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Married To a Khmer Rouge Survivor

Discussion in 'Social' started by Cindi, Feb 25, 2007.

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  1. Cindi

    Cindi New Member

    I wanted to post a thank you to everyone on here. I have been married to a survivor of the Khmer Rouge for five years and (probably amazingly stupidly) only just realized he has chronic PTSD after seeking help myself.
    Suddenly all the flipping out at nothing, and the fear of intimacy and the mood swings (not to mention, occasionally, violence) make sense, but I still carry a lot of guilt that I didn't see it earlier and react to "better" (maybe I made it worse? maybe I could have helped? maybe, maybe...), and as others have said, just because you know the cause of the behavior doesn't make it easier to bear.
    Unfortunately, in Khmer culture, seeking psychological help carries a huge stigma, so on top of his denial that there is a problem, there is that stigma and therefore little chance he will ever accept help as far as I can see, which makes me very sad because I love him very much and I hate seeing him so unhappy.
    Our relationship reached breaking point a few months ago after I miscarried our twins and he got drunk instead of coming to the hospital with me because he couldn't cope and then flew into rages at me alternating with fits of depression over the next few months which seemed to have little bearing on my welfare. He just doesn't have any emotion left over for me except negative emotion. All his energy is all turned inside.
    Anyway, I just want to say I am very grateful to find somewhere where I can read some options, where I can read similar experiences and where I don't just get a blank look and a "why don't you just leave him?" because although it may eventually come to that, but it isn't that simple and black and white when you are living with PTSD and, whatever people outside see, for me there is so much about him that is wonderful and I can't walk away just yet. Now I am getting help I hope I can cope better and know what that final boundary is and if we reach it.
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  3. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

    Welcome to the forum. I hope you can find the help you need here and help for your relationship. Maybe you can find ways to nudge him down the road back.
  4. Linda

    Linda Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the forum, Cindi.
    Try to convince your husband that the behaviour is direktly linked to the biochemical reactions in your body, and thus seeking help for a anxiety is much the same as seeking help for asthma or infection. I know it is hard, since for a long time was seeing my own problem as "weakness", since in my home country many people have issues with seing mental health specialists. Things became more claer as I learned more about the body's biochemistry and its relation to behaviour.
    Best wishes to you.
  5. YoungAndAngry

    YoungAndAngry Well-Known Member

    Welcome Cindi :)
  6. porkyrees

    porkyrees Member

    Cindi I am no expert but served during the Vietnam period.The Khmer people were very proud people and good fighters.Unfortunately they were subject to suppression as most South East Asian countries were at that time and major attrocities after the end of the Vietnam conflict.He has probably experienced things that most of us never will or never hope to.The loss of your babies most likely had a very big bearing on his attitude he was more concerned about the loss of his children than you.If you have an understanding of his culture you will know what I mean.He needs a lot of help, united we win divided we fall sorry I cant explain what I mean there but if the violence gets too bad you have to save yourself.Love and best wishes Porky Rees.
  7. Cindi

    Cindi New Member

    Thanks. He did combat training after the fall of the Khmer Rouge and so consistently saw things no one should ever see for a very long time, even after the first nightmare was over.
    I love the idea of trying to help him see it as a physical thing rather than mental. Thank you! Indeed it is, and that approach might just help. Chinese New Year has been hell because of the fire crackers in our area. After New Year's Eve fireworks he didn't sleep or eat for three days either. The nightmares get very violent when he does sleep after stresses like that. I can't wake him up because he lashes out and I can't sleep in the same room for the same reason. When those two periods coincided with a mutual grief as bad as miscarriage in the middle it made for some really tough months, awake and asleep.
    I have heard there is someone near us doing REM therapy with some success so maybe the physical treatment idea could be a step towards that... but ultimately it is all up to him. I can't force him, and I have made the mistake of trying to push him before, which has done much more harm than good.
    He thinks this is normal. I think in a way he thinks he doesn't deserve better. I know he does, but everyone is their own person and they have to come to their own conclusions in their own ways.
    Thanks to all of you again.
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