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*** Warning - possible trigger *** Past sexual abuse affecting relationships now?

(6 Posts)
mum2seren Sun 14-Apr-13 10:29:46

Hi everyone.

First of all...this could be a trigger for any victims of abuse/DV and towards the bottom of the post, I do go into a bit of detail about what happened to me regarding sexual abuse, so don't read if you think you'll be affected

I posted a thread a couple of weeks ago about a man I had got involved with, (who is 58 by the way, I'm 30) who from the start said he was in a 6-month old relationship with a woman who lives in Australia - he was 'agonising' over whether to go and move over there with her, packing up his life in the process and selling his dog, leaving his mum who's in a bad way...and obviously the general consensus on here was he was leading me on and I was being an idiot falling for it.

It got me thinking.

I've only ever had one relationship - with my ex who was 43 when we met (I was 23 at the time), he looked and acted younger, was very immature and moved me into his house within 2 weeks of meeting, and convinced we should try for a baby after 2 months (which we did, much to my shame...although I wouldn't change my little boy for the world).
My ex ended up (or was from the start) very controlling, manipulative, always putting me down, the sex was...well not very loving, he'd have sex with me while I was asleep, and 3 times he strangled me - once to the point of unconsciousness and while I was 6 months pregnant with our son.
Despite all that, I thought I loved him and that the relationship was normal, so I went on to have 2 more children with him (again - regret the circumstances but not having them, as they're amazing).

Then I thought a bit more - although all teenage/adult life I've been attracted to boys/men (and women; in fact mainly women), I've never wanted to either have sex with them OR have a relationship with them.

There is also sort of a theme of the men I've been 'with' (as in, kissed, or ended up in bed with but not actually wanting to do anything with), have been older. Not all of them; I have only ever had sex with my ex partner but I think since I was 17, there have been 3 men I've shared a bed with (but not done anything with) and 1 or 2 I've kissed.

I was abused by my dad as a child. My parents split when I was 6 and I don't know when it started, but I know it finished when I was about 14.
Just typing this is knotting my stomach up, I feel so uncomfortable with it which is the reason I never had counselling.
He never had full sex with me, but almost did - it was only me jumping that made him think he'd hurt me and he stopped.

I can't remember when, but I know at one point my uncle (on my mum's side) used to make comments, lie on top of me clothed and simulate sex, and I know he asked me once if I'd sleep with him when I was 16. My uncle had some sort of mental impairment, but he's never been diagnosed at he's from the generation where things like that weren't really talked about. BUT, it was still abuse and it still scared me.

When I was 14 I was almost raped by a gang of boys when out with my sister - may not have even been 14 actually, could have been slightly younger but I was at high school...they grabbed me from behind and I think they touched me but then just let me go, again can't remember details.

On top of all that, I was bullied at high school - went to quite a few as I kept getting bullied for being shy, quiet, ugly etc and then my mum moved me, it happened again so I moved again.

When I have been in a relationship (granted, only the once), I can't have sex - sometimes I can do it; I've got children after all, but I have to really detach myself and ignore the voice in my head that's screaming at me to stop. I enjoy sex if I get into it, but all these doubts creep in about not being good enough, him thinking of someone else, having had three children and the poor shape my body is in (you know...'down there') - I know most women have these doubts but I wonder whether it's really the abuse affecting me, and my mind is just trying to protect me somehow by trivialising things and making me think I'm really only doubting my body or something that can be changed (like my attitude) - sorry, that last paragraph made no sense, can't really put it into words but hopefully you understand what I mean.

Sorry, this is getting far too long.

The point I'm trying to make is I never had counselling. I plucked up the courage to tell my mum about my dad and uncle when I was 19, and her response was to say "what's so great about you that all these men be so interested in you anyway?" - I appreciate she was shocked, but that comment has stuck in my head and made me wonder whether somehow I asked for it...but then my dad and uncle?! I was a child! How could it be my fault?

I just wonder whether my choices in the type of men I go for is influenced by my past.

The guy with the partner? I did really connect with in...it felt like almost a spiritual connection, as strange as that sounds...and he says he's split with his partner now and wants to be with me for the rest of his life... part of me wants to go for it but do I like him because I want a father figure...or even worse, because I was attracted to my own dad?! I don't feel like I was but how do I know? I didn't fight him off, just froze.

I'll stop typing now...sorry this was an epic post but I suppose I just need to work out how to 'fix myself'. Would counselling help? It's just talking and the counsellor would explain how the past affects my future, which I know anyway because I've said it here.

Do they do brain bleach on the NHS? sad

GlitteryShitandDanglyBaubles Sun 14-Apr-13 10:50:45

Oh love. I know just what you mean, I'm right in the line behind you for the NHS brain bleach!

What an awful time you've had. Tbh I would be surprised if all that wasn't affecting you on very deep levels, from your self esteem to the kind of relationships you gravitate towards, to your feelings about sex. I don't believe for a minute you were sexually attracted to your dad, don't blame yourself for the abuse he subjected you to. HE did it. Not you. Nothing you could have said, thought or done would have made it your fault.

I'm sorry your mother didn't protect you. I'm sorry she made that awful comment - sounds like she has some messed up issues of her own and has 'normalised' child abuse in her own mind. FWIW my own mother told me I should be 'flattered that men were attracted to me' wtf?

will post more later...

GlitteryShitandDanglyBaubles Sun 14-Apr-13 22:28:54

I'm back.

I am still struggling to come to terms with my abuse and the mental health problems that have come from that. I had no idea, until recently, just how many and varied the effects of it were. I think that you will find the 'just talking' you woulld do in counselling very difficult, but very eye opening too. I carried round so much guilt and shame and self hatred without realising it - I thought that was how everyone felt abpout themselves, and I thought I felt that way because I am ugly, stupid, etc etc. Really, I am none of those things, but that is how the abuse effected me and made me feel.

I have no self esteem. None. What. So. Ever. Although I'm working on it and I do feel better.

Like you, it's definitely effected my attitude to sex - I find it threatening, scary and very difficult - I have to have my barriers off and cut myself off emotionally in order to have sex - even though I can and do enjoy it and can orgasm. I have a condition now that makes sex almost impossible, caused by all the stuff in the past. Sorry if TMI!

Relationships... Hmm... Not so much. By sheer luck I think, I have ended up with a fairly decent bloke. Not that he isn't a complete tit at times, but no abuse in anyway - I feel safe with him. He has my back, iykwim. I would tread very carefully before getting in new relationships until you have explored why you choose the partners you do.

I like big tall men who I feel can protect me! blush

The worst thing about looking inside your past and emotions like this is that it hurts. A lot. Sometimes so much I think I can't stand it anytmore. But it has also made me understand how amazing I am for getting through it, and for making the concious decision to never ever hurt anyone in the ways I was hurt. And there were many ways. I have spent my life being kind and compassionate and supporting others and helping them heal, and I am damn proud of that. I understand now why I am the way I am, the good (strong, brave, sensitive) and the bad (anxious, shy, self-destructive).

You have to do what's right for you. Feel free to pm me about anything. I have some fab books about working through abuse, I'll have a look at the titles and get back to you with links...

LastMangoInParis Sun 14-Apr-13 22:48:19

mum2seren there is so much in your post that you need to talk about. I'm not a couinsellor, but I know a bit about childhood abuse issues, and I want to tell you absolutely categorically: it was not your fault. Not in any way. Not at all. Not one shred.

Your father was one of two adults who should have cared about you more than anything in the world. You were a child, completely dependent on him. He was the only father you had. Children are dependent on and love their parents even when their parents' behaviour falls far, far below what it should. And children need their parents, physically. You were not 'attracted' to your father in any way that was abnormal, or your fault, or makes you in any way responsible for what he did.

And the fact that you froze, rather than 'fighting' does not make you in any way responsible for what he did, either. That is a reaction that people (children, women, men) have when they are sexually assaulted. It's a shock response and self-preservation mechanism.

And your mother's response was a self-defence response. I'm not defending it, but it says nothing about you. It was a way of blaming you to silence you and minimise the reality of what had been done to you and her way of avoiding addressing it.

There's so much else in your post - about past and present relationships, there is so much that you need to address, but I really wanted to say what I've said because it's so, so important for you to understand that you were not and are not to blame for what you went through as a child.

A good therapist will understand this, but I would also like to say that I think you should be careful to find a therapist who has sound, specialist training in supporting survivors of sexual abuse. I say this as a survivor who has worked with several counsellors and therapists, as I know from experience that there are so many layers that survivors of sexual abuse have to work through. A wise, compassionate, properly trained therapist can really help, but in my experience, a counsellor who doesn't really understand how complex the aftermath of sexual abuse can be, is not nearly so productive to work with. But there is so much that a therapist might help you with, and it's clear that you are in no way to blame for what you went through.

mum2seren Mon 15-Apr-13 11:38:47

Thanks, both of you.

The reason I haven't been for counselling is because I feel I have come to terms with it - well, I say that; I still get a knot in my stomach when I read, see, hear about sexual abuse and even though deep down I know it wasn't my fault, there's a tiny bit of me thinking 'what if'. It is only a really tiny voice saying that though.

I think I'm normal when it comes to self confidence, self belief and all that though - when I met that guy I mentioned earlier I genuinely wasn't looking for anyone, I just noticed him - not in a physical way, more like an aura about him (sounds silly, I know) so I don't really think that I was attracted to him because he was older or because I was looking for the love etc that I didn't get as a child. But again, that little voice says what if.

I certainly don't think I'm ugly - not the prettiest but not the worst, I'm quite confident about my body and I know I'm very warm, friendly, generous - and like you Glittery I've tended to try and help people, heal people etc.

That's why I'm not sure whether counselling would do any good; can't hurt I suppose, but then if I open up more than I ever have to a complete stranger and it doesn't help, well I think I'd rather just stay as I am at the moment, without counselling.

fromparistoberlin Mon 15-Apr-13 14:26:53

Hello, I could not read and not post

some really horrendous things happended to you as a child, awful

sexual abuse x 2
maternal rejection
attempted rape
plus a load of other shit

I can 10000% emphasise with you wanting a brain bleach! and can see that you would think that counselling will rake up unpleasant stuff

The way I see it however, is that its not about raking up the past. Its about cutting ties with the past, and severing links. so in a way, it CAN be brain bleach as it allows you to confront, and then jettison the past

to get rid of and bin shitty throughts such as

Its my fault
I am fucked up
I am unloveable
i cannot have a normal relationship

But, it has to be your decision and it sounds like are coping incredibly well as is, so why bother?

also, this is no light topic. and to have a shit counseller would be worse than no counsellor right?

all I am saying is that some help, if well done could be a version of brain bleach IYSWIM

personally (and this is in NO way parallel to you) I had a very bad time with low self esteem in my 20s. Fuck knows why, but I was not kind to myself. some suport in my mid 20s enables me to complete with this episode, and alomost forget it! sometimes people mention stuff and I am like really, I did that???

anyway OP I wish you luck, strength, completion and happiness

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