I have huge abandonment issues that keep me from getting close to people. During a particularly dark time in which I’d had a falling-out with my best friend and been dumped by my boyfriend, I was telling a counselor that I felt like “everyone leaves me.” He said, “Well, clearly there’s something wrong with you. Why else would people leave you?” He was dead serious and advised me that therapy could “fix” me so that people would want to be around me. I was so destroyed by his comments that I experienced suicidal feelings for years. It took a long time to unlearn that feeling and acknowledge that I did in fact have people who loved me — and that I needed to love myself.

As a survivor of partner abuse, I sought out help with my PTSD, and I had just one session with a “therapist” who bluntly said, “What do you think it is about you that made someone want to abuse you?” I was absolutely stunned by her victim-blaming and walked out of the room. I was already struggling with feelings of self-blame for the abuse, and her comment sent me into a full-on trauma flashback as I remembered how my abuser constantly berated or assaulted me while saying “Look what you’re making me do.” Thankfully, I found a better therapist who helped me process my trauma, and I’m now doing much better.

I suspect some people get into the mental health field not because they want to help people, but rather because they enjoy feeling superior to others. They see people in a vulnerable state, and they kick them while they’re down. They offer condescending “advice” or judgments instead of actionable steps toward treatment. Sure, maybe some of them just have no tact, but you know what, when you’re addressing patients, you need to have at least some semblance of sensitivity.

I really appreciate your writing about these issues, and I’m appalled at the comments some of these “professionals” made to you. This is a serious issue, and I thank you for calling it out.

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Writer by day, circus artist by night. I write about art, media, culture, health, science, and where they all meet. Join my list:

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