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


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.


I’m so sorry @enough that sounds so disheartening. My mother has been mismanaging her diabetes for years. purposefully I think. She won’t do anything to help herself. It’s just awful you can’t make people take care of themselves.

In these types of circumstances I don’t think you can think about it like it’s an ultimatum. I genuinely don’t think it is, it’s a boundary. I feel like that’s really important to frame it in your mind like that. You’re not trying to hurt her you’re not being malicious. You want to help her and you don’t want be the punching bag anymore. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

Thinking about the times my partner has really helped me help myself. It’s been by being firm expressing the way my behaviour has been negatively affecting them and myself and setting a boundary. Sometimes I need a sharp jolt of reality to stop feeling sorry for myself and get my shit together. I’m just really sorry my partner has to be burdened with it.

I don’t know if any of that is helpful if not disregard I’m just a random person with an internet connection after all.


Policy Enforcement
Are you sure this all has to do with the trauma only? Many people struggle and are withdrawn when they reach bad health. What are you expecting from her exactly? What did you expect after having played the songs? I don’t mean to be challenging, I’m really failing to understand.

I am a sufferer and I also have been a supporter. I never made people feel judged when they came to tell me their stories, but I have been physically assaulted and blamed and shamed for a rape. I trusted that person and now I wished I’d never disclosed it because it became the point he would always turn back to, always ask more questions, always oscillate between pitying me and hating me and being jealous of the rapist, because of course I wanted it (oh yes, people do believe and state these things. even the ones who say they don’t).

The only person I could more or less talk about these things is an old friend of mine who’s seen more than a shitty thing. It is the type of person where you sense no matter what you say, he’ll have a real thinking about it and will not judge you, ever. And will never repeat it to anyone, ever. It’s hard to pinpoint how you get to understand that some people are like that. I guess you cannot really really know until having taken the risk.

Not saying you might have a bad reaction. But it’s evident from your posts that there is resentment, like you feel wronged by the disorder, resentful because you aren’t getting what you want and what you need. It’s understandable. I’ve been there, watching the person I love literally setting himself on fire in the middle of a flashback. Destroying himself in so many ways you cannot even count. And all it would take is almost nothing for things to be okay. Except it isn’t nothing. It’s f*cking K2 on the Northern face, in the middle of a plateau whose name means Black Hell. I had to leave that relationship and it’s something that ripped myself alive, and it’s doing it still today. It was either both of us would die, either just him. Very real risk. So I understand the feeling very well.

She’s slowly loosing her flame. It is very sad to watch.

Creating a space where things can be said and felt, it is to give buffer. It is to open up and not expecting anything in return. I don’t want to have my trauma telling moment if I state something and I’m just left on the wind. Or badly received.

Actually, it doesn’t matter my trauma. Actually, it’s not the point. I just want to feel welcomed and accepted, and okay. I don’t want to be told either I have to change, either I have to leave. I don’t want to do anything. I’m not there. I wasn’t there and I’m not there. I don’t matter, no one cares, neither do I. Death is irrelevant. Suffering is irrelevant. Joy is irrelevant. Love doesn’t make any sense, it’s just words on something I used to know. Ah, something else. Tiredness. What did I do yesterday? All irrelevant. Oh no, someone wants me happy. Someone wants me to do things. They’re well intentioned. They’re charming. They got it all wrong. I don’t want to die. I want to try to cease to exist, and eventually reappear once it’s over. Just, finally sink. Finally be saved. And no one can. There is no redemption, no eschaton, no God, no nothing; the world has lost its colours as all life slowly drifts away, and even the birds sing as if it stalled in an ending that never ends, the universe stuck in the time of its last vision. I’ll wait for something else. I have to leave. I have to stop this. I just want to disappear. Nothing counts anymore, so what’s the point of even trying. [Images of what happened] And this. Ghosts. Everywhere. They don’t know. It doesn’t matter, anyway. I’m an accident. I’m episodic. Existence is overrated, and action is something we do to trick ourselves in thinking we matter, but at the end of the day, we just are clusters of cells, and mine is frankly unremarkable. How can one ever love me is beyond my understanding. I’m hungry and I’m not. I’m seeing and I’m not. Why am I still here. What are they waiting for. Why so many efforts.

^^^This is the kind of shit that rolls non-stop in my mind when I’m being symptomatic.

I’m really not so sure an ultimatum here would be adequate. If it’s the last years of her life, f*cking hell what an horror to hear from the person you love that they’re going to leave because you cannot follow through. It’s a real risk she takes it that way, and if her reflex is to withdraw, there is a huge risk she’ll withdraw even more. I might be of an unpopular opinion here. None can decide for you.

But perhaps having a therapist that have some insight in trauma as well as managing age and health issues would be better than just a counselor. There is more than just trauma here. There is someone in a bad health ànd probably in physical pain who’s lost hope and isn’t seeing the difference anymore. It’s not a case of someone able-bodied who has to figure themselves out.

Technically, I think ultimatums are useful if the person in front of you has in fact the means to fill the conditions. If they don’t, you can threaten to leave or dance on your head, it just will change nothing at all at best, or worsen it. Because what was left as a motivation won’t even be there anymore. And it’s very difficult to evaluate and discern if they have or not the means to fill the conditions. Also, an ultimatum is useless if you haven’t the means to enforce it. It’s both ways. If at the end you aren’t prepared to just pack your stuff and leave everything there, it’s useless. So that’s what you get to see for yourself and weight all consequences. Understand that this is a turning point with no return. Not hoping to bluff and provoke a reaction. But knowing it’s because it’s your condition and being right with yourself about it.

I’m not feeling you are in a situation where any of this would be efficient.

Have you tried to express the fact you accept her no matter what? Ways to make her feel safe. And gradually, reestablish contact through small things in which she can afford be present.

In my darkest moments, I don’t know if I would have been responsive to someone playing music to me, no matter how I like it. I would understand they want to please me. I would understand nothing can reach me at that point. I would see it from a distance. Try to hold on as much as I can, but the feelings would be too strong, too big, too harsh. So I’d smile faintly and with the impression of crying that quickly sinks in oblivion, I’d pine for the moment I finally can go to sleep and forget it. All I’d be able to think of would be sleep and something as unemotional and comforting as possible. I know that somewhere this is reaching me though but I cannot be and feel at the same time. Just physiologically impossible. At best, I can make you a copy of myself that would answer and enjoy, but I’m simply not there, and hope you don’t notice. So happiness means sadness. So I want to escape it. So I want to disappear. Etc.

Because the stakes are too high. Too many emotions. Too much destabilization.

And I’m only 30 years old. My body functions well. I have things to do. I can hope to improve slowly, and distribute the trauma working time with things that I try to shield from traumaland, so I don’t entirely sink inside of it.

I cannot imagine how I’d feel with heavy mobility problems, health issues and growing age. The impression of disaster of my life if I’ve been drifting away for so long. Many many things I would have to accept as lost and lost forever before even starting to see what’s left. I don’t know if it’s possible to demand this from someone, honestly. I really don’t know. It’s immense. Even for someone who’s ready and willing to face it all. It’s f*cking immense.

I guess all can be done is to try to create small moments of safe presence. Gradually. Very small things. And expect no return. I would understand it seems more than frustrating. That it seems too little, too late. Sometimes something new can suddenly hit. It’s all very hard. I’m sorry for you two. I hope this can find a solution and you two enjoy yourselves, truly.


Yeah, I didn’t expect much from playing for her. I play a lot and most nights it is just a random Spotify mix and I play along with or skip whatever random plays up, last night I played her personal mix and she likes the Jackson Browne Bonnie raitt mix. It’s not like I Sat there all eyebrows knitted and played and sang just me and my guitar. We have been doing this kind of thing for some 40 plus years.
It is hard watching her shut down and it hurts me deeply, but it beats trying to get her to change or get better help. That just leads to raised voices about anything that she decides to divert to until I bail. Just as bad as just bailing preemptively, and that sucks.


That is something you only hear from the sufferers here. There are some shitty people who would victim blame or judge, but I have to wonder if there aren’t some cognitive distortions going on.
I suspect that a lot of the time, you're exactly right. From this side of the fence though, the risk seems intensely real. Like you're putting everything on the line with very little to gain from the risk. I suppose "who shows up on this site" does some sorting on whose reactions we get to see. I would expect the supporters here to be different from the people who just go "Ewww!" and move on. The fear is pretty real, cognitive distortion or not.

@enough , I'm not qualified to diagnose anything, but from what you're saying it sounds like a lot of depression going on. She's got plenty to be depressed ABOUT, but it sounds like she's giving up and that's pretty sad. And maybe not necessary? Have you got any idea....I don't know.... what she thinks would help? Does she have hopes and dreams? Goals? What would SHE like the rest of your lives to be like? Does she think she has a choice or any say over that? Wanting to help and not being able to has to be hard!

I think @NoWhereKnowWhere is right about not have to discuss the rape in couples therapy. The fact that it happened is relevant, as are the other medical issues, but the details probably aren't important. What couples therapy would be about is more "this is where we're at, where do we want to go and how do we get there?". (My T has never "made" me go over "exactly what happened" either. Unless I want to. Which I generally don't. He says there's a fine line between that being useful and it being retraumatizing and he prefers to avoid retraumatizing. We spend a lot more time and effort on where things are now and where to go from here, with enough of "how did I get here?" to help it al make sense.)


I would expect the supporters here to be different from the people who just go "Ewww!" and move on.

I would argue that those people aren’t real supporters then.

I do get that the fear is real to sufferers. “You” (collective supporter you) cannot let your sufferer’s fear rule your life though.

You need to adjust your thinking if you’re trying to be a “supporter.” I see a lot of sufferer input here, and that’s great, but being a supporter is a whole different game. Call us cruel or whatever, but being a supporter is not romance and flowers all the time. It’s work.

Boundaries are not ultimatums. You need them or you get sucked in.

You cannot help or fix your partner’s mental health issues. You are not responsible for them. You can empathize and support, but you cannot help or fix.

Your partner is not going to trust you, and you have to decide how long that can play out before you resent it. You can’t do anything to earn that trust except wait it out, and then they’ll still snatch that trust back periodically.

You need to take care of your own mental health and decide how much you can realistically handle.

Everybody accuses us of telling them to leave their partner. That’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying that sacrificing yourself for somebody’s mental health issues isn’t a loving act, and that you have to be realistic. You cannot control anything but yourself.

You can love her, be patient with her, support and encourage her to seek help, but you have to accept this may be as good as it get, or it may get worse. Then take a long realistic look at that.


You can love her, be patient with her, support and encourage her to seek help, but you have to accept this may be as good as it get, or it may get worse. Then take a long realistic look at that.

And that answer comes back to me as "the road I have chosen'.
There have been so many times that I should have left her, but that ship sailed away when we had a family together and I was going to be the parent I wish I had. Still do, and still will.
There were so many times I coulda shoulda quit my job, my sobriety, and her, but just look at all the neat stuff I got by harnessing my creative abilities toward a solid paycheck rather than a life of feast/famine enterpreneurship or artistic mobility.
After we were married I settled in for the long haul and was determined to finish an education and raise a family. Turned out I was pretty much hired right off the campus and away I went, to the long tunnel of a 35 year career and successful kids with both parents. After all this time, yeah, I could leave again. but I don't see an upside other than a new beginning that might have enough time to become a new life, but I doubt it. I can't see myself in that light. Quit -divorce-leave just isn't an option and I doubt I could pull off just one of those without the others to support each other. Why work if it isn't for her/us? why leave if it means I will need cash to support two house holds? there just isn't a combination that works and besides, I feel awful to even think that way.
The long hard look has been taken, the supporters here are not the first people I have asked for advice, and it looks like there are two camps and I am hoping someone from the "patience and hope" camp will give me an "AH HA" moment. I feel you all trying and I appreciate it very much. Just that alone makes me feel a little better, I am getting second opinions and people care enough to type them out for me. (dammit, I said the HOPE word) This is hard and I can take it, I am even leaning in with my chin when that word comes up. Give me the hard answers, I am sufficiently prepared now.


You need to take care of your own mental health and decide how much you can realistically handle.
Not to discredit what you are saying at all, it echoes in my head and is harsh light of day true and proven, we all need to "take care of our own mental health and decide how much you can realistically handle". Thats everyone, all of us. Anyone that needs help with that is just that- in need of help.
I am here, alive, and able to get the fork in my mouth most of the time, buy deoderant and not run in traffic, I got this far, I think I can reallistically handle this :)


Thinking about the times my partner has really helped me help myself. It’s been by being firm expressing the way my behaviour has been negatively affecting them and myself and setting a boundary. Sometimes I need a sharp jolt of reality to stop feeling sorry for myself and get my shit together. I’m just really sorry my partner has to be burdened with it.
And I agree, after all I have learned in life I know for sure that if you allow unwanted behavior you get more of it- but what to do about it then? The branch has grown, the window has been shattered, but hey- we have apples in the kitchen! Too late to prune that branch i guess.
I wonder often if my efforts to enforce boundaries are just being seen as being too controlling. She has never allowed anyone, especially me, to enforce any rule on her, even ones she set up herself.
I will keep my mouth shut when I hear lies, I know I will only hear more, and even the honesty or else boundary gets me a progression to an inevitable retreat. I am not going to follow a lie with an escalation.
So it goes. Too late for boundaries, unless the reality is that I will leave and never come back, aaaaand that isn't going to happen, and her counselor probably shares that idea with her regularly, it pays for the dogfood after all.
But, in another reality, the boundary is truly an act of kindness for a prerson that knows no bounds. It just isn't that way in this reality


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.
Have you guys talked about maybe you joining in her counseling sessions at times (maybe not every session as I'm sure she needs her private sessions too) but my therapist has been open to people (was my dad) joining into my session at times to help us work through some stuff. Maybe you could join in her counseling sessions every now and then to do a bit of couples counseling. That way, she doesn't have to re-explain things to a new counselor. Just a thought.


Maybe you could join in her counseling sessions every now and then to do a bit of couples counseling. That way, she doesn't have to re-explain things to a new counselor. Just a thought.
Another avenue to a better place is blocked! Her counselor was hired to be our marriage counselor but after a few visits, I decided she was a quack and left, graciously, with the intent that I could come back at any time. I don't. I won't, and besides, now I have been told I can't. My wife went back, drank the quack kool aid and now I am persona non grata in that office.

She was preaching radical acceptance to me and patience with the poor PTSD sufferer to my wife (pre rape).

I get radical acceptance, it only makes sense with things you cannot even marginally alter. It is a great tool to remind you not to curse the gods when it rains, you are still wet, just pissed and tired from cursing the gods. it works for terminal illness, loss of a loved one, incarceration, lots of stuff.

All I wanted at the time was to get my wife to carry her phone with her because I worried she might fall and not be able to get up. Worse, she might take two (or more) doses of the wrong meds and put herself in risk of coma/death with no contact through her phone available to me or her concerned co-workers (many many thanks to them!). This had happened, followed by my driving home and finding her fallen out of bed and pretty much gone, I couldn't even get her to squeeze my fingers for a stroke check, she was incoherent and going from v to p on the AVPU (alert, reactive to verbal stimuli, reactive to pain, unresponsive). I called 911, my old first responder buddies gave her Narcan and away she went to the hospital. Still cant get her to carry, much less use the tools available to her on her phone. That was all I wanted at that time, just for her to listen to reason and carry the phone (and live to see a better tomorrow, but we never got that far, she was a quack, remember?)

She does better now, I finally got her to grock the results of her being on the ground, dogs loose in the yard, uniformed officers and lights and sirens showing up and her being unable to get anyone to wait long enough to corral the dogs, if it was even possible at that point.

but I digress. Nope, I cant join her and would probably insist on it being another counselor for more reasons than just the introductory one I shared. The reasons I won't go to this person are many and well based in fact. She is a bad counselor that has seen her practice be removed from two offices and now dwindle on her own, sitting at home refusing to see anyone except zoomers or meet at the dog park-bring your puppies!

I can't accuse her of keeping the silt stirred up because that isn't fact based, I don't know that for sure and couldn't possibly. I strongly suspect that she cares not one bit for my wifes health but sure likes the money we send her (copays, thank you health insurance). Plenty of factual evidence that she is beyond bad, but not enough to sue her for it or I might consider that, for the well being of her dwindling clientel if for no other reason. I might even enjoy it, but I digress once again. It would not be a path to a better situation for my wife, probably just the opposite.

But, thanks. we keep trying.