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.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
I am her husband, clinging to the last of my patience and the remaining shreds of my tolerance. I took vowes, I stand by all of them I ever made and all the oaths I ever took, to my last breath. It definitely sucks but I am still hanging in there.
If she thinks of me as an offender than what difference would anything else she thinks matter at all? I guess maybe I don’t get the question @gumshoe
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
Think I am an offender? Wow, no, if she did would I be trying to make our marriage work?
I am offended by the question and if the answer was anything but an emphatic no I wouldn’t have any hope for this marriage. Maybe the question should be: @gumshoe do you think I am an offender?
 

Friday

Moderator
I am offended by the question
Transference & being triggered (both versions of thinking of you as an offender), lashing out at you, distancing from you, not trusting you, recoiling from you, blaming you for their reactions, etc.… is incrediably common with both PTSD & rape victims who don’t have PTSD.

It’s not about you being a rapist, it’s about her treating you as if you were a rapist. Directing hurt, anger, fear at you… instead of where it belongs.

The paradoxically equally common thing is trusting you sooooo much, that you and up being the designated asshole / the person who is safe to be mad AT, and around, and ignore, and just generally treat badly… whilst everyone else gets them on the best-behavior.

It’s one of the more difficult things about supporting someone with victim-trauma… being treated as if you are not you yourself, with years and decades of lives spent together, & trust well earned, & character firmly established… but as if you’re a stranger, or monster, or both.
 
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gumshoe

Learning
Apologies, I asked in sincerity. It's what happened to me. I was baffled until I found out why she select me.
Without voice communication, hearing, you lose inflexion and intonation... crucial sounds like how easy it is to hear what sounds legitimate to your ears. Not to mention no body language observed which communicates 80% of the connection.
Again, my humble apologies.

Transference & being triggered (both versions of thinking of you as an offender), lashing out at you, distancing from you, not trusting you, recoiling from you, blaming you for their reactions, etc.… is incrediably common with both PTSD & rape victims who don’t have PTSD.

It’s not about you being a rapist, it’s about her treating you as if you were a rapist. Directing hurt, anger, fear at you… instead of where it belongs.

The paradoxically equally common thing is trusting you sooooo much, that you and up being the designated asshole / the person who is safe to be mad AT, and around, and ignore, and just generally treat badly… whilst everyone else gets them on the best-behavior.

It’s one of the more difficult things about supporting someone with victim-trauma… being treated as if you are not you yourself, with years and decades of lives spent together, & trust well earned, & character firmly established… but as if you’re a stranger, or monster, or both.
You just described my life...

You just described my life...
If you rule THAT out...be thankful
 

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!
 
I'm glad you posted this question, @enough. I'm going to try to answer it not as a sufferer but as a once-upon-a-time supporter, although my thoughts as a survivor will necessarily break through - because I was the main and usually only supporter of my rape survivor ex-wife, who eventually passed on the favor and physically, emotionally, and sexually abused me.

At the time I was her supporter, back in the 1990s, the only materials available on this topic were the Courage to Heal and Allies in Healing books, which for us were the go-tos. Both of these books stress that it is the male partner's job to unconditionally support his wife/girlfriend as she heals.

Unconditional. Hopefully you see an immediate red flag there. Well, I didn't. And when she accused me of raping her, it set up the conditions for my own sexual abuse at her hands. I thought I was doing everything the way I was supposed to by letting her heal in her own way, which for her meant making me her scapegoat.

(@gumshoe, hopefully you can see here that there MUST be a hard boundary for the supporting partner around the suffering partner accusing him of sexual abuse/assault. Yes, I said "him" here on purpose.)

Nowadays most resources will explain that there needs to be two equal partners in a relationship, and unconditional acceptance of one partner's mental and emotional instability (and all of the issues that come with that) is really not a good idea. Sacrifice and putting the other partner first are fine - IF it's temporary, and IF your partner is just as likely to do so for you as well. Otherwise maybe it's less of a relationship and more trauma bonding.

@enough, it doesn't necessarily sound like you feel like an equal partner in your relationship. That's a big deal. No one but you can decide what to do about it. If I could do it over, I would have divorced my ex so fast immediately after her accusations that her head would have spun. But in the absence of such a huge red flag, I can't say what I would have done otherwise. I hope I would have avoided a life of misery, but honestly? I don't think I would have.
 
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enough

MyPTSD Pro
Okay, metaphorically, I may be a stand in for the rapist. I am a sworn reporter and always will be, even the mention of my being considered an abuser makes my hackles get all bunched up and in a wad.
There is some validity to it stated that way. Yes, she became very irritable and I seemed to catch it all no matter what was going on. I still do and she still is, like standing on her own two feet and being righteously pissed is her self therapy, even though pissed is far from a righteous emotion at the time. It seems to be the end of most days, the part no one sees but me.
Her therapist even points to me as a place to steer her anger, from what I hear. My therapists want me to give them her name, we all think she is a poor therapist and they are more or less sworn reporters also.
I feel like I am 3, maybe 4 or 5 totally ridiculous arguments from clothes truck gone most of the time now, living my life and doing my job thankful only that I am not in court facing a divorce lawyer, not yet.
That’s how I lose everything because I will quite simply just lose the will to fight and that’s the last thing I seem to have left here.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
Yeah, I get that, for sure. I can be pissed at the world and hard to be around generally, but if you want to talk about why when I am in that state, you risk that it will soon be at you specifically that I am angry. Best just let me go mutter under my breath with tool in my hand and a job in my face.
Not sure what she needs when she is using me to practice her anger on, maybe just getting tired of it and leaving isn’t a good choice anymore?
She definitely needs a better counselor to get her pointed at targets that matter, like her own need for growth beyond the state of just having been raped and pissed as hell, some 5 years down the road.
But, I am still capable of feeling panic like I just woke up in my parents basement at 12 years old and I have had almost 50 years of waking up someplace else to get past that panic.
 

Friday

Moderator
That’s what sufferers tend to do… they lash out and project. We’re the closest target.
Too true. There’s a lot of straight up PTSD assholery

There’s also trauma specific trending.

Like not handling other people’s totally normal/ healthy/ rational/ appropriate anger? Can be a straight up PTSD thing; not being able to handle one’s own emotions = no way in hell they can handle anyone else’s… and cue any of several various meltdowns.

Or it can be “seeing” it (normal/healthy/rational/appropriate anger) through a trauma lens, mixing up past & present, and (feeling totally justified in) responding in kind.

Vets - Insubordination & disrespect that’s going to get people killed.
Abuse Victims - Abuse! By an… ABUSER!!! Abuser! Abusing meeee.
1st Response - EDP. Emotions OFF. Trust OFF. Responsibility ON.
Et Cetera - Etc. Etc. Etc. 😉

So the way someone projects & lashes out? Changes with different trauma histories. Creating different -but highly predictable- ongoing problems in the relationship.
 
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