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#58060 - 10/11/05 04:58 AM New here - need help on how to help
Major Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 9
Hi everyone,

I'm new here. In Jan 2004, my husband of 15 years told me that he was abused by a hockey coach when he was a young boy. A few days after that, he decided to tell his mother and siblings (his father died when he was very young). All of us rallied around him, told him that we loved him and that we were so happy that he finally released this tremendous burden that he had been holding in all these years.

The last nearly two years has been an extremely trying time for us. He had left his job in the fall of 2003, after the birth of our third child, and started his own business. In Jan, after he told me his news, he barely worked, leaving me and our savings to carry us through each month. He didn't start working again until the spring of this year, so needless to say, finances have been a huge issue of strain.

I have been extremely worried about him during this time period, as he has more than once talked about how this was his fault, how he is a bad person, how he's let his family down, how his dad would be disappointed with him, how we'd all be better off without him, etc etc. I have tried, rather unsuccessfully, to tell him that this just isn't the case. I think he is at the lowest point that I have seen him at throughout this all. He wakes up each morning looking like a normal person, but by the time night rolls around, a different person has entered his head, although I am beginning to wonder if the different person is the one I see in the morning, and that the real person is the one I see at night.

I have tried so hard to be supportive of him during this time period, but I am nearly at the end of my rope. I work for myself, and we have four young children, the youngest of which is just a few weeks old. Every night, he crawls into bed, crying and depressed, at 9:30 at night, leaving me to deal with my work, the kids, the house, the banking, etc etc. It is now 11:45pm, and I've still got deadlines to meet for tomorrow. Each night he goes to bed and says that tomorrow I'll wake up early, take the dog for a walk, and start a new day. Each day comes and goes without any sign of change.

One day, a couple of months after he first broke his silence, he wanted me to call our minister to talk to him. So that I did, and our minister was really wanting to help him - I knew that my husband would not want to talk in person to start with, so I suggested that our minister email him. So he did. But that method didn't work out since my husband didn't really want to respond to any of his messages. And now, when we go to church, my husband (I think I'll call him John as referring to "my husband" every other line is getting difficult!) wells up with tears throughout the service, to the point that he generally leaves the sanctuary. He thinks that he is not loved by God, and that our minister is looking at him differently.

He has retreated from his family. He used to be the life of the party, but that has gone away. He tries to avoid family functions, and when he does have to go to one, he looks to me like he is so uncomfortable that he might burst. His family has been very supportive, especially one of his sisters, who has really tried to help him, but again he has just retreated from her.

Then there is me... I just don't know what to do anymore as this situation is becoming unbearable for me. I am so exhausted by dealing with everything that I know I'm sliding downwards on the compassion scale. I've done a bunch of reading, and I know that he has done something incredibly difficult by coming out with his news, and that he has to be ready to change etc etc, but his state of mind is having significant effects on me and our kids. I hope I don't sound mean, since I'm really not - I'm just so frustrated by so many things (sorry, this message is long enough... but there are so many other things going on - he drinks way more than I think is healthy, he hasn't been to the Dr's in years even though he has had some serious health issues etc etc) and I just don't know what to do anymore.

From what I've seen of him and what I've read, I really think he needs help. I know going to see a therapist is a huge step - I've suggested that he just visit this website to start, to read about things, to at least leaf through some of the books that I've bought, to start journaling... but he has done nothing to help himself. All he ever says is that he shouldn't have told anybody, that life was ok before that (it was not - there were all sorts of red flags waving around that told me something was wrong, but I didn't know what).

What am I supposed to do? I am expecting too much from him? I need to know how to help.


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#58061 - 10/11/05 11:15 AM Re: New here - need help on how to help
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Major,

I am so sorry all this is happening to you and John (I will call him that too) and your kids. It’s a serious situation and you are right to be concerned. You are also right to be talking about your own feelings: I can just imagine the frustration and pain this is putting you through. In some of this I recognize the way things were for a while in my own case, so I thought I would respond.

I left a post for Ladyinwaiting on the thread "Help please, desperate for advice" in this forum, and for my more general take on things you might have a look at that.

From what you say it seems to me that your husband suffers from depression. I have to deal with that as well, and in your story I see all the signs: neglected finances, difficulty in maintaining a work schedule, drifting from one day to the next, feelings of being lost and beyond help, withdrawal from loved ones, taking refuge in drinking, etc. It really is important that he get professional help for this. He might - probably will - resist this idea; he's likely to see it as another confirmation of how worthless and lost he feels. But once he is on the right medication (that can be trial and error for awhile) he will feel a lot better.

Survivors are all unique people, but perhaps it would help you if I shared some of my own experiences. I was abused from the age of 11 until 14 at the hands of an older man who was an expert at control and humiliation. Right at the age when I should have been developing the confidence, social skills and ideas about sexuality that I would need in adulthood, I was instead learning that trust is a bad idea, that adults are cruel and selfish, that I was worthless and unlovable, that sex is coarse and brutal, etc., etc. In other words, my development as a person was derailed at the worst possible time. I did not understand, for example, that sex could be an intimate, loving, sharing experience until I was in my early 30s and met my future wife. And when I began to come out of denial and face what had happened to me as a boy, a lot of the tools I needed in order to cope simply were not there. This is a devastating experience to endure, largely because in the early stages you keep discovering more and more that is wrong and beyond your control; your efforts seem to be producing just more pain and hurt – improvement is nowhere in sight. While it’s difficult to say for sure, your John sounds like he is going through the same thing.

This is definitely not a “do it yourself” project. From you what John needs is to be told at every good opportunity that he is loved (and lovable!), that you hear him and believe him (you might not have the worst details yet), and that you will support him in anything he needs to do to recover. But somehow he has to admit that he needs help; he has to want it, ask for it, and then accept it.

In my case there was no one decisive moment in my coming to accept the hard fact of needing help. One thing that helped me a lot was that I came here and discovered that I was not alone. That was a huge revelation for me, and it would probably help John to check out this site as well. MS is run by an expert team of survivors (including several therapists) and John will be safe here. I was also confronted by my wife, who asked me on several occasions what was wrong, and by a close friend, who sat me down and made me see how crazy things had become. Being approached by a trusted friend was a sobering experience; it shattered my illusion that I was still capable of keeping up appearances to the outside world.

The bottom line is that John needs help and will probably not admit it without the intervention of trusted family members and friends.

There is also the very important impact of all this on you and your children to consider. The family suffers too from all this. Take care of yourself and recognize your own needs and hurt. I'm sure you already know this, but it's worth remembering that kids see a lot more than we would like to think. Yours are probably wondering what’s wrong with Daddy. They may be very worried but too afraid to ask their questions.

Maybe the most important thing that you should hear is that just as none of this is John’s fault, it isn’t yours either. All of your family has been wronged by the coach who abused John. You have done nothing wrong here, and you have every right to want and expect the close, loving and happy relationship you seem to have had with him in the past. My own amateur view here is that with professional help things will improve dramatically, but it is John who has to take the decisive step. Perhaps those closest to him can help him to realize that.

Take care,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#58062 - 10/12/05 07:12 PM Re: New here - need help on how to help
Mystic Rhythm Offline
Member

Registered: 08/12/05
Posts: 96
Loc: Limbo, clawing my way out...
John sounds quite a lot like me during my own phases of depression, except for the drinking part (I smoked weed far far too much and have cut back significantly since going to therapy).

Quote:
One thing that helped me a lot was that I came here and discovered that I was not alone.
I think the most important aspect of any survivor's healing process is Larry's quote above. I too struggled through 12 years of my life never having a real clue as to what was wrong with me until last summer. The one and only person I ever divulged my rape helped me find this site. Although it took me a month of reading other people's stories, I eventually took the step to post my story and have found it ever more easy to keep posting and offering my own perspective on other people's posts.

If John can do the same, that is finally realize that he is indeed not alone in his struggle, that there are a great many men and women here that are truly an amazing source of knowledge and support, then he too can start his road to recovery, just as I have.

IT CAN BE DONE.

HE IS NOT ALONE.

(Statements of reinforcement that my therapist has taught me.)

I can easily relate to the frustrations that you are dealing with. This isn't an easy situation to be in, and in truth quite the opposite. Check to see if he believes he is alone, and if he does believe so, then do your best to show him this site and for starters, just read other people's stories here for a while. You can either tell him directly of this site or maybe bookmark it in your favorites, making sure that it says something like "MaleSurvivor - Overcoming sexual victimization of boys and men." Like the site title says I suppose; whatever works for you.

The goal is to make sure he realizes he is indeed not alone. Once that sinks in, hopefully he'll be like me and many others here and actively look for therapy for his particular case. For example, here in Ottawa, there is The Men's Project that deal specifically for male sexual victimizations. There may or may not be someone, or an organization, like this in your area, but feel free to look around. There is bound to be someone in your area who will listen and believe.

Best wishes for you and John.
MR

_________________________
"Don't give up and lose the chance to return to innocence" - Enigma, Return to Innocence

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#58063 - 10/12/05 08:27 PM Re: New here - need help on how to help
Dan88 Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 247
Loc: DC
My two cents: I would encourage you to do some of the tough work for your husband. By that I mean buying some books, setting up an appointment with a pyschiatrist, and directing him here once again. Maybe print out and read some of the stuff that's useful from here.

I would, of course, tell him that you intend to do these things before you do them and let him know that it's all because there are better times ahead. But only if he finds some people to help him. No one who goes through this knows how to handle it on his own. Why the hell would they? So he's done a lot of good in getting this secret out in the open, but there's a lot of crap that he still has to wade through and he'll need help doing it. Does he think he's superman? That he can dig himself out of any problem? Bad news: he's not. The sad thing is that he thinks he has to be. You know, when you're abused, you get a pretty strong sense that the only person looking out for you is you. And it's hard to realize that that doesn't have to be true.

Anyway, I think it's clear from what you say he has lost the ability to take these important steps for himself. At some point he'll have to get back to doing for himself and taking charge of his own recovery, but obviously he's not there and needs someone to lean on. So let him lean on you, but only if he's moving forward. Not if he intends to just stay in one place and drive you into the ground with him.


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#58064 - 10/12/05 09:16 PM Re: New here - need help on how to help
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Hi Major,

Welcome to MS.

You are not Superman either!! Of course you are tired, of course you are frustrated. It is hell to live with a depressed spouse, to carry around that kind of fear and helplessness about a loved one ON TOP of all of the things that you are doing because you're supposed to do them, ON TOP of all the things that you're doing because he's not doing them. This isn't mean. It's entirely valid. In fact, please stop reading and take several deep breaths, and maybe a long hot shower, before proceeding. \:\)

Usually I am a huge advocate of NOT scheduling therapy appointments or selecting passages of reading for others. Therapy's not a pill that will work regardless of whether it's been swallowed willingly or hidden in the food. This time I have to agree with the previous posters, though-- your husband probably needs to rely on someone else's strength to get him started on recovering his life.

I understand wanting to protect him, in his already depressed state, from the reality of how this is affecting you-- but I think you need to let him know that the situation is intolerable for everyone involved and insist that he get some professional help, and that he start taking the steps you mention in your post-- waking up, getting out of the house.

Also, I encourage you to keep posting here. It is okay for you to have and to share your feelings about all that is happening.

SAR


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#58065 - 10/12/05 10:04 PM Re: New here - need help on how to help
Major Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 9
Hi everyone,

Well you've all made me feel a bit better in that I'm not being unrealistic in my thoughts that it is time to have him move down the road to recovery. I was quite unsure as to how long of a period is "normal" (if there is such a thing!!) between disclosure and next steps.

Could anybody give me some insight as to what happens during a session with a therapist? Also, what are the thoughts between a psychiatrist and psychologist?


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#58066 - 10/12/05 10:24 PM Re: New here - need help on how to help
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

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

If you haven't read this article yet, it's worth checking out:
A Consumer\'s Guide to Therapist Shopping, by Ken Singer


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#58067 - 10/12/05 10:29 PM Re: New here - need help on how to help
lacansletter Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/04/05
Posts: 67
Loc: St.Petersburg, FL
Major,
I feel for you and John. I know how I felt when I first told my wife. I held the knowledge inside me for half a year, during which time, i was depressed, drank massive amounts and dodged my wife's concerned remarks about my well being, blaming it all on work. I remember feeling that I was all alone, despite being married to a wonderful wife. I also felt like it was my manly duty to keep the chin up, deal with it like a Man, and endure in silence. It sounds like John may be having those feelings despite already disclosing to you and family.

In my case, I fell apart so badly that I needed to see someone or I knew I would not survive long in my isolation. However, I have been in and out of hospitals, rehab, and therapy on and off since I was a teen. So it was very easy for me to know that professional help was ok to seek. Perhaps John has never seen a therapist? If so, he would be understandably concerned that he is not acting like a "man" if he needs help.

Normally I am very hesitant to tell someone to go after someone else's cure but it sounds like he has been in the depression for a long time and might need a boost. If he is having concerns about toughing it out, you might call on his sense of duty as a father and explain how this situation might be affecting the children.

It would definitely help him to see that he is not alone. This site is great, he can be completely anonymous and just read the postings. Also, for some local help, I found Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) during my first days. My abuse was clergy related and I know it is not the case for John, but they might have some good local contacts for Therapists, and members that would be willing to talk to John on the phone to show him he is not alone.

I wish you and John luck and peace. Keep up your own chin. It is ok to feel overwhelmed and tired. You might consider talking to someone yourself. Perhaps you could find someone trained in trauma and SA. If you see this T yourself first, it may make John more comfortable with the idea and help him make that first step.

_________________________
"The only Zen you find on the mountain top is the Zen that you bring with you" Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

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#58068 - 10/12/05 11:07 PM Re: New here - need help on how to help
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Major
I disclosed to my wife after 25 years of marriage, then it was about 6 months before I started therapy. During the time between the two I never spoke another word about my abuse, and the once or twice my wife mentioned it I told that I just wasn't ready to talk.

It's tough, but it seems to be our call. Especially in the early stages when we have no idea of what's going on in our heads, or what to expect now that we have broken OUR secret. ( It's actually our abusers secret, but we believe it )
It's a world of conflict and confusion that's suddenly there in our face, how many of us understand anything about therapy BEFORE we start our own ? I still thought it was like a Woody Allen film where you lie on the couch and someone cracks jokes ! well, not quite, but you get my drift.

So there is a danger that any pressure, however well meaning, however little and whoever it might come from, can be seen by us as adding to that confusion. I liked support and encouragement from my wife, but being pressured had the opposite effect on me.
Of course, if he asks for help, then do so. But the 'work' is ours to do.

We also seem to react badly to other people taking control, again however well meaning etc, our abuse was all about control. I would resent a car park attendant showing me where to park my car, I hated 'control and authority' that much. My career is famous for going backwards over 27 years.
But now I accept that other people help me because or reasons other than wanting to control me, and I accept that help in the way it's offered.

This all sounds like bad news to you because you want to do whatever you can. But there's still so much you can do.
Now, I would just concentrate on creating a safe place for John. Let him know that you love him, trust him, and respect him for WHO he is - not what he's been through.
Let him know that the day he's ready to talk you will be there, listening without judgement. It's not easy, but initially we need to find a safe environment to speak our unspeakable.

Then the work can really begin.

Take care.

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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