Hi all - just saw a post on the male survivors section regarding "why is it so hard to react properly to SA". I know we're not supposed to reply on the male survivors forum - hopefully someone will read this post from that group and find it insightful.
For me, I know that it has simply just been hard to accept that something so horrible as SA has happened to the man I love. Also the fact that it is so hard for me, not having suffered sexual abuse (I have suffered all other kinds, however) that even one or two incidents of molestation can cause such unbelievable effects is simply mind boggling. Once I came to the realization that it can and does cause such wide ranging and dramatic effects, the anger that I now have about the incidents, the perpetrator, those that "allowed and encouraged it to happen" is just so HUGE. Combine this with my own abuse history, its just a lot to handle all at once. I've been involveed with my SO for almost a year now, and have JUST been able to start acknowledging what has happened and accept the anger that I have and figure out better ways of dealing with it.
For a long time I didnt deal with it properly. I tended to stay focussed on HIM and his behaviour and what he was doing and has done to cope. I had a hard time putting things into context. I tended to stay focussed on his past - was so horrified at the things that my SO told me he did for 10-15 years as coping mechanisms (alcohol addiction, sexual acting-out/promiscuity/unsafe sex/compromising his sexual morals, heavy pot use, experimentation with other drugs, unstable relationship history and unstable job history, high school drop out, etc. etc.) What I found myself doing at first was turning my anger towards him and becoming unbelievably obsessed with his past - particularly his past sexual relations. (note - my reaction was no doubt exacerbated by my own tendencies towards depression/anxiety, PTSD, and obsessive compuslive disorder.)
Due to BOTH our abuse histories (his was sexual/emotional, mine was psychological/emotional/verbal), our relationship has been pretty rocky at times. My bf (and yes, sometimes I) from time to time act out with sudden, unexplainable anger at each other. My SO sometimes resorts to verbal cruelty at me during his "anger attacks". It is very very hard to be supportive when you are the closest to someone's "blast zone"!
A final difficulty lies in the fact that my SO has not made definite links between his behaviour and his SA. Its hard to tell sometimes if he's just being a jerk (as ANYONE, abuse survivor or not can be from time to time) or he's suffering an emotional swing due to the abuse. Its much easier to support someone who's sick or injured and help them - physical pain is just much easier to understand because you can SEE it. When one is dealing with someone with emotional side effects, that is very difficult. I know this first hand - my own abuse history led me to serious bouts of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder and I know all too well how unsupportive MOST people are towards those with mental/emotional difficulties. I've lost a lot of friends and boyfriends over the years.
I've found that the posts on this site have really helped me understand my SO's behaviour. I have seen some of the same behaviours in my SO that have been described by some survivors. Thanks to those who have had the courage to put their stories down for us to read. I have much more insight into what may be going on in my SO's head than before I started coming here.