A number of things have happened to me since childhood. One of my sisters was sexually abusing me (age 7 or 8) and a female childhood friend also sexually abused me. I was raped repeatedly by another sister and a cousin as a teenager. I was lost and confused for so long. I had no base of reality for years.
When I got to college, I became promiscuous. Thank God I did not contract any diseases. I met and married a wonderful guy. We are now having marriage problems directly related to sex. We have not had a healthy sexual relationship from the start. He knows about everything. He is not very skilled and not very confident about our sex life. We have been married for a little over a year. We have sex 1-2 times every 2 months (or more). It has been this way since day one. We waited for sex until we got married. We struggle with this aspect in our relationship ONLY. Trust me it frustrates me but, I'm not sure if it affects him at all. I don't initiate sex anymore and when he does, I'm turned off.
I still have nightmares & flashbacks. The sister that abused me has just recently told the rest of the family that I voluntarily slept with my cousin. I have never mentioned what she did to me except to my husband. This has sent me into a tailspin. I believe that the reason for a recent fight between my husband and I is a result of stress and this problem with my sister.
I started a new job this year and I am completely at a loss as to what to do. I am constantly bombarded with memories and I can't handle it any more. I can't talk to my husband about it anymore because I end up comforting him when I bring up the topics. He feels like he could've stopped it. I just want him to want me. I hate fighting. When he does something, I always think that he is going to hurt me like everyone else has. I feel bad and I just don't know what to do.
Is there anything I can do without going to professional counseling? I need some true healing - not just surface healing like I've done before.
Chloe (22 year-old woman)
Thank you for sharing. I realize that it must be tough just to find the words to express such frustration and confusion. You have been through quite an ordeal and I would like to commend your determination in seeking healing. Since you are struggling with many issues, initially it might help to STOP, BREATH and CENTER YOURSELF. It's often helpful to prioritize the relevant issues and explore them one at a time.
I'm unclear about your past attempts at therapy and the outcome. It's likely that what you are feeling may be the result of years of avoidance in dealing with the trauma associated with recurrent episodes of sexual abuse and family conflicts. Therefore I would have to stress the importance of seeking a therapist who specializes in PTSD issues. True healing is a possibility and will require a commitment of you, your spouse and hopefully all relevant family members to ongoing psychotherapy.
The key issues in dealing with PTSD issues, relevant to your being a sexual abuse victim is to work through the issue of sexual abuse with a heightened understanding and control of your feelings and behavior, relevant to current triggers, boundaries, self-esteem and healing the family system. Basically if I understood your letter, you are struggling with chronic feelings of being lost/confused, an unhealthy sexual relationship within your marriage, communication problems with spouse and family, lack of an adequate support system, and feelings of being out of control.
It's quite possible that if sexual issues are the only struggles in your marriage, intimacy is serving as a trigger to the recollections of your past sexual abuse. It is possible that you had to emotionally remove yourself from the room or situation during each abusive episode because you felt helpless and saw no other way. Although you are physically present with your spouse during sexually intimate moments, just the thought of intimacy maybe causing you to find the quickest way out emotionally. Again I suggest that you seek a professional therapist, whom you can trust and explore these issues further.
I would be concerned about the sister who still chooses to continue this saga and would be interested in what purpose this is serving in her life today. It's been my experience that secrets are like prisons and they hold all involved persons captive, often causing great distress. Many times secrets thought hidden surface as symptoms of psychological pathologies. When secrets of abuse have been hidden, the entire family structure is in dire need of reconciliation and healing. True healing from the powerful prisons which secrets create are possible when key family members are informed and given an opportunity to process their feelings in a safe therapeutic environment.
As you begin to locate and develop a therapeutic relationship with a professional therapist, try to keep in mind that FORGIVENESS is divine. Forgiveness can create a sense of freedom and peace, while facilitating a willingness to let go and move forward. Begin to think of yourself as a SURVIVOR vs a victim. You becoming a survivor does not release the abuser from his/her responsibility in the abuse.
I encourage you to maintain your focus on true healing as you continue to grow through forgiveness, self-worth and the understanding of who you are as a person with a unique purpose for being.
Eartha J. Camon
This question was answered by Eartha J. Camon. She has a MA, LPC, NCSC, CCRC, MAFC and promotes welbeing by encouraging wholeness through a healthy balance of body, mind and spirit. She has expertise in a wide number of topics such as relationships, depression, substance abuse, addicitions, sports counseling, forensic issues, anxiety, parenting, conduct disorder and PTSD.
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