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Advice needed on forming relationships.(8 Posts)
Okay. I'm a 29 year old and have just created a Mumsnet account because I'd like as many different perspectives on my problem as possible. This will require me to be brutally honest, so I will be just that.
As a child from the ages of four to nine I was repeatedly sexually abused by a close female relative. I then suffered further abuse in care.
From the age of about eleven I have been almost continually mentally ill. I became an alcoholic, a drug abuser and a self-harmer - lacerating my arms and stubbing out cigarettes all over my body. I felt like subhuman filth. Throughout my teens I became paranoid, psychotic, permanently anxious and depressed. Studies, social life and career development all suffered as a result. Coasting along in sporadically low level employment has all I have been able to cope with. I was variously diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depression, OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
A sexual relationship has so far been an impossibility. My sexual self-concept is, I think, warped - my attitudes to female sexuality and my own body profoundly negative. It is impossible for me to imagine a sexual experience that isn't exploitative, objectifying, demeaning or corrupt. Sex to me is people using one another. Sex as an expression of love is beyond my comprehension.
I do admit to being a misogynist insofar as I fear and hate female sexuality. Advances from women make me feel frightened and angry. However I recognize that I am projecting my experience as a victim onto the female population at large, and that this is wrong. Inwardly I struggle with these feelings however. I have never been violent towards a woman. I have used prostitutes and pornography because this makes me feel like I am in control.
Due to some therapy (and also thanks to some friends I am living with) I am a lot more stable. However I am terribly lonely and do want to connect with someone. I don't know how to do this however. Not only do I not know how o explain what I have been through to someone, but I do not understand how sex works in a relationship and what is expected of me sexually. Sexual normality, agency and boundaries are foreign concepts to me.
In all, I'm emotionally very stunted and with no experience of relationships. Will anyone want someone as damaged and inexperienced as me? And how can I cope when the trauma is inevitably awoken and all those feelings of fear and anger surface?
What a lot you have been through and it's encouraging you are now in a place where you feel ready to persue a healthy loving relationship.
No one comes into life with 'experience of (romantic) relationships' , everyone has to learn and no one expects perfection.
Have you ever had anything even remotely like a relationship or has it just been the prostitutes/pornography mentioned earlier?
Would you consider a sex surrogate? Just an idea.
maggie: No relationships at ill, so I feel very emotionally immature and very ill-equipped to take one on. I don't know what I'm supposed to do in a sexual relationship or what is normal. I partly want sex but feel a disgust and extreme anxiety welling up whenever it is presented to me - as though any sexual interaction would be at the expense of my integrity and autonomy.
Sorry to hear about your damaging history and that you haven't been given the help you need.
Male survivors are inevitably given back row status to female survivors and that goes double when the abuser was a woman. (Which is why we say sexism hurts men as well as women - men are forced into this "woh you lucky dog!" mode instead of being acknowledged of survivors of damaging experiences.)
I do think you need to be upfront about your experiences with potential partners, but you need to do so in the context of a relationship which is already trusting and supportive.
A lot of women will hear "I need to be in a trusting relationship to have sex" as "GAAAAYYY!" because that's the established norm - that men can only be sexual aggressors, not victims.
I am currently supporting my adult DS through this kind of situation, so I have an understanding of where you're coming from.
I really think sexual surrogacy may be worth considering, it would enable you to learn to undo the disgust /anxiety you currently feel at the thought of having sex.
I wish you the best of luck. I think you are very brave trying to overcome your demons like this.
Have a look at this to find out a bit more about it. It may be that you decide not to go down this route but I'd think about it if I were you.
Thank you for your advice and kind words. I'll consider it.
You say you've had 'some' therapy - but how much? I'd say this will take extended therapy. Or should I say, extensive.
By that I'm equating what you have experienced - and are still experiencing - akin to a severe physical injury that needs years of therapy in order to function normally - or as close to normal as possible. No different with the mind imo. As much as the NHS MH is desperately underfunded, I think you'd be one who could get a very good referral.
I, personally, also find peer support groups very helpful in tandem with 1-2-1 therapeutic support. Have you linked up with any survivors orgs?
You're going to have to learn step by step how to negotiate intimacy in all its forms and imo that needs knowledgeable, sensitive, professional input and support. You asked if I would be put off and, as things stand with you at the current time, yes I would. Not because you are deficient but because you need more healing first: I don't think you are ready for intimacy. It would be unrealistic to expect a bog standard woman (and we are all normal and bog standard) to negotiate your still fraught and damaged landscape.
I'm not being heartless here - as galling as it is, we have to accept our limitations as a consequence of severe abuse. Not that there is no hope - there certainly is hope for the future! But some more work is needed first.
I'm so glad to hear you are living with some great nurturing people.
Or, should I say, most of us are normal and bog standard...
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