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How to help *TW*

Open Discussions About Sexual Abuse and Incest.

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How to help *TW*

Postby TreeSpirit » Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:23 am

Dear all,

I hope that I am posting this message in the correct place. I have never experienced sexual abuse, but this post is not about me. I want to mention that what is written down below may act as a trigger for those who have experienced incest/sexual abuse.

Since a few weeks I have learned that my wife has experienced sexual abuse / incest in her youth. Her brother has some mental disorder which caused him to be a tyrant in the family. Her parents were not capable of keeping him under control and were apparently too proud to search for help. If he did not get what he wanted he would become very aggressive. He was a source of anxiety for my wife, and I can imagine for the rest of the family too.
When he became sexually active and he discovered that my wife started to become a woman, it started. He asked her if he could touch her breasts. My wife was reluctant, but he being smart managed to touch her breasts at some point. And from there on they became sexually active on a regular basis. My wife was always reluctant and disgusted from what happened. She could not talk about it to anyone. My wife her mother was very abusive, but in a mental way. My wife never felt save with her. And her father she could not speak to too, he has hit her many times. Furthermore, she has always felt that it was her own choice to do this. To protect her family. If she wouldn't have done so, it would have escalated even more. And there was a feeling of shame.

My wife has told me only a few things about the incest. Somehow I cannot take it that I do not know what exactly has happened to her. I know that what has happened is very traumatic, also because she blames herself. But her not telling me about it gives me the feeling that she does not trust me. We have always shared everything about our lives. To be honest, I do not understand why I can't take it that I do not know the details. I guess it is because I am now filling in the details myself. And each and every detail my brain comes up with shocks me and makes me angry. So if I were to know the real details I would also be shocked, but then at least my brain will stop to speculate. But I also wonder what good it would do to know. It won't help her, it won't change history. This rational thought unfortunately doesn't help to shake off the emotional ones.

I feel a lot of anger, mostly towards her parents, which whom we have very little contact. I feel the urge to go to them and tell them what has happened under their roof. And while I am at it, why not also confront them with their abuse? But I know that it won't do any good, not with the consent of my wife anyways.

Fortunately, my wife has professional help and I know that she has mentioned this part about her abusive history there. So she is working on it now.

I love my wife very much and it hurts me a lot that she has had to experiene all these things. I want to be there for her, help her, comfort her. But she doesn't want to talk to me about it, about any of it. It doesn't help that I know she has suicidal thoughts every now and then. She has built up a lot of space between us. I wonder to what extent my behavior plays a role in this.

I have told her that I want her to take things as easily as possible and that I am there for her if she needs me.
What else can I do?
Last edited by Aries411 on Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Trigger Warning
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Re: How to help *TW*

Postby realityhere » Sun Oct 06, 2019 2:11 am

"I have told her that I want her to take things as easily as possible and that I am there for her if she needs me."

That's the best possible answer.

Sometimes an abuse survivor doesn't want the loved one to know all the details of what she endured. She herself may have problems of being triggered all over again, reliving what she experienced by telling you, let alone having to tell her therapist. She herself may be trying to understand her family dynamics and why that led to the abuse. This could take some time to grasp, maybe years. It's emotionally exhausting to peel back the layers of guilt, denial, anger and shame she likely felt while growing up in her dysfunctional family.

Just saying "I believe you" is enough to assure her that you have her back, that she has your loving support. She may regard the relationship with you as her safe harbor, a rest away from the turmoil of her mind.
We don't delete posts, so think twice before clicking "submit".
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Re: How to help *TW*

Postby Terry E. » Wed Oct 16, 2019 5:47 am

Please let her tell you what she needs to tell you and not what you need to hear.

Many of us cope quite well until our late 30s or 40s. Not sure why, if it is seeing our children grow up and being in a family dynamic so different from our own. Many of us have shut it our and built our lives. At these ages though it starts to creep back in. Slowly. I am not sure if it is possible to deal with it all at once as it could be almost overwhelming and cause us to crash.

Let her do it in her time. Maybe the hardest thing you ever have to do.

Good luck
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Re: How to help *TW*

Postby AllMyFault » Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:28 pm

I might be wrong (as I have been often before) but I don't believe it is a trust issue that your wife has with you regarding her past, but more of a how you will respond and a possibility of fear on how you might view her. just by the tone of your letter it kinda of reads like your the one in pain, and wanting more info than she is willing to give at this point, you write that you feel anger at her parents but don't include if she also feels that, also, do you think she feels this anger from you and that might be a part off her unwilling to talk, plus her keeping this hidden from her parents might suggest that there were times when she didn't hate it and that fact would be hard to tell a person that is responding with anger. let her take the lead and just be supportive. best wish's to the both of you
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Re: How to help *TW*

Postby ganjakites » Sun Nov 24, 2019 10:15 pm

*mod edit*
Last edited by Snaga on Sun Nov 24, 2019 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: unhelpful
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Re: How to help *TW*

Postby aubesu2 » Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:52 am

It seems like your wife has begun the journey towards healing with a good support group in place- a Therapist, and you, her husband.

What about you- where is your support? Sometimes the Help needs a little help so they can Help better. Have you considered seeing a Therapist? All I’m trying to convey is that if you process the what, how, and why the abuse your Wife endured impacts you emotionally and psychologically, you may be of better help to your wife… and to yourself. Seeing your own Therapist may help with that.

Hopefully that does not come off in a negative way.
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