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Need Advice / Resources

So I'm not actually a survivor, but my partner is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I am posting here in hopes that someone can lead me in the right direction in terms of how to be helpful / supportive / careful with someone who has gone through this sort of trauma, while still staying true to my needs within the relationship.

We've talked about it a lot.  Basically we're both really scared of how to proceed, when the idea of sex is scary for her, and the whole thing is scary and overwhelming for me.  I hope that I just need more information, so I can be a good partner and create a safe space for intimacy.

Please share your ideas with me.  Thank you.
onetwothree onetwothree 22-25, T 25 Responses Dec 4, 2007

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I want to first of all tell you that it is awesome that you are taking such steps to understand what your partner is going through and to educate yourself on how to handle it. There are several great books out there that are for both survivors and family/friends of survivors and any one of those should help a lot. I've just started dealing with my past abuse because I had repressed the memories most of my life and didn't even know what happened to me. Having a supportive boyfriend that is willing to listen to me and learn about this process of healing alongside me has really helped me out and I think it's awesome that you want to do the same. Feel free to email me with any questions or if you just need someone to talk to. You're an amazing person!

Suggest you visit www.sandf.org

There is a section for partners.

Don't tiptoe round her just be yourself, your obviously sensitive to her needs otherwise you wouldn't have posted this, so just look at her face whilst being intimate because her natural reactions will tell you more than than any advice we can give. I am a survivor also and tense up when a touch or kiss reminds me and during intercourse my face cannot hide if it is nt. Comfortable for me hope this helps x

Let het lead without showing ur frusteration or any feelinga other then "following her lead." .... Youll know when times are right by her. theres no need to continueously talk Bout it. That will do the opposite. It will push her further back from progressing unless SHE brings it up. If she brings the convo up in a way that starts by...1. Questioning, 2.self doubt, 3. Sudden or forced choices... Do not agree... Just say "baby, theres no hurry. I love you and it will happen when it happens". The bigger u both make the issue the bigger her fears n insecurities will become. Think of it like....a dog thats never been touched without being kickd. Shell test the waters many times before decided its safw..

I can guarantee she feels so guilty that she's made your relationship like a friendship, it eats her up. I know that's how I feel. I often hate my husband even holding me, makes me wish he would find someone else who can satisfy him. And she may feel the same.

I'm always worried my husband will leave me. Have you ever thought that this isn't what you want or planned? How do you cope?

I was sexually abused when I was 6 till about 14. The first thing that must happen is you must forgive your abuser. In my case I had three, my sisters. You can not do this alone, alone it will fail. You might think I am crazy but it took Jesus coming into my life to move on. Your wife needs the Lord, you need the Lord. Without him the both of you will always have an issue with your relationship. I am telling you the truth, I have seen many people set free from feeling like it was their fault, hate, anger and unforgiveness. Jesus is the only answer.

If you can encourage your wife to go for a stay in a recovery center, she will bennefit immensely and you will be invited to go there for a weekend nearing the end of her stay where you will learn the correct way to help her and understand the healing process.

I have been through the abuse and molestations most of my life I suggest that you be very supportive of her in talking and in makeing her feel safe by not pressuring her in the sex areas but do give her intimacy and physical touch in safe ways so she knows that you are not going to force it.She needs to find a support group or someone that will listen to her rant and help her come to terms she can deal with and try to let her take her time in the bedroom cause if she has a lot of mental scars from the act of makeing love then it may take time and understanding for some time before she can give herself to you and not feel like she has to defend herself in some way.

Therapy helped me the most... If she can talk about it prolonged exposure therapy is awesome. That what I choose but if she can't EMDR has had amazing results. Having a good man such as yourself, priceless.

Good idea getting advice on this.

You mention wanting to create a safe zone. The man I love knows almost everything about the sexual abuse I endured. He came up with this great idea.. if either of us gets uncomfortable with anything we're doing physically (even if its just kissing, touching) we say "safety". When "safety" is said we both know that what ever was going on right then isn't ok. When we first started this we would ask if kissing, cuddling was okay. He was always willing to just hold me until I was comfortable doing anything else. If stuff gets to be really bothering either of us we say "conference"; when this is said it means that everything going on physically- even if it is just kissing needs to stop and talking needs to happen. There are many times safety was said and still is said, but we have gotten to the point that when we say "safety" the other knows what is still okay, and when we're unsure we ask. Sometimes asking makes things see awkward, especially at first but it is so very worth it. It brought a level of intimacy that wasn't just from being physically intimate, but intimacy in our hearts.. we could and still do trust each other. God bless and remember always be patient and loving

Number one thing "Listen" there are things that maybe her attaker did that she would not be able to handle you doing for example one of my abusers liked to keep his hand around my neck so someones fingers just crazing my neck sends me into panic mode. Be romantic with her make sure she knows that she has the power to say no or to say slow down or anything. She does need to share with you. So you know what she does not want done. For instense another one of my abusers preferd it a certain way so if i am feeling like my fiance is forsing me to do it that way i feel traped. Just show her that you are there not foryourself but for both of you. That this is a step both of you are making not you alone.

i have to say you most love her very much to want to help her. i have trouble with being touched my self because of sexual abuse hang in and be understanding good luck

Aha, I'm sorry. I just now realized the date you posted this so I'm assuming my advice is not needed. I hope everything is well.

I was sexually abused for nine years [4-13] and entered my first sexual relationship at fifteen. I was terrified of sex, so my partner eased me in.<br />
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It started with intimate kisses, stopping when I got uncomfortable, continuing when I was alright again. Just intimate kisses for about two months.<br />
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Then touching. Over the clothes at first, until I used to that, then under the clothes and eventually without. After nudity was no longer an issue, we attempted oral. Three months.<br />
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Finally, he set up candles and all the necessary items for intercourse. We removed our clothes simultaneously. He laid me done and began working my shoulders, slowly getting lower and lower until he was touching my genitalia. He worked that. Then, we made love.<br />
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Maybe try his method? It worked for us and we now have a great sex life.

I know for myself the sex thing was difficult for me when it came to my husband the first time, but we never gave up. I just shook it off. Remember the words of Jesus :<br />
The Bible mentions two specific types of fear. The first type is beneficial and is to be encouraged. The second type is a detriment and is to be overcome. The first type of fear is fear of the Lord. This type of fear does not necessarily mean to be afraid of something. Rather, it is a reverential awe of God; a reverence for His power and glory. However, it is also a proper respect for His wrath and anger. In other words, the fear of the Lord is a total acknowledgement of all that God is, which comes through knowing Him and His attributes.<br />
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Fear of the Lord brings with it many blessings and benefits. It is the beginning of wisdom and leads to good understanding (Psalm 111:10). Only fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7). Furthermore, fear of the Lord leads to life, rest, peace, and contentment (Proverbs 19:23). It is the fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27) and provides a security and a place of safety for us (Proverbs 14:26). <br />
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Thus, one can see how fearing God should be encouraged. However, the second type of fear mentioned in the Bible is not beneficial at all. This is the “spirit of fear” mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV). A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God.<br />
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However, sometimes we are afraid, sometimes this “spirit of fear” overcomes us, and to overcome it we need to trust in and love God completely. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). No one is perfect, and God knows this. That is why He has liberally sprinkled encouragement against fear throughout the Bible. Beginning in the book of Genesis and continuing throughout the book of Revelation, God reminds us to “Fear not.”<br />
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For example, Isaiah 41:10 encourages us, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Often we fear the future and what will become of us. But Jesus reminds us that God cares for the birds of the air, so how much more will He provide for His children? “So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). Just these few verses cover many different types of fear. God tells us not to be afraid of being alone, of being too weak, of not being heard, and of lacking physical necessities. These admonishments continue throughout the Bible, covering the many different aspects of the “spirit of fear.”<br />
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In Psalm 56:11 the psalmist writes, “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” This is an awesome testimony to the power of trusting in God. Regardless of what happens, the psalmist will trust in God because he knows and understands the power of God. The key to overcoming fear, then, is total and complete trust in God. Trusting God is a refusal to give in to fear. It is a turning to God even in the darkest times and trusting Him to make things right. This trust comes from knowing God and knowing that He is good. As Job said when he was experiencing some of the most difficult trials recorded in the Bible, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15 NKJV).<br />
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Once we have learned to put our trust in God, we will no longer be afraid of the things that come against us. We will be like the psalmist who said with confidence “…let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (Psalm 5:11).

very preachy... might be all good in heaven but sure doesn't do much for some of us going through hell.

Bless you for caring enough to ask.<br />
I have no advise as I'm beginning to search for the peace myself, but I just wanted to say bless you anyways!!

I too was abused as a child, A LOT...ive been with my husband for a lil over 8 yrs now and he has worked through it with me...let her talk about it as much as she wants; let her yell, cry, however she feels is best at that moment. Communication is awesome and truly listen to her. I think you should help her to move on also, she needs to try not to dwell on it. Dont push her into n e thing and really pay attention to her body, if you r getting intimate and something doesnt seem right, its probably becus she's goin through something...and as for "your needs" as you wrote, relationships require sacrifices; if you love her you can make sacrifices to make sure your relationship is strong. However, make sure you really want to be with her because this process may take alot of time and energy and you need to be there for her and if you can't you could end up doing more damage than good...

My stepfather molested me when I was 11. Even though he quit he was still there. He thought that just because he was sorry and remorseful it would make everything ok. After thirty years it still haunts me. They need to pay for what they have done . They can never make up for it no matter how hard they try. Why should they have every thing and be happy while their victims have to live with the guilt and humiliation? Fight for the freedom she deserves.

that is very nice of you to work with her. I was abused physically, emotional, mentally etc. I have yet to met a man willing to deal. I am usually broken and worn out goods. So I have to praise you for willing to do so. Please just be patient, don't give up, and don't push her. and yeah I don't like certain type of touch, my father would try to find ways to "accidentally" brush up against my boobs, so unless I take a partner's hand and place it there myself. the touch is disturbing. They have to obtain permission before moving on to the next step. This builds trust, and lets me know that they are paying attention to my feelings... unforentually no one is willing to do this.

Same here...

I agree with Aydasha5. Sometime, I have a hard time being intimate with my husband because of a certain way he touches me. I have to make myself keep my eyes open and look at him. If for some reason I fall to pieces while we are together, I hide my face so he doesn't see me crying. After we are done, I pretty much leave the room quickly because I don't want him to think he did anything wrong. Sometimes I have to tell him he can't do certain things which makes me feel bad because I know he would like it. Sometimes I try anyway and end up regretting it. Just be sure to reassure her that you love her. If she asks you not to do something, don't do it.

I'm so glad I'm not the only person who feels this way

I was sexually abused by my parents for seven years growing up. Having a safe environment is a major key in being able to heal from sexual abuse. She may feel like she is worthless, she may be scared that she will see her attacker touching her instead of you when you two decide to become intimate with each other, she may feel guilty, she may be numb. Whatever she feels, the one thing you need to make sure she fully understands is the difference between your hands and the attackers. Establish that difference first, then she will start to feel completely safe with you, and the emotions will come out, the guilt and hate will come out, and you should be there for her when she falls to pieces. Tell her she's beautiful everyday, tell her that you love her, that she's perfect, just...be there for her. Some people will probably not agree with me, but this technique is what got me through because my boyfriend helped me through it all. If you or your girlfriend ever want/need to talk, you can always message me. I may not be the best person to give advice, but I can relate and I can understand...and in a situation like this, having someone who understands and can relate to you, are some of the best feelings in the world.

I have to agree with some of the earlier comments, but disagree with some of the content. Yes you must create a safe environment, and yes it sounds like this has been achieved. But the one thing that holds a victim in that same place where they cannot move on is guilt. They blame themselves for the abuse, they blame the ********* for the abuse (Justly deserved) and they can sometimes blame the parents for not protecting them in such a time of need. What must happen with the victim is that she must come to understand that this has now occured and it CANNOT be changed. You CANNOT go back in time and do things differently. Victims lives with the "What if" factor, i.e. What if I'd told someone, What if I'd said no, What if I had of done this instead of that. It can't be changed and the only solutionis to come to understand and accept that changing the past is not possible, but changing the future always is. Ask your partner, "Does she want to be a victim of her past, or a survivor of her future"? The choice is hers. Understanding from you, space to allow her to grow, but she must allow herself a chance to forgive herself and come to realise it was not her fault, nor could she have changed the outcome.

No offence but have you experienced sexual abuse. Sounds like you a text book psychologist that actually doesn't understand. You make it sound like every abuse person has a choice whether to be a victim or not, well guess what they don't. And no magic potion or switch can change that. And it really annoys me when people out there like you make people like us feel even worse for struggling with everyday life and tell us we have a choice!! You have no clue

I agree with Wolfen....it takes a long, long time to replace emotional scars, especially sexual emotional scars. She needs to feel safe with you and until she feels secure within herself the presence of a man in a sexual situation will flash her back to the initial scar