SurvivingInfidelity.com® > I Can Relate
Sexual Abuse Survivors/Spouses - Part II
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((20swrongs)) Your compassion is overwhelming. Thank you. I am going on this trip. I have no illusions about my mother or my sibs.
The nightmares have been replaced by insomnia. I think that's perhaps an improvement.
After confrontation many years ago, my parents and sibs joined my XH in a custody suit agaist me. Both parents and all sibs testified against me to try to take my kids away. I stood strong and prevailed. Walked away for good, or so I thought. But I got dragged back. My mother admitted that their testifying against me was retaliatory. I demanded an apology. Her answer to me is burned into my memory. She said "Edith, you had better hope your DD and DS don't ever DO THIS TO YOU." Again after that I went years of NC. It has been an ongoing battle.
But I am going on this trip in an effort to do what I feel is right. This woman gave birth to me. I have looked at all the wrongs she has done in her life and thank God I am not like her. I know that so many times she had choices to make and she made the wrong ones. I don't want to ever look back on my life and feel regret for having made a wrong choice on something irreversible. I don't know if this makes sense to anyone.
I will update when I return. And thank you for the kindness, it means so much to me. I pray that we all find peace.
God bless you Edith. You're stronger than I am.
I just hope you don't take any more hurts, and that some piece of this trip is settling to your heart.
Thank you casper and silver, I appreciate your feedback and perspective.
I have IC coming up, and what you've said is very valuable to me. I will be covering it, and let you know...
(should I be doing this in NB? lol)
I'm not doing very well. The truth that what my exwh did to me was rape, during our marriage, was pointed out to me earlier this year. I struggle with PTSD from it. I thought I had gotten over that from his cheating. I can't tell my family about his abuse because they still have to interact with him and I'm trying to protect them.
I don't know what I should be doing first.... Healing from the infidelity or the rape. Some of the issues regarding the A has caused me a lot of shame for taking his abuse. I'm going to a support group that consists mostly of CSA and I think I never had it that bad. If I don't face the issue.... The rape on a daily basis I slowly revert back to denial.
I don't know of any groups that deal with infidelity AND abuse. The issues are so intertwined that I can't seem to separate the two. My rape counselor hasn't made me talk about the rapes so I haven't. I'm stuck.
I dread sleeping because that is when I deal with everything I have pushed aside during the day. I'm so exhausted
(((Courageous))) I know your pain. I also am a rape survivor. PTSD is an ongoing struggle, and I truly wish I had the answers.
I went on the trip to see my mother. She has utterly lost her mind, called me by my siblings' names. I went to the store and bought the things she needed, I fed her and took care of things for her while I was there. I met with my aunt and cousin who blame me for being distant from the rest of my FOO. They do not know the truth, nor do I need to tell them. They continue to think my parents were pillars of virtue and I am an unappreciative daughter.
So I am back to waking up screaming from nightmares. Back to feeling so hopeless about my H and his lies. Back to feeling worthless and discarded. I pray for help for us all.
The continuing saga of my life....my mother was again hospitalized after yet another fall. Her health is failing and her mind is pretty much gone. She has been telling me that she thought my new granddaughter is "not a real baby" because she was conceived via IVF... I am trying my best to not let the things she says hurt me, not always having success with that one.
I think the biggest thing I struggle with right now is my own ambivalence toward her. Like how can I care so little about my own mother?? The fact that she forced me to go to bed with my drunk father for years starting at age 6 is something about which I have rightful anger. Rage even. But I think it is my codependency that sucks me back into the compassion mode (or lack of, in this case), causing my feelings of guilt.
So my plan is to remain supportive but distant. I call her once every 1-2 weeks, see how she is doing. She is now having problems putting together a sentence, so the calls are mercifully brief. And I will continue to make myself as bulletproof as possible with my sibs, who are just as vicious as ever.
I pray for all of us on this thread to find healing.
I'm posting here because I've realized that this is where I really belong.
My fWH was abused, saw his abuser decades later which triggered flashbacks and he began recreating the abuse again but with prostitutes, which apparently is an unconscious way of trying to enable a different outcome in order to get closure of something impossible to process as a child. It's more complicated obviously, but that's the basics. Even the last woman he took advantage of because she offered herself. She was cheaper than a prostitute. Looking back she'd been circling him for years, I trustingly thought she was a nutter and dismissed it. She was the one who wanted an EA and that was what made him behave so oddly and how I suspected there was something going on. There was no EA with her, she couldn't speak English very well anyway, so that makes sense. I actually knew her. And he dropped her on DD like a hot brick and came running back to me when I offered R. Since then he says he never even wondered how she is and has certainly never wanted to contact her since.
I know this sounds like denial on my part, and I'm aware of that, but I've questioned him for 14 months and it's been exactly the same story, perhaps each time with a few more details, but basically the same. Not even enough new info to be TT. I think this really is the truth of the matter.
I honestly believed he went through some sort of breakdown after he saw the abuser, he certainly had PTSD. He has had treatment for the abuse since DD and is a completely changed man. He has cried daily for the last year. I admire his courage for being able to face things as he has and has taken it upon himself to heal me at the same time. Not an easy task.
I've been reading the other forums, and occasionally posting, but I feel like I don't quite fit in there somehow. So many of the posts don't apply to our situation.
I think I understand the why now. We've become very close and because of the sheer volume of treatment and healing, the openness and communication, I don't believe there's much likelihood of a repeat of his acting out again.
I'm still hurting, still processing, still healing and that is ongoing, as is his healing, too, but I'm becoming cautiously optimistic that it's going to be ok.
Having said that I'd welcome any differing views in case I'm way off here.
Hi Healing Girl, and welcome! Of course you know that everyone's situation is different. My IC used to tell me that what we experience in childhood we are destined to repeat, either as an abuser or a victim. I think child abuse is a very difficult pattern to break, and your fWH seems to have made terrible choices perhaps stemming from his own pain.
I certainly hope the two of you find healing and peace. Sending you hugs.
Something on my mind today…
Was anyone ever punished for trying to fight back? Or else told that what you did - whether it was speaking up or physically striking someone to make them stop - made you in the wrong?
I'm feeling very frustrated today. Some memories are coming up (triggered by a damn comic of all things), and it's so upsetting. I know that my actions are my own to own… So I'm wondering what's an "appropriate" way of saying no to someone - especially someone who won't take no for an answer? I shouldn't have tattled on the guy who forced his tongue down my throat (even while I was shoving him off of me)… Because it threatened his recovery (he was a former heroin addict), and I must have "wanted it" if I didn't stop it sooner (yeah right - I'd said no from before it even happened), and I shouldn't have slapped the guy who wouldn't stop harassing me because violence is never the answer. So I should have accepted that I "asked for it" somehow in order to keep the peace?
Can anyone else relate?
((Edith)) Your stories about your FOO enrage me. Supportive but distant? Wow, your strength amazes me, that you can even be civil with your mother.
Silverhopes, the memories are so upsetting. Hell, my brain locked them away in a box till it decided, as an adult, I could deal with them. Granted, I rugswept them for 20 more years, but I believe *remembering* at age 18 helped me because I was able to be (relatively) normally-functioning sexually even though I had an aversion to male genitalia. Remembering helped, because I knew the aversion wasn't irrational.
Punished for trying to fight back? Not specifically. But I do remember when I started expressing reservations to the abuser, he was like, "Well, maybe your brother wants to play." So I relented. I was probably 6, which would make my brother 8. Close to my childrens' ages now. (Timing of my daughter's age with my infidelity...not coincidental according to IC.) So, pushished? No, but subtly threatened, and I caved.
So should I have accepted that I "asked for it" somehow in order to keep the peace?
You can accept that you made a choice that was safest for you at the time. Yeah, easier said than done. I can totally relate though, OMG can I. Like what I said about my brother, above. Around age 7 or so, I did say "No" for the last time and the abuser never approached me again. But I didn't go to my parents. And I haven't been strong enough, yet, to connect with the guilt and shame I've buried, about not telling. (Granted it was partially unconscious, because I *literally forgot* the abuse from that moment, till age 18.) And the consequences of keeping the secret, not only to my brother, or possibly my little sister, but to the children that surely followed over the years...that's a crushing load.
I told my mother when I was about 39 years old. She glazed over, went into shock I guess, and didn't respond, and never brought it up again. My therapist says, I knew my parents well enough by age 7, to know how they'd react. Had my mother "glazed over" or rugswept when I was 7...I can't imagine the effect that would've had on little me. And Dad has a temper (never physically violent toward us) so my therapist opines that I could've been worried that Dad would beat up or kill the guy, and face legal consequences.
So not telling may have been safest for me at the time.
My therapist recommends that I go back in time and comfort Little 20, assure her she is loved and help her feel safe. I have, a little, but I'm still too afraid to face the memories and all that entails.
@ Silverhopes: I am so sorry you are triggering. My mantra is that it is over, it is in the past, and I will never be that helpless again.
Was anyone ever punished for trying to fight back?
Yes. As an adult, I confronted my parents shortly after my divorce from my 1st husband. Their response, instead of apologies, was to testify on behalf of my ex in a custody trial. All my siblings and both parents testified against me. It nearly killed me. But the judge saw through it, thank God, and I moved away from them.
@20: Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so sorry you went through that. From my IC, I have been told that it is quite common for the CSA abused to confront the issue in their 30s. My parents actually acknowledged that I was forced to go to bed with my father, but they insisted it was to "cuddle." They never would acknowledge what it actually was or even that it was wrong. Sending you and "little 20" big hugs. If you need to talk, I am here.
So I haven't read this whole thread...too many triggers reading others' stories....
My WH experienced CSA at the hands of women, multiple perpetrators.
My IC and I have just kind of accepted that CSA exists in my past as well. I don't have actual memories of it, but if it happened, I can tell you exactly when/where/who. I have a still shot of that day/place in my mind. The other time/perpetrator I've only recently come to realize.
I don't know why I never realized it or questioned it before. I've always had a vision/memory/movie in my mind of genital mutilation in the garden at my god-parents house. It's been with me as long as I can remember. Literally forever. I've come to the conclusion that it pretty much points to CSA there as well. Told my IC I don't need to know the details of it, just the knowledge that it is there is good enough for me to acknowledge that it is contributing to my issues with my body and sexuality.
WH doesn't admit that his CSA had any lasting effects on him. He is in denial. He needs IC desperately but won't go.
It's sad. He's going to throw away our life because he doesn't want to deal with his past.
nekorb, have you or WH read The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz? That really helped me realize how badly I needed IC. Also, I did an anonymous chat session with a counselor at RAINN. If WH is too embarrassed to see a live counselor, maybe he'd consider that route?
I am so full of rage and hatred toward pedophiles. The devastation they cause, not only to their innocent victims but our spouses, etc., is just infuriating.
So sorry for your situation. It is sad. Looking at the past is so damn scary, but I got to the point, after DDay, that I realized failure to look at my past, would doom my future. Hopefully your WH will get there too, before it's too late.
WH doesn't admit that his CSA had any lasting effects on him. He is in denial.
I agree he is in denial. At every trauma throughout my lifetime, the CSA comes back to the forefront. Even after a great deal of IC, it is still right there. Self esteem is shot. Confidence gone. Thinking of violent ways to end my life. And of course, after the A, these things came back worse than they ever have at any point in my adult life.
There is no shame in being a survivor of CSA, though I understand the thought that it may result in judgement (perhaps more strongly in men?), but if this had any role in his A (as I suspect it likely did), then he owes it not only to himself but to YOU to address this. It takes time and effort, but staying married to nekorb is worth it!
Hugs to you, dear.
I wanted to start my own post with this but couldn't figure out how so I am putting it here as it is the closest I could find as a match for my topic.
I am reaching out to anyone who has personal experience with D.I.D. and infidelity.
At the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 I had a sexual affair. On mother’s day 2011 I told my husband. Jan 2012 I learned I have D.I.D. This was after months of severe craziness for my poor husband who had a wife who said she couldn’t remember anything, then who did remember things and gave details, then said those details are not right, and provided new details, and then often said “I remember remembering that, but I don’t remember it now.” Only someone who has dealt with someone with D.I.D. would ever understand that statement.
I will first say that although I have only gained the broadest of memories and knowledges of what occurred, I am fully responsible. D.I.D. is not a “get out of jail free” card and I do not advocate its use for pleading insanity. Just as I only have the broadest of memories and knowledges of the childhood abuse that brought about my fragmentation, I was equally abused as those who experienced it first hand; as well, I am equally guilty of infidelity as the one who experienced that first hand. Although fragmented, I am still an entity as a whole and when one part does something, the whole entity is responsible.
To this day, the best my husband has are motivations (both surface and the deeper physiological ones), the dates of when and where and some details mixed with confusions of what exactly occurred. See, the part of me who would know firsthand what occurred also suffers from flashbacks and melds the flashbacks to the real events to create a distorted accounting. She remembers abuse where there may have been none. This has left my husband still with many unanswered questions. How does one ever try to heal like that?
Although there are those who may strongly disagree, I sincerely believe that the emotional and psychological effects of the abuse of infidelity can be equal to that of childhood sexual abuse. The betrayal of one who should protect you above all others. The love you feel and the dissonance it causes within to feel that love. The utter loss in trust not only in one person but in the world and in yourself. The guilt, shame and self blame. The PTSD that may never go away. The anxiety attacks. I could draw the parallels in a hundred different examples. I also think that one never fully heals from childhood abuse as there are always lingering effects, I also believe that infidelity leaves lifelong effects. So a couple who had to deal with both have a tough row to hoe when it comes to healing.
So with all that said, are there any out there who have had to deal with both, infidelity and D.I.D? Although I am not looking for someone to help me in my process of healing both myself and my marriage, I am looking for others who have experience with this and the things they may have learned along the way that helped them. I think more than anything, I would like to know that we are not alone in this. AND I would love to know that there are those who have survived both and are thriving together as a couple.
(To those who don't know, D.I.D. is dissociative identity disorder which is most commonly brought about by severe childhood trauma such as incest, sexual abuse, etc.)
[This message edited by justwe at 7:38 PM, February 11th (Tuesday)]
justwe, welcome to SI. This thread tends to be very slow-moving.
You were, I assume, professionally diagnosed with DID. Was it, in some small way, a relief? Dissociating is common among CSA survivors, as you said, but (from what I've read) DID is incredibly rare. I've been dissociating, as a coping mechanism, my whole life. My affairs were the worst manifestation, but I do remember everything. Fortunately.
What treatment are you receiving? None of my business, but I am curious.
So, even though there may not be many here with a DID diagnosis, I do encourage you to share your story and participate in the Wayward Side forum. Nobody there, or on SI in general, would dispute that the betrayal of infidelity is traumatic. Many members here report being diagnosed with PTSD due to their spouse's betrayal. I'll nit-pick you just a little on this...
I sincerely believe that the emotional and psychological effects of the abuse of infidelity can be equal to that of childhood sexual abuse
There is no "equal," and this isn't the pain Olympics. It suffices to say that both can have traumatic effects.
Although I am not looking for someone to help me in my process of healing both myself and my marriage
What does this mean? SI is all about people helping one another. Commisseration is part of that, but so is support. You're not looking for help, because...? You're getting plenty of professional help? Or, you have this handled on your own? Not criticizing, just honestly curious.
I was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder at the age of 12 as the result of CSA for years, starting at age 6. Unfortunately, at that time, there was virtually no treatment and the mental health community basically swept it under the rug.
From what I understand about DID, it is so rare as to be nearly nonexistent. I would certainly question that diagnosis.
When I experienced dissociative episodes, I have never recovered the memory of my actions during those times. I have memories of coming back to myself after them, an extraordinarily frightening experience. For example, in middle school, I remember finding myself in a strange classroom, with a boy telling me I was sitting in his seat...I got up and left the room, not knowing how I had gotten there. Also, many of my dissociative episodes were accompanied by screaming.
Is CSA "worse" than the pain of inidelity? I can only say that they are different, and that infidelity brought back a great deal of the pain from CSA. And as 20 said, it is kind of irrelevant what is worse....I hope you find treatment to help you cope. I have tried hypnosis and lots of IC but in the end, the pain of my past and my husband's A is my burden to carry. I also agree with 20 that the Wayward Side is certainly worth exploration.
I hope you find healing and peace.
20 and Edith - thank you both so much. It is so scary when the people who are supposed to protect us are the ones who sell us out.
Right now, I need to be the protector for someone. My H has begun talking about his history of sexual abuse. Last week we met some of his family for the first time (he wound up going into the foster care system and lost touch with them), and suddenly all these memories are coming out for him. Or he's always had them but he's finally been thinking about them instead of stifling them. When we first met, there was an ex he always compared me to, talking about how wonderful she was, about how he would go back to her someday. It led to a lot of fights, I am ashamed to say. I am very ashamed to say.
Initially, I had not been jealous but rather concerned. But his insistence made me feel that I was assigning her an unfair label, but now we know it to be an accurate one: predator. She was a 40-something year old teacher's assistant he thought was hot. He was a 17 year old high school student. When he was 17 or 18 he moved in with her and her family. They smoked pot, he got hooked, and didn't complete high school. When he was 18 or 19 they began sleeping together. A few months later they moved and left him behind (he suspects that her husband found out). For the longest time he thought (and then I thought) that because he was of legal age, it wasn't sexual abuse (for the longest time, the "wrongness" was over the affair part and the unfavorable comparisons). But it WAS sexual abuse. I feel sick for not sticking to it and pointing that out to him until he got it. He's finally getting it. He's realizing how much she preyed on him. She was supposed to be his guardian, not only because he didn't have his parents but also because of his mental illness. And she had a sexual relationship with him (and then left him homeless) and abused her position with him. Apparently he wasn't even the first one; there were other students (and other married men, but we're talking about the abuse right now).
He's also coming to terms about what this other guy did with him. A very old man, and at this point my H was homeless, and the old man offered him a place to stay. He thought they were friends and was offering to help him out with his job. The old man made a move on him. My H is finally facing these feelings, and I feel so terrible. As his wife, I feel like (I'm not even sure if this makes sense or not), by ever having sex with him I was reabusing him or retraumatizing him. I don't even know why: I am four years younger than my H and it was consensual. But because he hadn't faced these abuse issues yet… Last night he accused me of trying to stick my finger in his anus, which I have never, and said he would break my f*%$ing finger if I tried again. Threatened me then locked our son and me out of our room for half the night. This morning realized what he had said, realized that I had NEVER tried to do that, and realized that he was projecting what had happened with the old man. But I'm wondering… we used to have sex some nights very late, when we were both very tired. What if he now views it as non-consensual, even though he initiated half of those encounters and we had an agreement that waking each other up was OK? What if I've traumatized him? What if I've become unsafe?
I want to help him heal. I want so much to help him heal. But what does he need? It seems like sex should be off the table for now while he processes these painful memories. I don't even know if I should touch him, because he might feel violated, even though he says I'm not and that it's OK (but when we were first going out, he used to lose his temper at me and push me away physically for wanting to hug him, nevermind anything else, and I finally stopped initiating anything because I didn't want to disrespect his boundaries - what if those feelings come back and what if the original ones were unresolved feelings of violation? - there was another woman that he did like to hug, though, one of his EAs, god this is all so messy, I'm sorry for the repeated tangents). Feels like right now would be the time to tell and show him everything I love about him and believe in him as a person, non-sexual support and caring. Like doing lots of listening and validating. Or like asking to go on walks together, or making sure he's eating enough, or talking about the news or good movies or other safe options. How do I help him? Do you guys have any suggestions? I don't know how to ask him either - to top it off, he's 15 days clean from smoking pot. He finally quit. I'm betting in retrospect that this was probably helping to dull the memories, by smoking so much, and that now the memories are in the forefront of his mind. He has had a VERY painful life. And I feel ten times worse for having sex with him when he wasn't well. What should I do? Have I damaged him? Should I back away and try not to do any more damage?
Sorry, meant to add one more thing: part of why this is difficult and I'm freaking out and wanting to help is because our responses to our sexual abuse histories seem to be very different and it's just now sinking in. For the most part (not always), when I have bad memories I usually want physical intimacy right away in order to push away the bad memories and feel good with H. But with him it seems to be the opposite, and I'm just now getting it. When we met, sex was all he could talk about, and his libido has never matched what he was saying. For the longest time, he claimed it was because he had been with a lot of girls before me and done everything exciting, so there was nothing new to try sexually except to have a child with someone (me). And even though he hasn't said this, I really truly believe now that from the start, it's been because of the abuse but he hasn't known how to say it. He used to talk about the foster mother figure during sex and how amazing she was in bed and I would get angry and self-conscious - but now I am sickeningly realizing that he was reliving the abuse! He's probably been triggering from the very start, and I was making it worse the whole time! So our approaches to our sexual abuse are exact opposites: loss of interest in sex (him) and hypersexuality (me). And I don't want to hurt him any worse.
[This message edited by silverhopes at 8:21 PM, February 15th (Saturday)]
Hi, justwe. I'm glad you posted here. I also have a dissociative diagnosis (Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified - DDNOS). And I had an affair, from which my husband says he is "almost recovered". I'm not as far along, but definitely on the path to recovery, from both the shame of the affair and the fog of dissociation in which I made decisions during the affair.
My shame is increased by the fact that I was a therapist (which I should not have been) and my AP was a client. I just posted details about that on my profile. For the first two years after Dday I was nearly paralyzed with fear and self-hate, eventually becoming aware also of underlying grief and anger. During the last year+ I have started to be able to take in my husband's love and to integrate the sense of myself as a horrible, irredeemable person and as just a human being like everyone else, who did terrible harm but also has good to offer others. As far as what has helped, the main thing for me was persistence and listening to input from my husband and my therapist, and trying out their suggestions, even when I was too dissociated to really "get" what they were saying emotionally. First I concentrated on being aware of what I was thinking and feeling, then on considering that there might be other ways to think and feel. Finally I was able to actually have other thoughts and feelings sometimes.
silverhopes, I am so sorry for the tremendous pain you are in, and I hear your loving and heartfelt desire not to re-traumatize him. As someone who responded to CSA by withdrawing from sex, I would just like to say that at the same time, you cannot be responsible for not knowing what he was not able to reveal about his abuse history. Your clear intent now can hopefully help detoxify whatever in your past relations was triggering. But in the end, only he can set the boundaries he needs, which may vary from moment to moment. My husband has always been totally responsive to whatever I told him was sexually disturbing to me, but I had to tell him. I am still realizing what triggers me, and figuring out what I need to do to make myself feel safe and to heal. You may find it helpful to look at Allies in Healing, by Laura Davis, which is written for the spouses of sexual abuse victims.
nekorb (& others), if your husbands find reading a less difficult way of taking in information, a good source for male victims of sexual abuse is Betrayed as Boys. It is recommended by therapists in the trauma field, and when I read it I thought it was well written with a calm, compassionate tone.
I have peeked into this thread a few times since I joined, and I am glad I am finally ready to post.
All the best to all of us.
You are absolutely right, Plainsong. It is up to him to set those boundaries. I need to be careful not to inundate him and give him the time and space to consciously make those decisions. And ask. Always ask. Thank you so much for the book rec! I will order it right away!
Hi Silverhopes, I am so sorry you and your H are going through this. From the perspective of a CSA survivor, I would suggest that you talk with your husband and let him set the tone for physicality. Everyone is different and processes this stuff differently.
@ Plainsong, It sounds like you are on the right track and I wish you and your H peace and relief from this pain. In my experience with dissociative disorder, it was a total and complete, 100% blackness. No fog, no memory whatsoever. Complete darkness that has never ever come back to me. I suppose there are as many varied diagnoses as there are those of us who carry them. I wish you well.