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#380206 - 12/20/11 09:45 PM Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions.
Joy1980 Offline


Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 11
Hi all,

I'm grateful this forum exists. I recently posted in the "Introductions" forum, but I'm repeating my background here. At the end of the post I've tackled some of the questions/difficulties that I'm facing as a spouse. I don't want to burden my husband with them right now; I only want to support him.

I'm sorry this post is so long. My thanks to anyone who slogs through.

WHY I'M HERE

My husband disclosed to me two days ago that his sister (older by 3 years) sexually abused him for several years from the age of 7 on. He is just starting to recover memories. She abused him alone for a couple years, and then used him as a pawn to make friends, inviting other girls her age over and passing him to them. She was unpopular, unattractive and horribly bullied by others. That's as much as I know at this point. I wonder if she wasn't sexually abused herself; 10 seems awfully young to initiate sexual activity.

I am heartbroken. I love this man more than I can say. All I want to do is go back in time and protect him. Over the past two days I have told him I love him, that telling me was the bravest thing I've ever seen him do, that I am so glad he trusts me enough to share this, and that he is good at his core (he has often expressed feeling like a "bad person," but couldn't say why - now it and other symptoms make perfect sense). The day after, he said he actually forgot he told me. That is how accustomed he is to dissociating. I made sure to tell him that was a normal coping mechanism, and that I would never pressure him to open up more that he would like.

He is only just beginning to speak about the abuse, and I know the best thing I can do is listen. Of course, I'm filled with questions and my own feelings toward his abuser and family. But I know now is NOT the time to inflict any of that on him. Right now I just need to be available to him when he does want to talk. I'm hoping the F&F board will be a helpful outlet for the questions and emotions I can't yet share with him.

I am in the process of finding an appropriate therapist for him (he welcomes this - again, he is one brave guy). I also read Gartner's "Beyond Betrayal" and found it hugely helpful.

While I'm devastated this happened to him, there is a part of me that is relieved to know the truth, because it explains some of his previously confounding behavior (self-hate, short temper, compulsive exercise, odd sleep patterns and night terrors, low threshold for pain, lack of empathy, and an extreme need to please women, including me). He wants to know how this has affected him, and I know that if he understand himself better, our marriage will be stronger for it.

I am 3 1/2 months pregnant, which I think has something to do with his memories coming back. He said the Sandusky case also brought it to light. Additionally, I have twin nephews that are 7, and he said seeing them reach that age made him realize how young and vulnerable he was at the time.

MY CONCERNS

1. My first concern is getting him help. Thank God he wants it.

2. Dealing with his abuser. She lives far away (thank goodness) but she calls often. He has always kept his emotional distance from her, and doesn't understand why she calls once a week. She called me a few days ago (before the revelation). I can't bring myself to call her back because I don't think I can fake it. I vacillate between feeling sorry for her and wanting to rip her throat out. Our usual small talk just isn't possible. What do I do? Ignore her?

3. Dealing with his family. I have always felt a weighty darkness in his parents' home (where he was abused). In fact, we have a 48 hour limit for visits. Any longer than that and I get severely depressed. I've told him it feels like my soul is deadened when I'm there. Now I know why.

I've also felt uncomfortable with the level of sexual jokes his family tolerates; they like to think of themselves as "liberal" and free to say anything, but the truth is that only extends to dirty jokes, not anything of real substance. For instance, his parents are on the verge of financial ruin but won't declare bankruptcy because they are too afraid of telling the other children and their social circle. We only know because they asked us for loans. Anyway - back to the sexual jokes: I was raised in a very proper home, and half the time chock my discomfort up to coming from a prudish environment. But at Thanksgiving his brother made a joke about Sandusky. Something along the lines of, "I told him to watch out or I'd go all Sandusky on him." My jaw hit the floor. Immediately I said, "There is nothing funny about child rape." The other people in the room (his brother's wife and his sister) agreed with me (for the first time) that it wasn't funny.

I am very angry at his parents. So far he has not expressed anger at his parents and I have not shared how angry I am at them (and don't intend to any time soon). His parents prided themselves on being the house all the neighborhood kids came to, with snacks and sodas available at all times. I think this open door policy coupled with a lack of supervision enabled his abuse.

His mother is a narcissist in my opinion. She has made mothering the center of her identity, and yet her children suffer from eating disorders, are emotionally stunted and suffering (not just my husband - he is actually the most socially well adjusted and successful of the four children). Everything is about her. My husband learned from an early age that is was his job to please her. I am absolutely furious with her for not protecting him. I did manage to have a superficial conversation with her over the phone today, but I am not sure how I will be able to handle this in the future. My mother advised me not to jump to conclusions since so many of the details of the abuse are still murky, and the level of their neglect isn't yet clear. Still. I'm livid.

I am 3 1/2 months pregnant. I have always had a foreboding feeling about leaving our child with his family. We love to travel, and (before he remembered the abuse) he would say "We can just leave the baby with my mom and dad for a week and go on vacation!" I never said "yes" but couldn't really pinpoint what made me uncomfortable. I don't think I will ever be able to leave my children with them in that house. For me, the only thing that can trump my husband's feelings is the safety of our children.

4. Betraying his confidence. He asked me to promise not to tell ANYONE, and I promised. Yesterday (the day after finding out) I found myself completely overwhelmed. My mom stopped in and I confessed it to her. She is extremely wise and said she felt very comfortable keeping his secret in complete confidence (I know she will). I feel horrible for breaking his promise, but I couldn't hold onto the ugliness alone (and I felt alone because he's not yet ready to talk much about it.) I have not told him that I spoke with my mother.

It gets worse.

My sister came over today and confessed to me that her husband was sexually abused by his older sister. The similarities are uncanny; the sisters even share the same name. My brother-in-law also remembered his abuse when my sister was pregnant (this was 8 years ago). My BIL is a terrific guy and father. He has lost all contact with his family as a result of the abuse, but he has gained a great deal of happiness through therapy. I blurted out that we were going through the same thing. Again, my sister said she felt no need to tell her husband, and she would keep it under wraps (I trust her). I never ask married people to keep secrets from their spouses, but she said she didn't think it would help anyone to spread the news further at this point, and that her husband would understand why she kept it from him if he ever finds out. Which I hope he does, as my husband respects my BIL a great deal, and it could help him - eventually - to feel less alone.

I don't feel the need to tell anyone else but I feel HORRIBLE that I broke his trust twice in as many days.

Do I owe it to my husband to tell him about my breaches of confidence? My gut tells me this would do more harm than good. Will there come a time when I can come clean without hurting him?

Any advice on how to handle interacting with abusers and family members when the survivor hasn't yet confronted them and may not ever?

Thank you for reading/listening. I know I'll learn from everyone here and hope my husband will join when he's ready.


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#380219 - 12/20/11 11:04 PM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: Joy1980]
GoodHope Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 417
Whoo! That's a lot. You are going to need support. Reading about the abuse helped me tremendously both in the early days when he wasn't forthcoming w it and then when I has more details I really needed it. Therapy is a must . Make sure the person specializes in CSA at a minimum and male CSA if possible. The breach of trust is harder for me to speak to. My husband gave me permission to share w the people who are supporting me, it was
a lifeline, a god send. What you are embarking on can quickly become overwhelming. You too need a therapist who specializes in CSA.

I do not talk to the wife of my husbands abuser or the abuser. I cannot. I have not told my husband that I do not answer their
phone calls or emails. He does not want to Rock their boat. I'm sick when their name pops up on my phone. Physically sick. You have to decide how you want to handle this in a way that doesn't make him feel unsafe for sharing with you. There is a very good chance my husband will be pissed at me for this. But I know me (and if he thinks about it he does too) and I don't trust myself w my volatile emotions. They aren't mine to share w anyone including my husband.

_________________________
Wife of a survivor

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#380224 - 12/21/11 12:01 AM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: GoodHope]
StringsAttached Offline


Registered: 11/19/11
Posts: 59
Welcome Joy,

Sometimes we survivors don't realize how our spouses are affected by the revelations of our abuse. So, it seems that you need support in being his support. This is a tough road.

1) If your husband is looking for help, that's great. There are resources on this site that will help you find a good therapist. That makes all the difference.

2) I see no reason to maintain appearances to the abuser. My wife has actually assisted me in absenting myself from family gatherings because she knew I did not want to breathe the same air as my abuser (older brother). You are being protective of your husband. Perhaps you can be the buffer for now but do it in such a way that later, maybe you can be compassionate to her. For now, your focus is your husband; I see nothing wrong with that.

3) His family... you can't control them and I would not waste energy on responding; it is fruitless. They won't change and you will get irritated. It might be easier to make more space between you/your husband and his family. Spend your energy on him. And now, knowing what you know, don't EVER leave your kids with that family. It means finding others to watch them or delaying your travel pleasures for later in life. Sad but true.

4) Betraying his confidence: Hmmm... not sure about this one. I would not want my MIL to know about my abuse because she already has serious doubts about my family and I would not want to fuel that fire. But if she did know, I would not want to know that she knew. I would not want her to feel the liberty to ask me about it. I would not want to talk to her about it. I think you needed to speak with someone you trust, someone safe and that person was your mother.

I hope she is as discrete as you think and that the secret won't pop out at the wrong time. Still, your husband is just starting a difficult journey and he is more fragile now that he has been in a long time. He doesn't need to stress about your indiscretion when you couldn't hold it in. Just wait.

And when he is stronger and capable of dealing with this knowledge, maybe tell him then; maybe not. But when you do tell him, you have to explain that you were learning how to cope with the revelation of his abuse. It is a learning process for both of you.

I hope this helps.

_________________________
-StringsAttached

Survive, then thrive



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#380225 - 12/21/11 12:07 AM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: GoodHope]
Joy1980 Offline


Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 11
Thanks GoodHope for the reply, and I am realizing now just HOW long that post was. Wow. I think I need to take my husband's lead on how he wants to deal with his family and abuser. If he needs me to keep the peace for now, I will. If he needs me to keep them away from him, I'll do that.

I have several recommendations for therapists and am screening them now. Hope to have options for him before the weekend.


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#380226 - 12/21/11 12:12 AM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: StringsAttached]
Joy1980 Offline


Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 11
Thank you Stringsattached for your perspective, it is helpful to hear from a survivor.

I would do anything to protect him; I hope he can open up again so and give me a hint as to how he'd like to handle family in the near term. I'm also trying to get both of us in therapy asap.

Just a note on my mom: She would never mention that she knows to my husband. She is along time veteran of AA and understands the importance of privacy. She has phenomenal respect for people's boundaries, and is very discrete.

I know you're right about waiting (possibly a long time) to tell him about my indiscretion now. It would only hurt him more and he's too vulnerable. Not worth it.


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#380227 - 12/21/11 12:17 AM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: Joy1980]
StringsAttached Offline


Registered: 11/19/11
Posts: 59
Joy, I didn't mean to sound accusatory when I mentioned indiscretion and I hope it didn't come across that way.

I wish you and your husband well on the road to recovery. You are clearly a treasure to him/for him.

_________________________
-StringsAttached

Survive, then thrive



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#380231 - 12/21/11 12:32 AM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: StringsAttached]
Joy1980 Offline


Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 11
Not to worry, I didn't take it that way Strings. Thanks for your well wishes.


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#380285 - 12/21/11 11:07 AM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: Joy1980]
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Hi Joy, and welcome to the MS site. I'm really glad you're here looking for how you can help your husband. From reading your post I can tell you are an extremely supportive spouse and love him dearly, which will be an enormous help to him in his recovery and processing.

As far as dealing with his abuser, nothing says you have to do anything more than exchange social pleasantries about the weather, etc., with her. If you feel that talking about other things beyond that is too much, then don't. My first abuser was an older brother and I still see him at my parents' house on Thanksgiving and Christmas. My wife knows about the abuse and it's all she can do to keep from lunging across the table at those get togethers and ripping his head off. My parents do not know about any of it, and that's by my choice - the reason is that they are both dysfunctional (mother - narcissist, father - physical abuser from childhood) so frankly I just don't want to go there with them. I know I would just end up feeling worse. I tried to broach the subject of our dysfunctional childhood once with my mother and it ended up with ME apologizing to HER! So I vowed after that disaster that I would never get into this with them. My wife has respected that and told me so in the car the other day when it came up - she said that the only reason she hasn't gone to my parents and unloaded on them is out of respect for me. It means a lot to have someone in your corner like that.

And I understand about the heavy feeling in his parents' home. I feel the same way about my parents' home. They live in the same town as us, but I only see them on "duty" days - Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, and mother/father's day (those are the worst). And when I go, an hour is about all I can take. Just bad vibes. Thank goodness for Xanax.

Breaching his confidence - I'm not going to beat you up over this, you did enough of a job on yourself already. But will simply add to please, please be careful who you share this information with. Once told, it cannot be recovered, ever. In retrospect, there are a couple of people that I confided in that I wish I had never done so. And at this point, I would not tell him that you have spoken about this to your mother or sister. To me, my initial reaction would be all out fear - which is fear that I have lost control of my situation. Remember, for decades he has kept this secret under his control, so it's like having it in a box and having the only key to it. Now, he has let you glimpse inside the box. I would be devastated if I knew my wife had told my mother-in-law or her sisters, even though I love them to pieces, they mean the world to me. The fact that I was losing control over something so deeply personal to me, though, would be incredibly frightening.

Again, so glad you're here, and congratulations on your coming child, what a wonderful thing. smile

_________________________
Eddie

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#380290 - 12/21/11 11:24 AM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: Joy1980]
Castle Offline


Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 733
Loc: NJ
There was quite a lot of action in that post for sure.

Incest is ugly, and your learning that unfortunatly...Female sibling abuse brings its own challenges to the table so I'm happy that you are looking for a good T to help untangle some of this.

Seemingly the weekly calls are a way to still hold power over your husband and protect the "secret" that has weighed on his shoulders for so long...I have a feeling that secret will revert back to its rightful owner at some time.

Its very "common" to not want anything to do with the perp or her family, difficult if he wants to keep the current dynamics, until he is able to do what he needs. Your ok to not return a call, if she cant get the hint thats her issue, and at some point in the future with advise you might be able to tell her that you no longer wish she contact your house.

"I have twin nephews that are 7, and he said seeing them reach that age made him realize how young and vulnerable he was at the time."

this is a very important part of your post, and makes a differnce for a lot of people....seeing somebody that small and where they are in their mental development....I know for a while, and maybe even still a bit now, I felt as an 8 yo I should have been smarter and more savy to not be abused by my brother. Some friends drilled it in that I was 8, no matter how much smarter street wise I was, I was still an 8 yo kid...It made/makes a difference.

be strong as the rolelrcoaster has begun, I think there will be lots of challenges along the way but worth it.

Now, unfortunatly, the disclosure business...Huge breakdown in trust there...that will be challenging...It is so important to have control over your process...Disclosing, especially to family members without his permission and in direct conflict to what he asked you would/is worrysome. Remember there is an issue with him and women, pleasng them, power and control...I think it is hugely important to be in control of your process.

When and how you should tell him ,IDK exactly, but IMO he must know at some point...I wonder now that you told them , will you continue to get support from them and discuss these matters or let them know that at the current time you shouldnt be discussing this issue even for your support without talking to your husband about it first...It may show that you know the trust was breached but your not continuosly breaking your word bt discussing the issues.

I know, have heard and spoken to several SO about needing support from their family members but the survivor doesnt want that...and I understand the need for SO to have people to talk to about this stuff...I let my wife tell a few friends with my permission...but there is still the breach of trust.

I think your head is in the right place, especially with the preggo hormones running around, but I would be cautious about further discussions with your family in re your husband...It will be tough for sure, your sister will want to talk about her husband, and thats their business, but IMHO honor him and his wishes best you can after the fact.

Talk to that T about this.

_________________________

My posts can self destruct at any time..read them while you can.

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#380349 - 12/21/11 08:42 PM Re: Help! Incest. Just found out, have questions. [Re: Castle]
GoodHope Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 417
Joy 1980,

You are going to need someone to talk to. The women on this board are PHENOMENAL and anonymous. We don't know you from Adam. YOu can PM me or probably any one of us anytime. It's too big to carry alone. It's too confusing. It's too isolating. There are many things that make me cry about CSA but my husband carrying this alone for 33 years makes me heave sob. It's TOO much! It's too confusing. It's too isolating. There are too many people out there who know this pain (his and yours) and can offer solace, hindsight, or just an ear, and you are going to need it. If anonymous help on the web is not enough for you, hopefully your husband will release you to tell someone close to you. My husband told my family--I needed that. I needed a place where I wouldn't have to fake.

_________________________
Wife of a survivor

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