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#386548 - 02/20/12 10:20 PM Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse?
annie123 Offline

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 11
Hi all,

I'm still working with my dear friend who is grappling with the abuse he suffered as a child - as he discusses it for the first time in 30 years.

Through much of the help I've gotten here, I've been able to be a good listener and reflecter (if that is a word)...but obviously he could use a therapist. I'm trying to encourage him gently each day...and I send small articles..hoping that he will see what has been written and that he isn't alone or weird and that people who have worked in this area can provide him comfort and help that I can't.

One thing that I have asked him is whether he would consider telling his wife or his brother about it. He said "Never." Both his wife and brother are wonderful people and while I can't be certain, I am 99% sure that they would react with love and help him find the support he needs.

Maybe the comfort in telling me is because I am outside that just seems that he could make so much more progress if he had a whole cheering section instead of a lone cheerleader.

Do any survivors - or partners of survivors - have thoughts on sharing with a partner? Especially after not having ever mentioned it in a marriage that has been 20+ years. Anything else I can say? Or should I back off?

Thanks all,

#386574 - 02/21/12 01:00 AM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: annie123]
herowannabe Offline

Registered: 11/01/11
Posts: 386
Loc: USA
Hi Annie-

Supporter here. My husband said he never told me for the following reasons:

- He didn't think it mattered. He believed he had it all filed away, that it didn't affect his life and wouldn't affect his future.

- He wouldn't have told me because he thought I would see him differently. He liked how I thought of him, and didn't want to lose that.

- He was embarrassed.

He was, of course, WRONG on all counts!

- His abuse GREATLY affected his entire life, and almost destroyed our marriage and family.

- Had he told me, I would definately have seen him differently: I would have been even more in awe of his capacity for survival and for having come through it remaining such a beautiful soul.

- He was embarrassed, but his humiliation came from my having discovered his acting out, for which he was and remains remorseful.

I hope he'll pop in here to give his perspective, which will likely be much more detailed than my own.

You're such a great person, Annie! I'm so happy you are here!



For I know the plans I have made for you. Plans to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

#386587 - 02/21/12 01:58 AM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: herowannabe]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4223
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Why do/don’t we tell?

First – I can only speak for myself and what I’ve read – never spoke to any other survivor in person, tho I would love to… This MS site & forums is the next best thing.

Second – from what I’ve read, the VAST majority DON’T tell a partner or friend or family member unless they find it unavoidable. That was certainly me. Never told as a kid – not to outsiders about what happened in the home – or to family members about what happened outside. Never the twqain shall meet! Never told as an adult until I was in a corner and the consequences of not telling were worse than those of telling. (I was afraid of losing everything – wife, kids, home, friends, job, livelihood, reputation, etc… If I told, maybe I could salvage some of it by playing the victim/sympathy/justification/excuse card and getting help as a required side-effect.)

Third – why? Though each individual’s reasons may vary in proportion or intensity, I’d say they probably include the following:

1. FEAR – what will happen if I tell? Without exception, survivors are conditioned by their abusers using overt words and actions or more subtle means NOT TO TELL. That is the perpetrator’s first line of defense. That produces fear of what will happen to him – retribution from the perp against the victim and/or his family; if the perp is a family member – harm to the family unit and further punishment for disobedience; exposure to his friends & family & resulting embarrassment; rejection by peers, family, partner, society. Fear of not being believed or taken seriously.
2. SHAME – Abuse cuts to the core of self-esteem. Boys & men are not “supposed” to be victims – especially when cast in a weak/feminine/passive/compliant role. We don’t want to be labeled as used, damaged, tainted, ruined, weird, freak, gay, queer, etc… We don’t want to be judged, rejected, treated with pity or contempt and we KNOW that we would be if anyone finds out. We know that it will change everything. Feeling less of a man and undesirable to a woman if the truth were known.
3. HOPELESSNESS – There is the sense that it has been this way forever and it can never change. There is nothing that will make it any better so why bother? It is not worth the pain of revealing how messed up and hurt we are. We don’t want to re-live it and know that would be inevitable as people question, probe, interrogate, and dig in the raw wounds.
4. GUILT – the doubt, suspicion, certainty that it was at least partly our fault. We feel dirty, bad, complicit, like an accomplice or participant instead of an innocent victim.
5. RATIONALIZATION – Thinking it was “normal” because it is the only experience he has had – and nothing to compare with. Convincing yourself it wasn’t that bad because it makes it less difficult to deal with. Knowing others had it worse – so why should you complain and be a wimp?
6. REPRESSION – Maybe if you don’t talk about it or think about it it will just go away and get better. Maybe time will heal the wounds. Sometimes the memories or details are actually blocked because of how hard it is to live with all that.
There’s probly lots more, but IMHO that’s how I see it in the most basic form.


How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#386594 - 02/21/12 02:43 AM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: traveler]
GoodHope Offline

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 428
My husband told no one for thirty some odd years. The first person he told was the therapist he was seeing for a porn addiction. Then he came home and told me. I think he was waiting for me to be disgusted. That never happened. My heart broke for him instantly. I think I realized before he did what was stolen from him.

He said he never told because:
1. he didn't think it applied to anything that was currently going on in his life. He made no connection to his porn habit to the 8 years of almost daily sexual contact all coupled with, wait for I'm not genius but that one seemed pretty obvious if nothing else.

2. He was ashamed that it felt good. In his mind since it felt good, he must have liked it and if he liked it, it can't be abuse right? He still has a hard time wrapping his brain around the idea that he didn't actually consent. Sometimes I think he understands that he was groomed and manipulated, but other times I'm not sure.

Those are what he admitted to. I think he didn't tell for the above reasons and the ones below are just my opinion.

My husband dislikes drama. He felt like disclosure was inviting activity into something that is long dead and gone and no one can do anything about anyway. He didn't want to upset the family dynamic.

I'm not sure why he finally told me and I just asked and he can't remember why he finally broke down and did it. If I had to guess, he was tired. He knew deep down something wasn't right with him and he just let it spill out????? I don't know. All I know is that I just held him. And he asked me if I thought less of him because he had been with a man. As if I could think less of a person for being raped as a child? It was an asinine question to me but he needed to know and see that it didn't change how I saw him and I'm glad I could honestly show him that.

Wife of a survivor

#386638 - 02/21/12 11:00 AM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: annie123]
Forexpreneur Offline

Registered: 02/08/12
Posts: 141
Loc: Uranus (hell no not yours. lol...
Hi I'm Alex and I am a male survivor of CSA and incest from the age of 5 to 12 (my psychologist and I think I was actually younger, possibly even 3 yo). I was also gang raped (5 yo) by males and females in a satanic ritual. My experiences are beyond harsh, and are not typical, but I can offer really good insight in general.

First off Annie, no, you should not back off at all on this board. This is for all of us to share and learn, and ultimately learn to love. I do advice to be gentle on the male survivors in person and to not push too hard, but do offer support. I will share why.

I'm 40 and am a gay male so my experience is a little different, but not really when it comes down to it. I can only speak for myself, but reality is that us male survivors share so much of the same traits, gay or straight, young or old. So I hope I can shed a little light for you and other F&F. wink

We have a lot of guilt. A lot of shame. A lot of confusion. A lot of anger. "It's not supposed to happen to boys. Especially not to men. Especially not from a female." That is what society says to us. That's what we all tell ourselves at some point.

Very, very few cities have support groups for men. Usually for women, but rarely for men. God forbid if you live in a small town. You won't even be able to find a therapist who has any experience in most cases, let alone a support group.

I will open my heart quite a bit on this post, which means the language will be raw. There is a reason for this. Not because it is fun, oh who the hell am I kiddn'? It is wink. But in all do seriousness, it is because we ALL carry a lot of anger until we work on releasing it, and too few really do. You will be able to enter a survivor mind a little in order to gain some understanding.

Also, before I truly explain, I want to be clear. Abuse is abuse. I don't care if it is boy or girl. Man or woman. Young or old. It simply is not right and should not exist in our society. But reality is, it does. My heart goes out to ALL survivors, not just males.

So here I go...

Boys aren't supposed to cry. Especially men. I don't care where you are from. That is what society tells us. "Man up! Act like a man! Just let it go! Dude, get over it! WTF, pull yourself together!" ... You get the idea.

It's a load of crap! Boys are pretty damn sensitive, and so are most men. Some of us more so than others. We often cry alone in the dark so no one knows. Or, some drown themselves in alcohol or drugs to try and numb out the pain. Some seek sex, some in very dark ways. Some become workaholics, but you want to know a "secret"? We ALL cry! No matter how stoic we may appear on the outside. We ALL cry.

Society teaches little boys to be like men. But we weren't, we were boys. There is a huge difference. So the little boy tries to act like a man. It's very common for little boys to act tough and self supportive to one degree or another. I was raped by males and females. Most were adults, but even the one who wasn't was still 7 years older than me. When you are 6, that is a hell of a big difference in size, even though in that case it was a female (an aunt).


I'll paint a picture... So here is a little boy, acting, and often thinking he is "big enough" to protect himself. A little 35 pound body is no match to someone who is 100 pounds, or especially 200+ pounds. Especially if it is someone you are supposed to trust, or do trust, which is most often the case.

You're pinned down, or restrained suddenly. Adrenaline pumps through your body and brain. Your heart races. Your mind races. You go into fight or flight mode. Nothing works. Your mind freezes. You've never been in this situation before. You get hit. Slapped. Yelled at. "Stop fighting you little fuck!".

Your cloths get ripped off, seemingly instantly. If it is a male, all of a sudden your butt gets penetrated and it's instant pain. Now your body pumps a huge and sudden surge of adrenaline, endorphins, and every damn chemical known to the human race because your body and mind is in panic and trauma mode. No lubrication! Nothing to soothe you. Nothing to protect you. Nothing to calm you. You want it to end now. But it doesn't.

It's daddy! Who the fuck are you going to tell? Where the hell was mom? Why didn't the police come and stop it and get the bad guy off of you? Wait. It's daddy. Daddy can't be the bad guy. Daddy is supposed to protect you, not steal your innocence. Why wasn't anyone there!!!!! WHERE THE FUCK WAS GOD!!!!!

"Man up! Take it like a little man! Get over it! Boys can't get raped. You are supposed to be able to protect yourself. YOUR MAKING IT UP!!!!"


That's a harsh picture, but it was very real for me and describes what happens, in some detail, on what happens in our minds, body, and soul, including an idea of the chemicals that get produced in mass quantities and practically instantly.

For some it's a brother. Sometimes a family friend. Sometimes a next door neighbor. A teacher. A preacher. A coach. Your mom. Your aunt. Etc., etc.

If it happens to a man, the emotional pain is even worse because they are bigger. Some are trained protectors or even killers (military).

Some of us got the courage to tell someone. But like me, I wasn't believed the first couple of times. Even worse, when I was 12 I tried committing suicide (loaded a gun and put it to my head and pulled the trigger. It didn't go off). I was suffering from PTSD but had no clue. I was seriously depressed (obviously not seriously happy wink ), and was trying to come to grips with being gay in a small religious town during the early 80's when AIDS was first being discovered. There was a lot of homophobia on the news and in my home.

I wrote a letter to a friend crying for help and my parents found it. They took me to a psychiatrist and I told him the very basic stuff. Then I told him about being gay, and this wonderful, "God fearing Christian" folded up my folder, threw it on the table and told me "I can't help you. It's against my religious beliefs. All fags will burn in hell, and I think your making things up." Then he walked me out and told my parents with me standing there that I WANTED to be gay. Can you believe that. Shit, these days the guy could loose his license and get sued big time. I didn't WANT to be gay, I wanted to try to accept myself and try to care for me.

Anyway, not all of us have good experiences on trying to tell for one reason or another. That is if we even get up the courage. So many don't. We try to deal with it alone. Sometimes we "hit bottom" in life and have no choice so it all comes flooding out at once.

So many especially don't want to tell someone who actually loves and cares for us. "For Christ sakes, they'll reject us too. We've had enough. Please take the pain away!!!! Please!!!! Don't let them find out. Who could they possibly love us if we told them?"

That's essentially what goes through most of our minds to one degree or another.

So you all aren't worrying about me too much, I'm a lot better than you might think. Yes I still have a lot of pain. Yes, I still have a lot to work through, but I am in really good hands. I have a great psychologist who is supportive and I can tell anything to. I have a very supportive sister (I only have one sibling) and a mother who does her best to support me, and is doing a great job. I have one uncle who is very supportive, and I do have a few close and supportive friends.

I do not have a partner though because the last one shattered my heart and it is something I'm still processing. That was 8 years ago. I've not dated anyone since, but I'm finally getting to the point where I'm close to slowly venturing out again.

I'm a very caring, loving and gentle person. But I do get sad. I do get depressed from time to time. I have an IQ of 146 which officially makes me a genious, even though my spelling sucks. LOL.

I'm certainly not a loss, but I do feel broken. We all do. Some get passed that but it takes a lot of work, and it does take time.

I hope this post helps F&F to get a true and honest glimpse into our pain and why it is so difficult for us to process. My heart goes out to those of you who love us and try so desperately to support us. You are all truly loved, even if you don't know or feel it.

From a true survivor.

Alex smile


#386639 - 02/21/12 11:14 AM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: GoodHope]
earlybird Offline

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 1007
I didn’t tell my wife, nor anyone else for twenty years. Most of the reasons why have already been shared in the above replies. For me, fear and shame were the biggest motivator for being silent and as the others have shared above I didn’t really think it was causing myself or my relationship with my wife any problems. (It happened – it was behind me – there was nothing I could do to change it – no good would ever come from discloser – the issues I struggled with were unrelated to the rape, or so it seemed.)
I think the one thing missing thus far is , at least for me, I felt like I was alone with this issue. At the time of the rape 1971 I’d never heard of a man being raped by other men. It was only whispered that women were raped and at that time they were often suspected at being at the root of why it happened, but men being raped was never discussed even in innuendos. Plus, I wanted my old life back. I desperately needed to rebuild the man I once was to his exact previous specifications and I knew instinctively to disclose would destroy all hope of regaining that person and the life and understandings I once knew. On that count I was 100 per cent correct. Discloser destroyed all possibility of being known and seen as a man who was not vulnerable. What I didn’t realize at the time is that there was no regaining that life, it was destroyed. I wasn’t destroyed but there was not going to be any recovery of the previous person I was. The fact is I am vulnerable and that talking about it or not talking about it wasn’t changing the this reality. But the veiling had begun and it continues to this day, forty years later.

I did finally open up and disclosed to my wife then later to my two children and a few close friends. Some I lost due to the divulging some became even dearer to me after they learned of it. I would say that it is a crap shoot as to who will remain connected after learning and who won’t. The risks are high and as time goes on I’ve learned it’s not really such a good idea to talk with any, except a very select few. For one reason it often causes others pain either because they care deeply for you and it hurts them to mentally go back and live their imagined version of what it must have been like or it triggers something in their past and they desperately want to avoid reliving it thus, I’ve come to believe, that is why some have discontinued their friendships with me upon hearing my story.

So, I’ve come full circle from living a life of protection by the powerful wall of silence to a desperate need to be free to disclose and then back to being mostly silent, interesting enough, for many of the same reasons with the primary one being I feel pretty much alone and recognize that my fear that society here and elsewhere will marginalize men who were raped by other men!

Your last question was should you back off? Whether you should back off or not remains to be seen but my instinct is be gentle and careful or the price could be high for your freind and yourself.

Balanced (My goal)

There is symmetry
In self-reflection
Life exemplified
Grace personified

#386646 - 02/21/12 12:33 PM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: earlybird]
Dar Offline

Registered: 11/15/11
Posts: 170
Loc: Missouri

The thought of having people know what happened to me was so scary.

What would they think???? IM gay, OMG NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
They would laugh at me!!!!!!!!!!!
I would become the butt of their jokes!!!
I could never show my face around people again!!!!
No one would ever look at me the same again!!!!

I was thinking like a child because my mind had been frozen in time and that is the reasoning a child would use to hide his pain and fears.

It sounds as if your friend is crying for help and needs it to move forward with his life.

You are acting as his supporter and he should be telling this to his wife for her to support him. (Please don't take that wrong, we all can use all the support we can get)

IMHO, your friend is still hiding his past as you are correct in stating that you are not in his circle of family and until he can open up to his family he will be living in hell.

Unless his wife is a total self centered B, I just bet that she will not only join him in his quest to heal but be the best suppoet that he could ever imagine or hoped for.

Please push him to see a Therapist, They are trained to help. We can only be a part if the healing process, as each and every one of us are differant. Your friend is included in that statement Annie.
IM not being mean here, but if you really want to help your friend, get him to a Therapist. That would the best thing you can do for him at this point.

Thanks for being there for him Annie. You are a good soul.

All I ever wanted was a hug.

#386669 - 02/21/12 05:03 PM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: Dar]
annie123 Offline

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 11
I am so touched by those who responded here.

To the supporters, your experiences are so helpful in giving me a way to approach my friend and help him even consider sharing this with his wife and family.

To the survivors, your strength and courage humbles me. Your honest and candid responses really help me to better understand what he is facing and the reasons how he could live so long without sharing anything with those closest to him. It really just keeps bringing me back around to how much of a heavy weight this must be to carry every day - especially if you have no one to help you carry it.

For the survivors, did it help you to share? Or did you wish you could put the genie back in the bottle so to speak after your confided in those closest to you?


#386671 - 02/21/12 05:20 PM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: annie123]
whome Offline

Registered: 05/07/11
Posts: 1743
Loc: Johannesburg South Africa
We are ashamed about what had happened to us.
We fear that the person we tell will run a mile.

Truth is that you discover that this is not true.
Not one person I have told has reacted that badly that I cannot handle it. If they do react, then its because they have a hurt in their past that reflects in what you have just told them.
Since I have come out at my AA group, more people have asked me to sponsor them, more people attend our group and things are a lot better there because we understand the brave souls tht told their stories on that evening.

So, don't stop encouraging your friend to tell, and start encouraging him to come here and find his healing, not that you aren't doing a great job.

Keep it up, you are a kind soul

Heal well

Matrix Men South Africa
Survivors Supporting Each other
Matrix Men Blog

#386675 - 02/21/12 05:43 PM Re: Why do/don't survivors tell their partner/spouse? [Re: annie123]
LandOfShadow Offline

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
You might do some testing of the waters for him somehow because the risks are huge in disclosure. But it's all over this site. Men get labelled as sex offenders or potential ones often for being molested. They loose access to their children, children who are relatives, it gets used against them by divorce lawyers to gain advantage in custody, kicked out of churches and boy scouts "to protect kids", labeled as losers, fired from jobs, shunned by family, lose friends, on and on.

It certainly helps--it's even crucial for healing--to share, to get support, to not be alone, but it's very risky. I have mixed feeling having been quite open and public. It's helped me heal a lot, but I feel there's tremendous stigma, very little support and attacks from professionals and people quick to exploit you.

It's kind of a no-win situation. I'd say be very careful.

Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie, Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer

And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you

Paul Eluard

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