When Childhood Sexual Abuse Affects Marriage Intimacy

Dollar Photo Couple sleeping back to back after an argumentA person who has been sexually abused as a child often thinks that once the abuse stops, he or she can “just get on with life” and everything will be “just fine.” After-all, the past is the past, right? Wrong.

I’ve been there and have done that and fell for the same lie. I thought that the pain was behind me and I’d be fine. But I wasn’t. And neither was our marriage, because my “past” affected it, or I should say it “infected” it greatly.

I thought that marrying a man who was gentle and kind would lead to a healthy sex life together and my past would be “my past.” But again I was wrong. It’s not that my husband Steve did everything right to help me deal with things properly. He said and did things in his frustration that sometimes complicated matters all the more. But that was not his intent to hurt me further, it just happened and I didn’t handle matters very well at all, and made matters all the worse because of my inability to know how to best work through my issues.

Like many others who have suffered sexual trauma at the hands of someone who took advantage of a child, I found that eventually the past had to be dealt with. I couldn’t just put it on a “shelf” away from the forefront of my mind and count on it staying there any longer. Eventually memories came out to haunt me when I least expected it —especially during intimate times with my husband.

And even though my husband was and is nothing like either of my abusers, somehow I ended up punishing him for the original pain that he did not afflict upon me. As the memories kept poisoning my mind and our love-making experiences, eventually my husband also became a victim of my past sexual abuse, as I kept pushing him away more and more until I couldn’t even be intimate with him at all.

Yes, Steve understood why I acted as I did (at least he said he did, and I believe him), but it didn’t erase the fact that he wanted to be close to me and yet I couldn’t handle any type of sexual closeness. It was just too painful of a reminder of the hurt I had experienced in my past. So, in essence, my past abuse continued haunting me, as well as my husband.

Something that Dr Archibald Hart said in a past Focus on the Family broadcast rang true in my life and is probably applicable to most people who need to deal with childhood sexual abuse. He said,

“It is understandable that you would continue to struggle with the abuse you went through as a child. Our emotions are so intense when we are young that our wounds and injuries often stay with us for a lifetime. The pain is immeasurably worse when the one who wronged us was a parent or a parent surrogate. Nevertheless, the bitterness you feel today is hurting you. It will continue to haunt you unless you can come to terms with it.”

And that is what I eventually knew I needed to do. It wasn’t until a number of years into our marriage that the Lord started to impress upon me that I had “unfinished business” to work on, in dealing with what had happened to me. That’s when I first started the painful process of praying and reaching out to find the help I needed to settle what had happened to me and begin the process of healing not only my mind, but my love life with my dear husband.

God helped me to come to the same conclusion as a statement that Dr Hart made:

“Your [abuser] has stolen your childhood. Don’t let him rob your peace of mind as an adult.”

It had for me. And if you’re experiencing this as well, I plead with you to please, please, please reach out for the help you need to properly deal with all that happened to you —whether you were a young child or an older one when you were originally victimized.

I eventually got to the point where I pleaded with God to either help me stop the nightmares and flashbacks I was experiencing or help me to die. I couldn’t take it any longer. God spoke to me in a way that made Himself real to me and let me know that if I was serious, the road would be tough and it would be long, but that I would get to the point of reaching the healing I desperately needed, if I was willing. I was and I’m so glad I said, “yes” to God in this.

I won’t lie and say that it was an easy journey. It was very, very painful. And it took a number of years to get through. Yet, even when I was reaching out for help, I never truly thought I would be able to get to the place where I would be completely healthy and whole in dealing with the sexual part of my life and the memories that haunted me for so many years. I was willing for any relief that I could get.

And yet, I can honestly give testimony that God has helped me to do an amazing work, and my past is no longer being dragged around in my life. I am healed and I am whole. And my husband and I have an amazing connection in every way in or lives together.

I encourage you that if you are being haunted by your past, DEAL WITH IT. Make it your mission NOT to allow your own mind and your marriage carry the burden of this horrible emotional baggage. Persevere and be tenacious in opening every door you need to, in order to get to a place where your past no longer steals joy and peace from your present and future life.

You will probably need help. Your spouse will eventually need to be a part of the healing process. But most husbands and wives do not know how to unpack such delicate and yet powerful emotions without professional help. Some do, but not many.

If you reach out for help though, be careful. Don’t trust just anyone to help you deal with this type of problem. Not all friends, family members and counselors are “marriage-friendly” and many can actually hurt you and your marriage in the process more than help it. That’s what recent studies are showing.

I’m all for good counsel, but make sure it’s truly the type of counsel and counseling you need. We have several articles posted within the “Marriage Counseling” Topic that I recommend you read so you have a better grasp on this whole thing. And if you need help finding a “Marriage-friendly” counselor, you can look into the “Links” part of that topic to see if you can locate the one who can best help you.

Also, I found a two articles posted on the Internet that might help you in your journey, and your husband’s journey to healing. I bring up both you and your husband because essentially, you both became victims when you were sexually abused. You received it first-hand, and your husband has been receiving the repercussions —both of you innocent (you didn’t ask for it), and both of you have had your lives changed because of it.

This first article is written by Paul Byerly, posted on The-generous-husband.com web site where he explains how he not only tried to help his wife Lori heal from her past abuse, which she was willing to do, but he owned up to his own “stuff.” In other words, he saw that he had some things from his past that contributed to the problem, as well. So they BOTH made it their mission to work on their own issues. As a result, they have a very passionate, loving, and forgiving marital sex life together. I encourage you to read:

IT’S NOT ALL HER —OR ALL YOU

— ALSO —

Below is a link to the Preachitteachit.org web site where, Pastor Roger Barrier answers the following question:

HOW DO I COPE IF I’VE BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED?

This article was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International

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173 responses to “When Childhood Sexual Abuse Affects Marriage Intimacy

  1. (US)  These comments are so helpful to me. Thank you for everyone who has shared! I’m 29 and have been married for about 7 months. My husband and I constantly fight, and a lot of it has to do with sex. I was molested by my step-grandfather from the time I was 10 to 13. It really messed me up. The older I get, the more I see just how much it has affected me. I never had a problem with sex until I got married. I’m not sure why it’s happening now.

    I love my husband and he is a good guy. I have no sexual desire or interest at all. He, on the other hand, wants to have sex daily or even more. He asks me every time we see each other. About ten times a day. I dread it. I even try to avoid him in our own home. When he touches me, especially my breasts, I feel disgusting, dirty, empty, ashamed, etc. I don’t know why, but he reminds me of my abuser. When he breathes on me or kisses me, it makes me want to vomit. I try to avoid having sex at all costs, but he basically harasses me until I just give in to get it over with for the day. I hate it so much! I feel like a piece of meat, like I’m worthless. The way he is so aggressive about getting sex, following me around the house, asking me over and over again for it. It drives me crazy!

    I feel anxious all the time when he’s home. I feel like I can’t ever relax. I feel like I’m that young girl again, trying my best to avoid my abuser so I don’t have to be touched. I even avoid wearing tight or revealing clothing in front of my husband. I find him gross because he makes me have sex and I don’t want to. I’d be satisfied to never have sex at all. Of course, that won’t work for him. I feel bad for him. But I’ve explained all of this to him, and he isn’t understanding at all. He says “well, what am I supposed to do?” I just end up giving in, but the whole time I am totally disgusted. I feel like I’m being molested all over again. He won’t even go for 3 days without bothering me about sex, even after I specifically tell him I’m having a hard time with it. And even if I do give in to make him happy, I ask him not to touch my breasts and he’ll still do it.

    Many times, I have woken up in the morning to him trying to put his penis in me, or rubbing my vagina. Even after I tell him no, he will try it again 2 minutes later. I feel like I’m being raped by my own husband? Is this wrong of him? Is that considered rape? He disregards me saying no and continues to try to have sex with me. This has happened so many times. Him doing those things makes me really angry. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Can anyone give me an opinion here please? Thank you!

    1. (USA)  Angela, I in no way can speak from the point of view of a person who’s been abused, but rather as the husband of a wife who was abused as a very young girl. (See the previous 3 posts.)

      My wife, and I are 30, and have been together, and intimate since we were 13. She first told me about the fact that she had been abused at 15 the evening after she saw her abuser in her neighborhood, and though that day she had opened the door a little bit in that wall she had put up when she had first been abused at 6 years old it took us until earlier this evening to finally demolish that wall. However we’ll get back to that in just a few minutes first let us tackle what you are dealing with in the here, and now.

      It sounds like you’ve told him about your abuse so really he should at the very least try to not bother you as often. Some would say not at all, but men see intimacy as a means to showing how much they love their wife. So if you don’t want it then he feels as though he’s failed you as your husband. I will admit that my wife has told me on a few occasions that I am guilty of the very thing your husband is doing. However, since telling me that her abuse is the reason why she doesn’t want it as often as she once did, and I began looking into ways to help her conquer her past, I haven’t, and I have sworn not to do that EVER again. From now on stop means STOP, an no means NO!

      Is it rape? I’m not really sure. Legally speaking it depends on the laws in your state (believe it or not there are some states that if a man forces his wife to have sex with him it is perfectly legal under the “submission clause” of marriage), but spiritually speaking, yes, it probably is now that I sit here confronted with, and am thinking about it. Coming back to that “submission clause” If I remember correctly God said in the Bible that the husband and wife should submit themselves (echo THEMSELVES *BOTH*) one to the other. Not just the wife to him, or husband to her, but both to each other.

      Here is how my wife, and I finally broke through the wall my wife had put up 24 years ago at 6 years old, and she finally allowed me completely into her heart after 17 years together, and 14 years of marriage. For the last 2 days I spent hours typing a letter to my wife about our life together, and things I had picked up about how her abuse had actually affected our relationship over the last 17 years. I left it open on the screen for her to read this morning with the screen itself off so when she turned the monitor on there it would be hoping that she would check her emails, or something, see it, and then read it, but she didn’t.

      So this evening when we headed out of state to a store about 45 minutes away from us where she had put a lay away on hold about a month ago I decided this was the best possible time to attack the wall head on since we were alone having left our younger 2 sons home with our 14 year old son, and 12 year old daughter. I started by talking to her about when we first met, and then about OUR first time. Then moving slowly through my prayer for God to send me the woman I should marry, and us running into each other on our bikes, and then her slipping on a concrete pad in the creak, and me catching her, and knowing as I held her, and looked into her eyes that she was the answer to that prayer.

      Then our first time, and the fact that even though I did love her even at that time, my reasons for asking her permission to touch her, and have sex with her at 13 simply weren’t good enough looking back now. I wish I could have known about her abuse at the time, and how that would have at the very least, changed my timing. From what I had read in one of the articles that is linked to in this article, even though I had asked her permission for every step of the process of our first 20 or 30 times she probably didn’t think that she had a choice, and that the reason she had tensed up wasn’t just because it was her first time, but also because she probably felt helpless.

      As the conversation progressed, and we started getting into the details of her sexual abuse by her baby sitter (her father’s best friend), and physical, and verbal abuse by her family. I began to explain to her that though originally I didn’t understand why she had cheated on me during the spring before she told me about her abuse, that after she told me about it I kind of was able to understand better that she didn’t feel she had a choice once. She was alone with those guys, and that even in our first time she probably felt like she was just that helpless little 6 year old girl again every time. This part of the conversation was my healing letting her know how what happened to her affected me as well.

      As she described her pain, and torment at his hands in excruciating detail she finally opened up to me so completely that it seems that we have finally, totally merged like 2 trees that had been planted so close together they grew into one tree. We finally have everything out in the open, and though love making between us is not unheard of by any means (in fact we usually make love at least twice a week) when we got home, and we made love without that emotional wall between us. It was the best we had ever had, and I mean EVER.

      Only time will tell for certain if she, by completely opening up to me, has found that closure she needs. But the look in her eyes has changed so drastically, and she finally seems to understand that the reason why I have been trying to get her to open up about it was because it was making her feel worthless or as you put it, like a piece of meat. However, I wanted her to know that in my eyes she was special, and worth more than ANYTHING I could ever attain.

      I think perhaps it might be helpful to your husband to communicate with another man who has been on the journey he is going to have to start with you with his own wife for many years. If he wants to contact me here, I’d be open to talking. It needs to be in this format, at this time (but he and you can change names and details that would offer the safety you may need for this to be more private, even though this format is public).

      He might be mad at me, and maybe you for suggesting this, or hesitant at first, but if he truly loves you then this boulder is just as much his to bear as it is yours. This is something you’ll need to realize as well, and let him into your heart completely. This means telling him everything so that he knows exactly what you went through, and can truly share your pain. Until you do you’ll have that wall up like my wife did, and it will stop you, and him from finding the peace, and joy that marriage should be.

      I know that we just tore her wall down, but for the most part she has done a very good job trying to keep the wall short to where she’d let me in, but only so far. Like I could see over the wall, and almost reach her heart, but it was until tonight always just out of reach. From what I’ve read in the other comments our connection even before tonight was better than most couples dealing with this. Probably due to how old we were when we got together, and how we’ve grown together.

      One other suggestion I just thought of is that instead of thinking of it as just sex, it might help if you try to retrain your mind to think of it as making love. After all animals have SEX, and what happened to you was SEXual abuse, and you immediately associate SEX, and SEXual abuse, but the word SEX isn’t found ANY WHERE in the words MAKING LOVE. I know that it might sound odd, but often simple little things like word association can play a huge part in how we view things.

      It’s like the vehicle I drive at work, and my fear of heights. I drive a piece of material handling equipment called a stock picker, and it lifts the pallet, and driver up to 30 feet in the air. Now I’m hooked to the truck by a harness, and lanyard, but it took me a while to overcome my fear of the heights I experienced when trying to take product off of the pallets in the storage location racks, and stacking it on the pallet on my truck. It wasn’t until I had trained my mind to view the floor of the truck, and the pallet on the forks of the truck as MY floor that I was able to really improve my driving skills.

      Ask him to do the same. Instead of coming at you saying hey hon, lets go have sex. Maybe he could try asking if you want to make love. That simple change in approach might make all the difference in the world. After all making love is exactly what it really is, since that is what children are, love.

      As I said earlier though, IF he’d like to reach out to me, and commiserate with another man who has gone through this for a long while he can reach me here. I’d be more than happy to “talk” to him. Either way I hope this post has helped you, and him. Sincerely, Dennis

  2. (US)  Dennis- Thank you so much for reading and responding to my post. You gave some great suggestions. It sounds like you have a lot of experience dealing with this situation. I never imagined it would affect my life so deeply. I’m going to show this to my husband and let him read everything. I’m going to ask him if he would like to communicate with you on here. I think it would help him a lot. I appreciate your offer to do that.

    Also, I’m happy to hear about your recent success with your wife. I hope it continues to go well for the two of you. Again thank you, and we’ll be in touch soon! Have a good day!

  3. (USA)  Angela, I’m glad to help in any way I can.

    I’m so glad my wife, and I had that talk last week. I really don’t know how to describe just how greatly things have changed. It’s like that sparkle she had in her eyes when we were younger has finally returned. I think another thing that had added to the wall was that for the last 14 yrs since we had our oldest son, our lives have just been kids and work. We kind of stopped being romantic. So since we work in the same department at work now, and we get off earlier on Fridays that is going to be like our weekly date night. Now we can’t go anywhere since we get off at midnight or so on Fridays, but we can go home, and talk, and be together.

    This Sunday is our 14 year wedding anniversary, so I surprised her this morning with some dancing to some of the love songs that the DJs used to play at the school dances when we were kids. Starting with “On Bended Knee” by Boys II Men. I chose that song not only because we had danced to it when we were younger, but also because it asks “how does a perfect love go wrong”, and “how do we put things back the way they used to be”. It is a very thought provoking song.

    Next was “I swear” also by Boys II Men, and this was just kind of a renewing of our vows, and my commitment to being there for her no matter what. Then I played “I’ll make Love to You” also by Boys II Men. I chose this one because it was THE VERY FIRST song we ever danced to. It has always been our song. So I figured it was best to save it for last.

    Now R&B isn’t usually my thing, but sometimes thinking outside the box really pays off. My wife loved the surprise, and though she kind of laughed, and cried at first it was more from shock than anything else.

    My only problem now, is how am I gonna top this? Hehehe Ah well I’ll cross that bridge later down the road.

  4. (USA)  This is such a hard topic to discuss in our home. My husband of 26 plus years was sexually assaulted when he was young. He informed me of this after our 25th wedding anniversary. I have been madley in love with him almost since the first time I looked him in the eyes! He rocks my world and always has, but we have been 12 years with NO sex and I am struggling more and more with this, as I have began to really realize how this has affected me, us, and our four teenage sons.

    I am in therapy, but he refuses. It is not about living in a sexless relationship. It is about living in a relationship with no validation as to who I am or that I have suffered much pain over the years of not being in on why I am demanded to go without. I am not asking for sex or for sex play, but maybe comments on how nice I look or a thanks for going out of my way. I would love to have him just rub my shoulders or comb my hair. (That is all besides the fact.)

    He is blaming himself for his abuser’s suicide almost 28 years ago, and for the wife of the abuser who later passed away with a great secret she could not tell anyone. (My husband and abusers were closly related).

    I feel for all of these posts; each one is in extreme pain. If you were abused or are the spouse of one who was abused, the pain is real and almost beyond measure!! The tears are so big and painful that only God has a bucket big enough to hold them.

    I do not know what my future holds or how to help him after 26 years but I do know I love him and I am fighting for a way to help him see how bad he needs help. ???

    1. (UNITED STATES)  Nib, I know how hard it can be to get through that wall that an abused spouse puts up to protect themselves. My wife had mostly let me in, and everything seemed to be going good until 12 years ago when our daughter was born. After that for the next 7 or 8 years I was lucky if we made love once a month or two, and then only maybe 2 or 3 times a month for the last 4 years or so. That is until almost 2 weeks ago when we left our youngest 2 sons with our older 2 children so we could go get some last minute Christmas presents off layaway, and had our conversation about our past, and her past (my past is really rather boring before meeting her though we did touch on it a little bit due to her asking me questions).

      What I did to prepare for the conversation was I wrote her a letter, that started with us meeting, and then getting into the subject of our intimacy, and I curved the conversation into her abuse so that she would open up, and tell me everything that had happened to her. Now did I really want to know all the disgusting details of what that creep did to her? No, only a sick sadistic creep would. But I knew that for her to open up to me with that information would help her face the pain, and share it with me so that I could take at least some of it off of her shoulders.

      As we continued talking I got into how the abuse’s effects during our teen years. When she went out with other guys, mainly during the spring before she first told me about the abuse at 15. During that time I was in track, and field trying to lose weight for her, and my parents rushed her out of the house as soon as I got home so I could do my home work. After a while she began to feel she was little more than my little brothers’ baby sitter so she began to hang out with other guys, and when she was hanging out with them she felt obligated since she was alone with them to do what ever they wanted her to do. This was my chance for healing as I opened up to her about my feelings, and how her abuse had already affected me long before she put that thicker wall up.

      After that conversation our love life has taken a HUGE up tick especially this past weekend which was our 14th wedding anniversary. Where as we had only been making love for the last year or so once a week or every week, and a half or so, we’ve made love about 9 times since December 23rd when we had our talk. We’ve made a resolution together to KEEP the walls down between us, because as good as our love making was before somehow since we had our talk, and she finally let me through those walls completely it is almost as though we’ve really become one, and in so doing our love making has become almost magical.

      The main things you REALLY need to do is first write the letter to him, and then make a time when you are alone together, and ease him into it. He wants to entrust you with all that happened to him, but like my wife it has become so much of his identity that he feels that if he lets you in, and shares it with you then he loses some of himself.

  5. (SOUTH AFRICA)  I am a 31 years old. A year ago I was in a taxi accident that turned my whole life upside down. It triggered childhood memories of sexual abuse that I had no knowledge of. I was in denial and could no longer deny what had happened to me. This triggered severe depression and I ended up in a clinic to help me deal with the memories that surfaced.

    I have been married for almost 13 years and am at such a point that my husband cannot come close to me. I can’t deal with the anger and the pain I feel and it’s taken over my life. I had a relapse 7 months ago and ended up in a clinic again. This time the depression was much worse and I had to go for a electroconvulsion therapy. This method is used as a last resort when your body resists the medication.

    The stress has been overwhelming and as also triggered Bipolar disorder. There are times when I don’t eat for days, can’t stop crying and my only escape is sleeping so I don’t have to face the world. I feel like I have robbed my husband and kids of a happy life and sometimes wish I would die so that they don’t have to be dragged through this mess and in the hope that they could start fresh without me.

    1. (USA)  Ilhaam, have you told your husband about what happened to you? You are only 31, and as such you are probably only months older than myself, and my wife since we’ll be 31 in April. Like us you have practically your whole life ahead of you. Don’t let your abuser continue to take you away from your family.

      I know that I’m probably sounding like a broken record by now, but in all honesty the best therapy for you will be to sit down with your husband alone with out your kids around, and tell him. It will be painful, but in the end you’ll have shared the burden of this weight you’ve been carrying around with him.

      As you’ll see if you go look through my posts on the last page or so you’ll see that my wife, and I have been dealing with this together for years. It was only by really being completely open and honest about what happened to her, and how it had affected our lives together that we were able to defeat her past, and she finally seems to have peace about it. There were parts of what her abuser had done to her that she still hadn’t admitted to her self, but by talking to me, and telling me all about it she was finally able to come to terms with it.

      Please think of your husband, and your kids’ love for you, and put those thoughts of death out of your head, and work through this with your husband. I’m sure he’ll be there for you, and help you through it.

  6. (USA)  Thank you so much for your reply! I want so much for my life with my high school sweetheart to make it. I will be praying for a solution and asking God to help me write the letter.

    I am very pleased you and your wife have been making it work out!

  7. (ENGLAND)  I am nearly 40 years old. My dad passed away. It was not long after that I went to see a bereavement counselor only to discover I was abused when i was 5 years old. This turned my life upside down. All these images came out. I am in a relationship where I am going to marry. This has tested us to the limit.

    I was brave enough to go to the police as I was hurting so much I felt all the emotions you could possibly feel. It had ruined my life and in parts it still is. I was so shocked I just could not ever accept it. Even now it hurts. I was told it was suppressed for years. I was told that it was triggered through my father’s death.

    It feels at times, like there is an intruder between me and my partner. I went to counseling for a whole year to work it out but now there are certain things that could be improved. I love my partner. We’re getting married in August but I am starting to realise what has happened to me. Some of it cannot be fixed. I want it to get better than this. I need help. I want my partner back. Can any one help?

  8. (USA)  I feel the pain of everyone who’s posted under this topic. I was sexually abused by a relative when I was 4, until I was 8. I am married today with 2 young children, and absolutely paranoid that someone will abuse them too. I don’t get exactly paralyzed by fear to the point of hiding my kids away, but I am always insisting they stay where I can see them, if we happen to be away from home. At church, I don’t let them out of my sight, there are young boys and young adult men and older men; it doesn’t matter, I can’t help myself, I simply don’t know how I will survive it if my child falls prey to a pervert, and I find out when they are an adult.

    My 2 kids are between the ages I was when I was abused, and I could not formulate what was happening to either my father or my mother. I survived by suppressing what had happened to me between the ages of 8 and 24. The memory of the abuse was triggered back when I saw an old picture of me at 4 years old. I used to see that picture, and I would be extremely sad. Then wham, one day, I saw that picture and it all came rushing back. I am doing OK now, 35 years after I was abused; by God’s grace and only His grace, I was able to forgive my relative.

    However, I would not trust my kids to anyone male. Even though I’ve read that some abusers are women, I just can’t stand my kids playing with a boy or man, where I can’t see them. My husband thinks this is not healthy, that this is paranoia and that I have a big problem. But the truth of the matter is, I would rather live with this paranoia and deliver my kids safe into adulthood, than ever, ever, ever have one of them (especially my sweet little daughter –I have a son and a daughter) tell me when they are in their mid twenties (or whenever) that so and so whom we know very well (because they are members of our church, or because they are relatives) sexually abused them!

    When I was battling the intense hatred and depression from my own abuse, unable to connect with my husband for years (still struggling actually, but doing much much better), I absolutely resented my parents for failing to see that I was being abused; I was so disappointed in them, that they would not know that their little girl was being done these unspeakable things; that this man got away with this for 4 years, without them knowing! I couldn’t tell them, because I was too little, and I don’t know why else; but how could they not see? Not know?

    So, in my current ‘paranoid’ state, I realize that if my parents were absolutely clueless, what makes me think I will know? So, because I suffered from this, I feel that I am going to keep a good eye on my kids. The scariest part is that from when my daughter was a few months old till about a year ago, I obsessed about my husband abusing her. I never said anything to him, but I would not want him to change her diapers, or be alone with her. He did change a few diapers and was alone with both kids (since I wouldn’t express to him that I had this phobia) because I just couldn’t avoid it. The fear that he would be an abuser stemmed from reading stories of daughters sexually abused by their own fathers (when I was going to counseling and was suggested some survivors books to read)!

    That just freaked me out, and suddenly, my husband was no longer this innocent man, in my eyes. I started talking to my kids about inappropriate touch, and impressed on them to tell mommy if anybody, even daddy, or pop, or their uncles, or cousins, touched them in their private parts, or asked them to touch their private parts. I was also fishing to see if my husband was ever inappropriate with my daughter, but she never said anything, and short of asking her point blank if her father had abused her, I had to just let it go at that.

    My husband is a very loving father, but I just don’t know anymore, since reading about fathers abusing their own daughters! My abuser was an uncle, and in a way, that doesn’t seem as loathable as being sexually abused by your own father. I also became very concerned because I know my husband likes to masturbate, and he’s confessed to watching some porn websites before. These things were mostly because of my inability to be intimate, and they didn’t help because I was extremely disappointed in him, plus, the message those practices of his sent me was “I am a sex addict, and if you can’t give it to me, I am going to get it whatever way I can”. So my mind wouldn’t let me be at peace, and it fueled my worry that he could turn to my helpless baby girl just because I couldn’t be intimate with him.

    To this day (we’ve been married 12 years and the kids are under 8 years old) I pray that he never gets perverted that way, and I feel like just coming out and asking him if he’s ever touched our daughter inappropriately, for my peace of mind. But even though the need to know for sure is extremely strong, another part of me is petrified that if it had never crossed his mind, that I would be giving him ideas then, opening a door for Satan to pervert my husband! May God help me resolve this, and find peace and the absolute conviction that He is protecting my children from predators and perverts. May God bless you all, and heal you from this heartbreaking past.

    1. Rachel, I too, feel your pain. I know the fear you are experiencing first hand. I too, was a victim of two relatives who took advantage of me when I was young. No one deserves to have this happen to them. What I’ve learned though is that everyone is a victim in this life in some way or another. Ours is sexual victimization… you and me, and also our husbands. They didn’t do anything (that we know of) to warrant our suspicions or to suffer from the repercussions of what happened to us or the rejection of them at certain times because of past memories and such.

      I’ve learned that even though I never meant to, when I didn’t trust my husband in ways he had shown himself trustworthy and when I didn’t get the help I needed to get to a healthier place emotionally, I gave the abuser more power to ruin my life further in my adult life and hurt my marriage. I finally realized I had to do what it took so I didn’t mistrust all men –especially my husband, who had been long-suffering. I forgave my abusers but would never trust them again. I was eventually able to trust men again and trust and enjoy my husband in ways I hadn’t been able to before I did the hard work of working through my past assaults.

      Rachel, while I understand the importance of protecting our children, sometimes in the process, we can cause more harm than good to them and to those around us. Be wise, be vigilant, but beware of being so protective that you go to extremes. When you allow fear to rule in your life, you make everyone’s life more difficult, including your own. You give the victimization more power.

      And your children can sometimes grow to resent the restrictions you put upon them and can rebel. You can tell them all you want about protecting them, but because they don’t hold your experiences in their own memory banks and emotions (it didn’t happen to them personally) they will just think it’s a “mom thing” and could test their limits all the more because of their maturity level. I’ve seen this happen over and over again.

      I tell you this to help you to see that your fears and cautions could ultimately cause more problems than you had realized. Please, “don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.” (I don’t know who wrote this –I’m thinking God Himself sure initiated it, though.) Please work on your fears. If you have reasons to judge your husband and be suspicious –that’s one thing. But if not, you’re allowing him to be victimized, as well. Not all dads abuse; not all relatives abuse; not all men abuse. Those who are innocent should not be sentenced, as such.

      The Bible says “perfect love casts out fears.” Work with God on your fears and on not being so protective of your children that they may rebel from the restrictiveness they will probably feel. Again, I’m so sorry that you are still suffering the effects of what was done to you. I hope you are able to break free from that which is restricting you in so many ways. You deserve it. May God show you favor and help you and bless you.

  9. (US)  Hey, I don’t know what to do. I recently started having flashbacks after getting married.

    Have been married going on two years now and my husband is still unable to get it in. I don’t know what is happening. I always wonder, is something wrong with me. Since we got married, I have been afraid for my husband to go any further than kissing and caressing. However when it came to getting sexual I would start to tremble uncontrollably and breathe hard. I felt like I was being suffocated by my husband. This went on for two months thus making it difficult for us to have sex or relate to each other.

    We spoke to our pastor and his wife about it and they were good about talking and helping us through it, even though they couldn’t understand why my husband still can’t get it (penis) in. Then three months afterwards I started having the flashbacks and remembered that my brother had molested me during my teens years (6 years exactly). Understanding it now, he is the same size of my husband and whenever my husband would touch me in ways that I remember my brother touching me, a deep fear and tension would come over me.

    I know that it is the plan of the enemy to make me feel like God has left me and that I should leave my husband because I am not pleasing him. After six months of going through this, we sought a professional counsellor who helped me to get rid of the fear to some extent (when it comes to my husband touching me and trying to make love); but now the penis is simply not going in, it reaches a certain point and then seems like it is hitting a wall that is causing excruciating pain.

    My Pastor and his wife are the only friends that we had and trusted with telling them what was happening. But what hurts the most is that now my Pastor is telling my husband to leave me because I am not performing my wifely duties -and God knows that I am, but it is just not going in. I have prayed continuously, we have tried over and over again and the same result happens. I feel alone and that I can’t trust anyone. I am not sure if it still has to do with the molestation when i was younger or not; but like I said, I am no longer afraid for him to touch me. Even though I am trying to stay positive with this it hurts. I am a leader at the church and hearing that makes me want to resign. The Pastor doesn’t understand, but God does. God help me!

    1. (USA)  Shan, Your problem now is probably more along the lines of you not being “ready” enough for him to enter. Try some intimate lubricants, or ask your husband to “eat from your garden” (I think that’s how it was written in Song of Solomon). Unless your husband is one REALLY BIG dude that should help your problem.

      1. (US)  Thanks for replying, however he has been ‘eating from the garden’ and we have been using the lubrication but it is still not working. Thanks anyway!

    2. (USA) This disorder is a physical one; it is called vaginismus and you need to see a gynecologist who will give you physical therapy for it. You could also get Botox injections there for your vaginismus. Go to vaginismus md dot com. You are not in control of those muscles creating the wall; it is an involuntary response, just like your heart beating.

  10. (USA)  My wife just separated from me at a time when we were already being tested. 1 year ago, she attempted to take her life after a heated argument. There was drinking involved, and we had both come from rough upbringings. I was an only child from a broken family, with an alcoholic mother who grew up in a boarding school in Canada, and a father who never knew his dad, and his mother was murdered when he was only 8 years old. To say the least, they had no idea how to raise me. I grew up with my Dad mostly. Although he was physically abusive, he was the less of two evils as my step father would punish me by squeezing my testicles, or aggressively bathing me. In the future I would figure out this was sexual abuse.

    I met her while working at a mortgage company in San Diego, and became best friends quickly. Her troubled past, failed relationships, disconnect with general population, eating disorder, and her lack of understanding of addiction made me feel that I could fix her since I was recently sober and just got off the streets. We had a passionate beginning that was quickly clouded by control and insecurity. Less then 1 year after we started out, we had already had one separation where she slept with her ex lover. I had no idea for at least 2 years after this happened. She did not want to chance losing me, after all, we just had our son Keith, and she needed me to be a dad.

    Things were never okay. Life was a dance on eggshells that never would stop. Alcohol had fueled the flames, and quickly she became physically abusive. I lied to my co-workers saying that I got into a fight or jumped. Never did I let on that this was happening at home.

    I took long breaks to try to calm her down during postpartum. I had no idea she was taking shots of whiskey all day. I was reprimanded at my job for these calls, yet I was too afraid to turn my phone off. What kind of man would I be to ignore her or have my fiancé prosecuted for domestic violence? Where would I go with my 8 month old son? We were living with her mother who was stricken with grief by the very same person who did this damage to my wife! We were there to help her through the struggle of burying her husband… but at what cost? We finally got out after I found another steady job with Wells Fargo as a Jr Underwriter.

    Things were okay for a minute, but the cycle of need cost me my job again. After so many physical situations, it only takes so many knocks before someone knocks back… I was arrested for Domestic Violence this time. Since she had a record, the charges were dropped. And CPS entered our life. We never finished the therapy they suggested and went on with life. The collapse of the mortgage and real estate markets destroyed my career. I was not in sales, I was a paper pusher who worked his way up from $8 /hr to + $20 /hr. I had no income and nothing to do with my time. I found various PC repair jobs or Graphics gigs to get us a few bucks, but soon we would turn to her Mom (perp #2) to help keep us afloat. Helen (Mom/Perp #2) never liked me, I’m not Filipino or anything close; I’m white. From the beginning she has tried to separate us, but we would always persevere any test.

    This time she has gone off with the same person who failed to protect her. Recently she told me that her mom had a ‘feeling’ something happened when she was brought to her kitchen by my wife’s screams while perp#1 (dad) was there. I’m told she needs to do this to find out if she really loves me or if it’s just her codependency.

    But after 7 years of being inseparable, and 1 year of matrimony, why now? I’m not perfect, but I feel she’s perfect for me. I can understand her where others have failed, and tolerate the lashing outs, when no one else would understand. Is this doomed from the start, or is there a chance 2 people who can heal together?

  11. (USA)  Kevin, If I am reading your next to last paragraph correctly then your wife was also sexually abused. So both of you are victims of abuse. Then you can understand her needs even better than I was able to when I started my journey to help my wife deal with her sexual abuse by her babysitter, and one of her mom’s boy friends, and the physical abuse at the hands of her father. I can tell you however, from my own experience, that in your co-recovery it is togetherness rather than separation that the 2 of you that you need now more than ever.

    Call her, and tell her that you want to go out, and talk. Nothing more than just talk. It is very important that you not try to force any other part of your relationship with her until you fix this part together.

    To guide your conversation with her write her a letter. Whether she reads it, or not isn’t the point. My wife never read the one I wrote for her, at least not as far as I know anyway. As you’re writing the letter it allows you to get your thoughts together in a coherent train of thought.

    Start from the beginning even though it means going over painful past events. Go over your relationship with her pointing out the events where the abuse had affected your relationship. Include the infidelity you mentioned in your post, which was probably at least partly caused by the abuse she suffered as a child, just as my wife’s infidelity was when we were teens. Be sure to let her know that especially since you’ve made that connection, you forgive her for it.

    Now as for her physical abuse to you. I must say that it also more likely than not, is connected to her child abuse. However, it cannot be allowed to remain a part of your marriage, if it is to survive, nor can the alcohol. That poisonous concoction should never have been created in any form. It, as Shakespeare wrote, increases the desire yet decreases the performance, and also removes the internal moral compasses we possess.

    When my wife, and I were 21 she brought that crap into our home, and it was only when our then 5 year old son opened a bottle of it thinking it was fruit juice that she realized that it had to stop right then, and there.

    I can see that your love for your wife is like my own for my wife, a deep love that cannot even begin to be explained. So if you are willing to do the hard work, then you and your wife will be able to work through this. However, she’ll need to want it as well. If you read over my past posts starting around the middle of page 3 you’ll see what I did to help my wife, and hopefully it’ll help you with your wife.

    Two other things I can suggest are– A: if you, and your wife get back together then you need to go out on a date once in a while. Just because you’re married it doesn’t mean that the courtship should be over. If anything, you need to keep the courtship going even stronger to keep in touch.

    And B: which I’m sure will be more difficult, make peace with her mother. She might not like that you aren’t Philippino, but you need to make it clear to her that you love her daughter with all your heart, and won’t let anyone, or anything hurt her ever again. Let her know that you think of her as family as well, and that if she needs any help around her house you’d be more than happy to help her.

    My wife’s grandmother didn’t like me when we were 15, and understandably so, since I got her 15 yr old granddaughter pregnant. But after a few years of her seeing that A: I wasn’t going anywhere, and B: that I was willing to help her even after the cold shoulder she gave me she came around, things got better.

    Just remember to pray about how to word your conversation with your wife, and be ready to block, just in case she throws a punch when you suggest getting rid of the alcohol. However, when she punches, or slaps don’t hit back, but rather catch her arms gently as she tries to hit you, and kiss her. Tell her that you love her, and that you aren’t her father, and won’t hurt her.

  12. (ARUBA)  My case is so unique because I am a woman that was raped by a woman- that happens to be my own cousin! It’s hard to find others that have been raped by the same gender! I am married and there is NOT a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened to me 12 years ago. It has really affected my marriage because even though my husband is a guy, certain positions remind me of her.

    I’m so sick and tired of thinking about it everyday. It has been haunting me for years and I don’t know how to get help. I feel like a worthless piece of crap. I don’t know why God has cursed me with this torment.

  13. (INDIA)  I had a close friend who was mentally disturbed. One day I asked her what happened. She told me everything with tears. When she was a child her brother intimidated her into having sex. She was not able to tell to her parents. Then her cousin, then one old man. And the age of 15, her lover. He cheated on her. Then she married another person. But she was feeling guilty too while seeing her husband because he was a very nice person.

    Day by day, her past years started killing her so that she started cheating on her husband. As a friend I can just compromise her. She used to think, let me tell my husband. But she was afraid for her life. She doesn’t want to live without her husband. She loves him a lot. But a lost she dead. But her stories are still in my heart. I am really upset when I think about that.

  14. (MEX)  Hi. This is very painful for everybody. I am with a survivor. He is so depressed and bitter that it doesn’t matter how much I try he will never understand I love him. He is beginning to be verbally mean. I take care of every aspect not to hurt him. Sexually, he is dysfunctional. I think it is ME now who I must take care of. I’m worn out and have been getting depressed. I told him to go to therapy. He say yes, but does nothing. I think it is time to let him go. Can you give me some advice? Thanks.

    1. (U.S.A.)  Lisa, Probably the worst thing you can do is leave him. He needs someone to help share this burden with, even if he doesn’t know it. What I did to help my wife is that we talked in great length about our relationship, and the affects that her abuse had on our relationship. To prepare for the talk I wrote her a letter, which allowed me to gather my thoughts.

      If you’d like more detail check back on page 4, and you’ll see how I handled this same kind of situation w/ my wife, and how that talk has led into the happiest, and most loving we’ve been in years, maybe ever. Seriously we have never been as close as we are right now, not even when we were dating as teenagers. When she notices me checking her out at work she smiles, and blushes like a school girl. The look in her eyes have changed she used to have a really distant look, and now I see the love in her eyes.

      1. (U.S.A.)  Hey Dennis, You give some really positive hope, my friend. I’d like to commend you on your hard work, and never giving up. I wish you two a lifetime of love. God bless, AJ

    2. (U.S.A.)  Choose what is best for both of you in the long run. If you are a patient woman, pursuade him to seek therapy, insist on it, or it is the last of your marriage. He needs to know that you’ve still got his back, even though it’s exhausting, and there will still be obstacles. He’ll thank you for it in the end.

      If you truly love him, than it’ll be worth it. You sound like a good woman, please don’t ruin that by cheating on him, two wrongs don’t make it right. He’ll respect you more it you have the guts to tell it to him in his face that you two are done. Explain that you’ve asked him to seek help, not just for the sake of your marriage, but for his own sake. This isn’t about you, it’s totally about him. Let him know that if he needs a friend, you will be there if he needs you to be. I wish you the best of luck, and may God be by your side.

  15. (USA)  My wife has asked me to divorce her. I still love her. We never took the time to seek therapy for her childhood sexual abuse/rapes. She doesn’t want to be with me, so I’ve asked her to respect my last wishes, and seek true professional help. She self sabotaged her last marriage, and all this is a pattern I recognized, just way too late. I am really sad that weren’t going to be with each other, but I still care for her dearly. So I’m trying to be one of her best friends, and supportive of her journey to healing her pain. As a man I feel if something is broke you fix it.

    In this case I know she needs me more than ever. We have kids, and this divorce will never leave them the same. I promise to treat her gently, and with kindness forever. This is how love sacrifices for another’s joy. No matter how long it takes, I plan to be a true friend until the end.

    I really wish she gains true self worth, and liberates herself from these chains of pain. If you’re out there baby, I’ll always love you.

    1. (U.S.A.)  Sorry about this brother, I’m going through a similiar situation, where my wife has been tormented by a monster for her last 20 years. The S.O.B. has made her such a mess, I’m left with unfair pieces, like our kids lives, a divorce, and issues that will continue to the next generation.

      I’m so sad for her, but her PTSD has allowed her to simply cut me off, and I’m left to fend for myself. I truly love her, but like unlike you, I feel it’s so unfair, if I’m here waiting, and willing to help you out in any way. She gives me some bull like “I need to do this on my own”. How’s that working out for you? It’s been six years, and I thought we were doing awesome. Her decision came out of no where like a ton of bricks. What really hurts is that she didn’t even ask me to support her, or try couples counseling. This is so unlike her, because she is the most selfless person I know. I pray for the both of you, and my wife.