I was molested for about a year beginning at 9, sexually harassed at work/school in my teen years, date raped in college.
To say that I have some really messed up behaviors/thoughts around intimacy would be an understatement.
When I first began having sex (at 15, too young), I was well entrenched in the sex = value game. I'd use sex as a tool--cheating on SO's to destroy the relationship, using sex to add a sense of value to the relationship with the SO, using sex to bring value to myself, all of that.
Eventually, I got my shit together, realized what I was doing, & quit. I got married, had kids, stayed totally faithful for 14 years.
The I had an EA/PA. Since it was lacking the traditional hallmarks of my past behavior, I dismissed any correlation. I wasn't trying to destroy my marriage, I wasn't trying to make myself feel better with a PA. And I said as much in cindergirl's first post. I thought this was a totally new type of betrayal, completely unrelated to my past. But then I slept on it, and I remembered that the switch from EA to PA happened when the EA got rocky due to AP's behaviors (tends to get quiet when things are going wrong in his world, etc). So on reflection, I think I used the PA to validate the relationship.
Anyway, I'm wondering how many of us are in this boat. I don't want to be. When I think of my sex behaviors in terms of my past experiences, it makes me angry. I feel like I had no "no" back when people did things to me. And when I lose my "no" now, it's like they win all over again. At least when I feel like I'm controlling the sex, the connection, it's my "yes"...and then when I realize how much of this I've still turned over to my abusers, that I still let the effects of what they did to me influence me almost 30 years later, I feel so fucking defeated. Because it should just be me making my own decisions. And I own that, they are mine. But those needs that remain below the surface are powerful indeed.
My best thinking brought me to SI.
From the age of 16-19 I was in a relationship with a physically and emotionally abusive man.
While he never raped me in the 'normal' sense of the word because he was never forceful, most of our sex wasn't 100% consenting.
To cut a long story short, if I rejected his sexual advances I would be subjected to hours of abuse. He would beat me and verbally abuse me. One night he made me lie on the floor while he emptied the entire contents of every single bathroom product over me. Shampoo, shaving foam, bath foam, soap, sun lotion, even the cleaning products. He didn't allow me to get up. I had to lie on the floor all night while he slept in the bed. Just because I said I was too tired to have sex.
So, saying no just wasn't worth the hassle. It was easier just to let him get on with it.
His abuse completely obliterated my boundaires. After that relationship I didn't know how to say no, I was always worried about upsetting people.
It definitely contributed to my A.
I'm all kinds of broken.
[This message edited by BrokenButTrying at 8:05 AM, April 3rd (Thursday)]
Chin up. Unwavering. Fight. We can do this.
In my case, I don't feel like I was unduely pressured to go to PA, but it was his (AP's) idea long before it was mine.
BrokenButTrying, your story is painful and horrid. Your IC is right. There's simply no way that isn't sexual abuse. Being coerced into sex by way of what was clearly an ever-present threat of physical abuse is sexual abuse, too.
I was in a relationship with a physically, emotionally, sexually abusive man from 18-21. I was sexually traumatized repeatedly throughout the duration. Generally, I rarely bothered saying No as our first encounter demonstrated that he didn't understand the meaning of No. On rare occasion when I did say No, it didn't do any good. He did what he wanted anyway. To say it f***ed me up is a gross understatement.
BrokenButTrying, I can relate to your being hesitant to call it sexual abuse. It took me several years to realize that what had happened to me was rape. I thought because it wasn't "violent", it must be my fault. Obviously, this is wrong, wrong, wrong. It took me even longer to unravel that I had been sexually abused over and over and over again by this man.
Have you ever gotten professional help to deal with the trauma? Even decades later, the scars can remain, and it's never too late to seek help.
familyfirst: I was never abused, so I can't use that as an excuse.
Hopefully you're not implying that CSA (childhood sexual abuse) is a valid excuse for infidelity. Sexual deviancy is common in CSA survivors, but not inevitable.
[This message edited by 20WrongsVs1 at 2:52 PM, April 3rd, 2014 (Thursday)]
Also, I know someone else posted this:
But I don't use it as a justification. I've read about some of the long-term effects of CSA. That reading/studying was something that helped me snap out of the most destructive behaviors in college. So it's by no means an excuse, it adds perspective though, which is useful. It's very difficult to figure out how to stop doing certain things if you're unaware of things that might make you more susceptible to doing them in the first place.
And no, I haven't worked with an IC, mainly because I've tried a couple, and they were so ridiculous that I couldn't bring myself to go on with it. I'm not a "talk to a pillow & pretend it's your mom" or whatever type of patient. And hmm. if they're too lax, I'll lie.
There is no question it was abuse. My heart aches for you all.
Just because my exBF didn't pin me down and force himself on me, I don't think of it as rape. Every day I continue to believe that, I let him win and his hold over me carry on.
Up until recently I had never cried about what happened to me at the hands of that man. It didn't seem real, like it happened to someone else. I minimised everything because it wasn't as bad as the stuff you see on the news. My IC told me I needed to cry.
Abuse is abuse, no matter how you dress it up. It's painful to admit how badly it affected you. But you must, otherwise the abusers win.
[This message edited by splitintwo at 4:56 PM, April 3rd (Thursday)]
For me, the CSA background gives me a clinical framework from which to address my brokenness. During my "A season," I was, TBH, downright evil. What kind of person does that? Not only to my own BH and family, but to the OBSs too. I guess being diagnosed with PTSD (35 years post-CSA) helped me see that "those powerful needs below the surface," as you said, splitintwo, are rooted in psychological damage that can be healed. Which is a lot easier to face than considering myself a sociopath.
splitintwo can you see any of the I Can Relate threads? I think some threads unlock when you hit 50 posts, but I didn't think that was one of them.
That forum tends to be pretty slow, but the historical material is well worth reading for any WS or BS affected by sexual abuse.
And this...1000x this:
I guess being diagnosed with PTSD (35 years post-CSA) helped me see that "those powerful needs below the surface," as you said, splitintwo, are rooted in psychological damage that can be healed. Which is a lot easier to face than considering myself a sociopath.