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#234777 - 06/30/08 09:22 PM in a relationship when is it time to disclose?
theatrekid Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/03/07
Posts: 702
Loc: oregon
the last couple months i have been taking dating more seriously than in the past. I am now dating a girl who i really feel close to. I don't think it is time to disclose to her we havnt been together long enough. But if the relationship continues the way it has been I really would feel comfortable disclosing to her. but i have a few questions first.

1. being sexually active dose she have a right to know? its not like i have an std or anything but should she be aware?

2. what would be a appropriate time, and way to tell her about it.

3. what sort of reaction should i suspect? I have told family and very close friends but this is different.

anyways i'm posting this here because i wanted more than just survivors perspectives. any ones thoughts would be welcome.

Thanks, Chris


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#234791 - 06/30/08 09:59 PM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: theatrekid]
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
Hi Christopher,

As you've read a million times here, disclosure is tricky and the one you choose to disclose to is being given a lot of power over you. Not in an "I can beat you up" kind of way, but their reaction will mean alot to you.

I want to answer your post in more detail, I just can't right now, except for #1. No, she doesn't have a "right" to know and you don't have an obligation to tell her, just because you're sexually active. As long as the two of you having sex isn't harmful to her health or wellbeing, you can take that one off the table.

ROCK ON..........Trish

_________________________
If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

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#235321 - 07/02/08 06:59 PM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: Trish4850]
theatrekid Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/03/07
Posts: 702
Loc: oregon
I'm going to give this a bump, Any input at all would really be apreciated.

Thanks


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#235340 - 07/02/08 08:24 PM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: theatrekid]
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
I'm sorry I didn't come back to you faster Christopher - I'm glad you bumped this up.

Quote:
1. being sexually active dose she have a right to know? its not like i have an std or anything but should she be aware?

I answered this one the other night and haven't changed my mind, so I'm sticking with my original answer.

Quote:
2. what would be a appropriate time, and way to tell her about it.


I'd make it a process rather than a one time disclosure. For instance, if you have issues with unexpected touches and she notices, you can just tell her that some rough stuff happened when you were a kid and an unexpected touch makes you startle (or whatever your reaction might be). She'll likely have questions, but if you keep it a little vague, you can read her a little bit. If you're out together and see kids playing you could comment on it and include something like, I wish I felt like that at their age. Again, she'll have questions, but this is you feeling her out, so take it easy and say only as much as you're comfortable with.

It may be that she responds in a way that makes you feel good, which would be great. Your the one who has to be comfortable in giving the information. It's your feelings on the line.

Quote:
3. what sort of reaction should i suspect? I have told family and very close friends but this is different.


If her reaction is anything like mine, she'll be devastated for you. She'll be confused beyond anything she's felt before. She'll be angry and want to know who hurt you. Those are just the emotions that will run through her in a nano-second. She might cry, she might rage, she might ask a million questions.

The truth is, I have no clue what her reaction will be because I don't know her.

I wish I had a crystal ball so I could tell you exactly what will happen, but........

ROCK ON.........Trish

_________________________
If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

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#236087 - 07/05/08 03:51 PM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: Trish4850]
dangal Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/09/08
Posts: 222
Loc: seattle area
I think at some point we have a "right" to know. I think I had the right to know before I got married. I think I had the right to know before I began to think that everything that was wrong was because I was a terrible wife, lover, whatever. Of course this is coming from a woman who was with a man for 18 years before he let me in on what the heck was making things so hard for us. Clearly before that I should have known. I don't think it should have been super early on but I think the only way to have a honest open relationship you have to know things like this. Had I known before many things would have been different for us.

Having said that you must wait till you feel you can completely trust this with her and that she's the person you want to be with for a long time.

Trish is right no one can tell how she'll respond. I was so sad for my husband, I was angry for him I was crushed that someone had done that to him.

Just don't wait till her response is why didn't he tell me years ago....

just imo \:\)

_________________________
~Jen~
Life is to short to blend in

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#236201 - 07/05/08 10:31 PM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: dangal]
CDavid Offline


Registered: 07/05/08
Posts: 184
TK,


I did not tell my first wife until after we had been married for a little over fifteen years. And then, only because the marriage was failing and, I thought, it was relevant, a necessary part of the process of trying to improve communication in the marriage.

In my defense, if I need one...before that, I did not see the point of disclosure. To me, "that was then and this is now." As is so often the case, I was in my mid-thirties and a death in the family opened a door that I could no longer keep closed.

I was raised in an atmosphere where the abuse went on for nine years in my case. In my view, that can only go on when someone or, everyone, is looking the other way. We were insulated, isolated...and in isolation, so often, we do not or cannot challenge patterns of behavior. I developed skills that were absolutely necessary in my childhood to get through each day...the problem was, I think, I did not stop to consider that they were no longer necessary, and even harmful, to every relationship I had as I left home and got out into the "real" world.

I think...the most frustrating aspect of all of this is the attitude that is so often attached to it. The one of "blame." After I did disclose...every thing that happened or, had happened in my first marriage, my wife thought, was due to the abuse that I had suffered as a kid. Even though, we came together, were together, for nearly twenty years before I disclosed.

I disclosed to "inform." Not to blame. To seek out and sort out why things were the way they were. Because the relationship, I think, is the "idenified patient," not any one individual in the relationship. It is not a coincidence, that often times, partners of survivors also are survivors. If I were looking for a partner, I would most certainly look for someone that I was comfortable with, someone that I could "dance" with. Who knew and was familiar with the dance. So, often times, we attract and are attracted to individuals who share similiar issues even though they may manifest themselves differently in the relationship.

As survivors, we are placed in an impossible situation. Often times the abuse is perpetrated by a family member. In my case, my father. In order for it to go on as long as it did...it was necessary for my mother to look the other way. Our most basic needs are ignored and or minimized. We are put in a situation where, on one hand we minimize the abuse...but at the same time become hypervigilant to protect ourselves from the next occurence. The people we "need" for our very survival...are the people who are, and continue to, pervert the love we have to offer. The system sucks, but it is familiar...and often times, even though we may not actually know what "safe" is...what is familiar feels safe.

Knowing all of that and armed with that information...when I started dating again, I told the person I dated right up front, the first time we were together. In all honesty it came up as we discussed our prior relationships. That was a way in.

She was shocked and I left that night feeling, "Well, shit, I've said too much, too soon." But to my surprise, she said, no...it was hard for her to hear, and she had no idea of the implications at that stage in our relationship, but my honesty and openess, she said, left her feeling as though there would be no secrets. And, if there are no secrets, there are no lies, I think.

So...I think it is going to depend, on a lot of things. Disclosure is always a difficult thing to do. But, I would suggest...that there is a huge difference between finding a "safe" time...and finding a "comfortable" way to do it. Recovery, so often, is about stepping out from what has been comfortable, out of the isolation, into the light.


:-)


CD


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#236210 - 07/05/08 11:21 PM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: CDavid]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6401
Loc: 2.5 NATO Nations
Chris,

I'm the one who stomps all over disclosure as you know.

Knowing what I know now, I would have disclosed to Lorie when we were back in grad school (dating) and not 15 years into the marriage. Back then though, disclosing CSA was full of taboos.

I'd say you dont HAVE to disclose anyting EVER. But to be "fair" to her, I would disclose if you thought marriage is in the likely future.

Another angle is this: Disclose if you want her to share in this aspect of your life. If you see it as a big part of your life and you want to "let her in" on this, go ahead. Her reaction may be positive and you'll be thrilled and probably even closer...or she'll react in a manner less than you hoped. If she reacts negatively, you have decisions to make...but at least you did not waste anyone's time.

But you know...I'm guessing that you'll know well in advance how she'll react. You'll know her heart before that pivotal time.

Quote:
what would be a appropriate time, and way to tell her about it.


The way you choose to tell her is quite variable. IMO, I think you ought to down-play the news. Don't treat it like you are giving her news that you've got cancer or something horrible. Keep it very low-key and very matter-of-fact.

But again, IMO, you have to decide what is fitting for the relationship as it actually exists. To behave in a manner other than your normal self around her would just be weird and awkward.

I hope this perspective from an oldie helps a bit. Again, just my opinions here.



Edited by Robbie Brown (07/05/08 11:28 PM)
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#236216 - 07/05/08 11:45 PM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: Still]
CDavid Offline


Registered: 07/05/08
Posts: 184
Rob,

I do not want to steal the thread, or distract from it at all...but since you mention it, it seems kind of relevant to the thread...

How do you think things would have played out differently if you had disclosed in grad school. If you care to say.

I honestly do not think I would have been able to disclose in my twenties. But I am always impressed with this generation and their willingness to be open.

If you did "downplay" the information in delivery, would that set a tone that might be confusing to the person you were telling? I guess, what I am asking is...would that be defeating the whole purpose of disclosure?


CD


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#236226 - 07/06/08 12:06 AM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: CDavid]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6401
Loc: 2.5 NATO Nations
Originally Posted By: CDavid

How do you think things would have played out differently if you had disclosed in grad school. If you care to say.


Back in Grad School, things were SO diferent. I was still in a world that scorned CSA victims as "wanting it, waiting too long to tell, why did'nt they tell, turning them gay, making them pedos, blah blah blah." There were 1,000,000 reasons to not disclose and NO visible reasons TO disclose. I KNEW I was not the only one who had a "rough childhood," so I thought the only option was to suck it up and live with what was dealt to me. I NEVER thought that it would mean hurting someone else (spouse). In fact, I thought it was flat-out responsible and strong of me to keep it supressed. I thought i was doing the right thing by not telling anyone.

So, to answer your question; I dont know how things would have played-out, but it would not be the disaster I, my wife and my kids experiencing now and will be for quite some time.

Quote:
If you did "downplay" the information in delivery, would that set a tone that might be confusing to the person you were telling? I guess, what I am asking is...would that be defeating the whole purpose of disclosure?


Maybe "downplay" is not the right word. Maybe it is better described as "properly-toned." We can speak of our CSA past as if it were nothing more than a popped bike tire 10 years ago....or we can describe it as so earth-shattering that GF is gonna be shaken by it too.

People respond and interpret things according to delivery method and message. That's why ad agencies make the big bucks. Otherwise, we could convey all compelling messages on a white paper with black ink.

I wish I could have told my wife 15 years ago (in grad school) in a way that allowed her to share in something very meaningful to me...not the way it WAS done, which was like telling her nuclear misiles were on their way to New Hampshire.

But think about it...imagine if Chris could share this very personal and scary aspect of his life with her now. WOW!



Edited by Robbie Brown (07/06/08 12:11 AM)
_________________________
Wishing You Were Here!

The Aftermath Video

The Water Buffalo Song

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#236234 - 07/06/08 12:30 AM Re: in a relationship when is it time to disclose? [Re: Still]
CDavid Offline


Registered: 07/05/08
Posts: 184
I remember when my kids were very small...and I think anyone with kids might find this analogy to be true for them, too. That, when they fell, got hurt, or, when someone did something hurtful to them...they wanted and needed a safe place to come, to tell, to clean the wound or soothe the hurt so that they could go back out and play.

Not someone to blame necessarily, although that is certainly part of it initially.

But, here we are, survivors...and we do minimize our experiences, Hell, we have to, had to. But, in truth...it is more like nuclear missiles being launched on New Hamshire than not. It did not "just happen" it was something that was done "to" us. The sun comes up everyday, that happens, this was something that was done to us.

I must be about your age...and I understand what you are saying about all the complicating factors involved in disclosure. will they now consider me a threat...did I ask for it...why did I wait so long to disclose?

But the truth is...and I think the "average" (I'll use the word average rather than the word, "normals") person or people do not understand is that we have been living with it, most of us, for our entire lives.

But, then...I did not appreciate then...how disclosure would change my life. I was afraid of it, terrified of it. I was sure that most people would see it as my fault. I did, I certainly expected them to see it that way, too.

Wouldn't the more appropriate response from someone that we chose to disclose to, be..."Oh, my God!!"

I don't know about anyone else...but what I need and still need now...is a safe place to tell, for someone to be supportive...so I can go back out and play.


Thanks, Rob...for your honesty.


CD


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