My new partner did not respond well AT ALL when I opened up about past sexual abuse and assault. He is a CSA survivor, so I'm confused

I started getting to know a man very slowly and at a distance (due to Covid), beginning in June of 2020; we both come from nightmarish upbringings and years of retraumatization by the world. My developmental trauma is pretty bad; in fact, I had met very few others whose DTD was as severe as mine, and certainly never in a romantic partner.

We started really opening up to each other about our trauma, and the abuse suffered by him and his brother is objectively worse than most. I have PTSD and depression from serious domestic abuse last year, and sometimes, I have really bad days with intrusive thoughts that just spill out. Normally, when I have a traumatic memory, he is supportive, saying he understands and offers support, etc. But when I mention any of the adult sexual abuse I have been a victim of, his first response is to relate by reminding me that he went through the same thing as a child, and it's better not to worry, think about it, et.

Here's my issue and question: After a flashback about a pretty sick rape that happened to me 20 years ago, I was having a rough day and while spending time with my CSA survivor boyfriend starting recalling the traumatic series of events to him (I was drugged and raped by a much older roommate who continued to sexuallyassault assult me for weeks, leaving me strange gifts, etc.), and after I had told him this shit his response was basically, 'cool now every time girlfriend I wanna touch my girlfiend I gotta deal with feeling like a rapist?". His response was so unsupportive and out of character I thought that maybe I had triggered his CSA, so I apologized for bringing it up without a trigger warning. He then said, "I don't need a trigger warning, I mean, it happens. Why worry about it? You know? you make a choice to worry. I worried for years about all the CSA that occurred to me, but it didn't help at all, so I just stopped".

I am confused. Did I trigger an out of character PTSD response in him, or is he just an asshole, CSA or not? Can trauma victims have weird responses to rearing about trauma?
 
So, I'm just guessing, but from reading your description, this is what comes to my mind:

While sexual assault and rape is hard for women to talk about, I think society makes it 10 times harder for men to talk about their experiences of assault.

So, he may just choose "compartmentalising" all sexual assault stuff as his way of coping and surviving.

Your talking about your sexual assault may have felt like it was threatening that particular coping strategy.

So, to keep shutting down his own memories and feelings about his sexual assault, he kind of applied the same approach to yours?

It's not okay to respond like that, obviously.

But it's what comes to my mind, in terms of understanding "Wtf did he respond like that?"
 

ruborcoraxxx

Sponsor
Defo, not cool. Men are typically socially taught to respond with aggressiveness and not withdrawal or fawning when something goes wrong. CSA or sexual assault is unbearable in a very masculine mindset. As stupid as it is, it's so widespread and pervasive that many men still respond in this nasty way EVEN when rationally they're against it. Awful blend of shame and anger directed to the wrong targets. Externalised self hatred. Not your circus to arrange. I'm sorry you've experienced this. It's really deeply awful to have a romantic partner who not only isn't helping help but is also making it painfully in a place that already hurts so much. Gentle hugs, if you accept.
 





his first response is to relate by reminding me that he went through the same thing as a child, and it's better not to worry, think about it, et.
There you go - you have two different and opposed ways of dealing with your abuse. This is not to say that his way is wrong or worse than yours. It means you are in two entirely different places in your healing.

Men, especially, often deal with sexual abuse by bottling it up and telling themselves that it wasn't that bad, all things considered. The problem with this approach, of course, is that sometimes it WAS that bad, and then the pain comes out in various inappropriate ways - which might very well include being dismissive to a partner who has been through similar events and might not agree with bottling it all up.
 

Deanna

MyPTSD Pro
and the abuse suffered by him and his brother is objectively worse than most
Sorry.. I didn't see this when I read your post. I thought he was just an A'whole. Like SRG said.. You're at different stages of recovery. I don't know why he would put it like that the way he did, though. I know men keep things to themselves but to make you the victim of CSA and not himself and his brother.. I'm lost for words.

Found this.. Could be DID. This sounds more like it ( I am not a doctor)

Dissociative identity disorder, previously called multiple personality disorder, is usually a reaction to trauma as a way to help a person avoid bad memories

 

Chris-duck

MyPTSD Pro
Found this.. Could be DID. This sounds more like it ( I am not a doctor)

Dissociative identity disorder, previously called multiple personality disorder, is usually a reaction to trauma as a way to help a person avoid bad memories
What makes it sound like that? It sounds literally nothing like DID to me.

It does sound like the bf is struggling with his own stuff, and kinda lashed out. Jumping to DID is a massive leap IMO.

Regardless, do you (OP) have support? And does your boyfriend?
 

Deanna

MyPTSD Pro
What makes it sound like that? It sounds literally nothing like DID to me.

It does sound like the bf is struggling with his own stuff, and kinda lashed out. Jumping to DID is a massive leap IMO.
He's acting like nothing ever happened to him or so I take it. That's where the DID came in but I am not a doctor. He is dismissive about his abuse. Maybe like you said... He is having a hard time
 
Sorry.. I didn't see this when I read your post. I thought he was just an A'whole. Like SRG said.. You're at different stages of recovery. I don't know why he would put it like that the way he did, though. I know men keep things to themselves but to make you the victim of CSA and not himself and his brother.. I'm lost for words.
His abuse and neglect was so bad, it was in the news at the time that it was discovered. Like real bad stuff. And yes, we are definitely at different stages in our recovery, this was just the first time I couldn't rationalize it any further.

What makes it sound like that? It sounds literally nothing like DID to me.

It does sound like the bf is struggling with his own stuff, and kinda lashed out. Jumping to DID is a massive leap IMO.

Regardless, do you (OP) have support? And does your boyfriend?
I have a trauma team I work with on a weekly basis. He got therapy from ages 7-18 through an adoption program, but nothing now, as an adult.
 

Friday

Moderator
I am confused. Did I trigger an out of character PTSD response in him, or is he just an asshole, CSA or not? Can trauma victims have weird responses to rearing about trauma?
Not everyone who experiences trauma gets PTSD.

Sometimes they develop totally different disorders, or are super resilient and never develop any kind of disorder, or get good therapy early preventing the effects of trauma becoming permanent, or are asymptomatic for years/decades before any disorder makes an appearance. It’s not as simple as 2 people experience the same/similar traumas and then going on to develop the same disorder. 10 people can experience the same thing and have 10 wildly different responses.

Even when 2 people experience the same trauma, and develop the same disorder? That doesn’t mean they experience all the symptoms the same way, or that their personalities view those symptoms the same. I lived/worked with people for years and years who all had pretty much the same brand of crazy I had... & I not only didn’t like at least half of them, but even those I liked/loved/respected? Were far more often people I’d either never date, or who we’d self implode very quickly if we tried to be more than damn good friends. Just because people are different.
'cool now every time girlfriend I wanna touch my girlfiend I gotta deal with feeling like a rapist?"
Have you ever been treated like a rapist? Or been physically assaulted, or verbally torn down, or recoiled from in disgust? By either a stranger or someone you care about? It’s often not a very pretty response, especially from people who haven’t been conditioned to accept being treated badly. And it’s really no wonder... living with someone with PTSD is often like livin with a drunk, or an abuser. All smiles one moment, lashing out or bursting into tears (over god only knows what) the next, and then all smiles again. Rages, crying storms, self hatred, apologies, smiles, impossible demands, constantly moving targets, expecting to be treated like a king/queen with all their bad behaviour forgiven and not even the good behavior of their partner keeps their partner “safe” from causing the next storm of tears or rage, mistrust or cold distance... it can get really brutal.

Which isn’t to say not to date. It IS to say that it’s not an irrational response by a caring person to NOT want to be treated badly. It’s a pretty legit gripe.
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
Do you want this relationship to work out?

If so, stop treating each other like therapists.

IMHO it’s ok to get support from a partner, but it’s not ok to discuss trauma details. This, X 1000 if your partner has been traumatized, too.

He’s been telling you in his own way that he doesn’t want to hear about your sexual abuse, because he can’t handle it.

I think the only things that are ok to share with a partner are things that trigger you, so that you can have a good sexual experience with your partner. But, even so, it’s more like “please don’t do XYZ because it triggers me” and not “please don’t do XYZ because it triggers me since that’s what my abuser did to me every time he raped me and these are the details about what happened and....”
 
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