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Sexual Abuse Survivors/Spouses - Part II

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nekorb posted 2/19/2014 17:42 PM


Thank you.

I have not read that book. I will look into it. RAINN as well...I checked out their website briefly.

It boggles my mind how I can so plainly see how WH's CSA has affected him and he doesn't see it at all.

He is headlong in his A with this OW who is giving him sex constantly.

I'm seeing my attorney next week.

Edith posted 3/6/2014 14:49 PM

@Nekorb, May you find the peace you deserve.

My mother has been hospitalized yet again (third time) in 6 months for a fall-related injury. She is going for a major surgery today and I spoke to her on the phone earlier. Did not tell her I love her. Kind of feel like she does not deserve for me to care. I doubt she noticed. Feeling sad.


Wodnships posted 3/17/2014 10:48 AM

I've read through most of this, but there's a lot here and I might have missed something. If I did I apologize but I'm having a tough time here.

I've tried talking about my situation in the "Just found out" forums but I get canned response about 180 and making my wife earn my respect back. I'm hoping I can get some better help here.

As a child my wife has memories of her step father coming into her room at night. She says she remembers being held down not being able to move and she'd just close her eyes until it ended. She's often said that she's not sure if they were nightmare's or not, but she says the stopped when she turned 16 and got a lock on her door. I recently found out she can't even remember us ever making love (she remembers sex but never love making.) I told her about specific events that stood out in my mind (the xmas after we bought our first house under the tree, the night I proposed, our wedding night) she remembers these events clear but nothing about making love or even having sex on those days.

Our therapist is very sure she was abused by her step father. She's called Cristina's memories classic abuse PTSD.

Anyway she had an emotional affair on line with en ex. It lasted for all of 11 days before I found out, but she's an emotional wreck right now. And for years I've been dealing with her explorations for no reasons and pulling away. I've tried to give her her space when she needs it, but after the affair things have to change or I can't heal.

I have so many questions that she really is in no state to answer right now. and I thought I'd come here and see what others have to say.

First I understand the concept of abuse and how it plays into a physical affair, but what about an emotional one? One where sex wasn't even discussed?

Secondly, what do I do. Obviously going with the 180 here is only going to server to make her feel more alienated and alone. I don't want to do that. She needs to heal in order for us to heal, but at the same time I am hurting.

Thirdly, what are some of the things your spouse did that helped, what did they do that made things more difficult?

I'm trying so hard to make this marriage work. I love my wife more then anything. But I feel like the advice I'm getting in the other forum doesn't really fit my situation.

I know that there is nothing in your past that excuses an affair. But I've always been a fan of saying, "That's no excuse it just a reason." I just need help to help her.

[This message edited by Wodnships at 1:20 PM, March 17th (Monday)]

Edith posted 3/18/2014 15:10 PM

Hi Wodnships, First of all, I am sorry you are going through this mess. I am a little worried that you are giving your wife too much lee-way because of her abuse. I was abused by both of my parents in the most heinous ways, yet I am a member of SI because my husband had an A.

I can say this from the perspective of a survivor of childhood abuse: Your wife is the only one who can "fix" herself. Depending on the level of abuse, it may never be totally "fixable." In my situation, the trauma and PTSD tends to flare up in times of distress, specifically after our D-day (and many, many times since then). Is she willing to do IC? I think the advice you are receiving in the other forum probably still will be helpful because the 180 is for YOU to heal. Right now, you are putting aside your own feelings in favor of your wife's, while at the same time she is putting herself first. My feeling is that you must heal, and if the M is to survive, she needs to help with that. I don't know your whole story, but the abuse she endured may or may not have anything to do with her infidelity. My wish is for you to find healing and peace.


Wodnships posted 3/18/2014 15:39 PM


Thank you so much for your kind words.

I can't tell you the extent of her abuse, because she doesn't remember. I know she was touched by another little girl for sure. Several years later she started having these "dreams" about her step father coming into her room, but other then being held down and scared she doesn't remember much else.

As far as giving her leeway, it might seem that way because I talk about her here. The truth is I know how to deal with my feelings. I don't need advice on that, so I'm not asking. With her I'm not so sure. Believe me when I say I'm holding her accountable for the affair, for her lies and for the things she does as an adult. And so is she.

As far as healing me, I don't feel like I can trust her, heal and move on until I see a real change in her. So, in a way I am putting her first, but I'm doing it for selfish reasons.

She is in IC right now. We went to a counselor together after Dday. I pushed her to tell the counselor as much as I knew of her childhood. She's gone to IC in the past but she keeps everything on the surface. Which doesn't help anything.

What I don't want to do is address the affair with out addressing what's gotten us here. Again no excuse just a reason. But it still needs to be addressed

GotPlayed posted 3/18/2014 15:46 PM

Hi everyone, there's a TMI question over at I'd like some input from people who frequent this forum. May be triggery.

I'm not the sufferer, it's STBXWW.

spond posted 3/20/2014 09:26 AM

Hello everyone.

I was just wondering if there is a suggested book for a H to read to help with a W's recent dealing(in IC) with CSA? Any suggestions for a H helping his W though this tough journey?

thanks in advance.

Edith posted 3/20/2014 09:51 AM

Hi Spond,
I don't know if this is any good as I have not read it, but you might try this as a place to start:

I know it is a very long, very personal struggle. She must be motivated to work with a therapist, and depending on her history, it may take years. Complete healing may never occur. Good luck to you.


spond posted 3/20/2014 10:56 AM

Thanks Edith for the book suggestion...

I actually found this book after my post and already grabbed it. I will check out the one you linked after I finish it.

I think we are blessed because our MC is also a CSA survivor and has given some good advice because she has that experience under her belt. My W is in IC as well and seems to like her as well.

Edith posted 3/21/2014 14:31 PM

You are welcome. I hope the books help.

I spoke to my mother via phone this morning. I am pretty sure she is dying.


cindergirl posted 4/1/2014 19:59 PM

Wodnships, I know your post has been a couple of weeks, but I just joined and just read this. I would PM you, but I'm too new to the forum to have that privilege.

First, I would like to commend you for your bravery and understanding for choosing to face this with compassion and empathy. I don't think you're giving her too much leeway. I think you're wise in recognizing how devastating childhood abuse is, how it eats at the core of a person. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I believe that EAs can absolutely be a result of PTSD, as readily as PAs. When your self-worth is eroded at the core, it is common to seek validation in grossly inappropriate places, both emotional and physical. If she is serious about working through this so you both can heal, she needs to stick in IC as long as it takes, likely years. That doesn't get her off the hook for her actions. It makes her responsible for her healing so it doesn't happen again.

Try reading this summary of PTSD as it relates to infidelity, and dig for further research from there. She's going to have to delve into what happened to her, as much as she doesn't want to. Personally, I had great success with a technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). I believe, even given your wife's gap in memories, that she can have success with this technique. It's a fascinating process that works the trauma through the brain and past the flight or fight response, which is where we get stuck when trauma still has a grip on you. Also, since she's reluctant to open up with a therapist, she might find success at home working through things at her own pace. I'd suggest checking out this workbook you can pick up on Amazon for about $25.

I hope you find this information helpful. Please feel free to PM me.

5454real posted 4/3/2014 13:13 PM


plainsong posted 4/7/2014 11:35 AM

Dear Wodnships,

I have delayed responding to your post because it can be hard for me to separate my own experiences from the specifics of the person who is posting, so please take what seems helpful from what I say and trust your own gut.

I am a survivor of CSA, and it definitely led to an emotional affair for me first, which unfortunately in my case I followed up with a sexual affair. From your reading you probably know that shame is a nearly universal component of experiencing sexual abuse. Shame includes a sense of disconnect from others, which for me led to my not taking in how much my husband loved and accepted me. I didn't realize it, but inside I just KNEW that I was not OK and would never be really acceptable to anyone. So I used co-dependent behaviors to express my love for him, but wasn't really present.

I remember well the sense of feeling like my memories weren't real. My abuse happened when I was an infant and toddler, so I have visual images and body sensations, but not provable memories. Luckily, I could confirm the likelihood of what happened from facts about my abusers living with us at the time, and my sister's confirmation that she also found them "creepy". To the best of my knowledge, my parents didn't know what was happening, but when I started crying in the presence of the abusers, they did make sure I was never alone with them. The typical sequence is that after feeling her anger at her abuser, your wife will have feelings about her mother not protecting her, whether she knew about the abuse or not. Betrayal, intentional or not, by a mother, is like betrayal by a spouse/partner. It pulls your whole foundation out from under you. There is no source for the sense of safety that a caregiver provides for child, and shame - the feeling that there must be something wrong/bad about me if I am not being protected - is automatically triggered.

In my case, my mother issues were exacerbated by the fact that I believe my mother was also abused (by her father, who was one of my abusers). She never indicated knowledge of that, but in her behavior she was emotionally shut down, and she was uncomfortable with physical touch and with sexuality. I have an image of reaching out to touch her face as an infant, and her pulling back and removing my hand. These specifics are just to give you a sense of why an emotional affair can be so appealing for someone who has been sexually abused.

As for what you can do to help, knowing the difference between a reason and an excuse is primary. Her healing is something she will have to do herself, and it will take a lot of courage and persistence. She needs love, but you can't "give" it to her - she has to learn how to receive it. What you can do is keep offering it to her. That is what my husband did, and now in the fourth year after Dday, I have figured out how to create images of his loving glance and touch and "get" the concept of what unconditional love is.

You mentioned MC and IC for your wife. Do you have an IC as well? That's the other thing you can do for your wife - honor and respect and take care of yourself. The book I have read for partners of sexual abuse victim is Allies in Healing - don't know if that is the one you were reading. I especially like the emphasis that both partners are of equal value and are entitled to decide what they are able and want to accept in their relationship. YOU are also entitled to love and caring. You are entitled to have a place to express your anger and grief and fear and shame and any other feelings and thoughts that arise as you go through this process.

I believe that the 180 is described on this site in terms of only communicating about finances and kids, not about emotional issues. I think the term was originated, however, to mean just to do the 180 degree opposite of whatever approach you have been using that is not working in your marriage (see Divorce Busting, by Michele Weiner-Davis). I think the value in infidelity situations is not in cutting off emotional connection, but in not being caught in dysfunctional, codependent emotional connections. You clearly don't want to persecute your wife, but neither would it be helpful to try to rescue her or to let yourself be victimized by her behavior. These are the three positions on the Drama Triangle, first described by Dr. Stephen Karpman ( You don't want drama in your marriage or your life, but healthy intimacy with yourself and your partner.

All my best to you and your wife as you deal with both the infidelity and sexual abuse issues. You can get through this and create a healthy, loving connection, with time, self-respect and determination. It is great that you started both MC and IC for your wife right away. Just make sure you take care of yourself as well, I hear that you know how to take care of your feelings, but you don't have to do that alone.

lovehonorcherish posted 4/13/2014 11:34 AM

I was told I might receive some advice here in this specific forum. Found out last March H was having A. We have spent the last year in IC (for me) and MC (together) before I returned home on March 15th of this year. Home one week when his AP called me to confirm that the two of them have remained involved in A with plans to continue. I moved out and contacted a lawyer. H is now telling me that he is a victim of CSA and, as such, I am abandoning him in a time of crisis. H has contacted our family doctor who referred him to a psychologist. H says his actions for the past year stem from the fact that he was abused as a child and that is his "connection" with AP. I say that millions of people have issues and they don't solve them by engaging in an affair. I am now feeling guilty and ashamed for leaving...yet I am not the one who has lied and broken my wedding vows repeatedly for the past year. Advice?

plainsong posted 4/13/2014 12:29 PM

I am a survivor of CSA, and that did contribute to my affair, but I don't think you have any reason for guilt. Your husband may be in a crisis, but he emotionally abused you by lying to you for the last year, and the crisis is, in any case, his responsibility to deal with. If you were to decide eventually to help him with it, that would be a gift, not something he has the right to demand. If he is phrasing it as a demand, which is what it sounds like, I would urge you to take great care in protecting yourself in the process. A book which is very clear about the rights of both parties when a partner has a history of CSA is Allies in Healing. I am so sorry that you have experienced this continued betrayal, and wish you all the best as you move forward.

Edith posted 4/14/2014 13:54 PM

Hi LoveHonorCherish. I am so sorry you are going through this. Whether or not your H truly is the victim of CSA should not be the determining factor for you to R. I agree with PlainSong that you have no obligation to help him with his healing. If this is a contrived manipulation to try to force you to stay in the M, then he is doing damage to all those of us who genuinely suffered the horrific trauma of CSA.

Please make your decisions based on your own needs. The suddenness of his "crisis," in my mind, calls into question the veracity of his allegation. I would probably continue with the D if I were you. If he "fixes" himself, then perhaps you two could remarry at some point. Or perhaps OW should help him with his healing during his crisis. Please try not to feel guilty or ashamed. You are correct, there are many of us who suffered the most heinous abuse and have not been unfaithful. Sending hugs.


lovehonorcherish posted 4/14/2014 15:02 PM

Thank you for the much needed advice plainsong and Edith. I am definitely having trouble sorting this all out. plainsong, if I may ask you did CSA contribute to your having an affair?

Edith posted 4/16/2014 16:53 PM

Hi LCH, I hope you find the answers you seek. Take care.


[This message edited by Edith at 4:53 PM, April 16th (Wednesday)]

plainsong posted 4/27/2014 13:28 PM


Every situation is different, but there are common themes, so I will give you some details of what I think my dynamics were, and you can judge if they might apply in your situation.

For me, I was responding not just to my own abuse, but also to my mother's abuse and how that affected her. I was abused by my maternal grandfather, and I believe she was abused by him as well. (I was also abused by a great uncle.) My sister and I agree that my mother seemed like someone who had shut down sexually and in terms of physical touch and emotional vulnerability. I have the sense that my mother didn't know how to cuddle me, and cringed and drew back when I tried to touch her. So when my grandfather reached out to me with what started out as feeling like warm physical touch, I think I would have been hopeful and opened myself up to him (I would have been 6 - 12 months old when it started.) When the touch became overwhelming and unpleasant, I would have concluded that again, there must be something wrong with me and my desire for physical touch. I believe I decided that I was not acceptable to others and would never be acceptable to others, so I shut down as well. So my issues were about lack of self esteem (to put it mildly) and hopelessness, as well as touch, sexuality and relationships.

So, you may ask, how did that lead me to turn to my AP instead of my loving husband for healing? A good question. My husband had always given me loving touch and esteem, and totally respected my boundaries. But I was operating on an unconscious decision made as an infant or toddler that no one could really understand or accept me. I didn't understand how he could love me, or what that love felt like for him. I loved him the best I could given my coping mechanisms, and felt guilty that I couldn't 'love' the way other people seemed to. We discussed my sense of inadequacy from early in our relationship, and he thought that his love would overcome my issues. But love can only work if you let it in. I let in a lot, and made a lot of progress over the years, but the underlying hopelessness remained.

As you will see from my profile, by AP was a woman, and a therapy client. I believe I used my relationship with her to try to make up for the female nurturing I didn't feel I got from my mother, as well as female friendship I wasn't able to take in from other girls/women. I thought she 'understood' me, and giving nurturing to her felt soothing, like giving nurturing to my inner child. (All of this was totally not ok both professionally and personally, as I would have been very well aware of in my adult, non-foggy state.) So the EA part of my affair was related to mother issues and self-esteem issues, as well as relationship issues.

When I started sexual contact, I dove even deeper into the fog. Again, the issues were not about the AP but about me. I used exploring her body as a surrogate for exploring my body and my sexual issues. I had blocked out my sexual feelings as a teenager, and I felt like a teenager letting them out again. I was aware I was doing this, but managed to convince myself that she was benefitting as well. Before this, I would have been totally clear to me that this was an insane thought. There was no way it could not be harmful to her. And I didn't even think about how painful it would be to my husband for me to share my body sexually with another, even though he had told me in the past that that would be devastating to him. The only way I can explain this is that my sexual abuse history had left me feeling that my body and my feelings were nothing special and not valuable to anyone. Again, why wasn't able to explore my sexuality with my husband? Looking back, I think I found it easier to explore sexual issues with the AP because on some level I felt it was a fantasy relationship, and I didn't feel as vulnerable as I did in the real relationship with my husband.

These are a lot of specifics about me and my experiences as a woman. The parts that might apply to a man include the search for affection to make up for FOO deficiencies, early conclusions and decisions that block taking in love and support from a loving partner, self-hatred and hopelessness, and unhealthy development of sexuality as a teenager. One I haven't mentioned yet is underlying anger at not being understood and having early needs met. (See my first post, in my profile.)

I hope this can offer you some help and hope. Your husband can change, but he has to be willing to find his own whys and face his own pain. If he is willing to do that, your love can help him, when he has done enough work it let it in.

All my best as you deal with this excruciating experience.

lovehonorcherish posted 4/30/2014 17:36 PM

Thank you for sharing, Plainsong.

Edith posted 5/22/2014 12:41 PM

Some days the memory of my father's horrible stale cigarette and alcohol breath is enough to make me physically sick. I can remember trying to get away from him, terrified, and plotting to make my escape as soon as he fell asleep. And how my mother sat only feet away, having forced me to take her place. Her head should have been on that pillow! Instead she kept on knitting while her 6-year-old daughter was being damaged beyond any repair. She has never regretted what she has done to me. I wonder if at the moment of his death my father realized what a monster he had been.

Sorry for rambling, having a really difficult day today.


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