I hope I'm doing this right.

I'm writing out my story here because I need to go into some kind of counseling; I feel like my life is falling apart. So this is a kind of practice in an anonymous environment.

When I was 9 years old my father remarried. I gather that the woman had thought I wouldn't be living with them, because I was often looked after by other relatives while my Dad was at work, which was often odd hours. However my Dad had also gotten a new job where he had regular hours and he had really wanted to live with his new wife and me in a house we all shared.

Anyway, the woman he married was abusive towards me. I had never had to remember to have a key of my own before, and often forgot it at first, and she would be coldly furious with me when she got back to let me in. She had said I was way too fat and had to be put on a diet. When I look at pictures of myself before and after she came into my life, I was a slightly chunky but normal looking kid; a year after her I was so thin you could see my elbow joints and ribs easily. I was always terribly hungry but I was punished if I ate anything apart from meals, which were never enough. I remember sneaking into the kitchen to eat out of the garbage can sometimes.

When she punished me, she would do two different things. One of them was to have me stripped from the waist down while she faced me and treated me with contempt and intimidated me, then when I was sufficiently scared she would beat me on my behind and thighs. If I tried to cover myself or hide she would threaten to hit my crotch instead. I as so bruised there I was ashamed to change for gym class and started skipping it. She would also lock me in the basement in the dark. When I got older (around 12-13) I started trying to stand up to her, and then she accused me of abusing my younger half sister. I got sent to a mental hospital. I tried to say that I was the one being abused but they didn't believe me, and they made me confess to it. I only found out many years later from a file that my father had that I hadn't fitted the profile for an abusive personality. Everything from the art therapy to the interviews suggested that I had kept trying to tell them that my stepmother had been abusing me. My father had told me I had to cooperate in order to be able to be released, which is I confessed. However they weren't satisfied with that and insisted that I mean it, I was made to feel intense remorse and guilt.

I've never really had a functional relationship or life since. I've often felt suicidal, I've often felt like a worthless person. For years I was afraid to have children or get married. I was briefly married and had a good job for a bit but I've lost all that. In my last intimate relationship I experienced constant erectile dysfunction.

i'm struggling with intense feelings of shame even writing this. I feel like what I went through is hard to even call abuse. But I feel like I need to try to get help of some kind.