Talk About Marriage banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 84 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. First post here. I'll try to make it to the point.

My wife is a victim of childhood sexual abuse (her maternal granfather.) As a teen, she revealed this to he rparents who pretty much swept it under the rug and continued a relationship with this monster.

I became aware of her trauma a year or two into our relationship. We have been together 14 years and married for 8. She has always had some issues with trust and fear of vulnerability but largely things were good. Shortly after marriage things started to decline and during pregancy they really began to deteriorate. We are now hanging on by a thread. In her more lucid periods she tearfully apologizes for her anger, hostility and all the rest. When the depression takes a front seat anything and everything sets her off. Or she will be constantly overwhelmed and exhausted and shuts me out entirely.

The situation is so complex I could ramble on for hours. My questions are pretty simple:

How many of you are currently or have been married to a survivor of childhood sexual abuse/clinically depressed spouse?

Why did you stay/leave?

Am I kidding myself that she can "get better" with all these meds and therapy?

The whole idea of sexual abuse was very foreign to me before I met her. I just don't know if this is something a person can truly heal from or if she is "broken" permanently (as she sometimes tells me she is when she is having a breakdown episode.)

I would love to get some different perspectives on this situation. I used to think I could endure anything for her, but I'm nearing the end of my endurance. Particularly because of my pre-school daughter. She deserves better than a home filled with tension and hostility and I am far from my best while under this strain. I don't mind investing more, but I fear I may be ignoring the 800 lb gorilla in the room.

Thanks for reading.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
I have read that approx 27% girls & 17% of boys have suffered some type of sexual abuse as a child, not sure how true those numbers are.

Hopefully she can find an experienced councilor that has successfully treated others with with a similar past.. Best wishes
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,928 Posts
zookeeper, welcome aboard TAM. I am a man who has been married 30 years to a child sex abuse survivor. I never knew until a year ago when she revealed it to me as I reached the end of my rope on our marriage.

BTW, you are a "secondary survivor".

What you describe is a fairly typical progression. The woman seems to deal with the emotional issues adequately through her teens and early 20's. When she gets married things deteriorate some. When the perp is a male relative it makes some sense. Her boyfriend is just some guy. But when they get married he jumps from being just some guy to being a relative. Now he is a male relative, and this can make him unsafe in her mind.

So she starts having difficulties due to the latent emotional trauma. Perhaps she gets triggered by sex or by displays of affection. She may have difficulties with sexual or emotional intimacy.

When she gets pregnant or gives birth (especially to a baby girl), she might become even more triggered. This was when my wife started having nightmares and rages. Other issues can pop up such as a very overprotective parenting style, or a very permissive parenting style so as to be the child's best friend rather than being the parent.

Yes the issue of being married to a child sex abuse survivor is complicated! I suggest the book "Haunted Marriage" for you. You are not alone by a long shot. I know several other men in real life who are married to sex abuse survivors, and also know numerous such men on internet support forums. I also know a number of women sex abuse survivors in real life. The ones who have had good therapy seem to be pretty well adjusted, though they are always going to have infrequent triggers or emotional reactions.

My opinion is that given the level of dysfunction you are describing, your wife is not likely to ever fully get over it. But, with good therapy there is reason to hope she will recovery substantially. We all have our quirks and weaknesses, so this will be hers. You could trade her in for another woman, but that woman will have her own quirks and weaknesses. So I think there is ample reason to try to make this work out with your wife.

Her parents sweeping it under the rug was probably as damaging to her as the abuse itself. Your wife needs competent therapy to deal with all of the issues. She probably has all kinds of misperceptions about what you think/feel about her abuse. This is complicated and you need to be educated and you need to be dialed into her recovery process via her therapist. You cannot do this alone.

Which brings up the point that your wife will have to truly commit to dealing with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
237 Posts
I survived sexual abuse by my paternal grandfather, along with nearly every other trauma a child can experience. I spent my childhood counting the days until I could leave home and I planned to have a very happy life then. I certainly was going to do better than my parents.

I did everything right. I went to college, started a career, was married for 15 years and had 3 children, stayed in a very strict religion, and had a fairly good and peaceful life. I never felt really loved by my husband though.

Second marriage I experienced infidelity and I believe it triggered me. The effects were tenfold, I suppose because of all the earlier trauma. I started doing my own research to find answers as to why my life was falling apart because doctors couldn't help me. I came across the CDCs website and an article about ACE (adverse childhood events), which explained my physical and mental health issues. So, then it dawned on me...you can't escape the damage done, no matter how good your intentions are.

The problem is, finding the right help. I tried counseling twice, and it didn't help at all. I believe the problem is there are not enough professionals trained to deal with this. Someone suggested finding a clinical psychologist.

I hope you can be successful at finding the right help. If she has the commitment to it, I believe that proper therapy is the key.

I wish parents knew how important it is to protect their children from trauma. I never realized how the things from childhood set the stage for the rest of our lives..even when we are determined that it won't...

My heart goes out to you both. I hope you can help your wife get the therapy she needs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
I wish parents knew how important it is to protect their children from trauma. I never realized how the things from childhood set the stage for the rest of our lives..even when we are determined that it won't...

My heart goes out to you both. I hope you can help your wife get the therapy she needs.

Not trying to change the topic at hand, my thoughts go out to OP!

As a parent it is our job to protect our children! "Sweeping it under the rug" happens way to much. What does this say to your child?

With my personal experience, even at such a young age I knew what would happen if I told my parents about what was happening to me. I know that A) they might not believe me or B) if they did believe me and took action, it would destroy my extended family (aunts, uncles, grandparents). I chose to not tell. I am now 30 and I finally told my parents 2 years ago. They were shocked to say the least. Also when I became a parent myself, I made a vow to my daughter and now son, that I would do everything possible to protect them. Even if that means I'm a little over protective.

Parents have to get their heads out of the sand and understand that there is a true threat here. It doesn't matter your race or religion or how much money you make. Take the steps to protect your children before something happens. My theory, everyone's a suspect. It may not be fair but oh well.

Again sorry for the rant, my heart goes out to OP. I'm not sure it's something that you can ever get over. For me, I found power by talking about it. Not just about what happened to me but also to other parents about prevention.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
OP.... THor hit the nail on the head when he said "Yes the issue of being married to a child sex abuse survivor is complicated!" I was married 33 years before I found out about my wife's sexual abuse.

She always made me feel loved as a person but never made me feel wanted sexually, I was rejected a lot sexually and she made me feel like I was a pervert for wanting to do anything other than missionary and then it was like hurry up and get it over with. It really hurt my ego and self esteem but I didn't know of the abuse.

Every individual and every case is different, I just found out about 6 months ago.Like Thor said we H are the "secondary survivor" we should not have to deal with this and its not easy,or fair. But she is the real victim with the memories.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the replies.

My wife has been in and out of counseling since she was a child. She was hospitalized a few times in her young adulthood. She did not reveal the abuse until in her late teens and all her parents did was supposedly ask him if he did it. He said no. They left it at that. This, depsite the fact that my wife's aunt claims to have been abused and one of my wife's sisters also revealed her abuse shortly afterward.

When we were dating, I remember several instances of the grandparents visiting form out of town and staying at my in-law's house. My wife was living there at the time as well. If that's not bad enough, her father would sit the monster next to my wife at the dinner table and then give her a stern "behave" face. Had I known then what I know now I would have had trouble not sending some people to the ER.

A year or tow after she moved in with me, I was told that there was a big anniversary party for the grandparents out of town. I was just beginning to learn of the abuse at this time My wife said she had to go and how did I know any better? I had no experience with these things. If she said it was OK I figured it was.

I met her in Chicago on the tail end of a business trip. It is about 14 hours from where we live but we planned to drive back over a few days and have some fun. We went to the big dinner and at one point my wife's father stood up, raised his glass and toasted the animal. My wife freaked out, had a hysterical episode and insisted that we leave immediately and drive home. We left at 7:30pm and she flipped completely out at any suggestion we stop for anything, even gas. To this day I don;t know how I made that drive without sleep. This was the first glimpse I had into the damage this kind of abuse can cause.

We had our ups and downs over the next few years but with therapy, some distance from her family and my constant care taking she made a lot of improvement. We got married and had a daughter a couple years in. Pregnancy is where everything started to go off the rails. I became her enemy. She seemed angry at me almost all the time. I chalked it up to pregnancy issues but it only got worse when our daughter was born. My wife was completelty overwhelmed and nothing I did was right, even when she had told me to do it.

When we really plunged into ther chasm is whne my daughter turned 3, the age when my wife's abuse started. It makes perfect sense that this would be a trigger, but that knowledge really does not help. My wife says she doesn't trust me, I don't care about her feelings, I'm manipulative and controlling, I don't meet my obligations, etc. Now I'm no angel, but this stuff couldn't be more false. It has gotten to the point that she insists that I have said and done things that simply did not happen. How do you cope with that?

At the beginning of the summer she ended up in the hospital's Adult Crisis Intervention Unit for a few days. Afterwards she entered a 6 week outpatient group therapy program that actually seemed to help. Unfortuantely, she began to become anxious in the last week of the program that it was ending. The progress began to reverse. She tried a new IC who is supposed to specialize in child abuse. She is now going to quit that as well. She asked me to go with her on two appointments. When the counselor refused to reinforce her view that I am the villain, she lost interest. Same thing happened in MC.

What really spooks me is something my IC said to me not long ago. He told me that some people never get better. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I alwasy thought that if I stuck by her and supported her long enough I would eventually break through the wall. I began to think of my future as well as my daughter's. What if she never gets better? Should I sacrifice my happiness for the rest of my life? What will the tension and my wife's hostility do to my daughter as she grows up? What example am I setting for my daughter? Am I treaching her to endure abusive relationships?

I'm also worried about the parts of me that I'm losing. I'm a fun-luving, outgoing, gregarious, easy to please man by nature. I don't even recognize myself any more. Between the fear of setting my wife off and the building resenetment over the fact that I'm paying the bill that her grandfather and parents charged I have little else in me. My wife's misplaced rage and hostility flat-out wear me donw. I don't even have the energy to do the things for myself that make me happy.

I'll try to post more later, got to put the kiddo to bed. Thanks for reading my rant. It feels good to just express it somehow.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
854 Posts
My situation is not as severe as your W, yet it is different on how it was handled "by" my H, your comment that "you are paying for her past".... was the exact same statement my H said to me.

He would say this after he would grope, and grab at me and I would trigger. Then I would get demeaning insults.. which in turn made me feel ashamed and embarrassed about what happened "to me".

I have finally learned that it was "not my fault" that it happened. But just someone telling you this, doesn't mean you automatically believe it.. that's where my EMDR helped.

I also believe that I no longer have as much anxiety about my abuse because I can now bury it in my past again.. since my H and I are separated and I don't have to have those actions and words trigger me.. I'm in my "safe zone" again,,,, alone.

I wish I had words that would help you... I know you want her to get better... and I wish it were as easy as just supporting, understanding and letting her know you are beside her every step.... and no, it's not fair to you having to walk on eggshells and never knowing what's going to happen next. I hope you don't give up on her, but I hope you find a middle ground for happiness.

Please continue to post here.. sometimes just journaling and venting is a stress relief... and to know your not alone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,174 Posts
Well, someone who has experienced any kind of abuse needs to realize and accept the problems it's causing them in their relationships, and then seek help to improve their own lives. You can try to avoid her triggers, but honestly, it's an inside job, and only one that she can do herself. In my life, I've been to h*ll and back, several round trip tickets. Despite all that, through therapy and medications and persistence and staying centered and learning to communicate and be self-aware, I lead a fairly stress and drama-free life these days. You can't do it for her. If her issues are causing you trouble, the same is true of her issues causing her trouble. You can only deal with what you can control, if you can't figure it out on your own then you owe it to yourself to seek therapy in order to protect your boundaries from her not containing collateral damage from her past. It's not easy to stick with therapy, it's too easy to blame everyone else, and then to insist (when things are getting close to home) that you are doing okay. But when you really get to okay, you realize how misguided you were in prior assessments. The difference is really night and day. But you don't get there in 12 hours :-o
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
A few more details. My wife is on a bunch of medication, most of which seems to do little positive and a lot of negative. I have discussed the meds with pretty much all of the medical professionals we have come in contact with in the last few months. They all agree with me that medication is not the solution to my wife's problem, therapy is. The only Dr. who insists that the meds are helping is, guess who, the psychiatrist. Seems like all psychiatrists know how to do these days is pump more chemicals into people's bodies. The side effects of some of these are exacerbating the situation but my wife refuses to consider much in the way of modification because that would be me telling her what to do. Sigh...

She has not spoken to her parents in almost a year. They don't seem to mind at all. They get to enjoy their retirement in blissful denial of the situation they helped to cause.

Our sex life was pretty good for the most part until after we got married. Currently it is awful. Infrequent and awkward. I really don't even want to try anymore but am afraid that if I refuse her occasional initiation it will humiliate her and end out sex life for good.

Complicated...yeah that's what it is.

So, do sny of you see hope?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,174 Posts
Thanks for the replies.

My wife has been in and out of counseling since she was a child. She was hospitalized a few times in her young adulthood. She did not reveal the abuse until in her late teens and all her parents did was supposedly ask him if he did it. He said no. They left it at that. This, depsite the fact that my wife's aunt claims to have been abused and one of my wife's sisters also revealed her abuse shortly afterward.

When we were dating, I remember several instances of the grandparents visiting form out of town and staying at my in-law's house. My wife was living there at the time as well. If that's not bad enough, her father would sit the monster next to my wife at the dinner table and then give her a stern "behave" face. Had I known then what I know now I would have had trouble not sending some people to the ER.

A year or tow after she moved in with me, I was told that there was a big anniversary party for the grandparents out of town. I was just beginning to learn of the abuse at this time My wife said she had to go and how did I know any better? I had no experience with these things. If she said it was OK I figured it was.

I met her in Chicago on the tail end of a business trip. It is about 14 hours from where we live but we planned to drive back over a few days and have some fun. We went to the big dinner and at one point my wife's father stood up, raised his glass and toasted the animal. My wife freaked out, had a hysterical episode and insisted that we leave immediately and drive home. We left at 7:30pm and she flipped completely out at any suggestion we stop for anything, even gas. To this day I don;t know how I made that drive without sleep. This was the first glimpse I had into the damage this kind of abuse can cause.

We had our ups and downs over the next few years but with therapy, some distance from her family and my constant care taking she made a lot of improvement. We got married and had a daughter a couple years in. Pregnancy is where everything started to go off the rails. I became her enemy. She seemed angry at me almost all the time. I chalked it up to pregnancy issues but it only got worse when our daughter was born. My wife was completelty overwhelmed and nothing I did was right, even when she had told me to do it.

When we really plunged into ther chasm is whne my daughter turned 3, the age when my wife's abuse started. It makes perfect sense that this would be a trigger, but that knowledge really does not help. My wife says she doesn't trust me, I don't care about her feelings, I'm manipulative and controlling, I don't meet my obligations, etc. Now I'm no angel, but this stuff couldn't be more false. It has gotten to the point that she insists that I have said and done things that simply did not happen. How do you cope with that?

At the beginning of the summer she ended up in the hospital's Adult Crisis Intervention Unit for a few days. Afterwards she entered a 6 week outpatient group therapy program that actually seemed to help. Unfortuantely, she began to become anxious in the last week of the program that it was ending. The progress began to reverse. She tried a new IC who is supposed to specialize in child abuse. She is now going to quit that as well. She asked me to go with her on two appointments. When the counselor refused to reinforce her view that I am the villain, she lost interest. Same thing happened in MC.

What really spooks me is something my IC said to me not long ago. He told me that some people never get better. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I alwasy thought that if I stuck by her and supported her long enough I would eventually break through the wall. I began to think of my future as well as my daughter's. What if she never gets better? Should I sacrifice my happiness for the rest of my life? What will the tension and my wife's hostility do to my daughter as she grows up? What example am I setting for my daughter? Am I treaching her to endure abusive relationships?

I'm also worried about the parts of me that I'm losing. I'm a fun-luving, outgoing, gregarious, easy to please man by nature. I don't even recognize myself any more. Between the fear of setting my wife off and the building resenetment over the fact that I'm paying the bill that her grandfather and parents charged I have little else in me. My wife's misplaced rage and hostility flat-out wear me donw. I don't even have the energy to do the things for myself that make me happy.

I'll try to post more later, got to put the kiddo to bed. Thanks for reading my rant. It feels good to just express it somehow.
Your wife needs to learn to protect herself better. That means sticking with her reality and not exposing herself to these unreal situations. Until she learns that she will be on her side 100% and never cave in, even if it means severing all ties to her family in order to avoid the insanity of their behavior (it is insane, nobody should ever have to dine with their abuser), she will not trust herself. The problem is, she has spent so much time having to cede to other people's version of reality that she can't possibly have a firm grasp on what is really hers. You probably have a clue as to how insecure she feels, try to multiply it by the hundreds. In the world of an abused person, those closest to you can turn on a dime. Until she learns to trust her own judgement and to have a firm grasp on the security of the reality that she has created with her choices (i.e. to be married to you), that other world is just an instant away. It's kind of like a low level paranoia, always feeling as though you are being watched, and someone is going to violate your boundaries at any given moment. Then the fear of running into an abuser or a similar situation or person, and losing it, because you're not sure what else to do. (You call your emergency number and go get sedated, lol...the idea is to have a plan that will work...)

I can tell you first hand that what your wife experienced is something that she can recover from. But it means a lot of letting go. It's not a matter of trusting you, it's a matter of her trusting herself, to be able to deal with whatever world there is in which the abuse does not exist. And accepting that while she has been dealing with the abuse, she hasn't been living a full life, in which she has actively participated. The term 'scared out of one's wits' applies. Most people who are abused can function in life, but a lot of the time their bodies and their minds/spirits are in two different places. This is how they dealt with the abuse as a child, splitting. But a person can become whole again, and while it really does take a miracle, that miracle can come in the form of therapy (and Rx if necessary.)

Don't give up, just try to be patient. Wait to see the moments when your wife seems to be in her own body, and then choose those times to discuss important stuff with her. Disengage from the times when she is out of her body, seems agitated, etc. Give her space at those times. Soon she will want to be centered more often because that will be a safe place, where she can connect with you and your child. Don't try to discuss anything with her when she is in panic mode. Do something centering, like vacuuming or cleaning something or cooking something or folding laundry. Domesticity is under-rated in terms of calming someone down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
My situation is not as severe as your W, yet it is different on how it was handled "by" my H, your comment that "you are paying for her past".... was the exact same statement my H said to me.

He would say this after he would grope, and grab at me and I would trigger. Then I would get demeaning insults.. which in turn made me feel ashamed and embarrassed about what happened "to me".
It's not that I'm paying for her past, it's that this is someone else's bill. Her grandfather, the animal who did this to her lived out the rest of his life in comfort and had the respect of his family and community. He should have been in prison. Her grandmother who allowed it to happen under her nose is still visited by the rest of my wife's family and has never had to admit to what happened. Her parents who were more concerned with their careers, money and vacations than they were about protecting TWO of their daughters get to pretend they did nothing wrong and my wife is just an ungrateful errant child. I am furious that my daughter and I suffer the aftermath of what happened while they just go about their lives.

Back when we were dating, my wife told me that she didn't think they believed her. Why else would they still welcome her tormentor into their home? I told her I believed that it is because her parents are greedy and didn't want to risk losing their inheritance. She got angry with me and told me there was no way. A few months later we had a little summit with her parents where she planned to confront them about the situation and why they never did anything about it. At some point she repeated what I had said about the money. Her father ignored it but her mother actually admitted that that was a concern to them in time past but not anymore because it was too late for him to change his will. Can you believe that? I was in complete shock. Not that it was true but that her mother actually admitted it. I think my wife's heart broke a little more that day.

The idea that she ever lumps me in with those people makes my stomach turn. I know it is her pain and fear that causes the distorted reality, but my daughter and I still have to live with the result. I have to consider that little girl's health and future before my own or my wife's. I guess I have some hard thinking to do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,928 Posts
When we really plunged into ther chasm is whne my daughter turned 3, the age when my wife's abuse started. It makes perfect sense that this would be a trigger, but that knowledge really does not help. My wife says she doesn't trust me, I don't care about her feelings, I'm manipulative and controlling, I don't meet my obligations, etc. Now I'm no angel, but this stuff couldn't be more false. It has gotten to the point that she insists that I have said and done things that simply did not happen. How do you cope with that?
zk, you are in a pretty bad situation right now. I can relate to a lot of your story, too, though my wife was more functional than yours. Enough so that I did not figure out what the underlying cause was.

The sex stopped just before the wedding. She managed to convince me it was somehow my fault, and that my expectations were unreasonable for one reason or another depending on the current circumstances. She became a different person when the first baby was born. Same as you, there was not a thing I could do right, especially as related to the baby. I knew every day she was going to blow up about something, but what it was going to be over was not known. Walking on eggshells was a good description.

I have heard very recently that she does not trust me and that I am controlling. This coming from the Queen of Control!

Don't let her convince you that you are defective, incompetent, undesirable, or a bad parent. You might consider journaling so that you have something to look back on for confirmation.


What really spooks me is something my IC said to me not long ago. He told me that some people never get better. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I alwasy thought that if I stuck by her and supported her long enough I would eventually break through the wall. I began to think of my future as well as my daughter's. What if she never gets better? Should I sacrifice my happiness for the rest of my life? What will the tension and my wife's hostility do to my daughter as she grows up? What example am I setting for my daughter? Am I teaching her to endure abusive relationships?

I'm also worried about the parts of me that I'm losing. I'm a fun-luving, outgoing, gregarious, easy to please man by nature. I don't even recognize myself any more. Between the fear of setting my wife off and the building resenetment over the fact that I'm paying the bill that her grandfather and parents charged I have little else in me. My wife's misplaced rage and hostility flat-out wear me donw. I don't even have the energy to do the things for myself that make me happy.
Some people do not get better. Some are too damaged. Some are too afraid to really confront their issues. I am not qualified to opine on your wife's chances of getting better. You are in the position to see if she is getting better and whether she is working hard at it.

I think time is worth trying. Some, not a lot. The young daughter is a definite triggering event. As she gets older the trigger will reduce.

On the other hand, your questions and issues are quite valid. I look back at some of the insanity I put up with 20 years ago and wish I had been smart enough to bail out. I don't think I protected my daughters enough from their mother's issues. My kids have not had a good example of what a healthy marriage looks like. I have struggled for many years dealing with the bad marriage (not knowing about the abuse).

If you divorce, your daughter will have a good healthy home when she is with you. If you don't divorce and if your wife remains dysfunctional, your daughter spends 100% of her childhood in a dysfunctional home. If you divorce, you have the chance to have a much healthier marriage with another woman. These are all valid factors to consider.

I would suggest you set a deadline to decide. Maybe a year from now? Work hard for that year to get things turned around, and then assess where she is and where your marriage is. Think about what you need to see a year from now to keep the marriage going.

Yes you are paying the price for what someone else did. I think all of us secondaries have that feeling! I love my wife, I mourn for the child in her that had her childhood and really her adult life taken from her. I understand the psychological basis for many of her dysfunctional behaviors. Yet I am the one who has given years of my life to the evil done to her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,928 Posts
She has not spoken to her parents in almost a year. They don't seem to mind at all. They get to enjoy their retirement in blissful denial of the situation they helped to cause.

Our sex life was pretty good for the most part until after we got married. Currently it is awful. Infrequent and awkward. I really don't even want to try anymore but am afraid that if I refuse her occasional initiation it will humiliate her and end out sex life for good.
Good, she needs to have no contact with her parents for now. What they did was at least as harmful as the abuse itself. They put context to the abuse. A small child has no understanding of what is happening, and it is my belief that it is the other parts of the situation which cause much of the damage. The coercion used by the abuser. The refusal of family or other trusted adults to believe the child, and the failure of adults to take action when told by the child something happened. Your wife's parents did a lot of damage to her.

On your sex life, you are making a mistake in your thought process. Do not assume anything about what your wife thinks or feels. Your "normal" adult understandings of sex, emotions, desires, and relationships cannot be projected onto her. She has very different views of those things. Why do you think she initiates sex? My wife said to me she felt guilty when it went past a year or so with no sex, so she would initiate because she knew men needed to "spurt it out" once in a while. It had nothing to do (in her mind) with love, intimacy, bonding, pleasure, desire, etc. There is no reason to believe your wife feels humiliated if you turn her down. There is no reason to believe she views sex in any way shape or form the way you do.

There is hope for you if you step back and realize you are not dealing with an adult woman. You are dealing with a hurt child.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
856 Posts
She has to recognize that she has to stop punishing you for the sins of her gnf. You are not the enemy. She is working very hard at destroying her marriage and family. My husband survived a lot of childhood abuse. We are separated now. I burned out! I finally left after realizing that my h can be nice to his friends, the neighbours, our kids. So he DOES have self control! He just chooses to vent his frustrations and anger on me and I'm done with it.
Don't believe the IC that some people never get better. I think if they have a wake up call the vast majority of people can improve. Not 100% but to a good extent if they want to get their head out of their butts and see what they are doing to their loved ones.
Tell her that you won't be demonized by her anymore. If she chooses to twist everything you say you just can't take that kind of misery. When she starts in on you just say STOP talking to me that way, and walk away. Don't debate or engage her. Tell her she's being hurtful and to stop it! Tell her you love her but you are done with the anger and fighting. Set a deadline as mentioned above.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
I am a survivor of sexual/mental and physical abuse...by the hands of my step father and mother. im 37 years old and im STILL having issues with it all. ive been to therapist after therapist and currently seeing a new one. there is a time where as a victim you have to say enough is enough and heal yourself from the inside out.
because of all that i went through at the most vulnerable periods of a childs life, and the time of my life that basically forms your outlook on people and yourself, age 4-6, its haunted me daily. I can still hear my mothers voice in my head telling me it was all my fault. I asked for the abuse, i deserved the abuse. i've been married now 3 times and 2 of those marriages failed because the husband couldnt handle it. couldnt handle my outbreaks, my seclusion, low self esteem, etc etc. But like my therapist told me yesterday, unless you have dealt with the abuse, no one will ever understand what i've gone through and why its so hard. It is not something that you can just shove to the back of your mind and forget...sure you come to a place where you can forgive, but youll never forget. Youre wife has to come to that place where she says enough is enough and shes not going to let all those things determine what kind of life or what kind of person she will be for the rest of her life. thats where i am now. I have always been a door mat to men and afraid to stand up for myself with women...but no more, i'm facing my demons little by little and day to day and working through them because thats what "I" deserve. what her family or my family has done to us is just that, and they have to face that in the end. She must know that none of it was her fault nor was it mine although that was drilled into our heads. There is soooooo much more I could say about this and your welcome to PM me and we can talk further about it...but for now, Youre both in my prayers and PLEASE for the Love of God and your lovely wife, dont give up on her...support her, help give her strength, be there even though its incredibly tough...if you walk out on her or ignore her cries, youll just be another one of the reasons for her to crawl back in her hole and shell never get through this. i'm not trying to make you feel guilty by any means, but be that stand up guy, husband and best friend that she knows is there. that she knows loves her no matter what and you will help her in any way that you can. Sometimes the strength of others helps when we are at our most vulnerable.
God Bless!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
854 Posts
She is working very hard at destroying her marriage and family. My husband survived a lot of childhood abuse. We are separated now. I burned out! I finally left after realizing that my h can be nice to his friends, the neighbours, our kids. So he DOES have self control! He just chooses to vent his frustrations and anger on me and I'm done with it.
This is what I dealt with, but I was the one who was abused as a child. This was part of his abuse to me as I pulled away from him sexually. It's kinda like the chicken before the egg or vice versa.. I don't honestly know which came first, the abuse or my lack of sex with him. It seemed like that was the only time he was "happy",, if he didn't get sex or his way, the whole house was on high alert with his moods.
Was it his actions and words making me trigger? Was it just my way of coping with my memories? Or some other reason,, I have no freakin clue.
But I feel I did not deserve the abuse he was dishing out because of my childhood abuse....I didn't want to be abused...

After his EA's and abuse were out in the open, my H told me that he was sexually abused by men as a child..... do I believe him? He never brought it up in counseling while we were going....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,928 Posts
zk, this is always a minefield of a subject on this forum. We have survivors who might be offended or triggered by responses from secondaries. It does dampen the discussion a bit not knowing who might be reading. Another resource for you is Rape & Sexual Abuse Survivor Message Board, Support Forums & Chat Room where they have more private forums. Sign up as a Secondary Survivor to get access to the secondary forum.

So....

**Trigger Warning***

***Potentially offensive personal opinion warning***


ZK, all I know of your situation is what you have written. Your side of the story, your experience and your interpretation. I am not a therapist. My observations are from personal experience as a secondary and from having discussions (in person and on the web) with other secondaries and with CSA survivors. I am not aware of all the other cases which may or may not exist out there, such as happily recovered survivors.

While I hope that your wife will find peace, and I hope you can effect changes to have a happy marriage, I am not optimistic for you or her. She seems to be very deeply affected by whatever happened to her.

How much do you know about what CSA survivors deal with? Her deepest fear is likely that it is true. CSA survivors typically feel very great shame and guilt, and they fear it is deserved. You know your wife was victimized, but she still feels shame and guilt. She likely cannot differentiate between these side effects and the actual abuse event(s). If she has difficulties with sexuality for example, she may have great difficulty talking with you about it or in dealing with the problem herself because it is linked to the abuse in her mind. It is difficult to explain clearly. If you tell her she is deficient as a wife in some way, and if it is related to her emotional or psychological fallout of the abuse, she will see it as you confirming she is to blame for the abuse.

So she may be resistant to admitting to herself even that she has real psychological issues which are causing problems in the marriage and the family. Facing the emotional issues is difficult because it can mean revisiting the abuse events. But I also believe that this incorrect linkage between the emotional side effects and the abuse is a very big factor. Talking with women who have recovered from CSA I hear very similar stories that they still sometimes have triggers and nightmares etc, but they recognize that their relationship problems were due to them failing to address the side effects, not that they were failing to deal with the abuse.

I also hear frequently that they had to hit a rock bottom event to wake them up. They had to be shocked into changing their world view. Right now your wife sees the world as dangerous. She sees men as predators. She in some ways is literally equating you with her abuser. She does not see you as emotionally or physically safe. She does not see you as her greatest ally. She does not understand what you feel about her. Many of the women I have talked to end up divorced before they make meaningful progress in their recoveries. Now they look back and they see how the side effects badly influenced their perceptions and behaviors. (They also see how their husbands contributed to the bad marriage. To be fair, we all make mistakes in our marriages. Every problem is not due to her CSA.)

Your wife's second greatest fear is likely abandonment. Even when being treated badly she fears being abandoned. This is why many abuse survivors end up getting into future abusive relationships. They so desperately want to be accepted and they so desperately fear being rejected.

This is why regular MC and regular relationship advice fails with the CSA survivor. If you try the 180 she will feel panic. If you try to turn down the thermostat she will panic. If you tell her you will divorce her if she doesn't improve on XYZ, she will panic. She is as likely to preemptively bail on your marriage as try to improve. If you tell her you have a particular need, she may perfunctually perform it but without deep or lasting commitment.

You need to get good support for yourself. Find a local support group for Secondary Survivors, or go to individual counseling. Seek out someone who deals with PTSD because you likely have some. Your work may provide free confidential counseling through an Employee Assistance Program, EAP. We tend to marry people with similar levels of dysfunction. You likely have issues of your own to explore. Maybe you're too much of a Nice Guy who rides in on his white horse to save the damsel in distress. Maybe you lack relationship skills. IDK, I'm not a therapist! You can likely benefit from some individual counseling though.

You do have the right to your own happiness. If your wife is unable or unwilling to make substantial and effective efforts to recover, you are not obligated to sacrifice yourself. Love yourself at least as much as you love her. I think you should give your marriage a good try. At some point you can know you did everything possible and if the marriage is not acceptable, it is not acceptable.
 
1 - 20 of 84 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top