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#56438 - 06/13/05 11:48 AM Re: Gay Survivor Doesn't Like to Be Touched
Wifey1 Offline

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 380
Hi Jasper,


Relationships are some rough work, even if neither partner has had any previous traumas. My partner and I are both survivors of SA & physical & emotional abuse that comes with it. With the bonus of alcoholic parents. So that is a bit of our back ground.

Please remember I am not a doc or a professional but I can only share from my experience & what my own Hubby & I have shared. During a "flashback", it is like "re - living" the abusive situation that took place. For me sometimes I can remember the actual details of the abuse, other times I can only come away with bits and pieces or snapshots of the incident. I also know that because my particular abuse went on for so many years that much of my memories and flashbacks can often be mixed together. Most recently mostly what I come away with is not remembering the flashback experience or "memory" at all, but being left with emotional feelings that I cannot name. Flooding of emotions is not quite right either, and I can only suspect that perhaps it is remembering abuse that took place when I was unable or before I was able to speak words.

As far as actually being touched during the flashback, perhaps if you can think of the perspective that since your "mind" is re-living the abuse, so is your body physically. Perhaps there are times that your body can actually FEEL touch. For example I.E. that something is touching or brushing your arm and you look down and nothing is there. Or on the other end of the spectrum that you can feel pain, but nothing is there causing the pain again. It could be part of a way for your mind and body to re -live and heal the abusive act.

I cannot give you an exact answer as to WHY you pull away from your partner, but if you could perhaps consider that you are not actually pulling away from Andy, but rather pulling away from the "abusive act" itself. I know that when I have pulled away, I usually end up in a very tight ball in a corner somewhere. It matters not if I am sleeping alone or if I have a partner to sleep with. For me I know it is a way to try to protect myself during the "flashback" or re - living of the act of abuse.

Try to believe Andy that he understands, so that you do not internalize the guilt. For my own self I know that the "guilt" I am already feeling from having the flashback to begin with is left over and it makes it easier to "internalize" that guilt into "well , if I feel this bad then Hubby feels even worse and "I" did it to him." When in reality I could not control WHEN and HOW the flashback came back at the time. Try to TRUST (very hard to do) that Andy understands to the BEST of his ability of what is happening with you. Later if you can & if you both want to you can share the details if you are able to and it is something you can do. I do hope that Andy has a therapist or at least a support group also just for himself.

Of course Andy is not one of the males who abused you, however while re - living an abusive act it is difficult to "see" your actual physical surroundings. Andy could help you during the flashbacks if not by touching but by using a soft voice and talking to you saying such things as "Jasper, I am here with you." "Jasper, I am not going to leave you." -- Quiet soft statements to help "ground you" as to where you are and what is actually happening. Another example that has worked for us "Jasper, you are in your very own living room and you are now 35 years old" "no one can hurt you anymore". Those types of statements can be comforting and even though touch is painful, and yes sometimes words -- but both can also be healing used in different ways.

My own spouse has some VERY serious "rules" about touching. ESPECIALLY during sexual contact. He does not like for ANYONE to touch him beyond a handshake. His own mother was only allowed a few seconds of his version of a "hug". However, he "hugs freely & normally", me & our daughters. I can only understand this as we are his "safe people". And it is just a "natural" part of life for many ppl even beyond us we dont even notice that much.

Our sexual contact has taken many hours of NOT being in the bedroom and talking about what is ok to touch and what is completely OFF limits in touch or activity. This naturally for the two of us led into sharing the details of our "secrets" , but I think it helped us to be able to abide by our boundaries and there wasnt any "bartering" that took place either. However since Andy is your partner and has not been abused I would suggest that you both see a counselor together to discuss safe touches, perhaps even Andy could have a session to himself so he could know what to look for and how to help keep you safe and if it is ok to call the therapist if he ever feels overwhelmed and needs help during a flashback?

Does my Hubby need his space - or alone time and how do I handle it? Yes he needs his alone time and even in "relationships without an adult survivor" partners need alone time. I didnt handle it well (and some times still struggle when i am in a needy mode) at first then when I realized that "normal couples" do it too and that is what "I" wanted was to be a "normal couple", then I took that time to be filled with either my own time alone or time for just "mom & the grils" or out with girlfriends etc. I did things for "just me". It has been one hell of a learning experience, and sometimes I have to go thru my "notebook" to find "the list of things to do instead of XXXXX."

I don't or haven't NOT gotten my feelings hurt yet when he doesnt want to be touched. It STILL hurts every time. I dont run off crying or what I usually did was stand there and get all indignant and accuse him of blah blah blah stuff --- HOWEVER, I now can let myself feel hurt for a short while, and I know that I dont HAVE to hide the hurt from him (but i dont place the burden on him either). Basically, I just give it some time to let it pass and it does. Sometimes he wants to talk about it later if I ask him "do you want to talk about when XXXXX happened?" or he might ask me or just start talking about it. I has gotten easier over time tho.

And Jasper as to the gay relationship thing, I dont think their is any differences between what "type" of relationship a couple has. Whether it is Gay, Hetero, Bi -- as long as there is Love, Boundaries, Kindness and the basic guidelines to a "healthy loving" relationship they are all alike.
I know tho in reality I have no idea what it is like to be in any kind of a relationship beyond a hetero relationship so I think in those relationships it surely must take more " talk and being on the same page" when out in public together. The only exposure I have had is having an "acquired gay son", and being friends with various gay people.

I'd like to suggest some good reading material that helped us out a lot along the way when we first entered this thing called "healing our sexual abuse issues".

"The Courage to Heal" by Laura Davis and Ellen Bass
there is even some homework in the books that help & in the back of the book is more referrals.

Peace Fill us All, Sammy

#56440 - 06/13/05 06:59 PM Re: Gay Survivor Doesn't Like to Be Touched
Wifey1 Offline

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 380

I do know what you mean and yes you ARE worth it. The "end" is always a scarey proposition no matter our circumstances. However a girlfriend & I have a couple of mottos that we go by to get thru some really tough times in our lives. 1) This too shall pass 2 ) Given enough time this too really will pass 3 ) someday we are gonna probably laff our asses off at how silly we are being about this right now.

All that said one suggestion to perhaps TRY to help be able to touch during the flashback, is maybe have a "favorite" blanket" ready to cover you in & then imagine that it is a protective cloak. If Andy can "cover you" with the blanket and then touch you , maybe slowly you can get used to some direct touch.
1) try the blanket touching when you are NOT having a flashback so you'll sort of know what to expect
2) when NOT having a flashback set some guidelines that are "safe places" to touch I.E. forearms, or hand on shoulder
3) set lighting at a slightly more than "dim" setting
4 ) Have Andy give you a "favorite softy toy" - something huggable, or even something that you can beat the crap out of if you are angry

I think what has worked best for us Jasper is that we made sure to talk about these highly charges subjects when we were NOT in the middle of them. AND we involved a therapist frequently, plus as sick as it may seem it was a benefit that we both are survivors so we pretty much "knew" / "know" what the other is / has experienced.

Hubby however still has not gone completely into what I would consider a flashback, or at least one that I was present during the whole thing. AND I MAKE sure I TELL him I am going to touch him especially in the dark of night, (he wears a CPAP) AND I use the flat of my hand firm but not pushy.

Peace, Sammy

#56441 - 06/13/05 07:50 PM Re: Gay Survivor Doesn't Like to Be Touched
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA

I think we all have some version of this problem \:\)

And I have to agree with Wifey and your Andy that we don't want you to pile more guilt on because our feelings are hurt.

The feeling I get when I can't reach out to my boyfriend and comfort him is less about personal rejection and more frustration and powerlessness-- that no amount of my love can fix what's going on inside him-- he has to work through it-- I can't be with him in his mind where it's happening. And that does hurt-- I'm sure you know just what I mean, having taken care of him while he was sick.

My boyfriend has also helped me a lot by letting me know what else I can do that is a help and a comfort to him. As Sammy said, we have to talk about it while it's not happening-- but just knowing that there are very simple things I can do to make my boyfriend's bad day a little easier for him takes away a lot of my hurt and frustration. Also, even when he's not in a space where he can say "Thank you for caring for me" without making himself feel worse, he can say thanks for turning off the phone or making tea, and that makes me feel better too.


I just dread the thought that something might happen to him. Like at the end of this, maybe there's hope for real healing between us. And I guess a part of me is afraid that "the other shoe" might drop first.
Jasper I struggle with this too. For me it is connected to the feelings of worthlessness-- there is a part of me that is convinced that the other shoe will drop BECAUSE I don't deserve it any other way. \:\( Grounding helps here also-- just stopping and counting all of the blessings that I have at that moment in life.

Take care,

#56442 - 06/14/05 08:03 AM Re: Gay Survivor Doesn't Like to Be Touched
Grobut Offline

Registered: 06/07/05
Posts: 56
Loc: Denmark
Hang in there Jasper, i went through the same thing, was newly head-over-heels in love with a girl, she in me, and all was well till my memory came back, then the PTSD and the Schizophrenia started comming, it was a mess!

BUT, with work and alot of love it does get better! take it slowly, and savour every little victory along the way!

All the best mate!

"Bring back the Superman in me, Clark Kent is such a nerveous wreck" - Kashmir

#56443 - 06/14/05 05:35 PM Re: Gay Survivor Doesn't Like to Be Touched
RangerJ19 Offline

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 42
Loc: North Woods
I had a real hard time with touch. I both crave it and hate feeling like someone is taking control away from me.

My friend and I worked this out. We would trade back rubs, fully clothed out in the open on the living room floor. After a while he wasn't comfortable with that any more (like a year and a half), but what really helped me was that I intiated it, I asked for what I did or didn't want, and I stayed in control even when recieving touch.

Deciding to keep clothes completely on helped me out a lot as well, since my SA involved disrobing. It helped me to seperate the SA from the present.

Life is worth living.
'Cause of legal issues and the fact i'm still trying to get better, I don't PM or chat w/ minors.


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