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:


— ALSO —

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


Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

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Filed under: Sexual Issues

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198 responses to “When Childhood Sexual Abuse Affects Marriage Intimacy

  1. I have been on the path to healing for a few years now. I wasn’t raped, so I had issues burying the situation really deep because I would accuse myself for making a big deal out of nothing. I have shared this testimony with my parents, other family, my pastor, my fiancé and I tried to make contact with the person involved through a letter but he didn’t wish to communicate so I let it go. He was a child himself at the time and he doesn’t remember what happened. That is enough peace for me. I’ve looked at other websites but I never felt comfortable posting on any of them. This is a great ministry you have established and I’m grateful for it…it has reminded me that I’m not alone.

    When I was eight my best friend a boy my age molested me. It was a one time event…The thing that remained with me was the point where he said “It is okay I’ve seen my parents do this”.

    I grew up in a religious home, the boy’s parents were our Pastors and his statement made me feel like whatever it is that married couples do is gross and I didn’t want anyone to convince me of otherwise. I kept the incident a secret until I was a teen and therefore I was left to my own imagining and I developed terrible misconceptions…I made a promise to myself I would never get married.

    I felt a lot of guilt and confusion on anything remotely sexual growing up and when guys started taking an interest in me than my past resurfaced…I was miserable in this sense but the rest of my life was very blessed. I have a close relationship with the Lord and this one point of pain was something I had trouble taking to Him. Why? I didn’t want God to convince me that marriage and sex could be a good thing for me. Isn’t that terrible.

    But then the one guy came along. We were just friends for a while and the reason we didn’t become more right away was me and my issues. Having to admit that someone liked me and that I liked him forced me to face my problems. I held off for a while because I felt it unfair to him be in a relationship with someone like me…touchy, unloving, unable to show physical affection and cold. God brought me to a place where I had to admit that I was in love…his words to my heart were “It’s okay to say you are in love Erica.”, “I’ll help you.”

    He did. I knew I had to come clean with all the right people ( those listed above), and I was surprised by how they were so good, encouraging and comforting. The young man showed his true character and he has been more considerate than I could have imagine. My healing has been miraculous.

    Still there are issues, I never pretended there wouldn’t be. My fiancé and I are saving sex for marriage. Our affection has developed slowly and at each new thing I’ve had problems…I have learned that I need to overcome these hurdles one at a time. He’s a vey affectionate personality and he needs to know I love him in this way. The current problem I have is that if he starts to passionately kiss me I start to disconnect and a have a flashback to when I was molested. I started to seize up and I can’t feel anything, sometimes I twitch and I can’t stop myself. It is all very unnerving and scary…I am trying to figure out what is causing it but I’ve had no success yet. It is exactly what happened to me that day when I was molested, I felt helpless because I disconnected and I couldn’t stop the boy because I felt frozen. He doesn’t do anything my molester did, he doesn’t look like him, and he doesn’t say the things he said. I do know that words have a huge affect on me for some reason.

    My fiancé is a UK citizen awaiting his visa to move to the U.S. We are just waiting and praying and missing each other. It has been a month and a half since we saw each other last ( when my latest problem occured0 and we have no idea when we can marry. It is hard because he gets quite pent up when we are apart for a long time and there is so much to sort out between us on this topic. Trying to learn what is best for us while being apart is confusing sometimes too. We are looking to God and seeking out help in trusted sources. But I know we will be alright. Things will never be perfect we live in an imperfect world, but we can be healthy and joyful and share the message that God heals.

    Any advise our good resources are much appreciated

  2. Hi I’m not even married but I stumbled upon this website via google. I was molested by my father, who was a “respectable” deacon in the church during my teens. I was also foundled as a young child by my cousin who is around my age before then. Back to my father, I didn’t even meet him until I was 5 – both my parents were teens when I was born and my mother stayed home with her mother. My parents got married when I was 9 and we all moved out from my grandmother’s shortly afterwards. Then while my 3 siblings were born, I was gradually abused by him in the name of loving care!

    I told my mother when I was 17 and she was devastated but chose to call the pastor first (who was an older woman) who advised her not to turn him in… instead, he moved out but still kept in contact. And me, I stayed home just as out of it as could be. Even prior to the abuse, I was very sheltered and had a hard time relating to my peers; plus I was raised in a strict Apostolic Pentecostal denomination where we thought nobody else was saved but us and women were going to hell for wearing pants, makeup and jewelry.

    Enter 2011 and here I am, in my early 30’s, in college and angry. I decided to report my abuser much to the anger of my mother and now former pastor. Last year I moved out and stopped going to that church. I felt I didn’t know God well enough and am starting a new personal relationship with Him.

    But I feel like a mess -a freak even because I’m almost 35 and am single with no kids. I’ve never been in a relationship just some talking and maybe one date. I have a hard time relating to folks and I feel bad about it. I feel confused about sex and relationships. I don’t know what it is to be in love. I took care of my family but didn’t have to. My mom didn’t work and was codependent and fearful (me too) so I didn’t know myself well. It even bothers me to see couples walk around holding hands. I’m almost 35, time seems to be running out for me and I feel naive and out of it. Help me please! Thanks for reading!

    1. Monique, I don’t know if I can be helpful but I want you to know there’s hope. I thought love would never happen for me and that I was a hopeless case. But there is no such thing. I’m sorry that you have trouble relating to people I’ve been there. But God will make a way as you continue to walk with Him. Sometimes when we aren’t even looking for what we long for It finds us. The best advice I can give you is to focus upon God and allow him to light your way as a day to day exercise. He pushed me out of my comfort zone and He’ll probably do the same for you. It will be easier with people as He stregthens you, not perfect though…human relationships are never easy…but rewarding. You are a blessing God has given to the body of Christ. He wants you to touch lives…I have no doubt you have…are…and will.

        1. I’m glad Monique, I never used to know that there were others out there who could understand what I have felt. It is good to know one is not alone. Blessings in the New Year!

  3. I’m trying to deal with past sexual abuse but it’s been extremely hard because I haven’t had any support from my husband and my mom. (My dad raped me and different family members and friends of family, etc. molested me in other ways.) My husband isn’t understanding in the start to deal with all the flashbacks and having trouble with intimacy. He used to accuse me of cheating and scare me so much that I knew I had to have sex with him even though I didn’t want to at all. He has changed some on things but he still is constantly pawing on me. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t be intimate with him at all. I know that he won’t allow this to go on much longer. I dread him making me feel like I have to be intimate with him and him being insensitive to many differenent things that he does that I can’t handle at all.

  4. I had been molested by my adopted father from 11 to 21 years old. What was abnormal became normal that I was able to have a normal relationship around people with my stepdad but when it was just me and him it became completely different. He forced me to do things I never wanted, and if I refused he gave me a bad attitude and blah blah…

    I got married to an amazing man who I happened to share my childhood abuse and he understood me and wants to protect me. We’ve cut off my dad completely from my life. He wanted me to report him and get help. But part of me thinks no one will believe me and putting him behind bars will make the problem go away. The day he dies will be the day that justice is served. And talking about my past to someone just doesn’t set right with me. I have my own copping mechanism and it has worked well so far… My gma lived with us and she let it happen so did my mom (aunt) after I told her that my dad was playing with my boobs and it hurt… And she didn’t do anything except tell him to stop. Of course it never stopped.

    Today I hate the man and I hope there’s a special place for people like him. And yes, he’s a Christian and thinks God will forgive him. But repentance is about not repeating the old sin… But he repeated his for 15 years. Sometimes I hate myself for letting it happen… But it was the only thing I knew. And now I have to live the long term affect of my abuser. Yes, it bothers me deeply.

    I have a daughter and I refuse for my past to take over me and control my life completely. I will never let anything to my daughter. I already suffer for her and if anyone touches her the wrong way I swear I will kill that person in return for my daughter’s safety. I want her to know that someone protected her. No one protected me then and I’m sad and angry for that, that no one cared enough. Now I’m trying to live a healthy life and healthy sex life with my husband. He’s a good man and sometimes I think I’m blessed. Today I am able to fight whatever life throws at me… What is worse than when someone takes your childhood away? Rapes you? Abused you? Death will only finish the job.

  5. I was molested by my sister. She was molested by my mom’s friend’s son. As soon as my mom found out she kicked them out, as they were staying with us. However, after that abuse stopped, my sister molested me until I was 13. I think it began when I was around 5 or so. I am 25 now and I don’t think that I am angry with my sister but it’s like it never happened; we never talk about it. I am still a virgin and when I think about sexual intimacy all I can do is cry. I don’t know what to do. I want to get over this and I don’t think I will be able to lead a normal life, which I strongly desire, like marriage and children.

    1. Dear Curious, I’m so sorry that you are hurting as you are. It’s absolutely amazing how something like this, even though we never invited it and can rationalize in our heads that it was wrong that they did this to us, and that we need to get beyond it… even so, we find ourselves a prisoner to the nightmare of it all for years and years and years. Many times (actually most times, if help isn’t gotten), it’s for the rest of our lives. This is SO unjust, and so unfair, on so many levels! I’m sure you’ve heard the following advice, and I’m sure you can’t imagine how it can help, but you truly need counseling to get beyond this. A trained professional can help you properly deal with it and then put it on a shelf, where it won’t haunt you any longer.

      I did that. I tried and tried myself to “forget it” and get beyond it, but it always came back to haunt me again and again. I know of many, many other people who have had this same experience. A good counselor can short-cut and begin the true healing process. You might say that you can’t afford it. That’s what I said. But I can tell you, from experience, that every penny we paid has been worth every bit of it and more. It’s like a cancer that grows and grows. If it’s not stopped and totally dealt with, it will emotionally damage you for the rest of your life. Freedom is worth every price that must be paid to obtain it.

      If you don’t know of a good counselor in your area, please go into the “Marriage Counseling” topic of this web site. Even though we have listed different referral agencies for marriage counseling… they also can refer you to other types of counselors. Please go to a good counselor. The rest of your life will be colored or discolored, if you don’t get proper help for this. You never deserved what happened to you. Please know that… no matter what you were told or what the horrible thoughts in your head tell you. You DO deserve to “get over this” and “lead a normal life” (whatever that is). Please get the help you need. And if one counselor isn’t a good fit for you, go to another one… find a good one. Please persevere towards healing and help. I hope you will and pray you will find sweet relief and the “peace that passes all understanding.”

  6. I’m 40. Single. Never married. My childhood has caused me much grief and I have pushed people away. My parents included. I’ve prayed for God to get me through this but life just seems to get worse. I don’t let friends or family “get in.” I don’t know who to trust as far as counseling. I’m terrified I’m going to be single forever. How do I get over this emotional wounds and move on? Help me, please.

  7. My wife was abused as a child and the abuse has greatly affected our sex life. I’m looking for some help…and answers.

    1. I love my wife and I have even compromised to one or two times a month. She has even made a comment to have a one night stand, wear a condom, and come back home. I can’t do that to our marriage. I wish I understood and I could help my wife.

  8. Hi, I was sexually abused as a child at the age of 6. Now I am 23. That thing is not leaving me. I felt ashamed, I think I am not worthy of life, dreams, happiness and Love. That thing has affected my studies a lot. I always wanted to commit suicide and now I think it is the time to finally die. Initially, I thought I will never marry my whole life of course as I can’t tell this to anyone. But when it comes to the matter of getting married you must tell that person whom you are getting marry to. In the University someone fell in Love with me. I don’t have the courage to lose him, neither I have the courage to tell him about my past. So death is the only option, which I would have done long before.

    God has never loved me. Jesus is right, I am not worthy of life, that’s why He has done that to me. I will never forgive God my Love and in regard God must not forgive me any single sin. We are square. The only that hurts me in the end is Jesus never cared!

    1. Dearest Jennifer, How sad I am for you to be at this place in your life. TRULY I understand what you are talking about because I was there, in a very dark time in my life, several years ago. I also thought seriously of suicide, and I felt that God never loved me either. I felt like He loved others and yet I wasn’t good enough or whatever, to receive His love. He would give it to others, but I was just a by-stander looking on as others enjoyed what I could never have.

      But I can tell you with everything in me that this was a lie from the pit of Hell. There was a dark cloud, because of the sexual abuse I had suffered in my past (when I was a young girl like you, and then by another relative as a young teenager), that overshadowed the Truth. Have you ever had it happen to you (or you saw it happen with someone else) where someone will tell the truth, but then others will come right behind and tell little lies here and there? Eventually, it’s difficult believe the Truth any longer. The lies seem to block it out. Well, that’s what the enemy of our faith does a good job at doing –making us think that the Truth isn’t real and that which is a lie, could be. It happened to me and it seems to be happening to you (and many, many others in this world).

      I HIGHLY recommend that you prayerfully read the following article and the ones that are linked within it: http://host.agencysrvr.com/~marriage/discerning-the-difference-between-the-conviction-of-the-holy-spirit-and-condemnation-of-the-enemy/. And then after reading those articles, please read: http://host.agencysrvr.com/~marriage/living-in-confidence-because-of-who-you-are-in-christ/. The enemy of our faith condemns us and tries to keep us down, so we are so crippled emotionally that we can’t live our lives as we should –getting back up, defying the enemy, living a good life in Christ, and helping others to do so, as well. Please don’t let those little whispers erase that which God wants to give to you and help you with, now and in the future. You are NOT defined by your past, nor are you condemned to keep its memory alive –continuing to hurt you and others. The only way that can happen is if you keep allowing the enemy to entertain your thoughts, which will feed them and grow them larger than reality.

      I know (from personal experience) how difficult it is to NOT entertain the enemy by letting those lies take root in our thought life. It takes intentionality in throwing them out as we do with garbage, as soon as they come into our mind, over and over and over again. It takes continual perseverance, but eventually, you will find victory. Please read the article I recommend. The enemy of our faith needs to be exposed as a liar. We just can’t allow liars to plant their seeds of doubt. Also, there are several additional articles we have posted on this web site in the “Sexual Issues” topic that I encourage you to read through and pray through, as well, to implant truth with the same tenacity you are making at throwing out the lies. Here are the links:


      I pray they help. And I hope that as you pray and reach for Truth, that you are able to see that suicide is NOT the way to go. How glad I am that I stopped allowing those thoughts to take root. I pray that eventually you see the Truth that God loves you. Don’t worry about forgiving right now. God knows your heart. That can come eventually… as God gives you that ability. We even have articles and quotes here to help, when the time is right. But right now, please work on fighting the good fight of getting to a better place emotionally. Please know that God DOES love you. He has a plan for your life –a better one than you could ever imagine (look what I’m doing –working with multiple thousands of people… I never could have thought that would be possible). The enemy knows that God loves you and that He will work in and through you, and wants to stop that plan. Please realize that. If you need to talk to someone in person, please go to the web site Needhim.org, which you can find at http://www.needhim.org. They have people on call to talk to those that reach out to them. I pray God’s best for you, Jennifer. Even in the midst of darkness, He can be found. I hope you will never stop reaching out and pray you will sense His presence, even in the midst of a storm. “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)

  9. Thanks for this article. My husband divorced me during the period of dealing with my abuse. He didn’t want “someone like me”- with all my issues. Although I’m in therapy and going through Divorce Care groups –do you know of resources specific to this situation? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been abandoned by a spouse due to this. Thanks for your help.

  10. Hello. I’m not even sure if I count as a victim here, but this has haunted me for a long time and I suppose I want advice. I started crying reading this article. Here’s my story: my older brother as far back as I can remember would touch me in the bed and we’d fool around. I wouldn’t really tell him no unless he went too far and then I’d lock myself in my room and cry asking for forgiveness. I would weep in the shower trying to cleanse myself. I wanted it desperately to end but I didn’t know how. This went on until I was 14. I wrote a letter to my parents explaining what was happening and obviously it stopped from there.

    I love my brother, and that’s what makes this so difficult. I don’t think I was abused but I feel like I was. I still have dreams about it and I’m almost 19. It has taken me so long to forgive myself but I want to forget. I’m getting very close to my boyfriend and I feel guilty not telling him about this. I don’t really like to be touched except by people close to me. I’m a virgin still thankfully, because it never went too far.

    Do I have to tell my boyfriend about this? (We are very serious.) I feel like I’m lying but I never intended to tell anyone about this. And I’m scared. I’m confused and I don’t want this to affect my future intimacy with my boyfriend. Please help…

    1. Holly, How my heart goes out to you. Yes, you CAN be counted “as a victim here.” What started out as sexual curiosity on your brother’s part, ended up causing you to be victimized. Even if you didn’t stop it sometimes, and even though you sometimes found parts of it pleasurable at times (which is normal), you were victimized. It’s all so confusing, as you very well know. But brothers, or any relatives, for that matter, should be safe for us to rely on to protect us, not look at us, or to approach us as if we are sexual play things. One time or two times might be curiosity, but when it goes on and on, that is not child’s play, it is plain out wrong. He knew it deep inside, but he saw that he could get away with it, and so he took advantage of you and the situation.

      I’m not sure I would call it sexual abuse, unless he clearly raped you. But he definitely sexually victimized you. He took advantage of the confusion that was going on in your mind, at that time, and impulsively kept going after you. It’s good that you finally were able to get your parents to stop it. But that doesn’t erase the images that keep haunting you of what went on during that time.

      Holly, I can’t encourage you enough to find a good counselor that can help you properly deal with this. I know very much what you are going through. My dad victimized me in much the same way. (And one of his brothers did so too, when I was much younger –my dad never knew this.) I wrote the above article. I couldn’t say anything public about him until my dad died (which he did recently… my uncle died years before). But I can tell you that eventually the images in my head and memories haunted me to such a point that if I didn’t get help, I’m not sure our marriage would have survived.

      That’s why I encourage you to find a good counselor NOW before you get married. Properly deal with it now. You may also have to deal with it a bit after marriage, but in a small way –one that wouldn’t hurt your marriage in the same way it could if you got no help right now. Do you keep reading the word “now?” That’s because this is the best time. Telling your boyfriend is your call. There is no real “formula” for the right or wrong time. Getting a counselor that you can work through these issues WOULD seem to be the right thing to do immediately, though. Don’t keep letting misery find its way into your life and memory bank.

      Also, a counselor could help you to figure out whether or not, and/or how to talk to your brother about this. I can well understand that you love your brother, even with all that happened. But this may very well become tainted with time, if you don’t have guidance on this. I was able to resolve things with my dad, and loved him as a daughter should. Thankfully, I am no longer being haunted by what happened (because I got the help I needed). I want to also say that Steve and I have a great relationship now. I’m certain we wouldn’t have if I wouldn’t have gotten help. I’ve seen this scenario time and time again with women. This kind of thing needs the proper guidance, or it seems to be a lifetime type of haunting that goes on. I’d hate to have that happen to you. I pray the Lord ministers to your heart, emotions, and helps you to put the past into the past –laid to rest forever.

  11. I’ve been married to my wife for almost 10 yrs. She’s the love of my life. She disclosed to me while we were dating that she had been sexually absued by an older step brother when she was 8. She had gone to counseling but never really said if she had resolved the issues. She had been in unhealthy relationships before she and I met and gotten out of them but knew she had stayed longer than she should have. I honestly didn’t know how to react so I let a sleeping dog lie.

    After the birth of our second child she was questioning if she should remain married to me, despite the fact that I had never verbally, emotionally or physically hurt her. It rocked my world. She found a ministry through our church to replace false belief systems but it never resolved underlying intimacy issues that she had. In January this year, it came up again, some five years later. Same story, “I don’t know if I should remain married” and again it turned my world upside down, now that we have two kids and over 10 yrs together.

    She’s about to begin counseling with a female counselor that helps women with sexual abuse and traumatic events in their life. I failed to mention that her father committed suicide when she was six and she survived cancer at age 21. My wife is a fighter for sure but my prayer is that she heal from this abuse as a child and that God will make something beautiful out of our marriage.

    I’m 100% committed to supporting her and her healing. I don’t want her to hurt or feel the way she does any longer and told her that I’m putting my wants and desires on hold until she heals. Please pray for her and that God would give me the strength to support her and the right words. Thank you.

  12. I am a 36 year old woman married to a man that was sexually abused as a child. It has greatly affected our marriage to the point that I don’t think we’ll stay married. We’ve been together for 8 yrs and I care about him greatly; however, due to the lack of sexual connection he feels more like a roomate to me than a husband or lover. For some women that wouldn’t be an issue but for a woman like me who has a very high sex drive this is an issue that we talk about daily. I’m surprised the marriage has lasted this long.

    I used to feel very confident in my sexuality but the awkwardness of this situation and the continued rejection has caused me to become depressed, put on weight, and be very closed down myself. I’m starting to hate life and resent him for not putting the time and effort into dealing with his past.

    More awareness needs to be brought to this matter. We’re both Christians who love each other and want to honor our marriage vows. Yet every day we find ourselves asking if there is a future for us or are we just wasting time. I cannot live like this the rest of my life.

    1. I am on the opposite end of this with my husband. He’s the one with the sex drive. When you push him to be intimate with you, he feels as if he’s being abused again. Try to understand anything he has shared with you is most likely a fraction of the horror that he endured. Couples counseling, so you can understand how to support him and he can understand how to work through it.

    2. My husband and I have been married for 47 years, since I was 21 and he 24. He only fully realized the abuse by his mother when he was 9 and his father was away in the Korean war. This has been the most difficult marriage, knowing that you love each other but not able to be fully emotionally close. Only 2 years ago did my husband realize and start working on his extreme abuse issues. We have the best expert therapist and he has attended support group of men molested as children. These things have broken through the isolation (he was an only child and “handled” everything all his life alone however dysfunctionally).

      The pain takes great courage strength and faith in the Holy Spirit to go on, as the incest triggered lifelong abusive addictive and near suicidal behaviors at times, shared therefore with us, his wife and children. He is a very loving man who tortured himself for too long and you both must get lots of help immediately. The intimate connection we now are beginning to feel could have happened sooner. Don’t let this take that long as this situation is a time bomb if not dealt with. Please read Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse by Mike Lew about men.

  13. My story is much like many here. My mother was an uneducated woman who married straight out of her home. By the age of 25 she had 6 kids. She left my dad when I was 5. I remember her having anger issues with my older 3 brothers but never me or my younger 2 sisters. When I was 8 she remarried and it changed her instantly. She let him completely take over all decisions. He had her “sell” my brothers back to my dad. (I know that it was to get them out of his way.) He “groomed” me and my sisters and continually abused us. (I didn’t know at the time that he was abusing my sisters the whole time, as well.) At the time I didn’t know it was abuse.

    He told me “this is how people show they love each other, but I couldn’t say anything to anyone because they wouldn’t understand “not even mom.” When I started questioning that, he said if you tell her you’ll never see your sisters again. They will be sent away like your brothers. Then your mom will go away. When that didn’t work, it was your mom and sisters will die. And when that didn’t work it was, I will kill you and to make sure that I believed him he shot my pillow while I laid on it and said, next time I won’t miss.

    When I was 12 he raped me for the first time. It was his birthday. We didn’t have a washer so he would take monthly trips to the laundry mat. On this day we loaded up the van and my mom asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He said, just leave Carrie here so that she can get my lunch. My mom left and as soon as he heard the van driver away he offered me alcohol to drink and then led me to his room, pinned me down and raped me. During the rape I was crying and pleading with him to stop. He slapped me said to stop; I’m not hurting you. My mom suspected because she peeked her head in the door. I looked that way and pleaded, please help me. She didn’t do anything. She just closed the door and walked away. I knew at that point, if I was going to survive it was up to me.

    I talked to my mom later and she accused me of lying and trying to “take the only one that has ever loved her away.” I lived this way until I was 15, when he got me pregnant. I prayed that if there was some way for the baby to be born but for me not to have to bear it. About a week later my step sister fell on my stomach and I miscarried. My mother wouldn’t take me to the hospital because (her excuse) we don’t have the money. The actual reason was she didn’t want anyone asking questions.

    At that point I decided that I wasn’t going to let anything else happen. I found the strength inside myself that inhumane. I told him that he was done and if he ever touched me or thought about touching my sisters again I would turn him in. He told my mom that he couldn’t live with me, that it was either me or him. She beat me with an extension cord until she couldn’t swing anymore. I stood there and let her. Once she was done I asked he if she was done and I left.

    I found out later that he had been touching my sisters all along, so I turned him in. (I kept proof that he had abused me and turned that into the police.) When I made numerous statements, I was treated like I was lying. I had to tell male officers (not female) over and over countless times in detail that he had abused, raped, and sodomized me. He ended up going to prison and served 7 years of a 15 year term and was set free. My mom stuck by him and is still with him now. I still, to this day, don’t understand the hold he had and has on her.

    I’ve been married to my husband for 16 years and have had intimacy issues the entire time. He is aware of my history and until recently (within the last year) has been very understanding. Now he has decided that I should be over this by now and he is done waiting. He wants to feel like he is loved and that I am attracted to him, which I am, but it’s hard for me to be intimate. I have nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, and self esteem issues.

    I have prayed my heart out and have done everything I know of but it’s not working. I feel myself “shutting down” becoming hardened by his comments about how I should get over it. I’ve never tried to use this as a crutch but I do ask that my partner be understanding. It makes me resentful and I find myself thinking all men are the same. They just want sexual gratification at whatever cost. I’m hurting and am not sure what to do. If I didn’t have children of my own to care for I wouldn’t still be living this nightmare. They’re the only thing that keeps me here.

    1. Carrie, I’ve been praying the last few days for you. I knew I needed to extend a hand out to you in love, but I wasn’t sure of how or when. I want you to know that I cry with you. Having been a victim of past sexual abuse and misuse from 2 different relatives, I know how devastating it can be to get to a healthier place emotionally and mentally, especially after we marry. It’s like a switch turns on in a different direction once we marry. It’s very, very difficult to deal with all that happened. There are so many triggers. That’s why I cry with you and pray for you. Every victim has different things that happened to her (or him, because some males are also sexually abused), but there is a string of familiarity –frightening, sad familiarity, so we really do feel much of the pain that another abuse victim describes. I feel that for you.

      I don’t know what to say, or how to say it, but all I know to say is that I’m sorry –deep down sorry, that this happened to you. It never, ever should have happened. Your step dad was so very, very wrong in what he did and your mom should have been your protector. How sad I am for you that he and she hurt you like they did. And how sad I am for your siblings that they also had different (and yet partially the same) types of abuse inflicted upon them. All of this was sick and SO hurtful. I cry for each of you.

      As I was praying about what to say to you, amazingly, the ministry of Focus on the Family aired a 2-day radio program on the subject of sexual abuse. I don’t believe this was any accident that you wrote what you did, when you did, and I read your comment, and also heard the radio programs. Carrie, I have no doubt that you have come a long way in your healing, with all that you went through, but I also can tell, from what you wrote that you still have more healing that has to occur. I’m not sure if the radio program (and the book that is talked about in the program) will help you… the approach is a bit different, but I can’t help thinking that God has something in it for you –something you can glean from it all, that’s just for you.

      Please don’t recoil at the title of the programs, because I believe the titles don’t really reflect what was said, and conveyed. Here’s a description of the programs and then I’ll follow with the links to them, so you can listen to them, and then I’ll add a bit afterward, from what I perceived in all of this. The description of the program is this: “Dawn Scott Jones, author of When a Woman You Love Was Abused, explains how she found emotional healing from childhood sexual abuse and how a husband can come alongside his wife who’s experienced similar trauma to offer her love and support.” Here are the links to the programs: — Helping Your Wife Overcome Childhood Sexual Abuse (Part 1 of 2) can be found at: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/helping-your-wife-overcome-childhood-sexual-abuse-pt1 And also, — Helping Your Wife Overcome Childhood Sexual Abuse (Part 2 of 2), found at: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/helping-your-wife-overcome-childhood-sexual-abuse-pt2.

      Carrie, I read what you wrote about your husband. I can relate, in some ways to some of what my husband and I went through earlier on, in our marriage. It was a tough one for both of us to go through this. I thought he should understand, and he thought that I had enough time to “get past” my past because he obviously wasn’t an abuser. But unless you’ve gone through abuse, you can’t crawl into the head or heart of a person who has gone through these types of traumas… so he was pretty clueless. He was kind much of the time, but he couldn’t relate, no matter what attempt was made. But I admit, that I couldn’t crawl into his head, seeing it from the outside –wanting to fix it, and yet it just wouldn’t “fix” as he would have wanted it to… to love someone and want to “be one” with someone who is hurting like that… it HAS to be hard to go through for him too.

      Eventually though, as I reached out for healing, because I realized that I no longer wanted to live as a victim, nor should I… I came to see my husband’s side to this. He also became a victim to the abuse I suffered. His life was forever altered in a different way. Here he was a guy –my husband, who just wanted to love me and express his love in ways that he best understood, plus, he wanted to be loved and needed and desired, and yet I was recoiling because of hurt from my past. Eventually, I finally woke up and did what I could to participate in getting the help I needed so I was no longer living as a victim, and I was no longer holding my husband in victimization because of what had happened to me. (I’m not sure I’m explaining this right.) We are in a beautiful place in our relationship now, because of the hard work I put forth, and he eventually did too.

      I need to tell you that the radio program I listened to, and encourage you to listen to, has things in it that ministered to my heart, even though I’m truly doing well, as far as getting past my past and not allowing it to control me any longer (where it was nightmarish before). I LOVE my husband and we do well together sexually. My past doesn’t haunt me any longer. But even so, little things that I gleaned from the radio program (and the book, I’m sure, after I obtain it and read it) filled in a few extra blanks for me to help me even farther in my healing. I pray it does that for you. 16 years is a long time to still be tied up in having “intimacy issues” within your marriage. Yes, as a former victim, I understand that a person could go 50 or 70 years as a victim… those types of memories can keep re-poisoning our thoughts. But we need to do what we can not to allow it the power or the energy. And it takes more than just wanting or wishing or praying them away. We need to reach out to those who know how to better HELP us to properly deal with them and put them to rest so they don’t keep resurrecting themselves. God will help in the process, but we need human help, as He directs to do this.

      The ministry of Focus on the Family has counselors on staff who can direct you to get further help. “Shutting down” is not a good option; you know that. You are a survivor… but you need to go beyond that and be a thriver. I pray that for you. I pray that for you, and pray that for your marriage and for your kids –that you ALL survive this and thrive as a healthy family, despite all that happened to you in the earlier parts of your life. Please listen to the radio programs, asking God to help you to glean through the info that will best minister to your heart and help you to get a better footing on this painful journey to healing. You will find info on the linked pages that will assist you to get that healing help. Please know that I care and am praying for you, Carrie, as you continue on this journey.

  14. Is there a seminar that husbands can go to in order to learn how to help their wives heal from past abuse?

    1. Hi Laura, There isn’t a seminar for husbands (at least one I’m aware of) but there is a book that I pointed out to Carrie, in an earlier reply to her comment. I heard about it on a Focus on the Radio program. The author was interviewed for 2 days. Here’s a description of the programs (you may want to listen to them) and then I’ll follow with the links to them, and then I’ll add a link to the book. The description of the program is this: “Dawn Scott Jones, author of When a Woman You Love Was Abused: A Husband’s Guide to Helping Her Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation explains how she found emotional healing from childhood sexual abuse and how a husband can come alongside his wife who’s experienced similar trauma to offer her love and support.” Here are the links to the programs: — Helping Your Wife Overcome Childhood Sexual Abuse (Part 1 of 2) can be found at: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/helping-your-wife-overcome-childhood-sexual-abuse-pt1 And also, — Helping Your Wife Overcome Childhood Sexual Abuse (Part 2 of 2), found at: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/helping-your-wife-overcome-childhood-sexual-abuse-pt2.

      The book itself, as mentioned above is titled, When a Woman You Love Was Abused: A Husband’s Guide to Helping Her Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation and of course, the author is Dawn Scott. I haven’t read the book, but from what I can see of it, I’m definitely going to get it. And if you go to the Amazon link provided, you will see other recommended books. You can get them in Kindle form or book form (I like the book form because I believe it’s easier to mark up and refer to at different times… but it’s a matter of personal choice).

      Whatever book or books you get, I believe these can be a great resources… sure wish I would have had these types of resources available to me years ago when I was first on my journey to healing. I hope they help.