After a five years of avoiding mental health professionals, I recently decided to give it a go again. As a part of that, I needed to find a therapist. At the recommendation of a friend, I called a local place and requested a specific therapist, we’ll call her Good Therapist. When I showed up for my appointment with Good Therapist, I was met with confusion and told that no, my appointment was actually with Head Dude.

I proceeded into the office of Head Dude and sit down awkwardly, now thrown off by the change in what I thought was happening. He started by asking if I had any experience with therapy.

The first time I went to therapy, I was 9 years old, I told him. I had been making myself throw up to get out of school because of the bullying I was victim to. My memories of childhood are patchy, so I don’t remember much about the bullying, but I do remember coming home crying every day. I remember the pain and ostracization, but I don’t remember the specifics of what was said and done. I remember being alone.

“Why did you get bullied?” Head Dude asked.

I paused, unsure of what I had just heard. Had this therapist just asked for a reason for why I was bullied?

I stuttered out a response about being weird. That I fidgeted a lot.

“But fidgeting isn’t really enough reason to be bullied. What made you weird?”

I was astounded. This “professional” was actually asking for justification for why I was bullied, implying that the bullying was because of something I did.

“I don’t know. I don’t really remember. I just didn’t fit in.” I managed to get out, still reeling at even being asked these questions. He just stared at me, trying to get me to make eye contact while I continued to divert my gaze.

I continued to go through my history, the various therapists, the mood swings, the psychosis. Finally, we got to the abusive relationship and rape. I went through the scenario briefly at which point he asked if I sought therapy afterwards. I explained that I had gone to the psychological counseling center on campus and that the woman I met with told me that it was “at least half my fault.”

Head Dude showed the appropriate horror and outrage at what I had been told. He asked if I had complained to the director of the center at which point I divulged that she was the one whom I had met with. He asked if it was <name>, and though I wouldn’t have been able to give her name if asked, as soon as he said it I knew that was her.

He informed me that while she is not a part of the practice, she rents space in the office a couple days a week.

The woman who told me it was at least half my fault I got raped works in the same building as the therapist I decided to try.

So, needless to say, my foray back into the world of therapy did not go well. I’m still interested in pursuing therapy because I definitely need it, but I certainly won’t be going back.

A week later, and I am still befuddled that a therapist, the head of a practice, would persist in asking why I was bullied. As if to suggest that the bullying was my fault. As if I had done something to deserve the bullying.

To all those who have been bullied, it was not your fault. No matter what reason the other kids (or adults) chose to bully you for, it was not because of what you did. It was a choice the bullies made. People have the choice to be kind or cruel. It is not your fault that you were the victim of other’s cruelty.