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#56583 - 12/08/03 04:58 PM I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Hi everyone. I'm brand new here, I've started to post a few times before but not done it. This is all just so much and this site is so incredible, and you guys are so incredible.

My boyfriend of the last 6+ years just disclosed to me about a month ago about the SA he'd suffered through most of his childhood. He is my best friend and the love of my life. We have two children together and he is an incredible father especially when you consider that his home life (even before I knew about the SA) gave him no kind of constructive lessons about how to be a dad. Anyway, he finally disclosed this to me partly because he'd been trying to tell me for some time but partly because I found out that he'd been having an online relationship (which was long over but for some reason he'd saved the letters and I found them). When I confronted him he kind of broke down... at first he wouldn't say anything and then he told me that he needed time to sort things out before we could talk about it. I think that maybe he only ended up disclosing at all because he sensed that I was so frustrated about his silence, and thought I was going to leave him.

I still don't really understand why he thought that he couldn't tell me about the relationship without also telling me about the SA. I know that's why he didn't tell me and I know that it's true for him, and I'm no longer hurt about him not telling me after it was all over. I do think though that if he had worked up the courage to disclose (which he says he was in the process of doing before I found out about the other stuff), that he still wouldn't have told me about the relationship unless I found out. I am trying not to think about that right now.

In a way I am relieved to hear about the SA. Although it makes me feel so guilty to say that. At least I have some idea now, of why this man who is so hardworking, loving and devoted to his children, romantic and ethical, has always felt so bad about himself, found it so hard to communicate. At least he (and we) can start to recover from all of this...

that's what I thought anyway. But now it's been a month and he hasn't told anyone but me, and he doesn't want to talk about it with me or anyone else. He doesn't want to go to therapy. He's telling me he'll look into it after the holidays but I don't believe it. I think that he thinks that telling me is going to be some magic thing that makes him feel better and makes it all go away and maybe that is true for the moment but not forever. He knows me. He has to know that, now that I know, I can't just stand by and let him be ashamed and angry. For the two of us to keep his secret is almost as terrible as for only him to keep it. I feel like to just do nothing would be hurting him too, giving him a message that keeping his secret is OK. But I don't know how hard to push him. I don't want to bring it up all the time. I don't even know all of what happened and I don't want to say the wrong thing. I've told him that I'm not ashamed of him, I'm not going anywhere, I don't blame him for anything, etc, but he's not talking to me or anyone. I've tried a few times and he always says he doesn't want to talk about it. He says I should "just move on with him." What should I do? Should I just back off and give him space? Is he counting on me to push him harder than I've been?

The other thing that I'm scared of is that we are both very young. When our first daughter was born we were still both in high school. I'm 22 and he's 24. I have been trying to learn about SA and its effects over the past few weeks and I keep reading about promiscuous behavior and acting out and all. We were best friends before we were a couple and once we became a couple we were sexually active very quickly. I will be his best friend no matter what, I've told him that and I even told him that when I first found out about his cheating online, before I knew about the SA. But what I haven't told him, and what I am so afraid of, is that our whole relationship has been a result of his abuse, and that maybe he won't want me around if he gets some help.

I'm just not sure what to do. It's been hard for me because I'm trying not to overwhelm him with my feelings. I feel like I haven't stopped crying in as long as I can remember. Thanks for reading

Sar


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#56584 - 12/08/03 05:49 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
You poor thing! Everything is even more complicated because of the kids... All I can tell you is that as a survivor of 3 rapes, I was until recently incapable of understanding that my actions could ever have any impact on another person. I think this is true of many survivors. We are so self-involved because we feel so inconsequential - a part of us has been annhilated by the abuse. We want everyone else to support US, but we are so numbed-out due to dissociation that we don't see that our significant others expect us to act like adults! (There is an old Paul Simon song that talks about how people can't ever say "I love you but like a child are longing to be told.") If your Partner is able to heal, he will eventually get over his blindness. BUT as many here have cautioned ME with respect to my own friend's lack of "progress," you can't heal for someone else. The process is going to continue at its own pace regardless of you, regardless of your love, regardless of your pain. It is truly horrible to live with - as partners, we want to know we can depend on our loved one, that "we get to be the baby sometimes." But it isn't going to happen. We have to love DESPITE all of the self-absorption & the resentment. In your case, it is complicated because of living in the same household & because you have the 2 little ones who depend on BOTH of you. You have made a wonderful decision to reach out to us here online - it might help to get YOURSELF some counseling where the disclosure would be protected by the therapist, but you would be able to at least talk about it... Wow! I feel so sad for you! BIG HUG!

_________________________
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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#56585 - 12/08/03 08:07 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Sar
I've just replied to Caro on another post and said "we aren't easy people to deal with" - which is a sad fact.

I hope you read the topic about Sabotage, it's something that seems very common to us. And we do it because we don't trust - both ourselves or those we 'love'. He probably does love you, but maybe he doesn't have all the right framework for showing it or accepting it ?

Hopefully he's assessing his trusting right now, it might be the reason for his reticence at the moment ? His trust has been ripped out when he was a boy, and even though he might say that he trusts you - and mean it - his level of trust compared to a 'normal' ( whatever that is ;\) ) person will be far lower.
You've shown some trust, more than he expected after you found out about his online affair, and maybe that's thrown him ?

I told my wife about my abuse after 25 years of marriage, and I was prepared to be shown the door.
But she trusted me.

A while later, maybe 12 months, she discovered that I had acted out sexually with male strangers.
I didn't tell her, she found out accidentaly.
I was already heading for the door !
Again, she trusted me.

It took a huge leap of faith for me to return that level of trust, all my life until then people had betrayed me, abused me and treated me badly.
Those that didn't, like my wife, were treated as though they were about to betray me. It was a crappy way to live.
But adjusting to the fact that people trusted me was a huge task, and I often fell back into my old ways sabotaging and making excuses not to trust.

We grew up with distorted and broken boundaries, only we can repair them. But we do need people to test them and reassure us that they are where they should be.

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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#56586 - 12/08/03 08:22 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hi Dave!

Once again, you've helped put this into perspective! Would you feel comfortable telling us how you were able to grow into trusting your wife? Did she ever blow up at you? What would she say to the rest of us partners?

_________________________
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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#56587 - 12/09/03 02:03 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Thank you everyone!! You are so kind.

I'm trying to be patient. It's not like I didn't already know that he had trust problems, communication problems, low self-esteem... I just didn't know why. In a way, I feel better about myself knowing that it's not my fault, and that it's not his fault.

But what you said is true kolisha, he can't be the baby. Or, when it's just the two of us talking, I don't mind if that's what he needs, but when it's us and the kids, or him at work, or when I need something, then I do find myself getting aggravated. And for me anyway, a big part of the difference between "being a kid" and "being an adult" was knowing how to ask for help and depend on people. I guess other (normal?) people do that the other way around, they trust as kids and grow more independent. This wasn't something I did or knew how to do as a child. Or it wasn't something I would let myself do, after a while. For me, trust and allowing myself to be dependent on others were a product of growing and of healing. Mostly because my partner has been someone who's helped me do that, because he's been someone I could (or thought I could) trust. But for me, his behavior has just reinforced MY own feelings that everyone is going to let me down. Maybe I'm pushing him because I don't want to fall back into that. I don't want him to let me down. I'm trying to believe that he's not going to. But it is so hard to wait.


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#56588 - 12/09/03 02:17 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Dave, in the other post you were talking about(which has seemed to move away from this topic a little) you said, "she persisted..." how do you do that, without making it worse? How much can you "persist" without just pushing someone too much? And, how important was it for you that she did persist? How much did you need for her to push you, in terms of trust, and how much of it would have come from yourself, no matter what? Or was it just confrontational enough, the idea that she was trusting you?

These are tough questions I know. I'm sorry.


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#56589 - 12/09/03 02:30 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
Thank you SAR for asking these fundamental questions ! I am very anxious to read the answer !

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#56590 - 12/09/03 05:34 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
ecb Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 205
SAR,

You say that you're husband has only told you and doesn't want to discuss the matter any further. I can only speak for myself here, but it took me five years from the time I first disclosed my SA to when I ever discussed it with anyone else and finally saw someone about it.

My point is, telling you about it has been a HUGE and probably very scary step for him. It may be some time until he can take the next step, i.e. see someone.

I can't speak for your husband, but for me going to see a counceler felt like a huge defeat. It felt like I was broken and not good enough or strong enough to go through life and needing mental help was proof of it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that he'll talk when he is ready. Let him know that you love him, and are there for him and always will be so that when he IS ready to talk to you he'll feel safe to do so.

I don't know if this has been helpful in any way or not, so take it or leave it as you need. \:\)

Best of luck

Eric


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#56591 - 12/09/03 06:05 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
tschirret Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 20
Hello, I would like to second Sar and K questions re "how does a partner do it?" how to we stick to a clear course? it seems that a few of us are stuck in the same place at the moment.
Thanks, Eric, for participating and reminding us that time is a huge factor here. I understand that, yet at the moment I feel stuck stuck stuck.
It's hard for me (despite my partner's love and desire to get to the bottom of things) not to equate sexual acting out as a reflection on our relationship. I am stuck in logic here (pseudo logic?):
- sexual behavior outside the relationship ==> something is missing in the relationship. The well-known looking out of the relationship, the "my wife does not understand me", the bringing in of a3rd party to change the power balance.
- with someone much younger ==> partner is tired of this older person
- with a man ==> deep down, partner would prefer to be with a man.

So far, the only explanation that my partner has been able to give is: it is linked to SA, and that evening, I was missing you dreadfully. Which, to me, seems to put an enormous weight of responsibility on my shoulders.
If I am not around, then this might happen again?

I just cannot get out of this (vicious?) circle. And I am ashamed to find myself wondering if SA might be used as an excuse.

And when we talk about it (I am the one who broaches the topic), he gets very sad. So I am now hesitant to ask..... I do not want him to feel upset and sad and lost.

How far do we push our partners? how to we make sense of it? I read Sar and K's messages as asking for practical hints, practical pointers. At least, that is where I stand at the moment: give me a book of instructions and I will gladly follow it!

MN


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#56592 - 12/09/03 08:18 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Sar
I'll reply tommorow, it's late here and I'm off to bed.

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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#56593 - 12/10/03 08:20 AM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Sar
The first and most important thing I had to do was learn to trust myself. There was no way I could trust others untill I did that.
Not trust as in the normal everyday things of trusting her not to spend the houskeeping money on gin and horseracing instead of food; but trusting my emotional feelings enough to share them, and also to recieve emotion from her - and other people.

I might be in a somewhat extreme position regarding my emotional development, or lack of it.
I was raised in the country in a remote place with no close extended family. My parents are more cold and practical rather than warm and sharing. So I grew up with myself for company. Then I went to boarding school. That was a disaster for me, the whole ethos of the place was one of not showing emotion, because if you did there was nobody capable of responding to it. Except the abusers.
They were my source of closeness, and I have to admit - emotion.
With that sort of background what was I going to learn ?

What turned me around is still a bit of a mystery, I decided that my life was such a mess that something had to be done, and I sort of stumbled into my recovery.
I saw George Michael and a British politician on TV after their very public and humiliating downfalls, and the interviewer treated them with respect, and they said they were getting help.
That was such a demonstration of trust by both these men ( although I didn't recognise it as that back then ) that it spurred me into action.

Somehow I began to trust myself, and I disclosed to my wife - so I must have begun to trust her. But it was only a tiny bit, I half expected to be thrown out.

But what you want to know is why she didn't throw me out ?
Well, we've talked about this a lot - and the bottom line is that she loves me and always has.
It's been shakey, make no mistake. But although I was always emotionally distant I was ok in most other things. Not great, but I got by.

The one thing that's always been in my favour was that I was faithful to our marriage, and I respected that.
Even the knowledge that I had acted out with men during the marriage didn't make her throw me out, and I really believed I was going then !
But because I was learning to trust fast, I was sharing what I was experiencing and learning with her. We would talk endlessly after my therapy sessions so she understood. Maybe your husband won't do that, I don't know. But I do know that the unconditional support I got from my wife was the backbone of my healing.

We have never had cross words over anything to do with my recovery. We laid down some ground rules, honesty, no more acting out, and a few other things; and that's what's carried both of us through.
If I showed some honesty and responsibility by 'phoning her and saying "I'm having trouble here, I want to act out, help me please" then I'd get help.
I know how hard it is to pick up my cell phone and say those words, I can't imagine how hard it is hear them and not go mental at me. But I suppose she realises that help is more use that anger or berating me. My acting out is more to do with the need for humiliation, and the need to self sabotage, than sex. It's nothing to do with sex.
So making me feel even worse by berating me would probably just make me do it.

What came first, the chicken or the egg ? my self trust, or my trust in her ? I have no idea, my best guess is they grew together.
She was persistent in encouraging that growth, never in asking questions about what, when or how. Lots of question about why - "why" I was thinking a particular way about something now, and how that had changed from my old thinking, she provoked confrontation in MY thinking, and therefore I began to trust my ideas because I had a sounding board for them, I wasn't thinking in circles anymore.

I spend a lot of time in this forum because I know how much difference the support of a loved one can make. I've said before that if it wasn't for Linda I'd be a bum on the streets by now, still acting out.
What I missed as a boy, before and after the abuse, I am having to learn now at 50yo, but I've got a wonderful teacher.

I'm a lucky guy, and I have to say that if a partner makes the effort to come here and learn as much as they can about this very painful fact then their fellas are just as lucky.

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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#56594 - 12/10/03 08:53 AM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
tschirret Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 20
Dear Dave,

I want to give you a big hug for your message on this forum. For helping us , even if you probably feel that you are repeating over and over what you have already said! I do not know about the others, but I am at a stage then I need to hear the same things, to get out of the vicious circle of my crooked reasoning.
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to write such compassionate and honest answers to us partners. I trust your opinion and explanations. You sharing with us what went on with Linda and you is so important: it gives us a positive model. It gives us hope. Many, many, many thanks.
((((((((( ))))))))))
MN


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#56595 - 12/10/03 04:06 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
I also want to say thank you Dave! Whatever you're still having to learn now, it seems to me that you're doing a terrific job of it! Thank you for being so patient and kind.

To hear that what saved your marriage was just two people loving (trying to love?) each other is the best thing I can hear. The love I share with my boyfriend is possibly the only thing in my life that I have never doubted. At times it seems like the most ridiculous and imaginary thing to hold on to but even at those times I couldn't let go if I wanted.

Sar


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#56596 - 12/10/03 04:26 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
I want to thank Dave also, for his willingness to share with us his experiences. I learn so much from your posts! You are such a help. I feel I could learn a lot from your dear Linda also.

My husband and I have had an absolutely great few months since his last shut down/withdrawal. I know there will be another black time, but they are less and less, and are becoming easier to handle with time and insight from all the wonderful people here at MS.

Thanks again Dave!!!!

Kathy


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#56597 - 12/10/03 06:26 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Yeah - Dave - you are pretty terrific! Love to Linda, too!

_________________________
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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#56598 - 12/10/03 08:10 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
\:o

_________________________
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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#56599 - 12/11/03 01:49 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Leosha Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 3614
Loc: Right here
Hello, and welcome.

Please try to keep yourself apart of this. By that, I mean, I guess, to not take things personal. There will be a lot happening in his mind, now that he has told you of it. Believe me of that.

But, you can not make him do anything. When first I started dealing of all this, people trying to help me were 'pushing' therapy at me (well, okay, suggesting it, but I felt pushed). But still, I had to discover it for myself. I had to finally 'find' therapy, and the person who is helping me.

No matter what you may feel will help him, he has to make those choices himself. He has to discover those options himself. You can be good friend, good partner. You can offer yourself, for him to talk or cry or whatever. But only he can decide when he can do that, and honestly, he may not even know sometime when it is possible.

So as I say, please do not take that as something personal about you. There are differences between males being sexually abused and females, differences of ideas brought on by society expectations and 'myths' of men. That does not at all mean that it is easier for women to deal with. I do not at all mean that. But, there are some things of a male being sexually abused, that it will be harder to 'face up' to. And again, it can only be done by the individual.

You being kind, loving and supportive, truly that is known and felt by him, and appreciated, I know that. I hope that you can have the patience to see progress made when he does deal more with it, but it will get worse before it gets better.

Thank you, for being such a kind person to him. I appreciate that.

leosha

_________________________
Avatar photo in memory of my younger brother Makar.

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."~~~Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

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#56600 - 12/11/03 09:40 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Hi Leosha, thanks for chiming in! I haven't met you yet but I've been following the post about your recent troubles and I'm glad you're feeling well!

Can't talk anymore now, I have to go read a bedtime story to my girls (same story, for the third day in a row :rolleyes: ), but I did speak to my boyfriend, just to let him know that it would be okay if he felt like he needed to change the parameters of our relationship, especially physically... I know he has trouble saying things that he feels will be hurtful (when he's thinking about how I feel) and I wanted to make sure he felt comfortable if that came up... he started to laugh at my worried face and gave me a big hug and a kiss, said, why would I want to be away from the only person I can tell?

So while I still am frustrated that I'm the only person he wants to speak to about this, I'm pretty psyched that he wants me around.

I have a feeling that therapy is not going to be an option for a long long time. But more on that another day.


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#56601 - 12/11/03 09:51 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Eric,

Thanks for posting and answering my questions. I feel as though your post got lost in the shuffle but I did want to say thank you. I'm only here after all because I want to know what you guys are going through and what people like myself can do to help.

My guy is so obsessed with success and failure, what you've said makes a lot of sense. It's hard for me to think of his disclosure as anything but a victory for him, since I see it as a great step. And on the other side of that, maybe I'm too quick to anticipate failure in myself, because I just want someone else to be helping him too--I'm so afraid that I'll screw up trying to help.

Thanks again.

Sar


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#56602 - 12/11/03 10:11 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
ecb Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 205
SAR,

I'm glad that what I said was of some help.

I can certianly understand why would would feel inadaquately able to help him go through this. After all, you aren't a therapist. But while therapy may or may not be something he needs, he doesn't neccessarily need it from YOU. Better to let the professionals handle that when and if he goes to see one.

I'm not exactly an expert in relationships, but what I would want from my wife is to know that she doesn't see me as weak or faulty or damaged in some way, and that she will be understanding in regards to sexual issues. i.e. having problems with flashbacks or "body memories" etc.

I can't speak for your husband but for me personally, I have trouble initiating sex because I don't want to take advantage of a woman the way I was taken advantage of. However, it's fairly likely that the last one only applies to me.

Best of luck SAR, it seems like he's very lucky to have someone so understanding. And like I said, give him lots of time and love, he'll need both.

Eric


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