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DP's past sexual abuse ruining relationship

(14 Posts)
TrippleBerryFairy Sun 10-Feb-13 22:59:20

feeling guilty for posting but need for someone to listen. I have posted before about unrelated issues with DP, e.g. lack of house chores sharing and other 'trivial' stuff. We sort of managed to sort things out one way or another. But now I'm faced with a mountain of a problem (or so it feels).

DP was sexually abused as a teen. He told me this quite early in our relationship but having no such experience myself I just thought 'ok, shit happens, no big deal, I have my own issues so that's not a problem'. 4 years and a child later turns out it is a major problem.

We don't have sex. Ok, in all honesty it's happens once every 3 months or so so by definition it is a sexless relationship. We had it quite often when we just got together but around 4 months into it it started to vain. I was quietly wondering but didn't feel comfortable bringing it up. Then I felt pregnant so for over a year it wasn't an issue as I was pregnant, then tired all the time. Our son is now 3.5. And it's a major issue. It seems to be getting worse and worse with every day, I feel trapped between rock and a hard place. I/we want another child but it is just not happening, I don't want to leave him because quite a few aspects of this relationship are good - he is dead loyal to the family, regards me as his wife (eventhough we're not married; he suggested but I refused because the thought of it scares me), we can be close, he can be attentive and he listens to me and we can talk about anything, he is the first one to say sorry when we argue, he makes me laugh, he knows my deepest fears/issues and loves me nonetheless. We have comfortable life, our son is thriving.

Recently we had a few major rows re lack of sex. I went throught the whole scale of feelings - pretending this problem does not exist, then being viciously angry with him, then being calm and reasonable about it.

But it is a major frustration and I don't know how to deal with it or the feelings it brings up in me. I cannot sleep properly, I wake up and the thoughts about the whole thing hit me and I get angry, hate him, feel so low about myself, feel like crying, feel like waking him up and screeming in his face, feel like I should be more understanding, feel like a bitch because I'm so selfish and feel like I'm making a mountai of a molehill, I doubt myself... Turmoil.

I seem to be unable to sleep next to him, hearing him snore when I feel the whole of the above makes me stiff with... I don't know, probably hopelessness. So at the moment I'm downstairs on G&T and fags typing all this as I just cannot fathom how we will ever fix this mess.

We went to relate few month back but sexual abuse stuff was barely touched on (focused of household chores and affection) and then sessions ended (personal issues in counsellor's life hence we were dropped). DP is rather sceptical about counselling but I see it as a lifeline and been really pushing for him to go independently, sometimes perhaps rather insensitively. I feel that this might destroy us (and I told him so). I need a drink to make me sleep (blocks out the turmoil) and I started to smoke again, feel bad about myself. I feel so so so rejected. I have heard DP's story but it just doesn't help, I still feel so rejected like there's something inherently wrong with me which makes me not deserving normal relationship/love/affection/sex/somebody wanting ad adoring me.

This post is all about me. While I should be supportive and understanding, it is DP who went through stuff not me after all. Can't help feeling so so affected by it though, I had no idea this stuff had such a destructive impact on a much wider circle of people than one might think. I don't know where should I draw the courage and patience to support him when I myself feel like I will soon need antidepressants to help me sleep ad feel positive...

G&T is kicking in and I am having a little self pitying sob now, it's 3rd night I haven't been able to sleep properly, I think I need to find help for myself as I am so conflicted. What do I do? Is there a happy ending to this?...

toomuch2young Sun 10-Feb-13 23:12:08

Ok, This may sound harsh and I really do feel for you as a sexless relationship is soul destroying, but I really think you need to have more of an understanding of how much sexual abuse can scar you so deeply and affect every aspect of your life.

Your DP has been through one of the most, if not the most, traumatic experiences a person can live through. Sexual abuse ruins your trust in people, can cause you to hate yourself, have fear, trust issues, flashbacks, painful memories, trouble with sex, sleep issues, depression, failing to function in every day life the list of things it can effect is endless.

Yes, to me your post does sound as you put it 'all about me'. This is a subject close to my heart, so I may be emotional about it, but if a partner, father of my child, had confided in me that this sort of abuse had happened I would be looking at every possible way to support them, help them heal, feel safe and secure. I can understand its effecting you too of course, but from your post I cannot tell if that is because of helplessness at how to help your DP heal or more of how the situation effects you. I think it's more the latter from your post and I think you need to stop feeling so pitiful for yourself and realise this situation is not all about you and your DP is not behaving like that to make you feel rejected, but because sexual abuse effects the way we go on to trust people and develop relationships.

I hope this message makes sense.

Andro Sun 10-Feb-13 23:20:54

Are you sure that it's his history that's at the root of this? It cold be that his sex drive has taken a nose dive for another reason altogether.

I would say that if you both want your relationship to survive then you need to discuss the issue to sex (and lack there of) calmly - a counselor could well be an asset in guiding that. I also think that if his past is causing issues then he probably would benefit from some help individually - ditto you for your own issues!

Effective communication needs two things from those involved, honesty and open minds. You both need to be honest with what you are feeling/thinking and you both need to be open minded enough to both listen (and really hear what the other person is saying) and understand that what you're feeling on the surface may not be the whole story.

I hope there's a happy ending for you both!

OneMoreGo Sun 10-Feb-13 23:30:31

Oh sweetheart, I so feel your pain. It is a really really tough one, and sadly there are no easy answers to this. I briefly dated someone (less than a year although we broke up many times during that time) who was dealing with similar issues, although they also had developed PTSD because of the abuse and it got really bad after we started dating. It was pretty hellish.

Anyway, you have my complete sympathy. The main problem with dating someone who doesn't want to have sex because of abuse is that you don't feel able or entitled to be upset about this - they have been through much worse, after all. And yet it is normal to want a healthy loving sexual relationship with the person you are in a relationship with, and feeling upset because they can't or don't want to sleep with you - well, that's normal too.

I left my ex because of other reasons in the end, primarily because they had a crappy immune system and got ill all the time, and then became a complete bellend when ill. The PTSD didn't help either, but I think I could have managed that and the lack of sex if it wasn't for the constant bouts of cold and flu that hung around for weeks. It wasn't much of a relationship in the end.

The most important thing is, have you discussed it super-openly together, is your partner getting any specific counselling for the sexual abuse to enable them to live a normal life, and would you consider having counselling of this sort for yourself as well? I think this is the only way you will manage to stay together, tbh. And it will still be difficult some days. Without him seeking help, I'd say it would be better to split up and get your needs met elsewhere, because the incredibly good stuff that you mentioned? While rare and lovely, that WILL get eroded by the resentment and misery you are feeling, in time. And normally I'd say 'that's your call' but if you are bringing up a child in that environment together, that is not healthy for them. Far better to find someone with whom you can have a fully satisfying relationship and then co-parent with him than live in a perpetual limbo of frustration and rows over this one issue.

If anyone who reads this has been abused, please don't feel I am being uber negative about the possibility of having a relationship with such a person. It is so possible to do so, but it requires a lot of understanding on both parts and for the person who has been abused to deal with/have already dealt with it and then move past what happened to the point that they can not be dogged by memories and fears. If they don't wish to do this, that's fine, but it's pretty selfish to drag someone else into that abnormal situation.

I am now with someone who treats me amazingly and we have a fantastic sex life. I am super happy and very much in love. Leaving my ex was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but it was the right choice for me. There are books available for the partners of sexual abuse survivors and I'd be happy to post you the one I purchased if you'd like it. Just PM me. Take care. smile

TrippleBerryFairy Sun 10-Feb-13 23:34:33

toomuch2young, thank you. Your post means a world to me, thank you.

I feel at the moment it is all about me as selfish as it sounds. I am trying to find a way to be able to function and sleep and eventhough I knew about it for 3+ years it is only now starting to sink in. Because before it was all about tiredness, I thought we are ok just tired and now I see it's a major stuff we have to deal with and I am trying to find some help for myself so I can get in a better place and be able to support him eventually.

I should perhaps give a fuller picture - I had an eating disorder from when I was 15, kicked it after 12 years it rulling my life (I'm 32 now). So I am susceptible to feeling rejection and it adds to the turmoil I feel because I developed it due to those feelings in the first place. So the current situation is soul destroying to say the least. I am looking for counselling re my current feelings, I think I need help with processing it all, again so that we can survive as a family. I feel like I have to preserve my own sanity because I threatened to leave so many times and actually it is unlikely to happen but I cannot grasp how I can go on feeling the way I feel at the moment...

Is there a way past this?.. Is there anyone in a relationship with person who was abused and who managed to overcome it? And if you did, how dod you do it?... I am aware I will kill my own thread by asking these questions but maybe there is someone out there?...

TrippleBerryFairy Sun 10-Feb-13 23:36:43

I am sorry, G&T is kicking in and I forget the important bits - as a result of all he has addiction to porn (high libido to as he claims) which I find so cunfusing - he has the drive so why is it that it is not directed at me? I know he says porn is safer but to me it doesn't make sense, to me it is rejection...

TrippleBerryFairy Sun 10-Feb-13 23:43:09

posted before seeing other replies. Thank you too, so much.

toomuch2young Sun 10-Feb-13 23:44:02

Oh gosh you poor thing, you have enough issues of your own no wonder you are finding this so difficult. What a horrible situation for you both. It must be especially difficult as the little I know about eatog disorders I understand they effect your self esteem so i understand this has an effect on the sense of rejection your feeling from your DP?

I can see why he thinks porn is safer than dealing with real relationships. You are in control with porn. No one else. It can't hurt you, control you or humiliate you. It is simply for your own pleasure. It is completely safe. Does that make sense? Not that he thinks you are not safe , but because when you have been SA no one is truly safe.

I hope people who have helpful answers come along soon. I wish you all the best. I do hope my posts make sense iv had a little wine and its an emotional topic for me.

OneMoreGo Sun 10-Feb-13 23:44:10

He could be telling the truth - porn could be safer for him OR he may find it acceptable in such abnormally large doses because of his abuse having normalised stuff for him and skewed his sexual parameters a bit. That's not unheard of.

Or the abuse could be a red herring and the porn addiction could be the real reason he is unwilling to be intimate - it's impossible for any of us to say. Sounds like with an eating disorder for you, porn addiction for him and the fact you've already needed counselling for other issues in this relationship previously, you need to hotfoot it back to the counsellor. But make sure they have experience of counselling people who have experience sexual abuse.

TrippleBerryFairy Mon 11-Feb-13 00:11:35

Toomuch2young, my past eating disorder certainly doesn't help, I always felt second best to my sister and now feeling second best to porn addiction. Self esteem improved but persistent feelings of sadness and not being good enough prevail. Eating disorder is rearing its ugly head from time to time again as a mean of coping (while before it was a way of living so it's not so bad). Can I ask why is the subject close to your heart? Are you a survivor or been affected by proxy? Just would like to find out how you coped with your situation. Cheers to your wine, G&T certainly helps with talking about the stuff here...

OneMoreGo, I feel like sexual abuse is at the core, especially as he said that he has fears of becoming an abuser himself (not that I ever believe it will happen, he is a mushy sweet person underneath it all). So I presume he has quite a high drive but also fears around it so he rather uses porn than engages with me, does that make sense.

He had (childless) relationships fail before because of the issues but it seems like I am the one who has to face up to and sort out the stuff - he is sort of agreeing to get counselling eventhough I know he is very sceptical about it. But I feel I have no choice but to coax him into it as otherwise it's doomed...

TrippleBerryFairy Mon 11-Feb-13 00:22:43

I just noticed I had a thread 'household chores ruining the relationship'... I feel such a plonker, cannot decide what's ruining my relationship can I?...

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 11-Feb-13 09:18:40

I think, if someone's psychological or personal problems are affecting their ability to engage in a normal relationship with all that entails, then it is their responsibility to seek treatment, medication, counselling and so on.... not to inflict their neuroses on their partner and expect to be indulged. Certainly you should not make so many allowances that your own life becomes miserable as a result. You can only resolve your own problems... your job is not to cure his.

thepixiefrog Mon 11-Feb-13 10:27:51


This thread really touches me as I am in the same position as your dh (without the porn addiction). I will explain how I feel and maybe that will help you understand your situation a little more. I am aware that all relationships are different, that mine is not going to be the same as yours, but this may help you none-the-less.

I was abused as a child and last Feb lots of repressed memories resurfaced, and as a result my dh and I only have sex around once every 3 months also. I am terrified of sexual intimacy, and any pressure from dh to have sex makes it 10 times worse. Fortunately he is patient and kind and although he really misses that closeness he realises that putting pressure on me would ultimately destroy the relationship.

I feel huge guilt for not being able to provide a 'healthy' sexual relationship although I shouldn't. It is not my fault. I am in therapy, and I try to be intimate in other ways I.e. hugs, chatting, 'us' time.

I have been really honest with dh and said that it may take years for me to come to terms with what happened to me, maybe I never will, and that if he wants to bow out at any time I will understand. He was horrified at the suggestion, but I'm not sure that 3 or 4 years down the line he will feel the same. At the moment he is a rock.

Your dh is not rejecting you, or with holding sex from you, he just doesn't have it to give. I know he uses porn (and I still masturbate) but that is safe and just scratches an itch. There is no emotional intimacy involved in that.

If you are not able to wait until he is ready to deal with his past, then you need to leave. Staying in this relationship and becoming more miserable and frustrated will just damage you both terribly. He may never be able to face his issues, and even if he is it may take years for him to be able to have a comfortable and giving sexual relationship with you.

I don't judge you for the way you feel, but you must try not to blame him for this situation. He is not doing it on purpose or disregarding your feelings, he is damaged by his experiences.

Hope this gives you some clarity of thought. Many hugs OP

TrippleBerryFairy Fri 01-Mar-13 17:17:19

Sorry for resurrecting this and very sorry I didn't come back to reply to last posters who put time and heart into their replies. After posting I felt that I don't really want to talk about it anymore, I'd rather put the issues in a little compartment and hide it deep in my head so that I can continue pretending it's not that important and that everything is fine...

Cogito, I feel exactly the way you put it - if his problems are affecting his ability to have a normal relationship with me then it is his responsibility to seek help/counselling about it. Because in a way that's how I saw my eating disorder - I knew I was unable to ever have a normal relationship or family unless I got better so I actively sought treatment, I had many failed attempts but I managed it somehow. When we got together I was just out of the final round of psychotherapy (which finally worked!). He on the other hand had one single occassion when he talked to some counsellor about what happened to him, felt that counsellor wasn't able to understand him and has never actively sought any further help. And that was long long time ago, some 15 years ago! The abuse has happened about 20 years ago and in all that time he tried to address it once! I can't get my head around it. Ultimately it seems that he doesn't see the need for sorting it out! He never brings it up as an issue in our relationship, it's always me and then when I do he tells me he's thinking about it and will do something about it! I think he just wants me to shup up and put up... It's not a problem unless I bring it up, does that make sense?...

thepixiefrog, I am very sorry to hear you are struggling. I think I could be the rock for my DP if he would do something about it. But in all 4 years we've been together he was finding excuses instead facing things. You are facing it and working on it - my DP does not. He promises but never does it... I could live with his issues and support him if I saw he was willing to change things, to do something because to me that is an acknowledgement of the fact that I am affected by it tpo and it would show me he cares about me. Instead he does nothing but promise... And then he goes back to withdrawing, sleeping downstairs, watching porn when I go to bed and god knows what else. To me that indicates that we is content with the status quo and this in turn leaves my feelings and needs unacknowledged...

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