Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Was I abused?

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Question
I have sleep problems and occasional flare-ups of depression and suffer from a sense of self-loathing. My stepfather was always accusing me of things and blaming me anytime anything happened, even things that couldn't possibly have been my fault like the toilet breaking down.I remember, but I can't be sure, my stepfather taking a lighter and putting it so close to my face that I could feel the heat. He was laughing. He never denies doing this, but won't confirm it either. Is this abuse? And could my depression and sleep problems be related to this?

Answer
Hi Charles, thanx for your questions. You asked, "Is this abuse?"

My answer is that you seem to be asking the question as a legal question. Let me explain - you are asking me to place a judgment on the actions of someone else. e.g., did they perpetrate abuse, or not? When we diagnose and treat someone with any of a number of 'abuses', it is almost always because they defined and labeled what happened to them as abuse. A therapist would never (or at least should never) tell someone that they were abused. The reason is that such labeling can do far more damage than even the best therapy can undue. So, I would say that, if you want an answer to your question, that answer should come from you. It should be your truth, and no one else's. Sometimes it does take a therapist to help one find one's truth.

You also asked, "could my depression and sleep problems be related to this?"

My answer to this is that many things can be related to depression and sleep problems. One of those can be one's childhood / early experiences, so, yes, it could be related.  

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.

Expertise

any related to psychology, especially related to forensic psychology

Experience

15 years as a licensed psychologist, 15 years in private practice. My practice began primarily doing individual and group psychotherapy, is now devoted to assessments, but I occasionally do take on clients in therapy.

Organizations
American Psychological Association

Education/Credentials
B.A. psychology, B.A., music, Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978 MCS, computer science, University of Dayton, 1984 MA, psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1991 Psy.D., psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1993 post doctoral training in Neuropsychology, Fielding Institute, 1995-1997

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