is open to the criticism and is willing to change her style with you, than maybe having a therapist who knows by experience what you are dealing with will be worth it and helpful. If she isn’t, finding that out sooner rather than later is probably a good thing.

    It is hard to have a past and a present with family members when sexual abuse/incest is in the mix. It is probably one of the reasons just about every society through the ages had an incest taboo. I think all you can do, is to keep reminding yourself that it is not your brother’s fault that his father was a jerk and a zero. Maybe focus on the areas where he does not resemble his father. Siblings are a link to our past, and can be very important throughout our lives. Right now things are raw and difficult. I hope that as you work through what happened, you come to a place of peace, especially with your brother.