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#68404 - 11/15/03 01:52 PM Advice from those in the know
April Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/15/03
Posts: 10
After 17 years, my husband has informed me that he was molested as a child and has been receiving oral sex from another man for the past three years.
It has been two months since he broke me the news. He has been seeing a therapist and, I am trying the best I can to be understanding and provide support and forgiveness. He keeps reassuring me that it has nothing to do with me, he loves me, is sorry and it will never happen again.
My dilema is this: I do not understand how this could happen and therefore cannot comprehend why this would not happen again.
My question is for "those in the know". Those who have are survivors and have had permiscuous sex. Is it inevitable that he repeat his actions. I know he could "recover", but what are the odds of this never happending again.
I am confused and your response would be greated appreciated.


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#68405 - 11/15/03 02:51 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
Leosha Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 3614
Loc: Right here
Welcome here, and I am sorry of what happened. I know that there will be many others who will have better responses to you. I am not at all in relationship, never really have been in one, and am not a sexual creature. So I can not fully understand the needs or desires of such. I hope that you get better advice from here. I wish you luck.

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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#68406 - 11/15/03 03:08 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
Wifey1 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 380
April,
first i want to welcome you and let you know you have been heard. you must be feeling completely overwhelmed and confused by your hubbys disclosure to you. i am not sure i have come to a good place with my own hubby2's acting out. i am not sure there are any hard and fast rules that hubby wont repeat his behavior but the important part of his actions have been that he disclosed a very long difficult secret to you. often this is the first step in a very long journey to heal the pain of horrifying abuse. but the fact that he has taken some very positive steps 1. by telling you he was abused 2. telling the nature of his acting out 3. seeking help from a therapist
how it happens is a variable for each survivor, feelings of confusion about personal sexuality, feeling shame guilt depression self loathing often come with the attempts to resolve or relive the acts of abuse committed on one self are not too big of a step for one who has been taught thru being sexually harmed that they are only good for the sexual pleasures/pain by another in a position of power over them. it isnt so much a "concious choice" often to act out, but rather vain attempts to "change the past".
while its not neccessarily "inevitable" that he would act out again, it will be up to him and his healing process to not repeat that behavior. trust is a humongous issue for any survivor, not being able to trust those around them or even trusting oneself is very difficult. just the actions of acting out behaviors and loathing the inability to not do the behaviors compounds the trust issues.
your hubby took great risk in sharing his history of abuse and acting out with you. while this does not ease your confusion or pain of perhaps feeling betrayed or that the acting out was an act of infidelity it is a huge step for him. it also does not mean that your feelings about him, the abuse, the acting out are less important than his healing process. if you are not currently seeing a therapist for your own individual needs i do urge you to seek one out. there is a page here on this site as to how to find a good therapist, or to shop for one who meets your needs. i encourage you to read as much as you can of the postings on this site it is filled with tons of great information of what your hubby may or may not have/is experiencing. there will be plenty of information about partner supporter issues also. it is a really hard spot to be in, on one hand it feels (my experience only) like the life i lived with my hubby2 was a complete freaking lie and how stupid could i have been? the other side is that i love him so much i just want to kill the &*^%$$$%^*( that hurt him so much. one second i hate his guts the other second i want to rescue him and never leave his side. thru it all it has been very hard to understand and keep hold of knowing his acting out had absolutely NOTHING to do with me, it wasnt directed at me or our marriage (17 yrs also).. it was totally about him being raped as a young boy. the results of those rapes effected/affected his whole being as a person.
your own sense of self is very important, and your own feelings are very important. i cannot urge you enough to seek a professional therapist for yourself. YOU matter to him a great deal, as you said he keeps reassuring you that it has nothing to do with you.. he is right in that but it does effect you, -- i dont know if there are truly any ODDS that this will or wont happen again. but the odds are in favor of it NOT happening again if he continues therapy to work on his sa issues.
come back post often the guize here are super, there isnt any questions that are stupid or not worth asking.. some one has input and really good input.. the compassion and empathy expressed here for those of us who are living this nightmare of sa is tremendous.
peace, sammy


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#68407 - 11/15/03 04:02 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
Don-NY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 546
Loc: Long Island, NY
April,

I speak as "one in the know". It is not inevitable. I was like him, and I just stopped. That was 17 years ago.

What are the odds? I don't know him, so I can't say for sure, but there are two very good signs.

Having told you is a testament to his character, to your marriage, and to you. That level of trust is rare, even between married people.

He didn't have to tell you. He could have just stopped, or tried to, but if he is anything like me, he has had enough of secrets and lies.

He is lucky to have someone in his life he can tell. This also gives him accountability and another reason (You!) to heal and recover.

Therapy is another plus factor. At the risk of generalizing, I will say that we can't do this alone. A good therapist is a necessity.

As you struggle to understand and forgive, please remember this. What he did is the direct result of what was done to him as a child. It is a continuation and byproduct of the horrible things done to him.

Breaking the Silence and telling the Truth are the two most powerful steps and weapons we have against what was done to us. Your husband has done both and is to be admired and congratulated.

April, the odds sound good to me. I admire you both and you have my best wishes and hopes.


Donald

P.S.
You may want to do some reading. There are many books available now that will help you understand how he was affected, what you can do, and what to expect as he heals. This link, http://www.malesurvivor.org/Bookstore/index.htm will take you a list of some of the best books available.

_________________________
If you understand everything, some things are just as they are. If you understand nothing, things are still just as they are.

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#68408 - 11/15/03 05:40 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
April
Sammy & Don speak the truth, there is NO gurantee - but recovery and cessation of acting out IS possible.
Don's 17 years, is an awesome achievement. I have another 13 to go before I match that - but you know what ? I'm confident.

I gave the bj's - that was my thing when I acted out - but talking about it with my therapist ( No 1 priority ) and my wife of 29 years ( the other No 1 priority ) has take the 'magic' out of the fantasy that surrounded my acting out.

Through therapy, support, hard work and total honesty with MYSELF about the acting out it no longer works.
I just couldn't do it again if I tried.

And it hasn't just moved to another acting out methos, well that's not entirely true.
I certainly wont go outside my marriage, or my sexuality, for sex anymore - but I will go inside my head and use fantasy for sex.

I no longer use my 'old' fantasies based on the abuse I endured or the 'previous' acting out episodes I had, which pleases me no end because it's an old part of my life I no longer want.

The trust you have in your Husband has been shattered, I know how my wife felt when she found out I gave bj's to strangers - she wasn't happy.
But she showed me such support and - can I say "unconditional love - with conditions ?"

The main conditions were - be honest with her, be honest with her and be honest with her.

I know that I would not be here today without her love and support, my honesty is a small price to pay.

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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#68409 - 11/15/03 09:55 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
tschirret Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 20
[I am glad that April posted her question, since I am in a similar situation. I read the posts, books, articles, and intellectually, I can understand (I think) that the acting out is a direct consequence of the sa. Emotionally, I am struggling: it is still not possible for me to see it as having nothing to do with me. I have asked my partner what was missing in our relationship that could "explain it". Well, my question does not make sense to him (confirmed by the posts on the web site- again I can understand it intellectually), so , he cannot answer it.
What I have found is that we have grown and felt much closer since we have started facing this issue and I was wondering if other partners have had a similar experience of greater intimacy. It is as if gates had opened for him. I am delighted with his greater availability, his readiness to share with me. Dave mentioned honesty. It seems that the honesty involved in telling me touches everything else.
We are considering the possibility of me joining a support group for partners of sa survivors. Any advice on this?
MN


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#68410 - 11/17/03 07:57 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
April Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/15/03
Posts: 10
Thank you all for your posts. They are very helpful. This is a great site. If this had happened 20 years ago, I would feel like I was the only human on earth experiencing this crisis.
I empathize with all of you.

I am still confused on the "acting out", the "continuation or byproduct" of SA. The "fantasies"??? No disrespect intended, but does SA cause some sort of perversion or uncontrollable sexual addiction?

Guilt seems to be a big part for survivors. Why make it worse by "acting out"? I guess I need to do some reading. This is very hard for me to absorb.

It still feels like infidelity / betrayal to me, since the marriage was not important enough to deny the actions.

Thanks again.


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#68411 - 11/18/03 12:14 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Originally posted by April:
I am still confused on the "acting out", the "continuation or byproduct" of SA. The "fantasies"??? No disrespect intended, but does SA cause some sort of perversion or uncontrollable sexual addiction?

Guilt seems to be a big part for survivors. Why make it worse by "acting out"? I guess I need to do some reading. This is very hard for me to absorb.

It still feels like infidelity / betrayal to me, since the marriage was not important enough to deny the actions.

Thanks again.
I know it is hard but try to look at this from the most "clinical" or "non-sexual" perspective as possible. Sexual acting out for a sexual abuse survivor is not so much "perversion" but a number of things that can sometimes be all rolled up together -

1) sexual acting out that is similar to the way he was abused (i.e. if a man was molested by an older man he may, in times of stress and turmoil, turn to homosexual encounters with older men) and this can be a way for the survivor to gain control over what happened by re-enacting it until he can "understand and change" the outcome

2) sexual acting out is also a very effective way to create distance due to the severe anxiety that intimacy can cause for a survivor (the closer an abuse survivor gets to someone the stronger the anxiety to push people away becomes)

3) sexual acting out is also a trauma response - the trauma of being abused in ANY way creates some strongly etched neural pathways in the survivor's mind, and unfortunately for a sexual abuse survivor sex and sexual feelings get all mixed up with anger, fear, abuse, neglect, etc. so that is why they sometimes can get involved with some pretty unhealthy sexual behaviours (for me I was abused verbally and psychologically and I have been plagued with relaitonships where love = verbal abuse and neglect as my own trauma has created this "logical" conclusion in my own mind)

4) sex can also be used as a way to try and cover up inadequacy - for my partner after he was molested he was involved with promiscuous hetero. sex as a way to "prove" he wasn't gay (he thought he was gay because he was abused by a man) and he used sex as kind of a denial thing

5) also sex can be used as a kind of "drug of denial" as it creates a kind of "high" that one would get from using drugs or alcohol - my fiance was also a serious drug and alcohol addict before he got a grip on his abuse. Sex, drugs, food, alcohol - they all allow the survivor a small moment of escape from the chronic emotional pain they are carrying around inside them.

6) finally sex can also be a way for the survivor to continue engaging in behaviours that make them feel like crap. For those of us who have been abused, feeling like crap and being treated like crap has become such a normal "everyday" occurrence, so until we start to work on our busted up self esteem and learn to accept that we ARE worth something and are worth being treated like something special we sometimes resort to seeking out things that make us feel like crap. We believe we are crap so why not engage in things that allow our mental state to line up with how we feel about our selves? It makes total sense - sometimes you just feel more "comfortable" feeling like crap if you have felt that way for a large chunk of your formative years. Its a very hard habit to break I will admit.

Again - I know it is very hard but try not to look at this with any kind of "sexuality" to it - those of us who have been verbally and psychologically abused often seek to recreate that kind of abuse in our lives until we get a handle on it and the same goes for sexual abuse survivors. Acting out for a sexual abuse survivor is no more about sex than me re-enacting my abuse (which I do in my own mind, and also in relationships) is about masochism. I'm not a masochist, but an abuse survivor. Your partner is not perverted, but a sexual abuse survivor.

I hope that makes sense?!?!?!?


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#68412 - 11/18/03 06:13 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
There's so many good points here - raised by partners.
Boy, does that give me a sense of ..... I'm a bit lost for words, but all of you understand in a way that I find incredible.

What have we done ? - for me it seemed like the ultimate betrayal to go cottaging. But I've said so many times "it wasn't me" - and I meant it.
But I also felt like I was making excuses.
Such confusion.

one other thing that I don't think has been mentioned often is the strange, semi-subconcious feeling ( if there is such a thing ) that I wanted to get caught.
the 'theory' being that if I was caught then someone would ask "why" - I would say "I was abused" - help would be given, and we'd all happily ever after.
The reality of getting caught acting out would have been very different I imagine.

It's not something we want to do, after all who wants sex with someone they don't know, with all the risks of disease, in some shit stained toilet ?
It doesn't make sense.

Those of us who have acted out have written a lot on the site about it, perhaps a search will take you to those topics.

Also Mike Lew's book "Victims No Longer" is possibly the best source of information and understanding there is. Go to Amazon through our Home Page and we get a bit of money as well.

It's NOTHING to do with seeking sex or anything else outside of our relationships, it's an unstoppable force given to us by our abusers.

My wife said to me "It wasn't you, they led you there by the hand"

Why do I still feel as though I'm making excuses though ? My guess is the guilt.
We feel guilt over the childhood abuse, because our abusers told us that we were enjoying it, we wanted to do it, and our erections played tricks on us.

The guilt lives on.
As adults we're supposed to be in control, "supposed" - right !
Every time I headed for some stinking toilet I told myself to stop, sometimes I'd turn around and walk away. Then turn back and carry on.
Sometimes that went on for hours, very rarely did I win and go home.

So I knew it was something that I didn't want to do, it was wrong ( for me ) and I hated myself for giving in to these urges.
How much guilt did I feel afterwards ? too much to bear at times, suicidal guilt. And some of that guilt will always be with me. But I can deal with it now, I'll never be free from it though.

I'm learning to become a Counsellor, and tonight in my class we were discussing the concept of "Unconditional Positive Regard" that a counsellor has to have for a client, and I have a perfect example - it's what my wife showed me about 4 years ago, and I've learned to return.
Although we might call it "love"

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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#68413 - 11/18/03 07:49 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
April Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/15/03
Posts: 10
Thank you very much for your posts. They are a great help. It is very hard to obtain understanding from a spouse who has "just come out of the closet". They are still very confused and discussing these things with your wife is probably not always easy.

I am sure other readers will find knowledge to help in understanding as well.

Thanks again for sharing.

April


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#68414 - 11/19/03 11:11 AM Re: Advice from those in the know
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>But I've said so many times "it wasn't me" - and I meant it.
But I also felt like I was making excuses.
Such confusion.

Believe it or not those of us who have been through trauma of our own, sexual or otherwise can relate - my abuse was all about anger, and rage and control and verbal and psychological torment.. and I do some really really weird things when I am under stress.. and I can totally relate to the feeling of.. well its like you are "possessed" when you start the acting out stuff. The only thing is that I dont act out sexually as I was not abused sexually, but I have been known to start freaking out and screaming and yelling... and I start to look and act like a stark raving lunatic psycho girlfriend with no dignity!

And when I look back on my darker days and my most embarassing acting out, I too can say "it wasn't me" becuase I know when I'm in a healthier place and space I dont have any inclination to act that way. For the most part when I'm not reacting to somethign I'm a pretty sane, normal, healthy and fun person.

>>>one other thing that I don't think has been mentioned often is the strange, semi-subconcious feeling ( if there is such a thing ) that I wanted to get caught.
the 'theory' being that if I was caught then someone would ask "why" - I would say "I was abused" - help would be given, and we'd all happily ever after.
The reality of getting caught acting out would have been very different I imagine.

I would too. I doubt there are many people out there who would be able to "understand". There certainly are few who could understand me.

>>>It's not something we want to do, after all who wants sex with someone they don't know, with all the risks of disease, in some shit stained toilet ?
It doesn't make sense.

You know what? That statement is music to my ears. Why? I've been trying to come to terms with my fiance's past - what does his sexual past say about him, who he is, what he values.. and if I look at his past and make inferences from that they are pretty awful. And combine that with my own pretty destroyed self esteem about my "deservedness" to be loved.. well I was ripe for some serious psychological self-torture.. that I have been engaging in since I met my fiance.

And this whole journey of understanding about how sexual abuse can affect sexual behaviour has been ONE TOUGH ROAD I tell you. However, from that I am able to believe more than ever that my fiance's track record of promiscuous casual sex was NOT what he was all about.. because I dont want to be with someone who can treat sex so casually. But I have since learned that sexual acting out is not about sex at all.. but an expression that someone is in SERIOUS pain.

>>>It's NOTHING to do with seeking sex or anything else outside of our relationships, it's an unstoppable force given to us by our abusers.
My wife said to me "It wasn't you, they led you there by the hand"

>>>Why do I still feel as though I'm making excuses though ? My guess is the guilt.
We feel guilt over the childhood abuse, because our abusers told us that we were enjoying it, we wanted to do it, and our erections played tricks on us.

Also dont forget that sex is just such a "loaded" issue - it can encompass and be used to represent all kinds of things such as power, love, respect (or lack thereof), commitment, fidelity, betrayal, it can be a way to bond people and it can be a way to really really hurt someone. It also has huge moral and cultural issues tied up within it and for those of us who come from more "British" cultural backgrounds (i.e. UK, USA, English Canada) I think there's always an element of "puritan" and "catholic" (depending on your religious persuasion) guilt wrapped up in sex in general. (I have come to this conclusion after having lived in French and English Canada... I can safely say there's a HUGE difference in the way sex, sexual behaviour, sexual responsibility and even sexual abuse is viewed between the french and english cultures in my own country.)

>>>>I'm learning to become a Counsellor, and tonight in my class we were discussing the concept of "Unconditional Positive Regard" that a counsellor has to have for a client, and I have a perfect example - it's what my wife showed me about 4 years ago, and I've learned to return.
Although we might call it "love"

This sounds great.

My partner and I are participating in group therapy sessions put on by a "men's healing" program in our city. We have learned about a model for trauma survivors' behaviour called "the wobble".

If I can get a digital copy of it I'll pass it on. Maybe I'll just type it out for you and email it if you were interested.

What the wobble is is a model to help explain the sometimes unexplainable emotion and behaviour swings that a survivor of abuse and trauma displays when under extreme anxiety-producing situations (and for many survivors just being alive and conscious is an extreme anxiety producing situation).

And yes, sexual acting out was one of the behavioural traits that is mentioned in this model (so is coldness and insensitivity so go figure!)

PAS


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#68415 - 11/20/03 02:52 AM Re: Advice from those in the know
ScottyTodd Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 02/12/03
Posts: 1561
Loc: Pennsylvania
April and everybody sharing here - Dave, Don and others have shared good honest advice - yes, acting out can stop. I have 26 years without acting out (yeah, Dave, the up in your head stuff is tough and I can't say 26 years there). I am married for 33 years to a great woman who, I know, was devestated when, after 6 years, she discovered my other mate. We talked it out, I went to therapists, groups, read books, more therapists...I love my wife soooo much. It can be done!!

I believe in sayings, one of which is "if you don't talk it out you'll act it out". Sexual abuse is such a secret thing. Who can you tell? If you can't face it, talk it out...well, you act it out! Make sense? It does to me!!

Talk! Support! Hang in there!!!

Howard

_________________________
If you think you can or you can't - you're right!.......anon
It's never too late to have a happy childhood!.....anon
You're very normal for the abnormal situation you've been through..............S. Todd

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#68416 - 11/20/03 08:29 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
One thing just struck me reading PAS' post where she mentions her 'promiscuous' boyfriend.

I was wondering if I would have gone down the promiscuous with other women route if I'd have had the opportunities?
I've always worked in very male environments, and also locally where there was nearly always someone from my wife's huge family working as well. I work with three relatives of hers now
To commit adultery I'd have to leave the country !

Cottaging however is different, the secrecy is total, the 'hit' is instant - we don't exchange pleasantaries or chat each other up :rolleyes:
We just 'know' it's going to happen.

I wonder how much our acting out, and survival techniques ARE influenced by what actually happened to us, and how we live our lives after ?

A bit of both I would say ?

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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#68417 - 11/21/03 03:10 PM Re: Advice from those in the know
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Originally posted by Lloydy:
One thing just struck me reading PAS' post where she mentions her 'promiscuous' boyfriend.

I was wondering if I would have gone down the promiscuous with other women route if I'd have had the opportunities?

I wonder how much our acting out, and survival techniques ARE influenced by what actually happened to us, and how we live our lives after ?

A bit of both I would say ?

Dave
Probably a bit of both.

With respect to my fiance's past - for the record he never cheated when he was with me or with anyone. In fact, he went "cold turkey" on sex a few years before we met because he realized he was getting himself in trouble. He didnt know why, but he just knew that it was hurting him. I dont think I'd ever have put up with him cheating with other women when he was with me. His past was more a flurry of serial monogamy, one night stands, casual sex, etc. To some that may sound like "normal" male behaviour even for the non-SA, however, I konw my fiance's background, I know how he was raised, and one night stands, casual sex, and all of that stuff is NOT what he is about. (I have a hunch that all people who engage in that kind of casual sex behaviour have either something to prove or something that they are covering up.. but that is another post for another time..)

Where the links are to the sexual abuse in my fiance's story is that the biggest trauma in his molestation was that it generated a deep seated fear that he was gay. He will be the first to admit that he used sex with women to cover up this fear. His logic was - after all a man abused him, when he was abused he became aroused, and so therefore he believed he was gay. He held this inside him and told NOBODY for over 10 years. Instead, he became an alcoholic, a pothead, and had a lot of sex with women - he just thought that with enough sex with women he'd be "cured" or at least others would not think he was gay!

There was also the whole aspect of "making him feel like crap" aspect that I recall Lloydy talking about. I recall the discussion was something like "I feel like crap so why shouldnt I do things that made me feel like crap". And when I have asked my fiance about his questionable past, instead of giving me the expected male bravado about "wanting it and loving it" he said simply: "I disrespected myself by doing all that stuff. Sexually, I felt like I was crap, so why wouldn't I go ahead and do things that proved it by having sex with people who cheated, with people I didnt even like, with people I didnt even respect?"

Although as a society we really condone and even encourage men to go out and "sleep with as many women as they want" I dont think that this promiscuous behaviour does ANYONE any favours.

From what I am learning about my fiance now, I realize his promiscuous behaviour broke a lot of hearts, most importantly, his own.

Anyhow, all of this is to say that I dont know how I'd have been able to handle all of this if it was still happening during our relationship. Its hard enough coming to terms with the stuff he did before we met, but at least that was in the past before we even met.


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