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#65362 - 04/09/03 11:37 AM Intimacy - a follow-up (to Sandy and others)
Sick Puppy Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/03
Posts: 300
Loc: Nowhere Land
I wrote this in response to SandyW's post about intimacy. These are just my experiences on the matter. I hope it will help some partners of male survivors such as Sandy, but keep in mind that these are just my experiences and will not apply to everyone.

Some of my problems, and possible solutions. (I hope this can help people whose partners may have the same problems.)

Problem:
Body image. I am very ashamed of my body. I know that people are attracted to it, but that scares me, and I try to deny that there is any attraction in it at all. Being naked is hard for me, even when I am just alone with my partner. I know I am 100% safe with him but it is still hard to expose myself like that.

Solution:
A whole lot of extra assurance and love in this area. Every time I am naked my partner is very gentle to me and assures me that I am attractive and have nothing to be ashamed of. He says that my body belongs to me and I should be proud of it, and I don't have to show it to anyone who I don't feel safe with. As a child I had no choice but now I do and I don't need to feel dirty or ugly. He will hug me a lot and tell me what parts of my body he likes and why he likes them. It is important this is done in a loving way and not a sort of "you're hot and a good fuck" kind of way because that just makes me feel used and bad.

Problem:
Triggers during sex. Sometimes an innocent, well-intentioned action will awake something inside of me and throw me into a flashback or just a panicky feeling.

Solution:
I must let my partner know what has happened instead of getting angry or pushing away. A lot of times the trigger causes me to shut down and freeze up, because this has always been my response/survival mechanism while being abused. Sometimes it is easy for my partner to notice that something has gone wrong, but sometimes I need to alert him. Keeping a survivor safe is the responsibility of both parties, so I need to do my part and let him know when something has gone wrong so he can comfort me. After this has happened it is important that he not get angry, although he is probably frustrated, and it is important that he not pressure me into finishing or doing anything sexual/intimate until I am ready again.

Problem:
Sometimes I will withdraw completely and not be responsive to any intimacy. If I am feeling strong enough, I will push away; otherwise, I will let him stay close but shut down completely.

Solution:
Again, it is very important I let my partner know what is going on. It can be damaging to both of us if I do not say anything and let him try to be intimate or sexual with me while I do not want him to. He needs to understand that sometimes I need space. He may be angry or upset, or feel that it is somehow his fault I do not want to be close, but he needs to remember that it is because of the abuse I am acting this way, and he had nothing to do with the abuse. He needs to not try to pull me back to him before I am ready or I may withdraw again, for a longer period of time, or even worse, I may lose his trust. If he is upset or angry he should talk to someone about his feelings, but not take it out on me, because I am likely upset with my need to withdraw as well.

That is all that came to mind for now. I hope this is helpful in some way...

_________________________
And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly
From the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see


Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

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#65363 - 04/09/03 02:35 PM Re: Intimacy - a follow-up (to Sandy and others)
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
SP-
Thank you for this post. That helps me to understand, but I wonder how to ask my husband for the solutions you were so kind to put down here, without being pushy?? Most always I get back an answer that puts it back to me, sort of, like "try to be more discerning of my mood" type of thing. Sometimes this is very very difficult. Without some sort of communication from him all I am left to do is formulate my own answers (which can take me to awful places...doesn't want me, wants something else, is something we are doing bringing back memories, etc.)

And to me Sick Puppy is a very hard way to address you......I think I'd rather just call you a friend, or something. No one is sick, maybe just hurting from all the junk others have inflicted. I'm getting mad now, I'd better go. Thanks-

Kathy


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#65364 - 04/09/03 02:48 PM Re: Intimacy - a follow-up (to Sandy and others)
Sick Puppy Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/03
Posts: 300
Loc: Nowhere Land
"SP" is fine or even just "Josh." You can also call me "Skinny Puppy" which is what I go by in the chats.

As for your husband, if he is unwilling to talk to you about how he feels and how best to deal with it, that is not your problem but his. Supporting a survivor is just as much up to the survivor as it is to his partner! If someone is unwilling to let his partner know what is wrong, they can't do much to help.

Perhaps if you talked to him about it, gently, when he is in a good mood, he would be more willing to help you to help him. Communication is very important in any relationship, but especially in one where one of the members is a survivor of abuse.

_________________________
And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly
From the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see


Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

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#65365 - 04/09/03 03:31 PM Re: Intimacy - a follow-up (to Sandy and others)
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
I rather like just Josh. Thanks so much for your insight, it is appreciated. I will take your advice, a gentle manner, when he is relaxed, but I tense up in thinking this could cause him to shut down, go away and give me the blackness that I hate to see in his eyes and his face, when I know he is ruminating on something. I had never before seen mistrust personified in another human being, until I saw it in his whole being the first time, 3 years ago, when I first went through this kind of reaction with him. Not mistrust of me, but what must have happened so many years ago, 3 decades actually. Thank you Josh, very much.
Kathy


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#65366 - 04/09/03 05:54 PM Re: Intimacy - a follow-up (to Sandy and others)
SandyW Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/03
Posts: 86
Loc: NJ
Pup! Thanks so much for the invaluable insight!

You wrote:

Quote:
After this has happened it is important that he not get angry, although he is probably frustrated, and it is important that he not pressure me into finishing or doing anything sexual/intimate until I am ready again.
and,

Quote:
He needs to not try to pull me back to him before I am ready or I may withdraw again, for a longer period of time, or even worse, I may lose his trust.
How do I know when that is that he is ready? Its not like I can wait for him to initiate, because if I did that, it would never happen.

Quote:
It can be damaging to both of us if I do not say anything and let him try to be intimate or sexual with me while I do not want him to.
You are very right about this? The mechanical interaction when one withdraws is the most unpleasant, demeaning, and hurtful experience.

Thanks again, Pup!

Sandy


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