Relationship Please, can someone who has dealt with being married to a rape victim help me?

enough

MyPTSD Pro
I have to state upfront that I am a victim posting in the supporter's section because that's where I think I will get the answers to my questions.

I know I am pretty much limited in how I can help my wife, that she has to heal alone and I can at best be supportive of her and patient with her. At least that's how I see it, that's what I have been told before.

But it has been 5 years, and i am living with a stranger in many ways. We are getting older and there isn't much time left for either of us. Covid has stolen some of that.

She has been seeing a counselor but from all i have heard and seen, her caregiver is not much help, more of a paid friend to share her misery with. The ONLY push I give her is to try another source, just to explore the help available to her.

Things are accelerating due to our ages and her health deterioration, we don't get many more years and these could be great years, it is hard to just patiently support her.

I feel guilty for even hearing my counselor tell me "you can't change her, just you, divorce, pay alimony, and live whats left of your life the best you can in the situation you find yourself in". It tears me apart to even listen to that and then go back the next week and hear it again. But that really is my only way to actively change the situation, isn't it? Every other course of action is a strictly adhered to lack of action. Patience, support, all of the rest of our lives if it never changes, and we are running out of time for changes.

Anything, any advice, any stories of success, any coping strategies, anything. Maybe I have insight because I know PTSD from the inside, maybe it clouds my vision, like I know my healing is only done by me (with counseling) so i assume that it is all up to her and I have to take the back seat and wait for it. That my only allowed intrusion into her trauma is to suggest getting better counseling. Thanks for even reading this far, and thanks to anyone that will take the time to respond.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
But that really is my only way to actively change the situation, isn't it? Every other course of action is a strictly adhered to lack of action. Patience, support, all of the rest of our lives if it never changes, and we are running out of time for changes.
I know it's a common question to ask....but have you brought up the idea of couples counseling?

You're right of course - it's her job to do her healing. But that doesn't mean that you and her together don't have to just be content with living in a state of non-communication. Sometimes having that third person in the room can make it more possible to speak truths about how you are both feeling, in the relationship. And if nothing else - it might help you get some clarity.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
Boundaries are what will save your sanity as a supporter. They don’t have to be all or nothing, as in the end of the relationship. Sometimes they’re as small as “I will not engage or stand here while you lash out. I will walk away/hang up every time.” Or “I am an adult, and I alone get to decide where I will go.” It’s about what you can and cannot tolerate. With no boundaries, or wishy washy enforcement of boundaries, your sufferer can suck the life out of you.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
@gumshoe I'm personally glad you asked the question, even if it didn't land the way you intended. That's something I hadn't thought of at ALL, but I can see where it makes sense of the situation. And, @Friday is right, that kind of thing happens. A lot. I can also see how a marriage counselor, or a therapist who didn't really get PTSD, might totally misread what's going on. In an effort to be supportive of "the victim" it can be easy to go with their version of reality and not question how accurate that version actually is.

@enough I really admire your commitment to keeping your vows. I struggled with that before my divorce. Something that helped change my mind was a good friend, who was a minister and a person of deep and sincere faith telling me, "I hardly think God intended you to spend the rest of your life being miserable." (I'd kind of assumed that was EXACTLY what "God intended".) It was a bad combination. I think we were better off going separate ways. But the whole thing about keeping your word is a big deal. Just thinking that since your wife no doubt knows this, it makes you a totally safe person to lash out at. Because she knows you won't leave. Balancing that is a big part of the purpose of this part of the forum I think. I really, really, really hope you guys find a good path through all this!
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
@joeylittle Yeah, that's come up. Doing so would mean that she has to explain it all to another counselor, and thats the only reason that she has shared with me that she has refused to seek better help.
I think I get it that the only way to be sure our kids never find out that their mom was raped is to tell no one, not even professional counselors. she didn't tell me for a very long time.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
@Friday I know that bringing shit to the table is a fast way to make things worse. It’s a fact that I know about a dozen ways to make it worse and only one way to make it better, patience. Definitely bring my shit to the table, she is clear about how this is effecting me, if she has listened at all.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
Make it worse for who? From the supporter side of things, it definitely makes things better.
Supporters are the people I am asking for help from, so I want to get this, but I am maybe confused- better for me when she is coaxed into talking about a really bad thing? She isn’t the same person any more, like I don’t even know her at all sometimes. We used to do so much together, bad days and life’s strains were shared, but after the rape she became withdrawn and any questions as to why were met with strong resistance, and I didn’t know what had happened. Now I know and to cross that line knowing what to expect just seems futile, speaking as a supporter. It is one subject that is sure to raise emotions in a bad bad way.
Tonight I played her favorite music for her, song after song about emotions and loving relationships and struggling to keep them alive, Jackson Browne and such. I played my heart out for just her and the dogs, if there was ever a time this would be it, right? But I have to drive early and all day tomorrow, no time for raising and calming emotions, so it goes in the life of a supporter, correct?
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
better for me when she is coaxed into talking about a really bad thing? S
Have you ever felt that you had to protect the important people in your life from who, and maybe what, you are? That if they really knew they couldn't handle it, it would wreck the relationship, they'd never see you the same way again, it would be really and truly impossibly bad if they knew? (I'm not even going to TRY to explain "knew what?" Personally it's not that well formed a concept.) On the one hand, it can be hard to talk about stuff because you relive it. It can also be hard to talk about because you're afraid of how the sharing of stuff might irrevocably change the world in ways that you can only see as bad.. Know what I mean? I'm guessing you probably do.

So, maybe better for both of you, AND the relationship, if she allows herself the chance to find out she can share her thoughts and feelings and still be safe and the relationship might still be safe too? My personal experience is that you take a big chance when you share all that "real" stuff. Usually it goes horribly wrong and usually it changes your relationship with whoever you share with in a bad way and forever. Usually, but not ALWAYS. And if the relationship survives the sharing it's worth everything. It's just a question of whether or not it's worth the risk. At least I perceive it as a risk.

To be clear, I'm guessing. She might be coming from a very different place and acting from very different motives.
She isn’t the same person any more
Probably she isn't. Just like you aren't the same person you were pre-PTSD. Stuff like that changes people, doesn't it? But, I would guess, a lot of the same person is there and that fact that we change doesn't mean we're bad, or defective, or not worthwhile, or any of that. "Damaged goods"? Maybe in a literal sense. (I, personally, see it that way.) But, my old truck is a pretty good truck, in spite of the rust, and I really like the old dog who's still asleep on my bed even though I got up awhile ago. Damaged can be fine and useful and much loved.

I hope you guys find a path through this because the relationship sounds like it's well worth saving!
 

NoWhereKnowWhere

MyPTSD Pro
Doing so would mean that she has to explain it all to another counselor, and thats the only reason that she has shared with me that she has refused to seek better help.

No not necessarily. Especially not for couples counselling. I’d probably explain in an email to the T and explain that I don’t want to talk about it in session.
Supporters are the people I am asking for help from, so I want to get this, but I am maybe confused- better for me when she is coaxed into talking about a really bad thing?

Sorry I’m not a supporter but I am a survivor and can understand this part of it. It’s something that kept me from getting support for a while. It’s a fallacy that you need to do into detail to get the “good” of therapy. I don’t with my therapist we skirt around it a lot and talk about how maladaptive coping strategies can be linked back to sexual trauma. With this therapist I’ve never gone through the whole story. I’ve disclosed some parts and things come up naturally when it’s appropriate to what we’re discussing at the time. It’s still incredibly helpful to be in therapy with a trauma therapist who knows what she’s doing. All the “counsellors” and under qualified people I’ve seen have done nothing but more damage. They’re the pushy ones the ones that want to you to “tell your story” like a run through of the worst thing that’s ever happened to you in a 50min session does any good when you have a week to live in it until next session.

On the one hand, it can be hard to talk about stuff because you relive it. It can also be hard to talk about because you're afraid of how the sharing of stuff might irrevocably change the world in ways that you can only see as bad.. Know what I mean?

Yeah in my experience disclosing to people is just a burden because you have to support them because they’re sad you were raped. It’s definitely something I’d suggest any survivor has a really good think about before doing. We don’t owe anyone our trauma. You’d be surprised the people who get mad you didn’t report while asking what you were wearing or if you were sober. We still have a very long way to go.

What is it in your relationship that you’d like to change. I might’ve missed it but I didn’t really see any specifics. Is she just really symptomatic? I is it like this whole thing isn’t working I’m really unhappy? Sorry if you don’t want to go into details.

I’m so thankful for my partner putting his foot down on a couple of occasion. I wasn’t in a good place and really needed someone to pull me out of myself. I’ll not help myself but I’ll do it for the sake of someone else when I’m very unwell.
 
Top