It’s Not Easy to Love a Sexual Abuse Survivor

Posted by on October 4, 2013 | 34 comments

It’s Not Easy to Love a Sexual Abuse Survivor

The sexual abuse survivor.

He is never there for you because he does not know how to be close, how to trust, how to belong, how to love and receive love.

He knows no real closeness. He is afraid to expose himself to new strong emotions. All this is frightening to him. He has enough to deal with, and why should he risk to get another disappointment? How does he know you will always be by his side and never betray him? And he is so afraid to risk for love because he has been betrayed way too many times in life.

He thinks you don’t understand him sometimes because he cannot understand himself most of the time.

It is difficult to live with such a burden on your shoulders. The life of a sexual abuse Survivor is a never-ending struggle, never-ending fight to prove to others, never ending circle of pain and disappointment, and dealing with it is not easy.

The sexual abuse Survivor doesn’t understand himself sometimes and cannot find the words to describe all the emotions and feelings he is going through. He wishes he doesn’t feel this way and he wishes just to wake up one day and forget everything, and start over his life. Impossible, right? With all this on your mind, it is not easy to believe someone else understands you really.

He seems to be so distant from you sometimes, and even like he is not present. Why is that? The self defense mechanisms work like this-not thinking about the problem, or not talking at all and not getting attached to anyone saves you from pain and disappointment again. This is of course not a real solution of the issue, but a victim of abuse rarely realizes it and keeps it going on for years.

He doesn’t really believe you love him for who he is because he doesn’t really love himself and cannot accept the person he had become. The image of who he could have become if the abuse never happened to him is always on his mind.

He wants to be that imaginary person without a painful past, he wants to turn the time back and do something to prevent the abuse, to rescue his own life now knowing what followed the abuse, knowing what kind of a life he is living and what kind of a person he is.

Admitting or not, he blames himself for what happened to him and even though he knows it is not his fault he does not really believes he deserves to be loved or that he is going to be ever really happy. This is all the aftermath of the abuse. Only people who experienced abuse in their childhood know best that one little part of you always believes you could have done something. And you wish you knew all that by the time of the abuse.

The sexual abuse survivor, he cannot comprehend that someone else is able to accept and love him truly because he has never experienced a true love. The people who betrayed him were the closest to him and part of him still cannot realize that not all people are the same and not every person would do the same.

He is so many times cold and he has got his moods, he is sometimes distant and sometimes so open to you so you find it difficult to understand what exactly he feels about you. You want to know how to be able to help him, and he is not helping much.

He seems that sometimes he wants love, and sometimes he claims he is better off left alone, because any relationship would be another difficult issue he is supposed to deal with.

Loving a sexual abuse survivor is a constant battle.

You need to be aware in what are you involving yourself and to be willing to walk this way.

A life with him will not be just happy days.

He is going to be always the man who was sexually abused as a child.

And you cannot change that (even though you wish you could). You have to accept him together with the burden he brings on his shoulders and to be ready to be always supportive, understanding and caring. To be his best friend, to be the person he can always share what he feels with, the person with whom he will be always able to find comfort and peace.

You have to fight to win his trust, and you have to keep it for good, and never disappoint him. You have to be willing to wait until he is ready to open up and until he is ready to trust you completely, until he is ready to believe you will never betray him, until he is ready to be really close to you. To be really close to you -this means to him that he is vulnerable and to share his life, and his everything with you means actually more to him than you imagine.

He is not the ordinary man. If you ever wish your man was just a ordinary man, “like everyone else” then you are not ready to walk this way with him. Wanting to change him is never going to bring any good in your relationship. It may just make him go away. He cannot change. He cannot change his past. And you cannot. You accept him for who he is or you don’t. It’s simple. You decide to walk the difficult way and be with this man, or walk away and find another love without a painful past.

Loving a sexual abuse survivor is not an easy path. This is why so many relationships and marriages of survivors end up soon with painful break-ups or divorces. You need to be aware what kind of a life and who you choose for your soul-mate.  You need to realize that pure commitment, love, understanding and devotion, courage and  braveness is just enough. This is all you really have to do. But it is not going to be easy.

If you choose to be with this man, just be there for him always when he needs you. One day he will respond you back with the same devotion. One day when he knows he can trust you and that trusting you is worth risking.

It is not easy to love a sexual abuse survivor.

And I am one of them, a marching army of sexual abuse survivors.

I am one of those people who need to be loved but really don’t know how.

I do not really know how to trust, how to open to others, how to believe in pure love and tenderness, how to experience passion without feeling guilty, how to just enjoy the feeling of being loved and the feeling of loving someone with all my hearth, with all my senses, with every single part of my soul.

I don’t know that all, it never truly happened to me, and I do hate myself sometimes so I find it difficult to believe someone would really love me unconditionally when I know I am not capable of feeling such love for myself.

And I find it difficult to trust and believe another person really. I always think something will happen and the person I am with will walk away, again because of who I am, because of who I have become after the abuse.

And I find it impossible to believe there is someone who would love me for who I am and would accept me with all my emotional baggage, and painful past. And why should someone choose me among all the women in the world? What makes me so exceptional so someone would volunteer to walk the difficult way with me?

And I find it impossible to open my soul to someone truly and deeply to fall in love. Love? Have I really experienced that feeling?

Closeness? This is what I miss all my life really. I remember when I was in my 20’s and sometimes I was ending up in someone’s place just to have that feeling of closeness, of waking up safe in someone’s arms and knowing someone cares for me. Looking for closeness in all the wrong places just to discover and experience that feeling. The knowing that this someone will be always there for you and will never give you up. This is actually what I never got. Then later through the years I found out this is the wrong way to find love, but still don’t know the right way.

It is not easy to love me just because I am a sexual abuse survivor. And I don’t know if it will ever be easy.

The “prince on the white horse”needs to be extra strong and extra brave, with some emotional power for both of us.

Is there such a man? I am still wondering. But I know for sure that. It is not easy to love someone who’s been abused.

I know it for sure because it is just not easy to love myself.

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  1. This is a very important topic. Please contact me by email. Thank you.

    • Wow I find this story as I am searching if there is someone out there like me in the world. I been surfing for days and especially as today was my first day in counseling of my child abuse that lasted so many years until high school. I ended up seeking council as recently just got off a deep love once again and It all was similar to the relationships before. I got sick to the ground about it because I didn’t want her to leave me for my issues and as shocking as it sounds I retaliated withe every sentence from start to ending. What makes this more interesting is that I’m a male and agree it from top to bottom. I always these same feelings that they are going to leave and I am going to be lied at or not be trusted. Since my abuse in ever been able to maintain friends or relationships or the biggest trust. I feel like a monster a none human person. I feel more and more left to pay the price for what happen to me. When I confess I look for them to run away or treat me different or worse as to blame me as well. I am so glad I read this story it helps me knowing that there is others as me. Is there hope for me to live a normal life or ever have an actual healthy bond with anyone I don’t know because I just started my counseling today. All I know is that I have too because I am tired of letting this person who victimized me take my love ones and lovers I hurt as well. Everyone looses if I continue that path. Will I label my self as a survivor or do I continue this vomit of disparity is what is making me take counseling. Plus I am sure my son would benefit in the aftermath. What ever the case is, I will never know unless I try. Just sad that I lost the love partner I wanted to be with in my life. I gave her nothing event though she gave me the world as I never known. She claimed “I was on my hand and needs for you and it was not good enough” I will always carry that agony of me crushing their lives. All I knew was in can’t trust or can’t show vulnerable sides of me cause I will push back regardless of their kindness. Do I blame her for leaving? No. Absolutely nor I would ifs my shoes too. Did I want her to stay? Yes, do I miss her and love her yes. Did I show that? No, because I have this issues. Too shameful to have hurt this person and previous others. All I can do is try, try till I die and that at least is good enough for me. Because you are right – do we ever fully recover? I don’t know I will have find out in the future now attending is counseling. I might as well do it for the ones I hurt if I don’t care about me. Sick to know even now I want to help my self only to apologize in actions to them for my life of abuse. Still all I know is I live once I might as well see if I can live a normality in any possible way. Still I agree, warning if you know a victim of abuse because they will be in for a ride guaranteed it’s not easy but I do hope I find light. At least for a miracle if all possible. Thank you for writing your story it now made me more hungry to seek this council. Try it that’s all we can do because if I don’t I already let my crime be acceptable because we know it’s not. Yep I am not alone after all –

    • I was with my wife for 20 years. We have three beautiful children. I was never honest with her about being abused, even though I knew she was also abused as a child. I didn’t want her to judgment or not trust me. I didn’t want her to feel my pain. I push it down but I think about it a lot.

      In so desperately trying to help her with her struggle and protect us that I pretended to be somebody I’m not. I tried to change us into better people. The people I imagined we needed to be. I really never loved or trusted anyone until I met her. And I’ve never felt loved or loving but she taught me how to do that. That is to say, I act like I love people, but I really don’t. The feeling of real love eludes me. I don’t love my mom, I don’t love my family members (I really hate most of them), I love my children that’s because of my wife.

      I never told her that I was abused by my so-called best friend and his family from the time I was 9 until I was 13. Instead of avoiding my friend and his family, I just kept going back, because when I was home, my half-brother would beat me every day. To escape my half-brother’s physical abuse, I would go to my friend’s house convincing myself sexual abuse was preferable and that I enjoyed it.

      And when I finally turned 13, I learned to fight back against the bullies at school and the people who were abusing me. I beat them severely. At home I told my mom what my brother was doing to me. She knew but did nothing. She told me it wasn’t that bad. How could she just let this happen to me? To this day — I’m almost 40 — I never tell my mom I love her or touch her. I can’t even remember the last time I did. I did tell her I loved her recently but I didn’t mean it, I didn’t feel it. I just started saying it because my wife left me.

      I love my wife and kids and would never do anything to hurt them. I love them completely. I tried to warn her when we met that she didn’t want to be with me that it wasn’t going to turn out well, but she was just so persistent like she knew all the right things to say no matter how hard I push her away, no matter how much I did her wrong, she just kept Loving me.

      When I was hooked on drugs real bad she got me clean. She sat with me the entire time. She gained my trust and she taught me how to love. She turned me into the man I never thought I could be. And then she left me — threw me away like trash, and as much as I blame myself, and still love her, I cannot help but hate her for this.

      My wife hates me now and I don’t even really know why. I think maybe I didn’t love her enough so now I’m just reaching out and trying to pretend like I love everybody. I should have been honest with her about why I am the way I am maybe she could understand me better. I should’ve told her about the years of physical and sexual abuse. I should have told her all the times to try to kill myself. But I didn’t and now it’s too late.

      I have come to realize that any time I get scared of being hurt my defense mechanism is to start a fight. Although I never got physical with my wife, when I got angry, I would try to talk things out with her. Unfortunately her childhood abuse defense mechanism was to shut down and run away. It because a beautiful disaster.

      The story is so much longer but what I really think that what I’m trying to say is — be honest when you find that person that loves you for who you are and just maybe they can understand why you are the way you are. As for me, I really hope my wife finds someone who can love her the way she deserves to be loved.

    • I’m starting to build a relationship with a girl who told me all about what she went through with her ex-boyfriend (who is now in prison for what he did to her). I know she is really struggling with what she is feeling for me and has tried to push me away and fight what she feels. She even stopped talking to me for a couple of weeks. I understand that I must take this really slow and not push her into anything that she doesn’t feel comfortable doing. I also need to be as supportive as I can for her. I know why she is struggling too, as we have spoke about this and she’s told me that she thought nobody would want her if they knew about her past. I always try and assure her that I’m not going anywhere and tell her that I want to be with her. Is there any advice you can give me on how to help her to let herself go a bit more and also advice on building our relationship further?

  2. This blog entry really made me very very sad, because I was also sexually abused as a child and I cannot find a way to love myself or accept that I’ve found a person who truly loves me. All those emotions that you just expressed are as if I would have written it. And I find myself asking if I’ll ever love myself and trust someone truly. Thank you for this post, it brought a tear to my eyes, I hope all is well in the future.

  3. That is beautiful, I can relate to all that you have said. I’m gay and was abused at 9 years of age by my father until 21 years of age. I’ve been in and out of relationships, looking for that understanding partner. Thank you for sharing this, I wish you every strength and happiness in your life.

  4. i am 51. I lived with this all my life I think stared when i wa 5 and ended about 17 or 18. I am a very sad person. someone please help me

    • Hello “Me”,
      please have a look for a therapist or a support group,or online centre for survivors in you area.When you feel hopeless it means that you need someone to show you the right way to overcome the problem,that`s bothering you.It is nothing to be afraid of,look for professional advice and help.Without such support sometimes is impossible to fight the problem on your own.

  5. Unless people stand up for what is right, nothing will change from the way things are today. Facilities with budget problems are reluctant to hire substitute caregivers from temporary staffing agencies due to the high cost. Virile self-reliance and conclusiveness that implies keen directing caliber are exceedingly irresistible to women.

  6. As I was reading this article it was as if you somehow knew exact thoughts that run through my head on a routine basis! I am also a sexual abuse survivor and find it hard to love myself and accept what has happened to me without feeling somewhat responsible for not doing anything to stop it. Please don’t lose hope in finding someone who will love you for who you are! I’ve recently celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary with a man who loved me when I felt invisible! He was by my side through every step of my sexual abuse counseling, including times when I couldn’t bear the touch of another person, and yet he stayed. If it happened to me I am certain that it can happen for you too! Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story with us!

  7. Your words have really touched me deeply. I am a survivor of abuse and still after 50 years find it difficult to accept that I was abused; that I was a chosen victim to be violated. After a failed marriage that seemed to turn on whether or not I was a successful man I have now found a man whom I can trust enough to live with, to sleep with and to have an emotional life with. He accepts me, and my “broken bits”, I can talk to him about suicide, depression, anger and tears and am learning to accept me for what I am, and no less human for that. So a salutation to those who have been abused, and a big salutation to those who have opened their arms to us.

  8. Thanks everyone for the kind words about the article.The most important is to realize that we all have issues in common,that you are not alone in that battle and that your emotions,frustrations,issues and thoughts are just the normal response to the fact that you have been abused,or that you have a partner who`s been abused.If your partner is a survivor,there is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to be afraid of,you just need to be ready to fight for this love and to be willing to accept love when is given to you,and to be ready to open up and give love in return…And with love,care and patience you can fight the past.Past is something that can never be changed,future though depends on you and your own power and will to carry on,to fight and to be happy!
    Boriana Todorova

  9. I was abused when I was younger … But I remember saying no… I remember them backing off about it. What I have noticed about myself is that the thought of having sex often… And the research I have done about being sore for days after sex is a psychological issue… It must have something to do with what I went through as a child. But that’s not even what I really want to talk about. My boyfriend is almost a year and I live together…. In the beginning I felt so happy thinking I found a guy that is open for real love until I found out about the abuse and how he just doesn’t know how to love. I love him so much…. It’s rate for me to actually love someone … And it breaks my heart knowing that might never love me…. Or even allow himself to love me. It’s a daily struggle to let myself stay opened up to him because he won’t open up to me. I don’t know what to do. I try to always just make him feel loved. But sometimes I feel so alone because I know he cares for me… But he won’t allow himself to love me. A little after we started dating he told me that every girlfriend he had cheated on him and I understand he has had a bad life… But I’m not those people. I want him to be happy and open . This is so hard. I cried through reading all the posts and still am crying now.i just wish he would trust me like he says he does. Maybe I can ask him to go to a therapist together … I don’t want to leave him for something like this… But I need love too. I want love as much as he does. He just doesn’t know it. It’s just so hard to keep the thought of him not loving me when I share a bed with him and always run home to spend time with him . It’s just so damn hard.

    • Dear N.,I recommend you the book “The courage to heal” by Ellen Bass and Laura Davies.I wrote this when I finished reading it,it helped me a lot to understand some things which were never clear to me,and it gave me some knowledge about relationships and how they`re affected by the abuse in my childhood as well.
      And also these seem to be very helpful:

      Survivors and Partners: Healing the Relationships of Sexual Abuse Survivors – Paul A. Hansen
      10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage – John & Julie Gottman
      A Layman’s Guide to Loving A Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse
      Allies in Healing – Laura Davis
      Ghosts in the Bedroom – Ken Graber
      How Can I Forgive You? – Janis A. Springs
      How to Change Your Life and Everyone In It – Michelle Weiner Davis
      Outgrowing the Pain Together – Eliana Gil
      What About Me? A Guide for Men Helping Female Partners Deal with Childhood Sexual Abuse – Grant Cameron
      If The Man You Love Was Abused – Marie Browne,Marlene Browne
      Why Is It always About You? – Sandy Hotchkiss

      The reality is that we never can heal something that we don`t understand but we can educate ourselves how to keep our relationships and the people who we love beside us,to empower ourselves first in order to empower them if they also suffered abuse.

      Best wishes to you and your boyfriend,
      Boriana Todorova

      • Thank you for the book suggestions :)

  10. This essay is striving to be my voice. It does a great job, despite lacking specifics about my traumas and struggles. This tells me that the prevalence of child sexual abuse in our society is commonplace, familiar and completely unacceptable. Sadly, it is quietly overshadowed by the prevalence of silence among those of us too ashamed, damaged, afraid, confused, lonely, angry or self-loathing to stand up and make their voice heard.

    RiseAboveAbuse’s agenda and action plan is focused on the precise goals that need addressing. The prevailing Statute of Limitations that are currently on the books in so many states, rob the opportunity for justice for victims who”ve already been robbed of their childhood, their adolescence, their adulthood—and in many instances their entire lives and a rightful chance to ever feel happiness.

    I filed both criminal and civil charges against the catholic priest who repeatedly assaulted me in the 1970s, in 2010. During his arrest, the priest confessed to the allegations, which is certainly not common. In July of 2014, after years of non-stop delays in criminal court, the Judge ruled the defendant “incapable to proceed” because he’d developed signs of dementia during the 4 years that hearings and proceedings had been delayed.

    All charges were dismissed in this case, which had been on the docket for so long it had become the second oldest case on the books in that county.

    Wonder how that happened? Certainly the DA was doing his job, right?

    On the very same day, after years of fighting the $600 per hour law firm representing the Diocese, and their Motion to Dismiss and Summary Judgement based on the Satute of Limitations in that state, I was informed that the Judge presiding over the civil case dismissed my civil action completely.

    A spokesperson for the Diocese was quoted as saying “…we feel this was the right outcome,” and one of the high-priced lawyers was noted as saying ”the plaintiff waited too long before filing his case.”

    Some people might think that justice was served accordingly, but I tenaciously maintain that the Diocese never had any interest in anything other that protecting their reputation, avoiding financial and social expenses and distancing themselves from the crime as effectively as possible.

    Over the years that have involved victims and the Diocese, a standard for handling these cases was developed and “blessed” to assure that a basic level of appropriate response was tendered by the Diocese to victims.

    It was named the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”

    The “doctrine” naturally included a number of actions the Diocese would be obligated to perform regarding the heinous act of sexual assault by a member of the church—whether legal, moral or according to canon law—as a matter of “doing the right thing. This sounds great on the surface, I am here to tell you that in my case, THEY DID NOT PERFORM any of these actions at all. Most apparent and arguably, most indicative of the Diocese’s TRUE disposition regarding the epidemic of Catholic Priest Sexual Abuse, is a gaping absence of intention, attempt, gesture, indication or accomplished effort to communicate their remorse, regret, sorrow, culpability or responsibility for the repeated assaults perpetrated against me by their priest in the 1970s. NO APOLOGY! EVER!

    I went to see this priest at age 14, as I was a troubled young man in desperate need of support, advise, concern and an adult I could trust. He knew this, and chose to sexually assault me, repeatedly, rather than acquiesce to the role of providing the type of support and resource we’ve all been taught to expect from a man of god. Right?

    The Statute of Limitations serves no one but these hideous perpetrators and the Catholic Diocese. The statute prevents the basic right as a human being, and citizen of these United States of America to seek justice in a court of law. The damage subjected to and survived by victims of these heinous crimes often lasts a lifetime.

    The verdict is in!—victims of child sexual abuse often do not step forward until later in life, simply because they are unable to do so. Who would believe them?

    I told my mother about my assaults, she did nothing. Why would I have trusted anyone else to take action? It was obvious that my story was not believable.

    From 2010 until 2012 many, many people who learned of my case, including a large group (1,300 members) of congregation members, publicly disputed my claims, doing so in a manner that was often defamatory and libelous.

    In 2012 the Asst DA filed a motion in the criminal court that cited the defendant’s confession. Up until that point, no one but lawyers and the Diocese knew about the confession.

    Three hours after the story hit the news, the Facebook page was deleted. Ooops!

  11. Hi, I really want to thank you for your eloquent explanation. My heart goes out to you. I am the husband of a sexual abuse survivor and can attest that everything you say is true. It’s easy for me to forget it sometimes, because it’s painful to be in love with a survivor, to deeply desire a connection that may or may not ever come. But the most important lesson in your entry, I think, is the amount of patience required and the fragility of the survivor’s trust in any person. I am striving every day, though, to be the man you talk about.

    • Thank you!

  12. Thank you for this article and your courage to show your vulnerability. It hits me every single word. My boyfriend was abused when he was a teenager. It hurts me every time I think about it. I can’t see him hurting… I love him a lot. I love him for the one I fall in love with.
    You will find the one who loves you like how I do.
    I will pray for you.
    Best wish

  13. I just wanted to say Thank you for writing this! I am very bad with words, but you belped to put into words the problems I have been facing for years. Your also the first I have found who didn’t try to bullshit. From so many, especially therapists, all I heard was it will get better, re-think it, re-live it. Re-living was the worst, it was like experiencing the evil again and again weekly, then daily. It only made my thoughts of ending it seem more appealing, the feeling of.hoplessness grew. I had to stop, I know people say do not ignore it, do not repress it…. but it is the only thing that makes it bearable. When I did/do bring it up, even just by myself, I shutdown and get so fucking down I do not wanna be around my self. Then it is days-weeks if not longer of feeling like crap and having no energy to do the things that make me happy, like wood work, working on my car, and paintball. Anyone I have told about it, and at the time they were all very close unconditional relationships I thought, have gone away. It is why my family does not know.. Maybe it is my fault, maybe knowing they know freaks me out and makes me different around them, it is uncontrolable though I tired so hard once for this girl I really liked. I do not know if it was love, I do not feel it, not for my family or myself. Just I kept being told it would be fine…. people love that shit in the south, everything is always fucking “fine”!!!! You said some real shit, it is life long pain and struggling to keep your head above water. It maybe impossible to find someone, I mean when it is so hard to get inside our heads and know us, and when they get to know us it is only the shell/mask we show the world, how could the truly love us? Just blows that out the gate we were shot and made lame. This was much longer than I ment it to be, but I truly enjoyed your article and the realness you gave, it is a big pill to swallow but it is easier when you at least know how big it is!!!!!

    • Hey,Jordan!
      Thanks for the kind words!
      You wrote about others who found out and run away.Sadly this is the case with most people,I think because most people just don`t want to deal with that story,with your story,with my story,or in general.People don`t want to know about child sexual abuse,don`t want to imagine what`s like or what aftermath it causes.People don`t know what to do with survivors who tell them.Who expects or who is prepared to hear such a horrible story ,told by a close friend or a loved one?Nobody.And the truth is lots of people just choose to run away,or distant themselves because it`s just easier as to wonder what to tell you,what advice to give you or how to support you in this…Well,just my opinion.I am not a psychologist(yet). Sometimes I wonder if I am ever going to be truly happy,or looking at happy couples and families I wonder would I ever be in their shoes one day…But perhaps this is not who I am meant to be,I mean who I want to be,or who I can be…May be another purpose of my life,and I think I already found it in animal rescue and child sexual abuse survivors-help.And it makes me happy to know who and what I want to be.May be I won`t be one of those happy people who hold hands and smile to each other,but to be honest with my 2 causes I am too busy to suffer about missing something.Of course sometimes I get sad,lonely or disappointed,but life is not just loving a man.Love itself is very important,but one can love his family,friends,other people in general,animals etc.One can always find a purpose in life,which helps a lot in making sense of one`s own life.Otherwise it`s only the past and the abuse,and the memories…and no feeling of self-worth and a constant battle with the self.Survivors live a life full of struggles,full of misery and full of pain,but let me tell you-there is still hope for us too!I am not saying I am the happiest person,I am not.But finding purpose helped me a lot.Still long way to go,I think this will be a whole-life story,but I think I am strong now and I can handle it,no matter how difficult it is.You know a few days ago I watched a documentary about a woman,a model who burned so bad and lost parts of her hands as well…I thought-“Oh my,this must be the most horrible thing to deal with”…When I think about her she inspires me,her battle is visible,and her problem is a big one.She doesn`t have the choice to share with others or not(like us).Everyone can see her struggle,people feel sorry for her,etc.So thinking in this direction,we are actually fortunate(more than her I mean).She inspired me!People like her deal with such pain and misery,and she deals with it!So I should be able to deal with my past too.To accept it,not to forget it,not to repress it.To accept that it happened,and it cannot be undone.And to live with it,the best way I can.
      Best Regards,

      • Yea, sometimes it just feels like a parasite that eats all the happiness and fun out of whatever/whomever I find it in. It is a struggle just to keep my head above water. You are right, at least we can hide it, but it may be problem of getting people to see how big of a problem this is. I can not stand the idea of someone feeling sorry for me though….. Ugh this thing is so full of paradoxes it is exhausting. Sorry my thoughts are so jumbled, since everyone I told left I never had to verbalize this stuff. Thanks for your response though, and in relation to the pain perhaps it is what makes us strong, it’s like the idea that if only pain existed the lesser pain would just be pleasure. Therefore making our pain tolerance much higher and us “stronger” depending on your definition, so maybe that’s worth something….

        • I am the spouse of a sexual abuse survivor and it is a pain that I cannot explain. I try to be there, to listen to earn his trust. He has left me and his four children. We are going to counseling, yet I find his mood swings, his lies, his explanations unbearable sometimes. I don’t know what to do when I want to stay and help, but his rejections are unbearable.

  14. I read this and can not believe there are others out there. I have struggled all my life to love but the moment i feel i am getting deep my brain panics and screws me up causing friction or hurting the girl which never ends well for me. I want love but i dont know how to give or even know i am 100% in love. Recently i met a girl thru her sisters who are my friends and as soon as i saw i was getting to close to her i paniced and started destroying everything not because i didnt want her or because i wanted to hurt her but because i was scared she would leave me specially once she found out my past and what really happened but she has now shown me she is leaving which i am crushed by. I hate that i was sexually abused and that i cant trust easily. I havent told many people i was sexually abused because i am ashamed of that. I find comfort and peace knowing i am not alone and that others also have the same struggles.

  15. My ex girlfriend couldn’t tell me she loved me after two years of being together,. She has never told anyone except her ex husband decades ago that she loved him and he was a sex addict and they divorced after a few years, she hasn’t seen him since and decided to be with women since her divorce.
    He mother hinted that she may have had some abuse by her father . I love this woman dearly bout the closer I got the further away she felt. Sounds odd but any advice? Should I just stay away?

    • I don’t know why I care about this article so much, but for some reason it’s come to mean a lot to me. Usually I would never have posted and definitely not come back. In my opinion there is not much advice, aspects of this stuff is different for different people. What I have seen is a lot get massive fear in the face of positive feelings of intimacy and like to hide. I know It is all I can think of, even in the few times I could work my self up to having sexual relations all I could think about during. It is not easy, all I can say is just be there but don’t push. It may take a crazy long time, but I at least have to be allowed to work my way out of my shell. When I am pushed out I only go further back in. Also some days are better than others. When you see a good day capitalize on it!!!!!

  16. Thank you so much for posting this. I am trying to understand my husband’s struggle from the abuse he went through as a child/teen. Your post was extremely encouraging and helped me to understand better his heart and his pain. I really cannot thank you enough for sharing.

  17. This article is well said. I am a survivor and after 38 years I have finally had the courage to heal myself. I broke up with my boyfriend because I feel that my past is ruining what we had and I had to nip it in the bud before it was too late. It may still be too late, but luckily he is willing to be there for me when I fall into a depression or crying spells. While we as a society can all work to end childhood sexual abuse, I know each survivor has to continually focus on healing themselves, just as I am doing. And if my boyfriend is still willing, I will be forever grateful.

    Thank you very much for this article. It just confirms that I am not losing my mind.

  18. Thank you this powerful article. I am reading a lot of child sexual abuse and sexual abuse survivors because I believe my friend is a survivor. It seems to clear to me now, it is a shocking revelation.

    The more I read, the more astonished I get. I have flashbacks of things she did or said, or what we have shared recently, and everything makes perfect sense. she is struggling. I have always had a special talent in being able to getting close to her, as much as she will let someone get close. We met 20 years ago. I fell in love. We had a strange platonic relationship, and there was love. Then we grew apart. And now, in our late 30s, we are back in each other’s lives, in a very strange way, and I just realized how much I -still- loved her.

    She has opened up in a beautiful way about a lot of her pain. I have supported her. We shared about various issues. But NEVER about this. I thought about it six months ago and buried the thought. And this summer, probably because I am having a quiet vacation that allows me some rest and reflection, I have able to put my finger on it.

    I don’t know where this is going but I feel like we could make each other happy, and I love her deeply. I know the challenge but the more I know her, the better it is. She is magical. I love being with her. What we share is powerful. We are not geographically close at this time in our lives. We talk everyday. Maybe it’s good we have distance now. I am willing to take up the challenge and take things slowly, because I would be very lucky to share my life with someone who makes me feel the magic that I expect from love.

    I don’t care about simple. She is not just complicated, she is not just a victim. She is not just a traumatized neurotic woman. She is also smarter than most people, she is radiant, she is funny, she is spiritual, she is talented.

  19. Hi survivors warriors,

    I am the wife of a husband that was sexually abused. I have been with him for 16 years. During the time we were dating I found out he was sexually abused but that didn’t perturb me as I loved him and still wanted to be with him.

    Whilst we were dating he showed none of the signs the writer mentioned. I did try to speak to him about the abuse but he always said he was fine and that he dealt with it. Before we got married, we went for marriage counseling. We both were strong in our Christian faith. A few days after being married we did not consummate the marriage. I always initiated to make love to my husband but somehow after I felt dirty and sad afterwards. I knew then something was wrong.

    By chance, I found he had visited various porn sites. It was then that he told me that he had not dealt with his past and that he is addicted to porn and prefers masturbating. Instead of being angry or feeling hurt I immediately tried to get him into therapy. I gave him four years to go to therapy; to be there for him; walk the path with him; avoid touching him; or trying to initiate any intimacy so he could have that space.

    I waited, I hoped, and I prayed. I got myself a hobby to occupy my mind. I even went to therapy myself. We also had joint therapy even though he would use every excuse under the sun as to why he couldn’t go to therapy.

    I still gave him time and I was patient. I didn’t push him too much. We have been married for almost 10 years and it has been a struggle watching all our friends having kids, watching them being in love, kissing and holding hands while my husband just keeps pushing me away.

    He has been regularly attending therapy and is now on antidepressants. A few weeks ago my husband admitted for the first time that I was a way out for him — a way to forget his past — and when we got married I became one of the things he owned — a possession to make others believe that his life was perfect.

    He also told me that he does not know what love is. He doesn’t love himself and he doesn’t love me. This broke my heart, but I wasn’t angry because I knew he didn’t, but somehow I wanted to believe he did and that things would change. I love this man with all my heart and would do anything for him, but I have realized that he would not do the same for me. In his life it’s all about him. He puts everything else first and me last. The fact that he shows no real emotion towards me or is even thankful for standing by him all these years breaks my heart, and yet I am still not angry. I am just telling my story as the wife of a man I love who has been abused and the struggles I too have to face on a daily basis.

  20. I suggest that if you’re considering marrying a person who openly admits to being a victim of priest sexual abuse to think twice. I feel qualified to say this as I’ve been married to such a man for over 30 years. It started out great and above my expectations. I never found out about the abuse until we were married 15 years after he became a crack addict and maxed out our credit cards.

    We had a young son at the time and I knew my world as I knew it was over. I know now that I should have left him then. I’m no quitter and I truly love him and figured if I stuck it out he’d changed. He didn’t. He grew colder and more distant with every passing year. Normal sexual relations ended years ago. He’s so distant, even after over 30 years of marriage. Our son is grown now and gone. I feel like I live alone and I’ve wasted all these years on someone who could never trust me fully.

    Please think really hard if you’re considering any kind of relationship with a victim of child sexual abuse. My husband refuses counseling because he says he doesn’t need it. There is no one to help me. He has intentionally isolated me and I went along with it. Having been a victim of serious physical abuse from my ex-husband as well as my father, I’m used to living the victim life.

    As I said, think hard before you commit to a long-term relationship with such a person. Regardless of what you say or do, he or she will always be at the effect of the abuse.

  21. Thanks for this. I’m having a hard time dealing with my boyfriend so it’s a bit confusing to me if he really loves me. But, I could relate now with what he is going through, having such painful past. I know that he needs more of me now even if he didn’t ask or say anything. And I’m willing to walk this path with him. It really won’t be easy but I believe that we can work on this together.

  22. I’m the wife (40) of a male (49) who was sexually abused as a child (7-11) and, as if that’s not bad enough, his parents were highly dysfunctional violent alcoholics. Your article and your powerful descriptions mirrored my husband’s feelings and actions very nearly exactly as we’ve experienced them together.

    It is a difficult life to live as I am the kind of personality that shows love easily with affection and intimacy (cuddling/touching etc) … to not have that returned except in words makes the reality very hard to believe.

    But I love this man and I could never not love him.

  23. Hello,

    After 24 years of marriage, and 27 years of being together, my wife told me she was no longer in love with me. My world changed completely in that instant of time.

    I’m 59 … she’s 49. We have two children whom are now adults, with the youngest being 18.

    I was sexually abused when I was 3 … not by a parent / relative. It happened only once … and was not discovered by anyone. I “froze” that moment … then 6 years later, when I was 9, I was traumatized again. The effects of those events, coupled to growing up in an emotionless home run by a dictator and supported by my mother’s passiveness, my sexual development was warped, and I became very adept at being alone. This lifestyle caused me great shame and guilt and I could never understand why I didn’t fit in – anywhere.

    I tried suicide at 23 … and from that failure I ended up getting professional help for the first time – to gain understanding of “why” I was the way I was. That took time, and I was doing ok with the new-found insights … and I left therapy thinking I was mostly ok – still alone but with better understanding and strategies to cope – and that I needed to move on in life. Soon though, I found myself again “alone against the world” and went back to doing what I had been doing prior to my suicide attempt to get some connection and pleasure. And I continued living this “lie” – was a real Jekyll and Hyde … until I met my wife – who had / has a heart of kindness I had never experienced before.

    I was so glad to finally have someone to love … my first and only love … that I stopped my anti-social destructive behaviours and together we were the quintessential happy young couple – we were never great at sex, but for all other aspects of marriage – even communication, we were as happy as could be. And I never really told her of my past … until we started to drift apart – sexually – after the birth of our son, which was 6 years into the marriage. Sex casually left the building – and life took over. The issue of lack of intimacy would come up every now and again – always from her, and always as to why “how come we never have sex anymore”. I never understood why I could not commit this last bit of my love for her. And, she admits that she has issues of closeness also … so … more time goes by, and we keep “trying” … “working” … yet even after attending marriage counselling together … it never did get resolved. And I knew that deep down inside my psyche I had unresolved issues – or aftereffects – of the early abuse, and the damage to my “self” that had never been repaired.

    Then 2017 came and both of the kids are on their own, and I decided to try and retire, and my wife and I committed to working on the intimacy / sex issue again … and we even planned a vacation for August – which we took and was the first for us together in over 20 years. We had a great time … but never had sex. Then we came home … talked more … and again neither of us made a move towards the other.

    I then made the mistake of writing down what had happened to me when I was a child (I had, over the years, told my wife all of this – this was my first time ever writing it down) and giving it to her to read and maybe … maybe … help her understand me more. My wife’s response was a total and complete shock to me. She told me that she knows I’m in pain over all of this but that she is “no longer is in love with me”, and that she wants a separation and divorce, and that she does not see us ever getting back together. She next said that she thought I’d be better off alone.

    That was at the end of September. I took this pronouncement very badly … and as I had already “opened” up all that shit in my mind re the abuse, neglect, trust, love, manhood, etc when I wrote it all on paper … I had a breakdown – I lost control of my thoughts. My wife moved out of the home … and two days later I woke up to my 3-year old damaged self holding onto an Exacto blade knife in one hand and my penis in the other as I was looking to cut that part off of me. I was so scared … and so alone … and it was so all of a sudden.

    I realized I needed help, again, and I have since been doing that. I had to leave my home community as there is no available help there at all – and what help that is available is on a “wait list” and is for a residential facility outside my province only (and the wait list is between 6-10 months long).

    My wife’s response was a complete shock – I truly believed she still loved me as much as I have always loved her … she was my only love … I have never loved anyone else and I never once fell out of love with her. I was the romantic in our marriage. I never had a clue … and so I could not understand her response. In the month it took for me to pull myself together enough to find the help I need and make the arrangements – she withdrew from me even more. Granted, I was pretty screwed up and I felt hopeless. But, I searched and I found a new place (with help from my in-laws – really), was diagnosed as suffering from PTSS, arranged therapies, and prepared to leave.

    Then, while cleaning up our home computer, I found a file of pics. It seems that 3 weeks before I wrote her of my history and my concerns for us, she had had an affair. That discovery changed my fragile mind even more – it made me physically ill. My immediate thought was that I had caused so much angst with this lovely woman that she had changed her values … and that … that realization … is so damned PAINFUL. This pain consumed me … and it is what drove me – literally – 3700 kilometres to get the professional help I needed.

    I’ve now been in intensive therapy – EMDR is a blessing – for three months and have made great progress with insightful linkages … and it is all led by my being as brutally honest with myself as possible. It is good. It is also very very lonely.

    I have too much time to think … and I’m very scared for my future when I think thoughts like “what is the value of doing all this work?” The early traumas’ have been resolved to great satisfaction in my mind … I am confident that my thoughts are really mine now. I’m standing on my own again and confidently looking around at this new “present” … I’m just not ready to figure out the best next steps for myself … and I wonder about my ideals around “love” and “trust” and “sharing” and “truth” and it is scary. I have never wanted to be “alone”.

    What bothers me the most though is the effects my early “life” has had on my wife … I really don’t know her anymore – she is that different to me now … and I suspect she has been in pain for a long while and it took her that long while to get up her nerve to leave … and I understand that on an intellectual level. Emotionally, I’m so very lost without her … so yeah it’s very hard to learn that she’s already planning a vacation for next month (February – something we had wanted to do ourselves but never did) … and that she is so so quickly leaving me in the dust. This is so hard on me – trying to work on the issues of my early life which is so deeply tied to my present … and my present has imploded.

    Too much pain … too alone … and so full of guilt / shame / etc that I let my marriage fail. I had the best and I screwed it up by not dealing with my adult issues that were born in the unknown issues surrounding my childhood sexual abuse … catch-22 at it’s finest.


  1. People understand, I guess | Me Surviving Life - [...] Posted by Boriana Todorova on October 4, 2013 in Relationships, Voice | 0 comments [...]

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