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Sexual Abuse Survivors/Spouses - Part II

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silverhopes posted 3/11/2013 00:59 AM

got a problem with that though, statutory rape, even if the victim is willing is physical

I agree, I think it counts as physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

She did post me a picture for support, and it helped. Thank both of you.

There's a lot to sort through isn't there? It's good you guys are talking about it all, even though it must be very painful.

5454real posted 3/11/2013 01:41 AM

Yea, there is. And very painful. Is/was the damage so great that under stressful situations her default reaction is to seek affirmation elsewhere?

Had a bit of an argument today regarding her weight loss/physical appearance(yea, brave I know).

Shortly after the A I made a decision to daily compliment her on her appearance. Very self conscious about that since she regained a lot of weight throughout the surgeries and physical inactivity. I do mean daily, been fairly religious about it. Mind you, it doesn't matter to me one way or the other. I am/have been/will be always in love with her(OK, understand that sounds very co dep, but it is an attempt to say that the physical appearance means very little to me). A person is not defined(unless they are very shallow, and then it doesn't matter cause I ain't interested) by thier looks, but thier actions.

Anyway, daily compliments. She told me today that she could only remember a couple of times in the last year! WTH? Is that a symptom? Can she not hear/remember due to past abuse? Do I take out yard signs?(sorry, PA) Just at a loss.


silverhopes posted 3/11/2013 03:39 AM

That's a difficult one. And I can imagine that hurts too because you've been saying them, but then not being heard might feel sort of invalidating. I think it's good to keep saying it from your heart, and as long as you say it when you truly feel it, and you guys keep working on R together, she will hopefully grow to be able to hear it and feel it too. Does she give you compliments too? How are you guys about accepting each others' kind words?

There could be so many different reasons why she's not hearing... I'll speak from our experience if that's OK. I complimented my H a lot on different things (still do) - I'd tell him how handsome he is, or how he has good taste in cologne/perfume, or his video game skills, or his thoughtfulness if he makes food, or how I love how gentle he is with the cats, etc but he couldn't always hear them either. I noticed that at certain points (namely when an ex said something to him) he was very concerned about his weight, and I couldn't reassure him no matter what I said. So it's possible that my compliments didn't sink in because he didn't believe them about himself. I've had that happen before too - friends or family or coworkers have said something kind about me, but because of my own insecurities and self-doubts, I have a hard time believing it, therefore a hard time hearing it... And that's really sad. People have said some really wonderful things. But I have a hard time remembering what exactly they said, and that sucks, because they took the time to say it. We have to *change our minds* so that we hold onto the positive words instead of letting the negative words echo in there. That's not a very happy legacy. The kind words should be the legacy.

Anyway, more with my H... So I wondered if he couldn't hear my compliments because he had low self-esteem. But on the other hand, when other girls complimented (or criticized) him, he dwelled on it, lapped it up, etc... Maybe he felt like because I said it, and I have a "stake" in him, then it was insincere or "what I was supposed to do" but when they said it unsolicited it meant more, because they chose to say it to him just because, a girl who didn't have to (and who he probably didn't know as well as me) had said it, so it made it 'special' to him. And that was really frustrating and hurtful for me. Or... it could have been that he has trouble with intimacy (see signs of that in other ways), and so accepting compliments from people with no emotional connection is "safe" because he's not vulnerable with them. Could be. Problem with all these thoughts is, H won't talk about them with me. So I have no way of knowing if they're true.

Don't know if any of that rings true for you guys, we're struggling with this too, but that's what came to mind. It's also worked both ways. H claims that he's called me hot at least once on a specific date (Halloween), but for the longest time in my bitterness I didn't accept the compliment because I felt like I had fished for it instead of it coming naturally. Petty, I finally realized - who cares about the technicalities, he said it so that probably means he meant it. Also I might have let resentments get in the way of accepting compliments from him. In H's case, he's complimented other girls and called other girls hot, so when he finally said it about me, I had nursed my resentments and so I pushed away the positivity of the moment. Those resentments are things I have to work through on my own. Part of why I held them, I believe, is because I don't have the self-confidence to believe in the real compliments, so I hold onto the negative ones that reaffirm my unworthiness - a cycle that spirals downward and remains unhealthy. And that's something to work on in IC. Ties into shame and other things.

The way it's sort of working now (work in progress): H can actually hear my compliments now, I think. He gets a lightness in his eyes when I say one. Sometimes he still makes a silly noise or changes the subject, but he doesn't get irritated anymore when I say something nice (though I think he thinks I'm excessive). Don't know what work he did on himself (improved self-esteem maybe?) or what work we did together (we had a conversation one day about his accepting my compliments during a week last summer where he was being inappropriate with one of my cousins - it was an eye-opener for him how dismissive he'd been of me). Or whether the compliments grew on him. But he seems to believe me now.

Food for thought. Definitely something to talk about together, especially because this seems important to you. Start with how you feel - do you feel hurt, saddened, frustrated, confused, all of the above? Talk to each other. Have you two read "The 5 Love Languages"? That might be a wonderful book to read together.

[This message edited by silverhopes at 3:42 AM, March 11th (Monday)]

ladypersephone posted 3/12/2013 17:48 PM

Getting totally reamed in another forum for admitting that my CSA has some effect on my A.

Anyone else feel like they have some similarities in their A and CSA?

*BS-- please stop with with the "excuse" statements... You don't know unless you have gone through it.

silverhopes posted 3/12/2013 19:30 PM

*BS-- please stop with with the "excuse" statements... You don't know unless you have gone through it.

I noticed I used the word "excuse" in a post on last page - did this trigger you? If it did, I'm sorry; I did not mean to make you uncomfortable. I have been through CSAb as well and I would never mean to accuse a survivor of using their SAb as an "excuse" for anything, I know we suffer for a very long time as a result of what was done to us. When I was posting about "excuse", I was meaning to say that I had used my status as a BS as an excuse to become a MH, wasn't meaning that I'd used my CSAb as an excuse to cheat. I might have worded it wrong, and I'm sorry if I triggered you.

CSAb is very serious, and I'm sorry we're all suffering with it.

Anyone else feel like they have some similarities in their A and CSA?

Definitely. Elements of abuse present in the A. One of the same people even.

Are you feeling like someone is invalidating the abuse you suffered? That's not right.

ladypersephone posted 3/12/2013 20:26 PM

Hi Silver,

No I wasn't referring to what you said. I see it now. I have another forum going right now and some BS attacks from hell. They are reaming me because they say I am using my CSA as an excuse. I just say that:

I know why it happened-- it has so much to do with my childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and poor boundaries.

Everyone is saying that I am so full of it and using it as an excuse. I don't think that is what I am saying. I am being introspective about why I skewed my lines in the first place. I feel just awful about all my bad decisions and so much of the bad decision making is rooted in poor moral fabric. I don't mind the truth, its why I came here in the first place. What bothers me is the fixation of so many BS attacking me about my CSA and telling me I am using it as an excuse.

I see the similarities in my A and my CSA. I see why it happened and why I didn't speak up sooner to it. Am I crazy? I wasn't out looking for an A!

silverhopes posted 3/12/2013 20:42 PM

Hmm. Sounds like examining the whys and hows, and this can be a good thing so we can heal and make choices that are healthier. I think of "excuses" as what we told ourselves to make the A seem OK. If we'd said, "I was sexually abused, so I deserve to go cheat," then this would be an excuse and we would be here to examine how we felt entitled. Recognizing the abuse itself as a part of why we had poor boundaries or why we were vulnerable or where our ability to compartmentalize came from or why we wanted to self-destruct or self-sabotage, etc... that's important because, how are we going to find healthier habits if we don't recognize the ones that are unhealthy? Doesn't mean we said it's somehow acceptable that we had an A. If anything, it's even more obvious that we need to learn healthy tools for healing from the abuse - an A harms everyone and is just plain unhealthy...

ladypersephone posted 3/12/2013 23:32 PM

I agree with you Silver. It never occurred to me to think about CSA during the affair. It wasn't until after it happened that I realized the reasons I did what I did and how I could have done it. It wan't because I was NPD or unhappy. So, with a lot of IC I uncovered just how damaged and broken I had been all along. Not an excuse!!! Just a fact. My moral fabric was damaged. I had poor boundaries... How did that happen? You have to get down to the root of the problem so it doesn't happen again.

I am so tired of people reaming me about my honesty in dealing with the root of my issues. I feel like BS want me to just keel over and die. People are harsh on this site.

silverhopes posted 3/13/2013 00:06 AM

It wasn't until after it happened that I realized the reasons I did what I did and how I could have done it.

Yes. This is a big part of understanding the brokenness - how were we already unhealthy? What unhealthy coping skills were we using as a result of the CSAb? What would have been healthier? How can we learn this? While fully processing and feeling and healing all the effects from the CSAb.

It never occurred to me to think about CSA during the affair.

This is the part of the knowing the story and the healing where we ask ourselves - what did we say to ourselves in those moments to tell ourselves that cheating was OK? What excuses did we tell ourselves? Did we say "what he doesn't know won't hurt"? Did we say "our relationship is already over"? Did we say, "I deserve..."? etc. And why cheating, as opposed to getting very drunk, as opposed to any other number of unhealthy coping mechanisms? And the goal behind digging and asking these questions is to identify where we need to get healthier so we don't make that choice again.

I think personally that the CSA needs to be dealt with separately in a way - needs to be fully revealed and expressed and mourned and supported. Whether that's through help within a support book, or a support site like here, or IC... And the dreaded thing with all of that effort - a lot of time and painful acceptance. May we all recognize our beauty, may we all escape the abuse mentally as well as physically, may we reclaim ourselves again.

I see the similarities in my A and my CSA.

What were the similarities you see?

[This message edited by silverhopes at 12:07 AM, March 13th (Wednesday)]

caspers1wish posted 3/13/2013 10:10 AM

Forming emotional attachments with people is pretty hard. Intimacy involves give and take, sharing that is healthy and reciprocal. I can draw people out, but I don't let anyone in. Look closely at the emotional attachment in your marriage

Curious. What do you mean ^^^ here?

I'm just saying that as a survivor, it is near impossible to have a healthy emotional anyone, and that includes a spouse. You may feel you are closer to her than anyone in her entire life, and that may be true to an extent. But does she really let you in, or does she struggle with that? Is intimacy an issue (emotional, not physical intimacy)? You said she struggles to form emotional attachments with others, I'm just saying it's safe to say she probably has a hard time forming that bond with you as well, it's just harder to see that struggle and how that impacts your relationship, for both of you.

caspers1wish posted 3/13/2013 10:24 AM


I completely understand what you are saying and where you are coming from. I pulled this from the SAB-Part 1 thread that is now closed, I hope you find it helpful. The whole thread is worth checking out and has some great insight.

Topic: Candid talk about sex abuse and its role in affairs

I have seen it plenty of times on more than one message abuse and infidelity going hand and hand.

It seems to have a category of its own because often what happens in the here and now is not just influenced by past abuse but HEAVILY influenced by past abuse.

Some common vunerablities of sex abuse victims:

1) Low self esteem/sense of worthlessness. For those who were repeatedly abused they percieve there only value in having sex or being used for sex. They have a hard time seeing themselves beyond this. Often they cannot accept compiments, cannot accept loving relationship is because they don't feel worthy of being loved.

2) Disassociate. Victims learn both in the begginning of being abused then later as a coping mechanism to disassociate themselves from the abuse from their attacker. During the abuse the victim will learn to pick a spot on the ceiling or wall and focus on it until the abuse was over. After the abuse is over they learn to disassociate the every day person from the person abused. It allows them to seperate the pain of abuse from the everyday life.

3) Minimizing. Abuse victims learn to minimize the abuse. After all if they convince themselves its not abuse then they are not victims...who wants to be a victim. Or if they convince themselves the abuse wasn't all that bad then don't feel the urgency to face it to deal with it.

4) Compartmentalize. Abuse victims learn to comparmentalize things. If they store painful memories in the far reaches of their mind then don't have to live with it constantly. The memories are still there unlike suppressing or repressing memories.

5) Secrecy. Abuse victims learn real early you don't tell. Often a skilled (word used loosely) predator can tell which children will or won't tell. And of course they go after the child they think won't tell. In closer relationships where the abuser is a someone known to the victim they rely on pressure and manipulating the victim into silence. They may say things like be quiet you don't want to people to know you did this or that. They may imply some type of harm will come to the victim and in some cases outright threaten the victim should they tell.

6) Self blaming. This comes in many forms. The abuser themselves while try and convince their victim they "wanted it" or they "enjoyed it". The victim might have a physical reaction to the abuse. They will say well if I felt something if I responded then I must have wanted it in someway. Finally society will project blame....good girls don't do that. For boys straight boys don't do that and so on.

7) Lack of empathy. Not surprising that if you learn to ignore your own abuse then you won't be very aware of other persons pains.

8) Distorted sexuality. Sex becomes something that is based on control not on love and pleasure. The victim sees sex a way to get "secondary gains". If I submit to this then I will be liked, loved or even just left alone. They see sex as unpleasant, as hurtful as being less of significane. In short they take those skills of minimizing, disassociation and apply it to their sexuality. Sex is less about pleasure and more about who is the boss.

Those are just some of the many ways sex abuse impacts its victim.

How does that relate to adultery?

Well first and foremost we know many WSs had low self esteem. They felt unloved, they felt worthless.

We also know that WSs compartmentalize, minimize, disassociate themselves from the fantasy of their affair and their every day life.

And of course all affairs involve a high level of secrecy.

But here is the big key for those WSs that were sexually abused as a child or young teen........these feelings (distorted sexuality and sense of worthlessness), these learned behaviors (compartmentalizing, disassociating and minimizing) were FORCED on them.

The SA victim HAD to learn these behaviors in order to cope with something forced on them against their will. And often forced on them when they were for the most defenseless to deal with the abuser.

I would urge any BS who's spouse was sexually abused to read The Sexual Healing Journey. It covers a ton of stuff on how SA impacts its victims. It also speaks to the partners or loved one of SA victims.

My old computer crased but I hope to get the bookmarks off the old drive. There are ton of posts on Marriage Builders by abuse victims. They talk very candidly about how the abuse controled them for years even though they thought they had a handle on it.

So both WS and BS dealing with SA please keep in mind what happened in the recent past was strongly influenced by your WS's past as a child or young teen. And it was a past that saw things forced on them against their will.

silverhopes posted 3/13/2013 12:01 PM

^^^^ Thank you so much, caspers1wish!!! That struck a lot of points for me. It hurts reading it because it's bringing up some painful things with one of my abusers, but this is important because it's also indicating what I still need to work on healing.

Want to second the recommendation about "The Sexual Healing Journey". I've been reading it in small bursts (felt overwhelmed and had to stop for a little while) and it's a really good resource.

ladypersephone posted 3/13/2013 22:15 PM

Wow, Casper, this is exactly what I have been talking about in my therapy for the past 9 months. She has been trying to tell me all of this and I could have used this as a check list!! This is exactly what I am talking about. Low self esteem, dissociation, minimization, etc.. all of it applies.

Durring my recent A, I dissociated each time he approached me. I wanted to scream in my head, but I just couldn't. He must have read it as an invitation rather that a red flag (or am I minimizing again?) In addition, I did sometimes feel like I wasn't more forthright because I was afraid he wouldn't like me or think I was very nice. One way I know I am getting better is that I can't believe I ever thought that way. I really didn't know the warning signs... I didn't know that I had this mode in me. I kept my CSA quite for 15 years. When I finally realized it happened, I was in full flooding PTSD. It was so awful, that is when the A happened too.

Thank you so much for posting this. I want to sit with it a while and let it all sink in. I think I will also take it to my therapist to talk more. I am so grateful for your help

sailorgirl posted 3/15/2013 21:42 PM

Thank you for that quote. I have been reading this thread even though WH's abuse was emotional and physical, not sexual. Every one of those vulnerabilities applies to WH except #8.

I hope it's ok that I post here, even though sexual abuse has it's own specifically horrible effects.

Please know that not all BS's are so wrapped up in their own pain that they can't see another's. Maybe it's because I was so lucky with my FOO that I'm grounded enough in myself to let my heart go out to WS's.
Tonight, WH and I were talking about the emotional abuse he dished out to me during his A. He feels awful to the point of sick about it, but I don't.

I told him that I wouldn't trade places--his burden is far greater. I felt unloved, but he felt unlovable. I knew that being unloved was temporary. WH would snap out of whatever had hold of him, or I would eventually find someone else who would appreciate and love me. Plus, I'm very loved by my children, parents, sisters, friends, etc.

He felt unlovable, and that felt permanent. Sometimes, he still feels that when he faces his past and how he became what he hates the most. At those times, it's like looking into a black hole. And I feel like that would be me if I had been through what he has.

[This message edited by sailorgirl at 9:43 PM, March 15th (Friday)]

ladypersephone posted 3/17/2013 07:58 AM

Since the article from Casper was so helpful, I found an article about revictimization I thought I might share.

caspers1wish posted 3/18/2013 10:59 AM


I also find the "Sexual Healing Journey" a great resource but also overwhelming to get through. I think it sometimes takes me so long to get through some of the books, that I'll go back and reread some of the things I've read before, and it's like I'm reading it for the first time, or could be like, "how on earth did I miss this or not remember it the first time??"


Of course it's ok for you to post here, secondaries who are supporting a survivor need just as much support for themselves. Keep posting as much as you need.

I understand that distinction between feeling unloved vs. unlovable. I hope your husband can find peace and overcome that false notion that he is unlovable.


Thank you for the pandy's article. I am a member over at pandy's and that was actually the first time I've even browsed through their online articles. Revictimization very much applies to me, thanks for posting that link.

sailorgirl posted 3/19/2013 12:52 PM

I realize that this post might be triggery for people who've been through unhealthy situations surrounding sex. Please feel free to skip it!

I am trying to put myself in WH's shoes so that I can understand him better and appreciate how much progress he's made (child abuse, both parents/older brother).

I can see how he used faulty coping mechanisms: denial, compartmentalization, and turning off empathy. I can imagine how those allowed him to conduct a lot of the affair.

Here's what I'm having trouble with--it doesn't make sense that he had sex with OW.

Background: Our sex life was creative, mutual, intimate, amazing (pre A). He hates infidelity and feels that it is the worst thing you can do to someone you love. He wasn't attracted to OW and did not feel lust or anything sexual for her. She did not seduce him, just made it clear that if he did not have sex with her, he was abandoning her and sending the message that she was undesirable and worthless.

The sex was silent and mechanical, and in WH's words "bad bad bad". Why would he do this repeatedly? Is it possible for a man to disassociate during sex?

For the last year of the A, she would get him back in her bed by threatening to tell me or his boss, and by lots of crying about being all alone and possibly doing something to hurt herself. This is all kinds of messed-up on both sides, right?

I hope someone has some insight for me. WH doesn't know--he says he was "confused". I get that up to the point where he's taking clothes off. How can you be confused at that point? There are two decisions, Adultery or Faithfulness. He had to go against his deeply held morals and his cherished family to do something that he did not on any level want to do. How does that work?

Thank you,

Ascendant posted 3/21/2013 10:31 AM

I hope someone has some insight for me. WH doesn't know--he says he was "confused". I get that up to the point where he's taking clothes off. How can you be confused at that point? There are two decisions, Adultery or Faithfulness.

This is me, too...all the way. I can understand poor boundaries, etc., but when you reach ^^^ THIS point, there's zero ambiguity about what's transpiring. None.

sailorgirl posted 3/21/2013 18:26 PM


Thank you for answering. It makes a difference that somebody out there is struggling with this too.

The thing is, WH and I have a great marriage, tons of love for each other and for our kids, but infidelity was a deal breaker for me. So, if it were regular garden variety "I fucked someone else for over a year because I wanted to," I would go for D.

But, WH would not have cheated if it hadn't been for his fucked up FOO. So, I really want to understand how the childhood abuse made the affair possible. WH says that I am totally enough for him in every way--that he didn't want OW and didn't even like her. Ok. Either he's lying (in which case I'm in false R), or I'm way over my head into something I don't understand.

I am learning, and I can grasp way more than on d-day. I'm just failing at sex. Can I believe him that he felt no attraction for her yet still did this because he had reverted to a helpless, manipulated 12 year old boy?

Aren't I infantilizing him if I believe that he wasn't able to say "No"? Or even that it was really hard for him to say no? Also, he's the guy--am I being sexist or is it hard for a guy to have sex against his will (especially since OW just lay there).

With all my heart I want to continue in R. WH was my best friend and I only love him more when I see how vulnerable and open he's being to me, and how hard he's working to fix his damage.

But I'm . Was he denying what was happening while he was putting his penis into her? Like the thrusting was beyond his control? Sigh. I'm actually not angry. Hope the post doesn't sound angry. I'm just feeling baffled and defeated.

I see that it is unfair of me to ask for a survivor of abuse to help me understand this. It's just too much.

FacePunched, if I gain any insights, I won't hesitate to let you know.


Ascendant posted 3/21/2013 19:06 PM

Aren't I infantilizing him if I believe that he wasn't able to say "No"? Or even that it was really hard for him to say no? Also, he's the guy--am I being sexist or is it hard for a guy to have sex against his will (especially since OW just lay there).

It's possible...but it involves popsicle sticks and rubber bands...and is fun for NOBODY.

With all my heart I want to continue in R. WH was my best friend and I only love him more when I see how vulnerable and open he's being to me, and how hard he's working to fix his damage.

Me too...I find I get the most angry and triggery when my WW seems's like,"Ohh, she's normal...JUST LIKE SHE WAS EVERY DAY DURING THE A!!! WHORE!" But when we are chatting, and she just breaks down and starts apologizing profusely and whatnot, it's much harder for me to be angry, or to hold onto the anger.

But I'm . Was he denying what was happening while he was putting his penis into her? Like the thrusting was beyond his control? Sigh. I'm actually not angry. Hope the post doesn't sound angry. I'm just feeling baffled and defeated.

Again, this right here, is me. I think what's the hardest part for us to get, comprehend, and process is that the shitty boundaries from CSA enable shitty boundaries, which let people get close who shouldn't have ever been so close...but the unfortunate truth is probably that they had sex with them because they really, really wanted to.

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