SurvivingInfidelity.com® > I Can Relate
Sexual Abuse Survivors/Spouses - Part II
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It's possible...but it involves popsicle sticks and rubber bands...and is fun for NOBODY.
Hard to make me laugh in the midst of this, but you managed .
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.
I hear you. The thing is, that I believe WH when he says he did not desire OW and did not want to have sex with her . . . my gut tells me this is true.
WH did want to make OW's demands stop. He couldn't stand to witness her pain any longer, and he did very much want her to stop crying. OW made it clear: If WH did not follow through with sex, he was a liar who did not care about her, and she was worthless, hated, discarded. In order for her to feel anything but despair, he had to have sex with her--nothing else would work.
A healthy person with boundaries would have of course called bullshit on OW. Go fix your own fricking self, OW! I didn't cause your brokenness, I can't change it and sex will absofuckinglutely not cure it.
But WH's boundaries sucked and he stopped thinking for himself and let OW call the shots. He tells me that the only thing in his head was "rescue hurting helpless victim OW". Nothing about me. Nothing about our marriage. There actually is no ambiguity. The BS doesn't exist in any real way, the marriage is compartmentalized, and the WS isn't in the driver's seat. The AP wants sex, so sex it is.
[This message edited by sailorgirl at 10:49 AM, March 22nd (Friday)]
First post here. Super nervous as only my BH & IC knows about my past Sab. Abuse was by boyfriend when I was 18, my mother died maybe a month or two before I got involved with him. My Dad was in and out and I didn't tell him. Everything was great with this new guy and I moved in with him after dating for 2-4 weeks. We only dated 6-8 months, but the abuse was physical, mental and sexual. It took an a$$ kicking to get out, but some how I did.
I have successfully compartmentalized the whole relationship for nearly 15 years. Never giving it any thought.
As relationship with BH and I started getting rocky, particularly regarding sex, I would start triggering (although I didn't know it at the time). When I felt pressure from H for sex, my anxiety would spike and I would do it to keep the peace but sometimes mentally check out. At times I felt so used.
Post A, BH has made it clear that he requires physical intimacy for R. It is his love language and how he feels loved. We have had arguements, which makes me feel like withdrawing more. I want to want to be with him sexually, but now it feels like so much pressure. A couple times I was crying about guilt or just feeling terrible about my choice to have an A, he would be raising his voice and yelling at me that his needs are not being met. Ever since those arguements, I have been constantly triggering when sex is brought up. He will usually try to confirm that we will be having sex later that evening and my anxiety shoots through the roof.
My IC is helping me start to put the pieces together. It never occured to me the effect the SAB has had on all of my life. Ever since the SAB box has been opened, it seems like all my anxieties about sex have been amplified.
I guess the biggest problem is how to I help my BH in R, and meet his needs, and not feel dirty and used? I have been honest with him about how I feel, and he asks how is he supposed to deal with his feelings. He feels like his needs have to be pushed aside and he can't even bring up sex. I just answer with I don't know, because I don't know what to say to him. I'm so lost.
[This message edited by Lulu38 at 11:48 AM, March 26th (Tuesday)]
I am seeing an EMDR therapist today. Has anyone done this? I would love to hear your experience. I am looking forward to this. I am going for the sexual child abuse and the cheating.
I know this is a slow response area, so I may never get a response to my question. But I fear if I post it in general it will be misunderstood.
My fWH has really dug deep and discovered a lot of his whys, is working with an IC, reading, exploring his long term CSA. We all believe that his LTA was a symptom of his issues and not the cause. I am fairly comfortable with where he's at and truly feel that he is in a different place, feels "reborn" and do not fear that he will cheat on me any time soon.
The issues I am struggling with right now is how the LTA started. We were not in a bad place in our marriage. We had been getting along as well as ever (which was quite good usually). We traveled, went on dates, had passionate sex, did things together. He had built a new business and was under a lot of stress, but stress was not new to us. We had teenagers and our son was giving us a modest amount of grief. I had gone back to work full time and was in partnership negotiations to help support his drop in income. We were very supportive of each other.
He had the habit of going out for drinks with people from work, which he knew I didn't love and tended to hide it or diminish it. He had one employee who had been with him during the transition who was going through some tough times and he started mentoring her. He was not particularly attracted to her, certainly didn't love or respect her, didn't even like her alot. Yet when it became clear that she was available he just....went for it. He says that he doesn't even remember really trying to resist. He says there was really no thought process involved. He says repeatedly that it didn't mean anything and he really didn't feel anything. No love, no passion, not even real excitement. He said that it was a different part of him and he felt like a different person. In fact it fairly quickly became toxic and he ended up stuck in a compulsive, toxic, threatening situation for years.
So I guess what I have learned about CSA I can understand about dissociation, compartmentalization and compulsiveness. I also have told him that he has to own the choices he made--he agreed to go over to her place, he drove over there, he did the deed and he does own it. But I can't understand the piece about a loving husband just basically falling into something like this, without agonizing over it, without considering what he was doing. Other As that are filled with passion and people who are in love and can't help themselves (in their twisted minds) are one thing. But just this?
I asked him this am if she was the first one who seemed available to him and that was why her. Granted he is handsome and powerful and numerous women have told me that have had crushes on him but most decent people don't make themselves available. He said he can't be sure because he wasn't looking for anyone. He feels this was a particularly vulnerable time but can't say exactly why. His parents had recently died, he was facing middle age, but is not sure if this played a role.
He calls it a perfect storm, but I still struggle with the "what the hell, might as well sleep with this unimportant person repeatedly with no joy involved" attitude.
Is this particular to CSA survivors? Any thought?
Thanks for reading my long post, if anyone does!
[This message edited by catlover50 at 7:54 AM, April 9th (Tuesday)]
Maybe this will help, maybe not. Wanted you to know you were heard.
I am fWW, and abuse survivor. I did not have LTA, but can relate. I would like to respond to some of your points...
Our marriage was not in a good place. Actually it was crap. Is it possible he was not in a good place in your marriage? I know I am a conflict avoider and wasn't open at all to sharing a lot of my feelings with BH.
I think one can understand in theory about dissociation, compartmentalization and compulsiveness. But not truly. As a WS can't not truly understand what a BS goes through.
I think she could have been anyone that was available to give him what he needed at that time. He was getting something out of it. That's what he's got to figure out. What was he getting at the time? For me, he was validating my worthlessness, and that I was good for only sex.
I would bet that his parents dying did play a role. Depending on their role or lack of in his CSA, it probably brought back (or triggered him) back to his childhood feelings of worthless, only good for sex or however he felt.
I wish this thread had more activity. I know I value everyone's thoughts as I'm struggling with this stuff too. Good luck
I also suspect his mother dying may have played a role. He remembers thinking that his mother knew about the CSA (it was by her then boyfriend) and looked the other way. He never shared his history with anyone before he told me last fall; had just pushed it down.
From my perspective our M was in a good place, and he remembers it that way as well. If there were issues he was avoiding, escaping, it did not appear to be the M. He did have the weight of transferring the entire staff to his new, financially risky business and carrying everyone's expectations, all the while not talking to me about his fears, because he didn't like to appear weak and also to spare me the worry.
The OW did need him for mentoring; she was very needy as she was going out on her own in practice. He liked being needed in that way. One theory is that he may have been "paying" for her attention with sex, which can be a CSA coping mechanism. But even those professional needs of hers became strangling, yet with his conflict avoidance he was unable to break free.
He tells me that the sex was mechanical and he was not thinking or feeling during it. He actually felt like a "whore" in his words, since she was threatening to tell me if he tried to break if off. He would go to see her every few weeks to months for the last few years, and feel very bad about the whole thing, but then was able to compartmentalize and be normal at home.
And he was normal at home. The whole time. He always was selfish and had a tendency to withdraw, but was loving, complimentary, etc. Also, there was not much overt lying since the rendevous occured around late night emergency calls and were relatively infrequent.
It is very complex and confusing. I am trying to be as supportive as possible, but of course I am very hurt.
He says, and I believe him, that he never truly thought about what he was risking with his behavior. That he risked everything for something that was so meaningless, and in fact unpleasant for the most part. But that, I guess, is part of the pathology.
Thanks, again, for listening.
I am a BS/SAS, I just never saw the connection to the pain before, the acceptance of the verbal abuse, the ability to put away the bad and only focus on the good. I thought it was all in the past.
When I met my husband, he was the first person to make me feel special, valuable, cherished. For the first time in my life I enjoyed sex, did not feel dirty. He treated me like I was worthy. Then the verbal assaults, I always excused them forgave, made excuses.
Now, with the affair, I am tortured. He left me for 2 months and I had to know he was with her and that I was disposable.
We are in therapy, but I still feel so crushed. Is it worse because of my past? Is that why I feel so replacable? I still cry every day, have anxiety attacks. I am still losing weight, 50lbs so far.
I thought I was done with the abuse in my life and now I see I have just chosen not to see it.
I'm not an abuse survivor, but I have noticed the parallels between our situations. I don't know whether you read my posts on this thread . . . I am also struggling with how WH would have sex with OW since he wasn't attracted to her, and didn't desire her.
I think part of WH's motivation was the OW was emotionally manipulating him (subtly at first and directly later). WH let her breach his boundaries, and allowed her to make him feel obligated to make her happy. WH does not have codependent traits in his relationship with me, so it was really hard for me to imagine him acting this way, but he did.
Some things I know about the beginning: OW went above and beyond to help WH at work, and then later leaned on him to feel indebted towards her. Then, she very slowly solicited compliments from WH by putting herself down. Classic, "Does this dress make me look fat?" stuff.
Her next tactic was playing the victim. She would say how alone she felt and how her alcoholic father abandoned her. WH would feel bad because he had a similar FOO and try to help. She also made him feel guilty for having so much--lots of friends, children, busy full life--while she was hurting and her fiancee had left her.
She also started making small comments about how I probably did not understand him, or how I was too controlling. She would say, "You and your wife must have grown apart." He would just agree because it was what she wanted to hear.
To get him to start the PA, she let him know that he needed to back up his compliments with actions. If he really found her desirable, then he would want to kiss her. Otherwise, he had been lying to her and he had hurt her terribly.
WH did not recognize this manipulation for what it was. He thought she was a real friend He also thought he was in control of the situation when clearly he was going against his core values because she wanted him too. He does remember feeling agitated and uncomfortable, which should have been a sign to him that something was wrong. But, he was conditioned by his childhood to deny negative feelings and his boundaries sucked.
An article by Mary Treffert about manipulation has been helpful.
How do we manage manipulation? By becoming more aware of our interaction with others.
- Is the interaction an attempt to communicate or does it feel like a contest?
- Are you beginning to feel anxious or irritated?
- Do you want to get out of the conversation?
- Does the interaction fit into a manipulative style?
- Is there an attempt to use power, service, guilt, or weakness to get your cooperation?
- Are you a willing participant in your own manipulation?
- Is it easier not taking responsibility?
- Are you attempting to manipulate others instead of setting clear boundaries?
- Are you making a distinction between a value and a preference?
Preferences can be negotiated, but values should not.
Hope something there resonates with you. Your posts have been so full of hope and inspiration for me.
Yes, OW was definitely manipulative, even to the point that he feared she would kill herself. My H has now become distrustful of others motives, which can actually be healthy, since he is in a position of power at work.
We had a really powerful talk Wed. night after his IC. He apologized, again, for his actions and hurting me so badly and then talked about all the changes he feels in himself and that he is confident they are lasting. He told me that there has never been a woman in his life to compare to me in any way. He asked what more he could do to help me heal. I told him that fidelity alone was not enough and that I needed this new man to remain; I would no longer " settle". He said that he expected nothing less.
I realize that I have had on average only 75% of him over the years, due to his attachment disorders, etc. The OW got about 5% of the dark part he kept from me. No loss! But now I have close to 100% and it feels amazing to both of us. He no longer has an " empty place" inside to fill, no depression, feels like home is a refuge, etc.
I can begin to see acceptance, if not quite forgiveness.
Caspers1wish-- I have a question about something you said:
Sometimes, being the aggressor, in our minds, offsets being the victim. In order to not be victimized, we pursue, but, deep down, I knew that I was then just victimizing myself. It was still recreating negative emotional aspects of the abuse that survivors replay quite a bit.
Can you please explain this? I'm not sure if I really belong to this group but that behavior sounds a lot like me and I would really love to figure out why I do it.
My exwh for most of our marriage would initiate sex and he wouldn't take no for an answer. He pushed and pushed until I would finally consent. It got to the point where I would try to not have any sexual kind of contact with him because I didn't want him to get in the mood for sex. When he pushed me into sex he didn't care that he was hurting me or that it was very painful.
I actually didn't act like the behavior you mentioned during my marriage because I tried to stay as far away from anything sexual with exwh because of his aggressiveness.
But that's not when my "behavior" you mentioned started...it started in middle school and has continued even to today. I don't know if it would count as molestation but in middle school a guy use to tickle me and grope me at the same time. Because I was super ticklish and would laugh none of the teachers standing nearby did anything about it. It lasted for a while I have forgotten how long. Needless to say I hate being tickled since then.
RA Dickey was on 60 minutes last night and he talked about his CSA and also his infidelity. My fWH was watching in the kitchen and called up to me to turn it on. Afterwards he came up and had tears in his eyes. He seemed to feel better to hear someone else's story. He said it may make it easier for him to talk about it with our adult kids, for example.
I thought it was so great for RA to do that; I wish more men could speak up. It would help end the shame that so many survivors feel.
Thank you so much for the information about RA Dickey. I went to the site and found out that 1 in 6 men are sexually abused as children. I gave my husband the site 1in6.com and we are talking again!
[This message edited by Hurt for 33 at 5:05 PM, April 18th (Thursday)]
This is an amazing thread! Starting with families in which the abuser got away with victimizing multiple children with in a family over generations. I've met plenty of victims but never heard other stories that resembled mine.
I just wanted to add to the current discussion regarding having sex without it meaning anything. The result of my CSA was taking the meaning out of sex. Sex became just another thing you did because I was supposed to. It became no more meaningful or memorable than having eating something unhealthy. It was there, I ate it and now I feel a little gross but no big deal. Sex really only became progressively more meaningful to me over the years of being committed to one person.
Unfortunately, that one person ended up being unfaithful to me and piled so many lies so much abuse on top of the affair that I still have PTSD two years later. My WH had his own issues. An abusive mother, father died of a heroin overdose when he was on 8yo. By the time he was 14, he was already an alcoholic. When you look at it, it's amazing it took so long for him to blow himself up and a miracle he's been so high functioning before and after blowing himself up. He did get progressively worse over the years but slowly. I was like the frog in the pot of water that slowly came to a boil without my knowing it.
My WH is still emotionally retarded. I don't even mean that in an insulting way. It just is what it is. Between that and the PTSD he caused in me, things are still pretty challenging. I know one of the reasons I married him to begin with is I thought he was so normal and healthy and would protect me from all the crazy sh!t in the world. I didn't learn how crazy his childhood had been until long after we'd married. I didn't know he was an alcoholic and was already a secret drinker when we married. In hind sight, it all should have been obvious.
In hind sight, it all should have been obvious. Don't be so hard on yourself! I grew up in a loving family, but could not see that my husband had not. We were married 25 years before it finally came out. That was even after we taught a seminar on marriage about the difference in couples.
He was trying so hard not to be the victim, that he was even hiding some of it from himself.
Hiding from themselves seems par for the course. It's a coping mechanism that helps them survive. I'm also amazed at how well my fWH did for years. I'm not sure how he got through the middle years of our marriage without straying! But he got hit with a perfect storm 6 years ago.
I'm glad it's finally come out because now he has a chance to be truly happy, and I have a chance at a complete connection.
For me, I compulsively would recreate/reenact the abuse. Being victimized my entire childhood, I had no idea how to just be when someone wasn't using and abusing me, it was so foreign, and I was so full of rage, mostly at myself.
Living without the chaos was strange. I created chaos. I purposely put myself into chaotic and damaging situations. Each time I told myself, this time will be different, it will stop when I say it will stop, I'm in control. It is that false sense of self control that I was talking about, that I thought I could achieve by being the aggressor, being in charge, making choices in the belief that I would change an outcome from my past and somehow make it all right in my mind.
But cheating is so extremely self destructive. On the one hand, I wanted to self destruct and self harm, on the other hand, I was really, really lost. Hurting myself repeatedly, I knew I wasn't in control of the situation, that I would freeze up, and not only would I re-experience the physical aspects of the abuse, but also the emotional aspects that would cycle, immense shame, guilt, anger, rage, self-hate. I was trying to reinforce and support the negative rhetoric and internal messages that I was bad and unworthy.
The result of my CSA was taking the meaning out of sex. Sex became just another thing you did because I was supposed to. It became no more meaningful or memorable than having eating something unhealthy. It was there, I ate it and now I feel a little gross but no big deal. Sex really only became progressively more meaningful to me over the years of being committed to one person.
That really describes my view of sex now. It means diddly, and honestly, because it's a constant reminder of all the sex I've had since the age of 3. When I really think about that, I just want to burst into tears. So instead, I try not to place any significance or value to sex. And I feel a bit gross after each time. And that is such a struggle currently, and never was before. Because now I know, it's supposed to mean something with my husband, it means something to him, and I want it to mean something, too, but now that I'm trying to make it meaningful, instead of just feeling great after sex like before when sex was no big deal, I feel like I indulged in something that was bad for me. WTH? I feel like I'm going backwards.
I'm tough..ya, cause I said so...sighhh. I grew up with many abusers, abuse of many kinds. Became a ward of the state at 11yrs old being taken away from my mother. Grew up in a group home, had a lot of counceling, when I wasn't being a runaway. I have survived! Never became a drug addict or alcoholic somehow. I have healed from things I thought impossible. Cause Im tough I say! But...something happened....My exfiance rocked my world with infidelity, betrayal, I threw him out, I was in despair. Utter despair. And then this man, sensing my terrible anguish, reached out, told me all the things I wanted to hear. Exfiance is an idiot for doing that! You are gorgeous, how could he? You are the most amazing person I've ever met..and so on. Perhaps if I wasn't blinded by the grief of loosing my future wedding, my step daughter, my bestfriend, my reality, I would have seen what was realy happening. But dammit im tough! I don't fall victim to predators! Im a strong woman and would kick any mans ass that tried to hurt me, touch painfully, attempt to tear me down psychologically. Right? But here I am, posting in a room that I don't want to really be in. Betrayed by my exfiance, then raped by a "friend". How easily I slipped into that role, the abuse, to the point that I didn't even know who I was anymore, or maybe even know now. Blindly listening to him tell me ther was something wrong with me, and that I was a horrible person if I didn't do this, or do that. I was a puppet. He even said he understood why my exfiance cheated. And I believed it! But damn it im tough! or..i was tough...I feel very small now. Ive lost that confidence that Im tough and in control. I cant believe im posting this. It has been almost 4 months since that abuse ended. 3 sessions with a councelor at a womens resource center, cause thats all I need, cause we all know im tough. (In denial) I know im stuffing it down. Im aware of it when I check the doors at night for the 8th time. When I hide from silver suv's. when I jump when people say my name..even quietly and when I know they are there.
So sorry hon. Hang in there!
So my fWH made what I consider an insightful comment today. He was talking about how needy and insecure the OW was and I asked how he could like that in a person. And he said that the person he felt he truly was, the person I knew, doesn't like that sort of person ( I am independent and self confident). But the "other" part of him, what I call the dark part of him that he hid from me, had his own insecurities that recognized hers and felt a sort of kinship. I have heard this called neuroses meeting each other.
After a time her issues became impossible to ignore and the relationship became increasingly toxic. He's always said that it was toxic and that they were both sick.
Doesn't sound very appealing! But I thought it was cool that he had that much insight.
I would put myself in dangerous situations like meeting a guy from the Internet or leaving a restaurant with a guy I just met knowing full well how dangerous it was but not caring what would happen to me and feeling I deserved anything and everything that came to me.
I have lost all value in myself and when I was treated well by a guy I would freak out because it was so out of the normal for me.
I always need to be in control in the relationship and have used sex as a tool to find love. I always need to know what a person wants from me.
Sorry for rambling.
Some of you probably know me from the other forums. I am finally posting here as our saga (as I keep referring to it) is very relevant to this forum.
I am also posting here because my WW has abruptly refused to continue therapy to confront her issues.
I will try to be as concise as possible. I hope for some insights. Thanks in advance.
My wife was repeatedly sexually abused by her step-grandfather when she around 15/16 years old. She coped with the trauma for many years by, in her words, "splitting"--living two selves, one a child and one an adult. (Or at least this was one manifestation of the splitting.).
In subsequent years she was never alone without a man. But she went from boyfriend to boyfriend, each one unable to meet the needs of both the adult and the little damaged girl.
Finally she met me and we married and had two children. We were happy. But looking back, we had a "daddy/child" dynamic in most ways. Everyday interactions, but especially sexually, to the point where she lapsed into little girl voice and behavior when we had sex. I went along with it willingly, but to me it was only role playing. I realize now that for her it went much deeper. I WAS the daddy who she felt safe with but it was unhealthily intwined with sex.
Then around two years ago I made the mistake of my life, one that will haunt me for the rest of my life. In a time of stress from kids and work and subsequent detaching from each other, in an attempt to spice up our sex life (which was good, but a little worn from the years), I urged her to have some sexual experiences with men and tell me about it. This excited us both and she agreed. NOTE: had she said no, I would have dropped it immediately. But my wife has always had boundary issues and an inability to say say no to those she loved and who loved her.
Her other deep issue is a terrible fear of abandonment.
The "rule" was that these experiences must only be with those whom she would never see again, lest she become emotionally involved them.
What happened was predictable in hindsight. She started a sexual relationship with a coworker and began a deep emotional affair that has lasted for two years, which has been two years of hell for me and for her.
We are on the brink of divorce. She is unable to detach from him, and she has detached from me. The revelation she has come to is this: she has reenacted the trauma from her childhood abuse. She has "split" her worlds. She has attached to this man as an adult but remains attached to me as her daddy. However, I have become not the daddy who is safe, but the daddy who has betrayed her sexually. Her splitting, her compartmentalization, has been dramatic to see. She would go to him (unbeknownst to me) and come home to me and our family with no discernible personality difference or disruption to our lives. Family trips, loving moments, great sex life. Her affair came as an utter shock.
She understands what has happened to her and wants to be with me but, as she says, she just "Cannot come back to me emotionally, with trust and safety." Nor can she leave this man.
She has tried to break off contact with this man but is unable to. She does not trust herself not to abruptly leave me for good and run to him as her "savior," away from the daddy who sexually betrayed her.
As for myself, I simply cannot continue with HER betrayals, even as I understand her terrible trauma and how it has manifested, as well as my role in it. She continues to blame me for the whole thing and is terribly angry with me.
I would prefer to save our marriage.
She is in agony over being abandoned by this man (even though she has been the one trying to end it) while at the same time begs me not to divorce, her fear of abandonment just as strong with me.
There is more, but that is the basic narrative. Is there any best path out of this? Can she recover and begin a new healthy relationship with me? Can this be undone?
Any insights/thoughts/advice is greatly appreciated.
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