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.” At that point everything will be “just fine.” After-all, the past is the past, right? Wrong.

Personal Experience

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. My past would then 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 even more. But that was not his intent to hurt me further. It just happened. Unfortunately, I didn’t handle matters very well at all. I made matters all the worse because of my inability to know how to best work through my issues.

Past Has to Be Dealt With

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. The memories kept poisoning my mind and our love-making experiences. Eventually my husband also became a victim of my past sexual abuse. I kept pushing him away more and more until I couldn’t be intimate with him at all.

Understanding Doesn’t Erase Facts

Yes, Steve understood why I acted as I did (at least he said he did). However, it didn’t erase the fact that he wanted to be close to me, but 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. It’s 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. I needed to deal 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. I needed to settle what had happened to me and begin the process of healing. Healing was needed, not only in my mind, but in my love life with my dear husband.

God Opened My Understanding

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 reach out for the help you need. It’s important to properly deal with all that happened to you. This is true whether you were a young child or an older one when you were originally victimized.

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. He let me know that if I was serious, the road would be tough and it would be long. But He also let me know I would get to the point of healing that I desperately needed, if I was willing to take the tough journey. I was and I’m so glad I said, “yes” to God in this.

It Was a Tough Journey

I won’t lie and say that it was an easy journey. It was a very, very painful one. 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. 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 our lives together.

Make It Your Mission

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. Do what it takes to get to a place where your past no longer steals joy and peace from your 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.

You May Need Counseling

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.” Many of them 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 you need. We have several articles posted within the Marriage Counseling & Mentoring Topic that I recommend you read. It’s important that 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. There are ministries, like Focus on the Family, that you can locate the one who can best help you.

Further Help

Also, I found a two articles posted on the Internet that might help you in your, 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. Your husband has been receiving the repercussions. Both of you are 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. In it he explains how he tried to help his wife Lori heal from her past abuse. She was willing to do what needed to be done, 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?

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

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Comments

176 responses to “When Childhood Sexual Abuse Affects Marriage Intimacy

  1. (USA)  Hi. I was sexually abused by my Uncle when I was three, just fondling. And then it happened again by my cousin when I was 8-12 years young. I just thought it was normal to have boys touch you. I started cutting myself from 13-15 years young and my parents saw my scars and took me to a therapist.

    Well, once I told my therapist I was sexually abused she had to report it and as my mother so eloquently put it, that’s when “the —- hit the fan”! My mom was so concerned about her image than me. She didn’t even believe me. That’s the day I learned to keep my mouth shut.

    Now I’m married with kids and I’m not happy at all. My husband hates me because I don’t give him enough sex, nor quality sex either. I used to have sex with him daily when we were dating. I did whatever he wanted even if I didn’t like it. I didn’t have an orgasim for years. Now I just fake them most of the time. I feel ashamed of my body and I don’t like sex at all. It makes me feel like an object and I hate when my husband gropes me. I feel like a piece of meat. He is just showing his affection but I’m not digging it. I’m finally going to start sex therapy hopefully, to save my marriage. I hope it can be fixed.

  2. (USA)  I was sexually abused by my father as a young child. Flashbacks and panic attacks began a little over a year ago. Once I understood that I was not yet “better”, and that it wasn’t just “In the past.” I have been able to realize the many areas of my marriage which have been affected over the years (12). One, is that I had undo fear of my husband changing our daughter’s diapers as a baby. I also, over the years, have had a fear of them talking alone in a room even though I could hear them. Lastly, I’ve had anxiety whenever he comes up the stairs to come to bed at night (briefly-like a jumpy feeling, that goes away once he’s in bed).

    I am really afraid that I am hurting him and he is no longer going to want to be with me for all that I have admitted feeling about HIM. He is a sweet, gentle man and is nothing like my father, but he’s a MAN and I think that is enough cause for my mind to be fearful. I should also mention that we have a son and I have never felt ANY fear in reference to their relationship or interactions.

    Our sex life has suffered over time as more things have come out and I feel really guilty about that. I want to be intimate with him (and we are on occasion), but most of the time I feel nervous and anxious and uncomfortable about the idea. He likes to talk about it during the day (you know, looking forward to it) but it just fills me with a certain amount of dread.

    How do you tell your HUSBAND that you love them but you are “dreading” being with them sexually?!? I still feel like that doesn’t make sense. I don’t think about the abuse when we’re doing things, and I do almost always enjoy it, but the leading up to it part is scary for me.

    I am a Christian and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt that I haven’t overcome this with the Lord’s help. It makes me feel like a failure as a Christian and as a wife. I want to be submissive and pleasing to my husband, and I just can’t.

    Oh, yeah -and my Dad was a Christian too. Ha ha!

  3. (USA)  Hi this message is for Cindy Wright or anyone who cares to answer. Are there any good Christian books, websites or resources on this website for spouses of men or women who were physically and verbally abused as children (but not sexually abused). This would be the case with my wife who was physically and verbally abused by her father from childhood all the way up to age 20 (believe it or not)?

    1. (USA) Hi Ed, Let me pray and think about that one. A few books immediately come to mind, but I know there are more. I want to also confer with a counselor who might know of more as well. The “Boundaries” books come to mind. They are written by Henry Cloud (with John Townsend helping on some of them. I’m thinking of the book, Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life and also Boundaries in Marriage. They won’t exactly apply to your situation, but I believe you can glean through them to see what you can and can’t use in the insights and information they give. They may be able to help you to figure out how to best help your wife in ways that are a bit more structured (which may be needed).

      It’s probable that your wife is all over the place emotionally because of the onslaughts of emotions she’s being bombarded with & the protective and coping “skills” she had to put up to survive what she went through. Marriage breaks through some of those structures, by its nature, so it brings up a lot of suppressed junk that she’s been able to stuff until now. She would most likely have walls that she’s put up emotionally that need to be deconstructed, if anyone –even a safe person, is going to truly get close to her. But it’s a complicated situation. I applaud you for wanting to find help, rather than just running in the other direction, which so many spouses do. It can become over-whelming at times to stand with someone who has been abused. The spouse becomes another victim of the original abuser because he or she deals with the “after-effects.” My heart goes out to you and your wife, concerning this journey.

      If your wife’s father is still alive, you BOTH need to figure out reasonable boundaries (thus, the “Boundaries” type of books), to protect her from further damage from her father, but also from other “well-meaning” and/or clueless relatives. She needs a hero here, because her father, who should have been a protector for her while growing up, assaulted her instead. This really plays with the mind and emotions. It’s mind-boggling! If she will allow you to be the “hero” and if you have the strength to do so, it will be really, really tough, but is SO needed!

      A few ministries that come to mind that you could contact would be Focus Ministries, which you can find at: http://www.focusministries1.org (because they deal with abuse of every kind and in contacting them, they may be able to give you a lead on the resources you are seeking. I’d also call the Focus on the Family resource center at 1-800-A FAMILY, because they may know of a resource you can obtain. They are SO well connected that they may know of resources that we don’t. Another one is http://www.HiddenHurt.co.uk (because again, they deal with abuse situations and they may know what resources to direct you to). I’m not sure if they are a Christian ministry, but from what I’ve read, I haven’t seen anything YET that I object to that would cause me to hesitate to recommend them.

      Again, I’ll try to find other resources for you in the future. And if you find any, please let us know. We’d like to let others know about them as well. One book I recommend a lot is by Paul Hegstrom titled Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them: Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse. It would give you and your wife, if she would read it, insights behind the “why” of her father doing such controlling and horrible things to her. It wasn’t about her… it was about her Dad. He’s broken. And until he gets the proper help, he will always be a threat to your wife, if in no other way, the control and denial issues that would come up. I’m so sorry that your wife and you are having to deal with this. I’ll see if I can come up with any additional help for you.

      1. (USA)  Thank you for your insightful, understanding comments Cindy. Wow, so much I could say: My wife is 58 years and I am 11 years younger and we have one son, 14 years old; neither of us have been married before. Her father passed away back in 1985 but she is still carrying the scars. I’ve always known that she has had post-traumatic reactions from the abuse from her father — because she told me that from day one. But I married her when I was 29 and she was 40 and I wasn’t very knowledgeable about relationships; in fact, she was on the only Christian woman I had ever dated and then, of course, I married her.

        Since she is strong-willed by nature, it was hard for me to discern what part of her aggressiveness stemmed from the abuse and what part was her natural personality. I just know that in her 20’s, she was seething with anger especially after her father tried to whip her one last time when she was 20. She got counseling during that time and she was told, after a battery of psychological tests, that she was capable of doing violence (which she never acted on). Anyways, she dealt with the worst of it so she could at least function as an adult survivor; started her own business and was self-supporting — but terribly wounded. She didn’t trust or like men very much even though she wanted to be married badly.

        Since I am a more easy-going type “B” personality, I adapted to her personality more easily than some men who were put off by her hard, outer shell. In fact, I was the first man that she liked and accepted her for who she was. Later, that turned to full-fledged Christian marital love and in many respects, we have an excellent relationship. But I look back on the 17 years that we have been married and now I see the many instances of angry, over-the-top reactions and outbursts from her that came from her abuse (I didn’t “get it” until just recently).

        How did I finally get it? She is now having ferocious power struggles and fights with our 14 year old. He is a big 14 year old and looks actually like a 17 year old man. Temperamentally, he is much like her: emotional, type A personality — but without the personal wounding (he’s had a stable, loving childhood). However, when they fight, it is like two volcanos erupting and they say terrible things to each other that they don’t really mean. The worst part is that when our son gets emotionally overwhelmed, his aggressive physical posturing (like acting as though he is slightly lunging in her direction) and his sometimes cutting words causes her to “transform” him into her father. Once in a while, I have to get my body in the middle of them to prevent further escalation. Then she massively freaks outs and wants to “send him away” from our household. (Sorry, we can’t get rid of our flesh and blood; our only child).

        But this emotional explosion lasts for a while until I’ve helped reconcile both of them to each other and then their relationship recovers. But I’m left in emotional knots. Our son has some anger issues that he needs some help in dealing with — but in my estimation, the wounds of my wife are incalculably deeper and more crippling.

        She is tired of years of counseling and really doesn’t want to approach it any more. She says that as long as no one hurts or offends her then she’ll forget about the abuse. I’m just trying to get help myself so I can understand her better and prevent hatred and hostility from developing between her and our son. Whatever other resources you can dig up, I will be grateful. And if I find anything, I’ll let you know.

        1. (USA) Hi Ed, I don’t know if this book will help, but it came highly recommended. It’s titled, The Healing Path, written by Dan Allender. We’re thinking it will help you as you read through it and glean the message God gives you. He can personalize it for you as you ask for it. You may even share insights you read from the book here and there, when and if you feel impressed to share them with her, if you perceive it will help. She may take it in this way, rather than a counselor, if she’s bent on not continuing on with one. Pray about it. See how God leads.

          I still stand by the other books I recommended as well because of the “emotional knots” you describe. Plus, somehow, your son needs help. You have a HUGE mission field that you stepped into when you married. I pray for the strength and help and hope you need as you reach out beyond yourself to do that which God shows you to do. I’ll keep looking for other resources and will tell you of them, if and when I find them. God bless!

  4. (USA)  Hi Cindy — I’ve ordered the Healing Path; I’ve also reserved several books from the library dealing with childhood abuse (though I am trying to steer away books that merely have a humanistic perspective).

    It has helped me to vent a little and feel that I am not imagining things. As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I greatly appreciate your perspective. I agree with you that our son needs some help. In fact, we have him scheduled to go to counseling next week. I have made it clear to him that the struggles between him and his mother aren’t “all about him”. However, he needs some toolbox strategies to control his temper and emotional nature when he’s gets exasperated with his mother (which will serve him in all relationships that he will encounter in his life).

    Basically, he’s in the same boat as I am. He has to learn to live with a woman who’s had abuse scars: red welts that were inflicted on her body, demeaning verbal harassment and being made to feel that she had no value in life (which has even affected her ability to feel God’s love). To this day, she still has trouble trusting men that she feels are pushing her too far or too hard.

    Anyways again, thanks for understanding and thank you for your wonderful website!

    1. (USA) Hi Ed, I’m SO glad to read that you are doing better and that you have an appointment for your son. That’s outstanding that you’re trying to help him learn some “toolbox strategies” to help control his temper and emotional nature. That’s SO needed. I’m sure it will help him in many ways in the future. Also, we have several articles within the “Communication and Conflict” Topic of this web site that also give some strategies for anger control. If you haven’t already, you might want to read them and see if there is anything you can pass onto your son and/or your wife.

      I understand about the trust issues that your wife is dealing with. I had the same thing going for years and years because of abuse I suffered from men in my past. Building trust, when you have been so deeply hurt, is a difficult battle to get beyond. Unfortunately, even the innocent become suspect, and it almost becomes instinctive to default into mistrust. My prayers are with your wife, you and your son. May God continually minister and bind up the hurts. May your wife’s scars eventually become reminders of victory she is able to experience, despite her past –that she doesn’t have to continue being victimized all her life. May she experience peace and find ways to enjoy the future in a safer family environment than she had in the past.

  5. (USA)  Hi, I was sexually abused when I was 3 or 4 by my dad’s real brother. He kept on doing that till I hit the age of 10. He never penetrated me hard, he was just putting his penis inside me and doing that kind of nasty stuff, or asked me to masturbate him. One day he left the country which was a big relief. At the age of 13, I was badly touched by my 2 cousins while we were watching a movie. At the age of 15 another cousin (foster brother –mother fed him her breast milk) tried to kiss me and grabbed my boobs. I was shocked, completely paralyzed, another betrayal from real family member.

    I had a nervous breakdown. My mom took me to the doctor and the doctor molested me in front of my mom. He grabbed my boobs… then I chose a path to hurt myself, cut myself… destroy myself. I also experienced a couple of molestation episodes by street strangers, then finally I moved to the USA. Life was good. I thought the USA was a molester free country but was then molested by my family doctor.

    Now I’m 30 yrs old, not married… and never have sex in my life. My family wants me to get married …since I’m a Muslim we usually do arranged marriages… They have found a guy for me, who is 33 yrs old. I’m going to meet him.

    I have tried therapy in the past. due to depression and anxiety I’ve got endometriosis and fibroids; my eggs are dying, (confirmed by anti-mullerian blood work), had laproscopy 5 yrs back… was recently diagnosed with Chrohn’s disease, bad arhritis in the knees… I’m falling apart.

    My biggest problem is the guy… I’m going to meet him, i have heard he has a beard, (my first molester had a beard… so it’s a big trigger).

    My Gyn doc told me not to tell your husband about your abuse, try to use tranquilizer during your first intercourse. He thinks it might ruin our relationship. In our culture virginity is a big thing… we all stay virgins till our marriage. I don’t know how to deal this situation. Whenever I get touch down there I started shivering, and pass out. Once my Gyn doc tried to examine me by putting in his 2 fingers. I passed out… I had twitches for weeks.

    I’m very emotional… how can I hide such a big thing? I don’t want to suffer again. I cannot pretend to be normal, especially in the bed. I can’t even take the men’s cologne, it makes me puke. Should I drug myself on the first night? Should I tell him on my first meeting about my abuse? I’m going to see him in few days.

    I’m sick of my life. If I tell him, he will think that he got used stuff. He stayed virgin. He never kissed anyone. I was forcefully kissed by my cousin. I can feel molester’s hands, body smells, and dirt all over on me… I feel dirty, nasty. I thought I would die before this marriage thing, but I will have to face my first real sexual episode. I don’t know; I’m freaking out.

    1. (USA) Please don’t kill yourself. If you feel like committing suicide, the number to call is 1-800-273-8255. The domestic violence hotline is: 1-800-799-7233. I think that you need to get counseling from a psychologist before you consider marriage. If you call the domestic violence hotline they can help you find someone in your area of the USA. It’s not your fault that you were hurt and raped by the people in your family. You have to take care of you. Go see a counselor to help you get through the pain. Get a different gynecologist who cares about your whole body (your body, your mind and your feelings). Go to a lawyer and a legal advocate to report the crimes people did (your doctor, your family). You will feel stronger and more couageous if you report their crimes.

      Don’t sign up for an arranged marriage. Spend about 3 years getting to know the man you want to marry. Take him to counseling with you. He needs to support you, but you are the one who has to heal yourself. If you already married by now, take your husband to counseling with you. Do everything else too, if you are already married. I will pray for you. (I’m a Baha’i.)

  6. (USA)  Bleeding, regardless of your cultural customs and laws, your Gyn is in violation (it seems) of the one oath a doctor takes, which is: “First, do No Harm.” To suggest that you “tough it out” by taking a drug of any kind, especially one to ‘forget’ a sexual experience, is unfathomable. He is suggesting that you essentially re-live your abuse and avoiding it in order to uphold a cutlural norm.

    What happened to you, to me and so many others here stripped us of our childhoods, our dignity, our faith in those we trust, our faith in ourselves as humans, and sometimes of our faith in God. I encourage you, even now that time has passed and you’re likely married, to see another doctor and a therapist. many Domestic Violence shelters either offer services to childhood sex abuse survivors or out-source it to appropriate therapists, often for free. If ANY religious therapist/counsel says to ‘tough it out’, ‘don’t tell’, or otherwise minimizes your experiences, consider how true that therapist is to the religion/faith. Nowhere in the Bible (or any Abraminic faith that I can recall) is sex with children acceptable. It is illegal. It was not our fault. Ever.

    However, the recovery is on our shoulders. Do we want to eventually be whole, or do we want to carry this pain, shame and anger with us forever? I know God wants me to be happy, sane, peaceful in my heart, compassionate, caring, kind, love myself and love others. I cannot do that when I carry the feelings from my chidlhood with me constantly. Now that I’ve had years of therapy, I see that I still get waves of the feelings, that I do still have triggers…but I also see that I am a woman who endured abuse. I am not Less Than. I am not Sub-Human. I did not deserve it then, and I and the people around me do not deserve to endure that misery now. I have an obligation to continue in my healing: no other human can heal for me. They can walk next to me, share with me and encourage me, but they cannot heal for me. It’s an incredible amount of work, and it’s a little at a time.

    It’s my job to be honest with mysef and my husband about my feelings, where I am at in therapy/recovery from day-to-day, and to alert him when things are ‘off’ within me. It’s my job to continue prayer, continue to have faith and to act on my faith. I have no right to subject the people currently in my life to the anger I have at those from my childhood. I do not have the privilege of punishing the current for events of the past. If I choose to live in the pain, then I am choosing denial and defeat. I then am choosing to be a victim of ME and to not give God a chance to be God. I don’t know better than God, so why think that if I control the people around me or my circumstances, it will all just go away? That’s not fair to me or to anyone.

    I am now walking beside my husband as he begins therapy for his own childhood abuse which surfaced as I traveled my path in recovery. It’s difficult and I now know how he felt, trying to find the right words, actions and prayers. It’s painful. It’s also driving me to dig deep and find more compassion than I ever thought I had, along with remembering that he must be just as accountable in his recovery as I was in mine; there are no excuses for abusing others emotionally, physically or sexually.

    Finally, within marriage and outside of it, NO MEANS NO. No unwanted touching, ever, regardless of life experience. Sex is to be from desire, not obligation. Anyone who thinks otherwise should re-read Paul’s words. It works both ways.

  7. (USA)  Hello my name is David and I have been married to my wife for 5 months now and she was sexually abused as a child. In her case it was a close family relative and her stepfather. It has been very difficult in our matrimony so far because there are cases where I see this family relative of hers and I feel much anger towards him. She tells me to not become upset and begs of me to never mention anything about it but it is very difficult.

    Not too long ago this particular man needed a loan of money due to some emergency. So this man called my wife to see if she could loan him the money, so she mentioned it to me and I was furious and of course said absolutely no. As the days passed I found out that she did indeed gave him the money. So I confronted her about that and of course, we got into a really big argument. My question to you all is why would she continue to want to help this man? I understand they are family but I just don’t understand her sometimes. I need help please.

  8. (USA)  I was sexually abused at 6 years old many times during the first grade. I’m not sure exactly all of what happened, some flashbacks start with getting pushed into a bathroom and then everything goes black. Anyhow, I found the most amazing and loving woman –everything a man could ask for, beautiful, strong, sexy, smart and most important, a huge loving heart. I love her with every cell of my body, but in our 16 years together I constantly pushed her away from me over and over. I never showed her how much I loved her on a constant basis. Sure we had lots of good times, but many more bad ones.

    The harder she tried loving me, the more I pushed her away. Most everytime we were having a good time, my self hatred sabotaged the good times. Her health finally declined to the point of her feeling she needed to check herself into a hospital. We separated a month ago and she wants nothing to do with me romantically anymore. She’s willing to be friends, but has expressed that I am far too damaged to be in a healthy loving relationship. “I tried and tried to make you happy for 16 years without sucess, and I can’t do it anymore, and I don’t have the time to wait around for you to get healthy because it’s going to take too long.” These were her words to me.

    I feel so sad, hurt and angry to be in this situation. I feel so angry at everyone, him for abusing me and ruining my marriage, at myself for letting her get to this point, and at her for not sticking with me. At the same time I feel so guilty for not being stronger and dealing with this sooner so I could show my wife the love she deserved. I feel so guilty for emptying the love in her heart and running her health to the ground.

  9. (USA)  I was sexual abused by my old brother when I was a child. I was 8 or 9 and he was 16. This happend on 3 different occasions. The last time it happend my parents found out and they told me that it was not my fault and that I did nothing wrong and that was all they said and for my brother they would handcuff him to something when they were not there, my brother never got into any trouble for that and that hurts me the most. I feel like he got away scott free and I got punished for the rest of my life.

    I have releastly gotten married. We got married June 9, 2011 and my husband is a wonderful man. When we have a problem with intimacy, it is always very painful to me, which is why we don’t do it very often. I want to get help for this problem and I want to get over this and move on. Please pray for me that I can get this all worked out! Thank you so very much for listening!

  10. (MOZAMBIQUE)  Please help me. I’m 27, I am I have two beautiful girls. I have been married for 6 years. I have no sex desire compatible with my partner. I can have one week without sex and not miss it. Many times I have to make an effort just to satisfy him. I do not know how or what to do to change that.

    I have stories of sexual abuse, first at home with my father at age 11. There were several attempts, and then I suffered an assault 7 years ago in which I was also abused by more than 5 men.

    I tend to depressive states. I have already done several treatments. Right now I’m stable, but still no great sexual desire. My husband doesn’t accept going to psychotherapy. I do not know why. This has brought us many problems in the past. We have been separated several times, and now I see that he’s not happy and he complains. WHAT CAN I DO? IS THERE ANYONE HERE WHO FEELS THE SAME? HELP ME, PLEASE.

  11. (USA)  I’ve been married for 16 years, my wife was sexually abused as a child by a brother and a neighbor. I didn’t know about this until she had an affair 6 years into our marriage. I stayed and worked it out cuz we have 3 kids together.

    The last 10 years have been up and down. When I get tired and want to live she doesn’t want me to go but when I’m ok she goes back into a shell. I’m tired and I don’t have the strength to really want to help anymore. She’s in counseling but there’s no guarantee on our marriage. She says she’s loves me but not in love but she can fall in love with other people easy. I told her it’s because they don’t know everything about her. So what should I do?

  12. (USA)  I am 22 and married for 3 years, with 2 children. My abuse started when I was 8. I was playing hide n seek in my childhood neighborhood with my brother, cousin, and a few of the neighborhood kids. I hid behind a dumpster in the parking lot of a scientology church on the same street I grew up. I just remember a man that lived on our street coming up to me and started touching parts. My cousin who is 4 years older came up behind me and yanked me by my arm because I was frozen and we ran home and she told my mom.

    I come from a very Catholic family that doesn’t talk about sex or anything having to do with it. It’s very taboo stuff, and things get swept under the rug, and ignored or forgotten like they never happened. My mother confronted the man but the police were never involved, and that was that. I had actually, I guess, blocked it out of mind, until my mom accidentally brought it up when day and it all came back like a horrible nightmare.

    The thing is, had my cousin not told my mom, I know I wouldn’t have told anyone because that’s just how our family has dealt with things.

    When I was 12 years old I was raped sporadically by my brother in law ,who was 37 at the time, until I was 16 and my sister found out. Needless to say she shut me out of her life and told my siblings that I wanted it. She’s still with him. My parents know… but again, it was swept under the rug.

    I’ve always felt guilty as if it was my fault and that I did deserve it. I heard recently that he was sick and in the hospital, and the first thing that came to my mind, is I hope he dies. I’ve been praying so that I don’t have those thoughts. I know it wasn’t my fault and I shouldn’t feel guilty but those feelings are hard to shake.

    I feel that my relationship with my husband is suffering because of this. He still doesn’t know about the incident that happened when i was 8, and I can’t bring myself to tell him for fear that it might strain our marriage more.

  13. (USA)  Hello, I’ve been married for a little over a year to someone whom I thought was my soulmate. I have since learned that he has suffered some form of abuse during either his childhood or adolescent years. He hasn’t been realy detailed. He blames me for lack of communication.

    My husband is not affectionate and doesn’t like to be intamate (although he says he does, his actions have proven diffrent). A prime example is my birthady which was on November 19th. When I woke up he was sitting at the kitchen table. I went and sat at the table also. We were in one anothers presence for 15-20 minutes before he went out (mind you never acknowledging my birthday).

    In the meantime I had an errand to run. Upon my return, he had gone out and purchased a cake, card and a balloon. After returning home, I walked in and looked at the cake, went to say a few words to my mother who was visiting and then opened his card. I told him that the card was very nice and thanked him (verbally) for the cake. I placed the cake on the counter because I knew I needed to go back out to attend a class.

    He became mad because at around 7/8 pm no I had not cut the cake. When I asked hime what was wrong he began yelling at me, and telling me all of the things that I wasn’t (I don’t connect, communicate and that we have nothing in common).

    Please help. As his wife I’m tired and worn out. I’m fighting to keep this marriage alive. Is it worth it???????? Waht have I done to deserve this type of treatment.

  14. (USA)  My wife and I met when we were 13. We began dating just a couple of months later when I finally gathered the courage to ask her out. She and I began to be intimate about a week after our first date, and this was my first relationship, and has been my only relationship over the last 17 years.

    I thought maybe this was normal. She first told me about the fact that she had been abused about 2 years after we met when we were 15, because she had seen her abuser in her neighborhood that day, and it really scared her. Of course being a brash young football playing 15 yr old I asked why she didn’t just come get me right away, and point me in the direction of the jerk so I could clobber him. But she told me she was afraid he’d hurt me, because he told her that if she ever told anyone he’d kill her, and her family. She asked me to just leave what happened to her in the past alone. We really didn’t discuss it again until recently, and that’s almost been like pulling teeth. All she would tell me is that he was her baby sitter, and her father’s best friend, and that he started abusing her at 6 until her mother moved in with her grandmother at 9.

    Now it hasn’t totally stalled our intimacy, but for the most part, we are like 2 trees that were planted just a little too close to each other, so close that they began to actually grow into each other. It feels like we were planted on opposite sides of a fence, and that fence still divides us from growing our roots into each other. We have 4 children. Our oldest son is 14, and we had him at 16, and our daughter is 12, and we had her at 18, and our younger two sons are 3 yrs, and 18 months. It was after she had our daughter that she just kind of shut down emotionally. Intimacy seemed more like a chore to her than the joyous, and intimate love making that it had been up until then. It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that she started opening back up emotionally, but even now she is some what withdrawn.

    About a week ago she was looking on a web site and saw the mug shot of her abuser. It was for a traffic violation, but that began her looking into other crimes that he had been brought up on charges for. Unfortunately he has never served any time for what he did to her or any other young child. She’s always liked looking at Police blotters, and watching COPS, and AMW, but it wasn’t until this that I really understood why. Since seeing his mug shot she has kind of broken the fence open a little bit telling me about what he had made her do, and told me that he never penetrated her that she can remember, but I find the timing of her first menstrual cycle, and his last time having access to her to be much too close together to be mere coincidence. Since certain stimulation can cause early menstruation.

    Trying to help her work through her pain I ask her questions to try to get her to open up about it so that she can finally uncork the pain and allow it to bubble out, and maybe get her closure. I realized the other day that even w/ all that I do know about her past she had never told me when she first had actually had sex. She told me she didn’t remember at first, and then that I was the first guy who she ever actually had sex with, even though she had allowed me to read one of her diaries about 10 years ago, and she had written about having sex with a guy about a month or so before our first time while playing truth or dare.

    She asked me why I keep bringing up the past, and though it took me a few days to articulate my answer I finally gave her my answer last night. “It seems that even though we keep growing closer as we get older you still have a wall up, and there is just this one painful part of your life that you won’t let me into.” She said “that wall has always been there, and I just don’t like talking about what happened to me.” I can completely understand that the pain of reliving those memories as she describes what he made her do to him, and what he undoubtedly did to her that she won’t allow herself to admit even to herself is far more excruciating than any other that exists, but I know that she needs to vocalize what happened in order to start healing.

    The site actually even had his mailing address listed (even though it was only a PO Box). So I told her that maybe typing him an anonymous letter about how badly he hurt her might help to give her some closure. She said that she was afraid he’d find some way to check the finger prints, but I told her that I’d handle the paper, and envelope with rubber gloves so there was no chance of that, but she still hasn’t, and probably isn’t going to.

    She is, and always has been the only woman that I have ever loved. So I suppose that my question to you ladies who have dealt with this, and found even a minute amount of healing is: What more can I do to help her? I don’t like asking her these questions, and bringing it up over, and over so is there any way you can think of that I can start a conversation with her that will help her to completely pour her pain into me so that I can at least take the half of the burden from her that I should as her husband.

    She doesn’t seem to want to let me help her shoulder this burden, but I feel it is not only my job as her husband, and friend, but also my responsibility. If I could I would take it all, but unfortunately I know that it is impossible. It’s just that when I try to talk to her about this, I seem to just keep tripping over my own tongue, and never seem to be able to hit that wall in quite the right spot to finally knock it down once, and for all.

    1. Dennis, I love your heart –your love and commitment to your wife. Oh, how I wish we had more husbands that were willing to help their wives put their past hurts behind them (and visa versa). With that said though, you can’t MAKE your wife open up. You can be there for her, continually showing you are willing, praying for her and giving her the grace she needs, but the hard work has to be done by her. She has to recognize that it HAS to be done to achieve freedom.

      Prayerfully, she will eventually realize that if she does open up, work through the pain, she will be released from being tied to this man for the rest of her life. She may think she wants to let it rest, thinking it will go away. But it won’t. It will find ways to pop up here and there to haunt her until she deals with it properly, once and for all. IF she does the work, I can tell you (and her) it’s amazing the freedom she will experience and the boost it will be to your marriage relationship. I can’t begin to tell you the freedom I experienced when I finally came to the end of it all and did what needed to be done.

      There are several articles posted on this web site, which can help you. If you go to the end of this article, you will find something that says, “See related articles.” If you go into the “Sexual Abuse” part of it, you will find listed there, several articles to help you and your wife. It may be good for you to read through them first and then pray about how to approach your wife, if she will allow herself to be approachable on this. I hope she will.

      I can tell you that as long as she delays this, she will be tied to this past abuser. She is giving him power to keep abusing her, even today and in the future if she doesn’t do what it takes to properly work through it. The memories will haunt her until she does. Trying to hold memories back from popping up is like trying to hold a beach ball under water. In the long run, it just doesn’t work. You can only suppress it for so long and eventually it will find a way to pop up (or explode up) –especially at times when she’s most tired and lets go. If she does what is needed, she will definitely go through a painful time, but it will be in the short-term (just as surgery is very painful in the short term) and then will find herself not serving a life sentence with memories popping up, concerning what he did to her.

      I truly hope and pray the best for you and your wife. You sound like a wonderful couple. I hope she is able to experience freedom from her past and you are able to experience a more abundant married life together, as a result.

  15. (USA)  Thank you Cindy I will look into those articles. It’s interesting that you chose that beach ball analogy because as I was thinking about how to try to bring the subject up next time. While I was at work last night the exact same analogy came to my mind. Definitely God’s hand guiding my path. Very fitting since I believe that she was the answer to my prayer for God to send me the woman I was meant to marry.

    You see, I’ve always been a very heavy guy (right now 388 lb) even in my youth. When I was 13 I weighed about 250 lbs, and had never had a girlfriend, or even a single date even though I had asked out several young ladies. So when my pastor preached about how if you ask God for what you want if it’s His will for you to have it He’ll give it to you. So I thought about my prayer long, and hard, and knew that God wouldn’t just send me a girlfriend. So I asked him to send me the woman He wanted me to marry, and 2 weeks later I met my wife. I wish I had had the courage to ask her out right away, but unfortunately it took me 2 months. Ah the things we’d change if we had the chance. Thank you again.