Relationship I don't know what to do with my wife's CSA

5

5forty

My wife and I met a little later than we should have...both of us in our mid 30s. We became casual friends and unknown to each other both going thru marriages falling apart for different reasons. When we did find out that we were both going thru divorces at the same time, we became closer friends and then quickly became support for each other.

We were both married for about 15 yrs to other people. In that time she never hinted at the abuse she went thru as a child, to her ex-husband. When she and I started actually dating, it was probably less than a week before she told me all that had happened to her. Her ex-husband was physically and emotionally abusive towards her for their entire relationship. Toward the end he started really terrorizing her, things like putting his hands on her throat and telling her that he was going to kill her now.

So, it's easy to understand why she would never brought up the abuse to him. She actually never told anyone, just me. A close family member raped her almost daily from the time she was 4 or 5 until she was about 11. She was terrified to tell anyone in her family so it just kept happening. When she told me everything, the man that had raped her for all of those years was still alive. he was someone that she had to continue to see on a regular basis and pretend that everything was fine, and she did for all of those years. He killed himself a few years ago, and I never had the chance to meet him. I think that was for the best.

She's built a solitary wall around herself with regard to what happened to her, and has no interest in any type of counseling. Even though it's something that is constantly on my mind since she told me, I've never initiated a conversation about it.

She enjoys drinking casually and the few times she has 1 or 2 too many, and gets a little tipsy, it's been about a 50/50 chance that we will end the night in holding each other in tears as she goes thru what happened and wants to reveal more of the details. When she first confided all of this to me, my only concern was her...but it's getting harder and harder to handle everything that I know so far and what I imagine she will tell me in the future. I have pictures of her throughout her childhood and the first thing I think about is the fact that someone who was supposed to be protecting her was doing the worst possible things to her when the camera wasn't pointed at her.

Lately, it feels like the smallest thing sets me off and I break down at the thought of her having to live through all of that. For a while now I haven't been able to sleep more then a few hrs a night, and 2 nights ago she woke up while I was having a particularly bad night and I couldn't lie to her and admitted that what happened to her was really bothering me at that moment.

I guess I don't know where to go from here. I'm not against counseling, but if I go, she'll want to know why. I've never lied to her and I have no interest in starting over this. I'm afraid that telling her how much this has been affecting me will only hurt her more. I also don't want her to ever feel like she can't talk to me about any and everything, despite what it might or might not be doing to me. So what do I do? Keep quiet and hope that it will fade with time? Id love to go to counseling With her, but I know that's not something she can do right now, and if she did, it would only be because she thought I wanted her to go...and I think that should be a choice she makes for herself. Any ideas at all?
 
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Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
(there are rules here about supporter discussions being answered by supporters, which I'm not).
What I'll say from my perspective, is that I'm aware my partner has no outlet for what I tell her. We share friends and I have told a small number (count on one hand) what has happened (the headlines) and one friend in particular a bit more detail. So that my partner and that friend can also talk about it together if they want to.
If you want therapy because you are hurt by what she went through, that shows care and love and wanting to be able to manage what she tells you. She might find it hard to hear that you want to go down that routez particularly if she is avoiding that herself. But equally, maybe it will make her think therapy is ok to start herself?

Be honest
You sound a kind and caring person.
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
I have PTSD, and I am not a supporter.

In the beginning I told my loved ones too many details of my trauma, and I saw it tear them apart. I learned that it’s best for me to talk to professionals who are trained to help those who have been traumatized.

It is 1000% ok for you to tell her that you cannot mentally handle hearing the details of what happened to her. It is ok for you to have boundaries. You are not saying these things in order to hurt her. You are saying these things so that you can maintain your own mental health. Plus, she will be able to talk to professionals who will be able to help her best. You can say all of this with care and concern. Yes, she will likely feel hurt, but it’s a necessary thing so that she can get better, and so that your relationship can maintain a better balance.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I have cPTSD and I tend to think I am a supporter because I’ve been married 30 plus years. It gets shared with the whole family. I understand this though and I wanted to say I hope you guys get help together. I see my relationship and my last relationships in what you wrote. I was like your wife back in my twenties when I first was trying to talk to someone about my childhood and the CSA and all the abuse. I’d get drunk and start crying. Your sympathetic reaction I also see in myself and my relationship with my wife and things from her past.

You can go through it together but you can’t expect much in my opinion. There is always love and support. You’ll both need an endless supply. I’d look for a therapist but it’s going to be very difficult given that there are disparate issues. Plus you never know how therapy will work or not.

But you wrote it out very well and you are in touch with a lot of what’s going on and that’s a good start and I hear that you are willing, which is the key. Reading on this sight should provide you with a lot of insight. I wish you guys well.
 
5

5forty

Thank you so much for the responses. Honestly, just writing it out and having some other living person aware helps. I really appreciate the different perspectives. The last thing I ever want to do is make her feel like she has to go back to being alone in any way with all of this, so I can't help but hesitate to tell her flat out how it's affecting me right now. I think I am going to move forward with counseling for myself in dealing with what she's told me and try to slowly introduce the idea of us going together.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
try to slowly introduce the idea of us going together.

I absolutely think getting counseling for yourself is a good idea if your mental health is suffering. You do not need to tell her why you’re going to counseling if you’re not comfortable doing so. However if you have ideas of going to counseling together to help her work through her traumas I’d get those out of your head. Trauma therapy is hard, horrid work and you can’t help her or go through it with her. Couples counseling to work on your relationship would be a possibility, but she’s probably going to need to work on herself individually too.
 
5

5forty

However if you have ideas of going to counseling together to help her work through her traumas I’d get those out of your head. Trauma therapy is hard, horrid work and you can’t help her or go through it with her. Couples counseling to work on your relationship would be a possibility, but she’s probably going to need to work on herself individually too.
Yeah, I assumed that would be work for her on her own. I think my goal now will be to find a couples counselor that specializes in abuse, so that we can go together and hopefully she can develop a relationship with, where she will be comfortable enough to go one her own if she's ever ready.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Even though it's something that is constantly on my mind since she told me, I've never initiated a conversation about it.

but it's getting harder and harder to handle everything that I know so far and what I imagine she will tell me in the future. I
Because these experiences are reasonably and normally affecting your mental health it makes a lot of sense to get some support for you.
I'm afraid that telling her how much this has been affecting me will only hurt her more.
I had a friend that found out my trauma, in a way I didn't expect. She told me she got counseling for it to work through what it stirred up for her. She didn't make it a big deal of hey this is totally dragging me down... but she did make it really real that wow, this is heavy stuff and she needed some support to handle it. She made it clear she wasn't rejecting me or my friendship but trying to figure out how to be a really good friend. I felt bad, but also validated. It made it easier for me to get support. More normalized.

Friendships are different than marriages... so your oath may involve saying more or not. But one thing is clear, nothing changes if nothing changes... and if she's not willing to change course right now, watching you get support might make her curious. You don't have to tell her all about it, but you get to have boundaries around what you share and now. It could mean she shuts down too, and that's ok too.

The key principle is don't let yourself drown to save her because then no one is standing on solid ground. Instead model grabbing on to the life raft, and maybe she'll jump into the life raft of therapy too, maybe not, but at least someone will be staying afloat.

Couples therapists usually don't break down into individual work with one person. It can happen that way, just pretty uncommon. I'd look for a very trauma centered one that would be one to individual trauma work down the road. If she's willing to do couples therapy, it's a great open door to figuring out how to walk this path together better, figure out some skills and strategies together and a path forward.
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
Getting counseling for yourself and not telling her why you are doing so is totally ok. Anyone that gets counseling for themselves do not need to tell others why, including their spouse.

It is also OK for you to tell her that her trauma is effecting you. If she does not want to get counseling then that is ok but I agree, she needs to stop using you as a counselor. That isn't ok. You aren't trained for these things.

I, as a sufferer, also gave out way too much info about my past to others. I was terrified to get counseling myself but needed someone there to listen. None of them were trained for it and all of them exited my life very quickly. I figured out the hard way that, that isn't fair to do to anyone. And it is ok to set a boundary there for yourself and your own mental health.
 
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