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#56489 - 12/03/03 01:38 PM If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hello everyone! I am new to MS & just want to thank you all for bringing me such comfort & perspective. Here's my question: I have been "involved" for about 10 yrs. with someone I truly love, but we have never gotten physically intimate. I am 100% sure he has had no sexual contact with anyone else either. The 2 of us lost touch with eachother for about 5 yrs. but are now back in eachother's lives. Although my friend is much more forthcoming, warm, & affectionate than before, no longer flinches when we touch, and actually responds to non-sexual caresses, we are still doing the "come here - go away" dance. Although he has alluded to some trauma having taken place, he has never specifically mentioned SA. As a female rape survivor myself, I know that healing can't take place without breaking the silence. On the other hand, I worry that if I am the one to bring up the issue, it will seem like a violation. I do not want to do ANYTHING that would make him more uncomfortable, but it hurts me so much to think of him being in pain. I would love some direction here, especially from male survivors. Thanks much!!!

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#56490 - 12/03/03 03:42 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Could be a lot of reasons for this distance.. shyness, fear, other abuse issues??

I dont know if you can really suspect sexual abuse based on this de>

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#56491 - 12/03/03 04:00 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
HI PAS!

Thanks for getting back to me - you are right: I do have other reasons for suspecting the abuse, but they are just sooooo obvious that they don't even bear getting into... I guess I am just getting frustrated with the excruciatingly slow pace of his recovery & with getting the Big Shut-Out just when things seem to be purring along. As a survivor myself, I always worry that I am substituting my own agenda & calling it "healthy" when, in fact, it's healthy for ME & not for US. Also, as a woman, it's my natural tendency to want to talk things over: I have no idea what it means to be a man & to be held up to such implacable standards of "self-control..." Yeah. I guess you are right. I need to be very very careful about talking directly about this. Maybe I should just confine my observations to my OWN behavior & PTSD. Anyway. Thanks so much for your insights!

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#56492 - 12/04/03 11:33 AM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
I'm kind of in the same boat with my partner - I am an abuse survivor myself (verbal/emotional/psychological, raised in an alcoholic/substance abuse family) and have had to learn a lot and do a lot of healing to get over my own background (spent a lot of time suffering debilitating depression, have had chronic relatioinship problems), and in many cases I"m a bit ahead of my partner on some healing, learning, etc.

While we are much further along than in your case as we are in a relationship that is heading towards marriage, there are some cases where because "I have been there before" that I am pretty sure there is a link between his abuse experience and a problem he's having in his life but I do have to respect the fact that he might just not be "there" yet with his own recovery... and I *really* hesitate to poke around in there. I do on occasion, but when I do I usually ask permission from him first (i.e. I will ask him "are you ok with having a discussion on your abuse experience and how it may be affecting your job - I have some advice and insights but I wont give them to you unless you are ok with it" rather than just saying stuff like "you should do this and you should do that"...) Guys in general, especially ones that come from homes where they had *really* intrusive moms, really hate it when "their woman" gives them unsolicited advice!

Keep in mind we are dealing with people whose boundaries have been violated in the most extreme ways so we have to ensure that they feel SAFE with us if we want to make ANY headway in a relationship with them!

P


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#56493 - 12/04/03 01:29 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Wow! You are sooooo "together!" I feel so much better having the benefit of your insight! My friend & I are nowhere near the stage at which you find yourselves, but I hope to be as sensitive to his needs as you are urging - while at the same time making sure my own needs are respected. I came to the realization last night that, just as you say, it is important to ASK & not TELL. I don't think it would help for me to inquire directly about abuse per se, but it has struck me that I have never asked him exactly how I can simply support him! I remember when I was at a similar stage of panic & terror in my own life & I can't say that I can ever remember one of my former lovers ever having asked me this simple question... I think I can pose it in such a way as to not be condescending about it & make him feel even worse: I'll let you know what happens. Meanwhile - how did you & your fiance begin your own dialogue about all of this?

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#56494 - 12/04/03 02:23 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Well my fiance and I have a long history of friendship together.. we were friends as kids then lost touch then re-met 3 years ago.. and we started our relationship as friends.

I was intersted in nothing more than friendship and it was actually him who wanted the relationship. And in the very early stages (first few dates) he disclosed his SA and the effects its had on his life. He was very honest about his SA, what it did to his education, his subsequent alcoholism, poor relationship choices, drug use, etc.

What helped for our relationship was that he was at a turning point in his life where he had done some work and realized he wasn't getting any younger and he *really* wanted a wife/family. He was working hard years before we met to be more open to having someone in his life. I am sure that if he was in a space where he was less open I'm sure I would have been like the many other women who came.. and went...

Basically I was at the right place at the right time to start a relationship with a SA survivor.

Me? Together? Hm.. on most days I dont think so.. but I guess I've gotten a lot of experience on this the hard way!! A few bad relationships, trying to have relaitonships when I was in my selfish phases, with others in their selfish phases.. learned limits when people have walked out of my life, etc..... and so has my partner. We wouldnt be where we are now with each other without those mistakes.

P


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#56495 - 12/04/03 08:04 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
kolisha54
I don't think there's any way I could answer your original question - only you can do that. But I will add my 2c worth ;\)

I remained silent for 25 years of marriage and 31 years altogether. I never told a soul about what happened to me.
I was just too scared.

And that's sad, not just that I didn't tell, but that I had my sense of 'self' and all my framework of trust so destroyed by the abuse that I couldn't even tell the woman I loved.
The effects spread though us like a virus, every aspect of our lives becomes affected.

The one thing that would have made me tell sooner was the trust thing. I didn't know how trust worked properly, that's not a good de>
_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#56496 - 12/04/03 08:47 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Dave, thanks so much for your candor! I can recognize this kind of dynamic in both N. & myself - trauma gets written into our bodies & makes a mockery out of any rational intentions we have to act differently. I am still wondering, though: when N. goes through his bad times & is trying to put distance between us, I recognize that he is in terrible pain. But I also know that this is his very own way of attempting to help himself feel better - to try to talk on an intimate level might really violate the sense of trust we've been talking about, no? Is it right of me to impose my own sense that breaking the silence will help him heal? And do you have any recommendations for how I should behave when he is going through this distancing dynamic? Most of the time, he won't even pick up the phone... should I continue to leave him affectionate, non-threatening messages OR does that only make someone in N's situation feel incompetent that he can't interact with me????

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#56497 - 12/05/03 02:43 AM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
James_dup1 Offline


Registered: 04/13/02
Posts: 1332
Loc: Wyoming
HI,
You said you were a survivor as well...does he know about that part of your life and how hard it was for you to heal? Maybe you talking about what happened to you will open the trust and he will open up to you. Good luck.
James

_________________________
I have more issues than Rolling Stone!


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#56498 - 12/05/03 02:32 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Kolisha
James makes a very good point, although it's something I would do slowly and carefully. But sharing your experience would show him that you trust him with your 'knowledge' and maybe encourage him to trust you.

I would certainly keep answer-phone messages as non threatening as possible, but ask a simple question that might make him phone you back.

Talking intimately is hard to do to a plan, it's one of those things when you just 'know' that the moment is right, well we never know for sure, but maybe we just feel a bit braver and more willing to take a chance ?
Whatever it is, as long as it's non-judgemental in both directions talking's what heals us best.
And another thing that makes a difference is knowing when to stop. The thing that would p**s me off faster than anything is someone 'insisting' on knowing something. I'll tell everything eventually, but only when I want to tell.

Selfish ? you bet it is. But the deal my wife and I have is that she's said that she's going to do "whatever it takes" to help me, and my part of the deal is that I tell the truth, work at my recovery, respect her, and get myself better.
We both agree that the more I do, the better our relationship gets, and that's my part of the deal.
One day, soon I hope, we'll be equal partners again, giving each other love, trust and support, unconditionally, and without measure.

It ain't easy, not for either of us, but the future's looking better so it's worth it.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#56499 - 12/05/03 03:30 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
I'd be careful on the phone messages. It is great to let him know you are there & that you care, but you also need to show him that you respect his boundaries & his choice to be alone & not talk to you. It is a difficult balancing act & every time my ex bf would retreat into silence it was different, so there isn't a real easy answer about that. Just try to keep in mind that a) he needs to have the right/control to be able to say when he wants to talk & to whom and b) he may feel very insecure or isolated & may appreciate a friendly message that people out there still care...

Finally, I'd encourage you to also keep in mind that HE is ultimately responsible for communicating his needs & it isn't your job to take that on. It can be really stressful & a real energy zap to wonder what the right thing to do is when the person you are dealing with won't communicate! So take care of yourself & nurture yourself!

-BB.


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#56500 - 12/05/03 07:02 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Thanks everyone! You can't believe what a relief it is just to be able to communicate about all this! Yes - N. does know about my history, but I have always discussed it in a matter-of-fact, affectless way: I've never really let him experience me as being in pain or out of control with it. I guess that's why he's opened up at all but not completely. I think I may be inadvertently giving the impression that I think it's somehow "easy" to recover from this kind of wounding. Well, all I can say is that I am learning - about both of us - every day. And to all of you who have been so generous - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#56501 - 12/05/03 07:38 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
BB
You're spot on there.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#56502 - 12/08/03 02:50 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
My technique for encouraging talking generally involved pushing.. at first.. and then I realized that it wasn't working.

The only advice I can give is if the current approach you are taking to try and get him to open up is not working, try something different. If you are pushing, try to walk away once in awhile. The ensuing silence may just be deafening enough for him to want to come around. I found that eventually my partner *did* come around - not on the time schedule that i wanted, but eventually.

P


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#56503 - 12/08/03 05:34 PM Re: If I suspect SA, should I bring up the topic???
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
PAS - you are just sooooo cool!!!!

I am really indebted to you for all your help!

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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