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Dad Looked Down My Shirt

Published: November 26, 2002
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I am 14 years-old and my father and I have a very close relationship (I am a girl). Then, one night, when I was in my pajamas, we were talking about blemishes - then he told me that there was this one blemish that was only on the chest and right then, he pulled down my shirt and was looking down my shirt supposedly for weird blemishes. But this totally disgusted me! Was my father actually LOOKING DOWN MY SHIRT???? Now I am completely disgusted by him and I hate him. He looked down my shirt without my permission. Now I am trying to be anorexic because I heard that if you are really skinny you don't have much of a chest. Is my Dad a sicko???? Should I be worried? ICK!!! HELP!!
Signed: Dad Looked Down My Shirt

Dear Dad Looked Down My Shirt,

 

TeenHealthFX knows that this must be a very confusing and painful situation. To answer your question, yes, what your dad did to you is wrong and it is important that you understand that it is not your fault.

 

It definitely sounds like what your dad did crossed the line of what is and is not appropriate behavior. Situations like what you describe here can be hurtful on many different levels, and you may experience a range of emotions as a result, including guilt, anger, fear, sadness and poor self-esteem. At your age, it may be particularly difficult for you to handle -- your body is going through lots of changes now and as it continues to develop you may naturally feel awkward and uncomfortable at times. You father needs to understand what you are going through and respect your boundaries.

 

Trying to change your body by not eating is not going to rectify this situation, but will bring with it a whole additional set of complicated issues that can also be harmful to you. Why should you have to punish yourself for your father's inappropriate behavior? As difficult as it may be, what you need to do is tell you mom or another trusted adult what has happened to you. They may be angry with your dad, but they need to know. They will be able to support and help you. Once you verbalize your experience you will be able to start sorting through your feelings and begin healing. It is very important to tell someone. You may feel intimidated into silence but you must speak out. What happened was not right and will not go away with time. Bottling up your feelings may prevent you from creating new relationships and becoming close personally and intimately with others. It will be beneficial for you to seek counseling to help sort through your feelings.

 

TeenHealthFX thinks it would be a good idea to try to reach out to your mom or another trusted adult and talk to them about what happened and how you are feeling. This may seem scary because you may be afraid of their reaction. You could even have someone help you to talk to your mom, such as the school nurse, the school counselor or a friend. Your mom may be angry with your dad but her attention will turn to you and they will be eager to help.

 

If you would like to see a therapist and live in northern New Jersey you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888.247.1400 for an appointment.

If you are unsure what to do you can call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline number at 800.656.Hope (4673) and talk to a counselor anonymously.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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