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Thread: sexually abused + terrified of intimacy

  1. #1
    Gold Member FrogIsFree's Avatar
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    sexually abused + terrified of intimacy

    I was sexually abused as a girl by my father. It went on for years with my mother knowing it was happening. My mother was physically abusive, violent and verbally abusive using humiliation and degradation to hurt me every day. I was quiet, withdrawn, had bulimia, depression and was socially inept because I was kept away from social interaction and used as domestic slave from very young. I was later molested by a babysitter's son then raped by an older, violent man who is now stalking me.

    I have dreaded intimacy all my life and been put in very dangerous situations by people conscious I was not very socially aware and blind to abuse because of having been seriosuly abused and not learnt to set proper boundaries with people.

    I am facing the prospect of a new relationship having been single for some years because I wanted to be with somebody who really loved me for me, not just another boyfriend who would not value a special connection between us and where I would be cheated on again.
    I also felt it was unfair to get in to a relationship knowing I hadn't worked through my problems. I then went for counselling but the counsellor mocked me, made derisory harsh comments, flirted with me in several sessions and eventually (because of a premontion I had saying she was serious trouble and was going to exploit me ..would you believe?) I told her I was ending the sessions and that's when she made a pass at me, so I don't want to go back to counselling - the previous counsellor was a drama queen and turned the whole session in to a theatrical exercise (I later found out she worked part-time as an actress in her local amateur dramatics society! ..yup..!) - I reported her but the one recently made a pass at me is stubborn and aggressive and I don't want the stress of reporting her, because I think she got the message any way that I was leaving because I knew she was an appauling counsellor doing nothing to help me.

    I have been working through this on my own - I am very shy, but it is not always obvious because I have learned lots of confidence and assertiveness techniques through the work I have done in training in the past - but underneath, I essentially remain the same person.

    My difficulty is this: I am working on how I tell a future partner without scaring him off?
    I read a post on here by a guy supporting a girl who has similar issues and am amazed how supportive and understanding he is.. My problem is: I feel dirty and though guys chase me all the time (I am not bragging here, just trying to create some perspective on how attractive I might be - granted some of the guys are idiots, but some are okay too) I fluctuate between feeling genuinely attractive (seldom) then feeling totally ugly and disgusting and I have deep concerns that the new guy will immediately be repulsed by me when he knows a man has touched me in that way and I have been raped - like I am soiled, damaged goods. I know logically this isn't true but I feel I cannot tell him.
    But if I don't.., I will cause him unnecessary suffering because he will be put in a position where he is effectively navigating an emotional landscape in the dark and he will be forever walking on eggshells around me, getting frightened, worked up and withdrawing or lashing out emotionally which is not fair on him and would be unkind to put him through without him fully knowing the facts ahead of time - so he is prepared for it.

    The other question is: how soon in to a relationship do you tell a guy you are the victim of sexual abuse and rape? Its bringing out a lot of anger (pain) and wanting to run in the opposite direction and tell myself he does not value me and is not serious about me, because I do not trust he could treat me well. I want to trust him but I am conscious that if I reveal the ugly truth about my life and reveal who I really am, he won't be crazy about me anymore.
    I am permanently freaked out by this, having major panic attacks on a regular basis & hyperventilating and feeling like a cornered animal regards sex and intimacy, like he can see the real me and I worry that he is more experienced than me and has a healthy attitude to sex and intimacy.. this last bit freaks me out more than you would know. I want him to know, because it is a massive part of why I am the way I am, yet I don't want to overwhelm him in the early stages. He is a very intuitive, intelligent, sensitive person who I know already probably knows something is deeply wrong for me, but he is also a gentle, light-hearted guy who deserves not to be made miserable by me. I know I have an issue to do with being loved, but I don't want to hurt him unnecesarily more so because I sense that he is essentially a committed, loyal person, but that in itself scares me half to death. I am afraid he might be choosing me mistakenly.. probably mostly my fears and anxieties, but I don't want him to feel he missed out on being with somebody with fewer problems and a more straight forward, healthier attitude to their body and sexual intimacy.
    I am still working it all out but would really like to hear from from women who are in this predicament and especially from men about to/dating a woman who has been through some or all of the things I have and what you think and feel about her past, her and ongoing issues to help her deal with it with your support..
    Last edited by FrogIsFree; 02-06-2011 at 02:25 PM. Reason: left out some words that made it not make sense..

  2. #2
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    I think you shouldn't give up on counselling because of the bad experiences you have had. You just haven't found the right counsellor yet. These are MAJOR issues you are dealing with and I don't think you are ready to be in a realationship until you have healed your past. You have to be whole and in a good place before you can consider involving yourself with another person who will have their own set of issues they are dealing with.

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    Platinum Member OptomisticGirl's Avatar
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    I was sexually abused as a child and I kind of went the opposite way. Sexually abused children usually either withdraw from intimacy or become overly promiscious (I became the latter). To answer your questions:

    The 'right' partner won't care if you were abused or not. Someone who thinks less of you because of it doesn't deserve your time. I told my fiance about my abuse about a month into our relationship really. It's something I play close to my vest normally because I hate the 'pity you' routine people give you. They don't mean to but unless they have been through it they can't understand how that can grate on someone's nerves. My fiance was super understanding (he had dealt with it in a previous relationship and in a counseling position as well so he wasn't new to it) but I know even if he hadn't of had experience with it he still would have treated me the same.

    He's always been supportive and there for me. I sometimes still have nightmares and even 4,000 miles away he's there as soon as I email him to tell him I had one.

    For me, I dealt with the abuse in I didn't let it or won't it to control my life. I felt the same way you did in the years after the abuse (that someone would see me as damaged goods) and I just told myself that something horrible happened to me and I dealt with with it. It's a part of my past and is not the SOLE thing that defines me. It's a part of me but it is not all there is to me.

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    Bronze Member anonymousSAD's Avatar
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    I don't know what to say to help but I can definitely understand how you feel because I went through a lot of the same things. Hang in there!

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  6. #5
    Gold Member FrogIsFree's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    I was sexually abused as a child and I kind of went the opposite way. Sexually abused children usually either withdraw from intimacy or become overly promiscious (I became the latter).
    I am concerned that I am going this way as part of misguided exposure therapy, if I am totally honest.
    I detach emotionally when it comes to intimacy because every brush of skin, every touch, every bit of phsyical contact just brings the events flooding back like in super high definition, despite not making any conscious effort to hold on to it. I have the opposite problem - I haven't faced it properly. I am running away from it.. I don't want to be an angry, promiscuous loner but I have moments when it is not there and I relax and the images aren't there but within seconds or minutes they occur again and it is the feelings that go with it.. of lno control and being suffocted and silenced. Its a waking nightmare, to add to the sleep-time nightmares and flashbacks I suffer with endlessly. When I tried to face it and let the images run, it got worse and more intense so I packed them away and just fight the ones that flood back when I am trying to be spontaneous.

    To answer your questions:

    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    The 'right' partner won't care if you were abused or not. Someone who thinks less of you because of it doesn't deserve your time. I told my fiance about my abuse about a month into our relationship really. It's something I play close to my vest normally because I hate the 'pity you' routine people give you. They don't mean to but unless they have been through it they can't understand how that can grate on someone's nerves. My fiance was super understanding (he had dealt with it in a previous relationship and in a counseling position as well so he wasn't new to it) but I know even if he hadn't of had experience with it he still would have treated me the same.
    I don't agree with avoiding a relationship, hiding and locking myself away and being deprived of an enriching relationship: I need love like everyone else and dealing with my issues could take another ten years, so I am choosing that being alone for another ten years on top of the seven that I have not allowed anyone in to my life is nuts. Some people are strong enough to handle helping others like you and like me, some aren't. The prospective new partner is strong enough.. I can feel it and after all it is his individual decision to love and support me - nobody will be forcing him or carelessly making him suffer a commitment he doesn't want, I just need to be honest with him so he is making informed choices for his own welfare as well as mine.
    I am glad for you that this man in your life is so loving and supportive: I am getting to the age where most women would be panicking - if they were in my shoes - that they won't be able to have children soon.. but I am not worried because I think where counselling hasn't worked for me (lots of people have said keep trying but it has caused more problems for me than it has solved and unless anyone has been in my shoes, they can't know what I went through with counselling and if they did would understand why I have decided it is not for me and have drawn a line under it), a relationship can help me resolve some of the conflict I feel inside me and help me heal. His issues are my challenge too!! ..let's not forget! He is defensive having been criticised and belittled and I have succeeded in breaking through that shell and helped him. It is the start of a mutually deeply loving and respectful relationship. He has lots of needs too, and to me because we are both sensitive, intelligent, insightful people - at the end of the day it is all about honesty - then we can both decide what we can handle, how and when. Its up to us if we feel ready to enter a relationship or not on basis of that honesty.

    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    He's always been supportive and there for me. I sometimes still have nightmares and even 4,000 miles away he's there as soon as I email him to tell him I had one.
    - that's amazing. I worry about being a burden and sometimes people are so keen to hive me off and keep me away from a relationship when instead I just need to explore that someone will understand me and not be scared off and be able to be this supportive. If you look at it this way: I am a wonderful emotional investment!

    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    ...I didn't let it or won't it to control my life.
    It's a part of me but it is not all there is to me.
    - well it does currently overwhelm me, but it takes time to get that control back - it hasn't been an instant process and I need to be kind to myself and take baby steps, gently and slowly. Regards defining me: I am who I am but as you will know abuse makes it hard for many victims, perhaps less yourself - I don't want to assume here - to know who they really are. For many victims, like me, the abuse robbed me of my real identity very young - I was not allowed to develop my own sense of self until I left my parents to escape the abuse. So yes, I agree it is a part of me, but it is a part of me I cannot erase quickly and replace with the real identity of me and it will always be there no matter how much I pretend it has gone away, it is just I will be learning to live WITH it without feeling I am constantly fighting it and feeling disgusted - that is what I hope..

    Thank you for your feedback.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member OptomisticGirl's Avatar
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    Thearpy never really did anything for me but it DID help to an extent. It didn't work for me because I always felt the therapist did the 'pity you' looks and in the way they talked but that was the only aspect of it that helped me. I think for you therapy may help address the whole just brushing against someone and it comes back to aspect of you dealing with it. I don't think you have to completely 'whole' before you enter into the next relationship. I think to some degree a relationship CAN help you get over it if it's with the right person but for the most part healing over abuse is something you have to do from within and a partner can only do so much.

    The abuse def. robbed me of 'me' for a long time. It occurred for about 3 years during the age of 9-12, a very pivotal time for a young girl too. And without getting into details, I still have to deal with my abuser on a weekly bases and have always had to deal with him to some degree. You never erase abuse or replace it with something. It's always a part of you, you just have to learn and teach yourself not to let it BE you, you know? The reason I play it close to my vest about the abuse is I hate that pitiful look people give, they make you feel like a victim. Was I victim? Sure. But I'm no longer a victim and haven't seen myself as one in years.

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    Gold Member FrogIsFree's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    ..the 'pity you' looks
    - that's a lack of true empathy.. I loathed that!

    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    I think for you therapy may help address the whole just brushing against someone and it comes back to aspect of you dealing with it.
    It's just not for me- Ive made my decision. There are other ways of dealing with this as we have said and you've repeated below - this feels much more natural for me - counselling was always a forced experience with strangers I had to learn to trust.. that just created an extra issue to deal with.. I can only deal with one at a time and I am not wasting any more energy on counselling.. if it isn't for me - we are all different - the bad experiences alone were not the determining factor - I am a strong person and good at self-reflecting ..I have been able to turn this my self-sufficiency skills & strength to my advantage and trained in psychotherapy to help others.. this is one area that once I help myself, however many stages and years it takes, I can use it to help others:

    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    The abuse def. robbed me of 'me' for a long time. It occurred for about 3 years during the age of 9-12, a very pivotal time for a young girl too. And without getting into details, I still have to deal with my abuser on a weekly bases and have always had to deal with him to some degree. You never erase abuse or replace it with something. It's always a part of you, you just have to learn and teach yourself not to let it BE you, you know? The reason I play it close to my vest about the abuse is I hate that pitiful look people give, they make you feel like a victim. Was I victim? Sure. But I'm no longer a victim and haven't seen myself as one in years.
    - I think that you having to deal with your abuser on a regular basis is horrendous. You must also be very strong. I think you could do with not being subjected to that every day..?? Is there no way you could give yourself a break and separate your life from this person? I can't imagine how much your partner worries about you if you are miles away from him??
    I have learned to not regard the word victim as unhealthy these days, because a victim doesn't mean a weak, pathetic, at the mercy of person that the word has connotations with but a person who was done wrong by - a person who suffered wrong-doing at the hands of a selfish abuser - we know we did nothing wrong and the word victim is a healthy reminder of the shame they ought to feel about their crimes and to this mind is a description of empowerment in my eyes.

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    Platinum Member OptomisticGirl's Avatar
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    Is there someone you trust like a relative or friend that could be your 'counselor'? I found the best therapist I ever had my French teacher. She had no professional training but would just sit and listen.

    Sadly no. This person is still and will always be in my life due to certain relationships. When I move to England next year to be with my fiance (then husband) I wont' have to deal with him. I only actually deal with him about one day a week and I suppose I have gotten stronger in doing that. Well my fiance and I have always been LDR (4,000 miles) but me having to have contact with the abuser def shook him when I first told him.

    I just can't see the word 'victim' like that. To me victim means weak and at the mercy of someone but that is just how I deal with it. To me I am a SURVIVOR. Not a victim of abuse but a survivor of abuse.

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    Gold Member FrogIsFree's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    Is there someone you trust like a relative or friend that could be your 'counselor'?
    - the sad answer is: no!

    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    I found the best therapist I ever had my French teacher. She had no professional training but would just sit and listen
    - I have had people like this come in to my life but they have left as quickly as they have arrived.. just situational issues have moved them and me on, before we got chance to establish and maintain a longer-term connection.

    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    me having to have contact with the abuser def shook him when I first told him.
    - I'm not surprised! I would be worried sick about you,.. mostly out of imagining being in his shoes and being too far away to simply hop on a bus, but have to hop on a plane and wait several hours before I can do anything to help you!

    Originally Posted by OptomisticGirl
    I just can't see the word 'victim' like that. To me victim means weak and at the mercy of someone but that is just how I deal with it. To me I am a SURVIVOR. Not a victim of abuse but a survivor of abuse.
    - fair enough! We're all different.. I just have a different understanding of the full meaning of the word that empowers me..

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    Rape and abuse are about power..have you considered trying to take charge (I'm not suggesting, of course, that you be overly aggressive), when it comes time to take that step in a relationship? It might benefit you to take the power back. You may find that you don't react negatively to being the initiator, and can slowly work into him touching you.

    I know I'm just a guy and have never experienced the trauma that you have..but I do work at a counseling facility!

    I hope I helped you a little bit and wish you a speedy recovery

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