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#56484 - 06/17/05 06:50 AM I'm an Ex-Girlfriend of a Survivor, I need some help...
Erin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 2
Loc: NYC
I dated a survivor for a year and a half. Months before we broke up he began to have memories that came in the form of images in his head of scenes of sexual abuse by his father. When he told me, I tried really hard to listen and not burst into tears. I was assaulted as a child by a stranger and most of the women I've been friends with have had some sort of rape or incest in their past so on one hand I was able to take it in and be a good listener to my female friends. But because I was in love with him and he was my best friend, it just broke my heart to hear that anyone had ever abused him, that anyone had ever caused him pain.

We broke up nearly 2.5 years ago. He contacted me a couple of months ago. We hung out once and have been in constant e-mail/IM contact. Of course, I'm having all sorts of feelings about him as exes often do when reunited but I'm seeing now that he's not gotten any better since our break-up. Although he's successful financially (which wasn't the case when we were dating unfortunately!! just kidding), I actually think he's doing worse emotionally. He IMed me some blunt statements about his abuse the other night and it was hard to take and I didn't know how to react. I wrote an e-mail to him today about this website and he wrote back, "thanks but no thanks."

I probably know him better than anyone else in the world and I know I probably won't ever hear from him again because I brought it up and suggested he seek some help. At least maybe not for another couple of years. I've been in tears all day and I don't even know why I'm posting here. I guess it's just a testement to how far reaching abuse is. Not only is my ex's life going to be a struggle but it affects everyone and anyone who cares about him.

Has anyone else had a friend/boyfriend/ex who came in and out of their lives like this? Has anyone ever had a friend/boyfriend/ex who just shut down and cut them out overnight?

Any survivors have any advice as to how to be a good friend/girlfriend to a survivor? What is the right thing to do? Listen, offer help, bring it up, don't bring it up?

This sucks. I want to help him but I'm tired of crying about it and I'm tired of him fucking with my head. Am I supposed to just take it because of what happened to him? Am I an asshole if I walk away? Am I allowed to swear on this board?

#56485 - 06/17/05 02:53 PM Re: I'm an Ex-Girlfriend of a Survivor, I need some help...
Caetel Offline

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
Erin, it is quite common for survivors to trap their friends, especially partners, in no win situations which are a projection of their own confusion about being abandonned and betrayed.
It happened to me too. From what I can understand, the first problem is that your friend's abuse triggered you bad. So, maybe be it would be wiser to get help for yourself. When you are stronger, you can address the issue of your friend with more insight and be more efficient in your support. I wouldn't worry too much about your friend saying "no" to the idea of coming to male survivors. I think he needs time to think about it, come have a glance at the site and decide. Jimmy, who runs MASC in Ireland told me how male survivors make contact with him. Sometimes, they pick up the phone number on a flyer and leave it for months before making the first call and then it can take them another few months and few phone calls to make an appointment at the office. It is a very long process to get out of denial and accept the enormity of the consequences of sexual abuse in one's life.
Sometimes, being a supportive partner feels very passive. Once I just wrote my love that I understood what he was going through, understood his will to be on its own but also reminded him that I was there for him. I found out later that it was exactly what he needed at the time. He needed to know that he shouldn't worry about me because I was there.
There is a lot of testing going on in a survivor's relationship. In a two survivors relationship, the testing occurs all the time and unfortunately there is also a dynamic of control ("who's in charge ?"). It is very hard to understand clearly what's going on except during moments of separation and thanks to therapy.
I hope this can help.
Wishing you the best on this difficult journey.

Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

#56486 - 06/17/05 08:26 PM Re: I'm an Ex-Girlfriend of a Survivor, I need some help...
Erin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 2
Loc: NYC

Thank you so much for your reply. Ironically, coming here to try to help him I think I've learned more about myself. I was assaulted 20 years ago, I went to therapy for it and I thought I was long past it. As I read through these posts I'm recognizing a lot of my own behavior. And I've been wondering why this has been affecting me so much. I guess it's time I see my therapist again.

I also agree that the best thing to do is to let them know you will always be there for them. I guess that's all anyone can do anyway.

Thanks for your reply,

#56487 - 06/18/05 02:10 AM Re: I'm an Ex-Girlfriend of a Survivor, I need some help...
FastForward Offline

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 188
Loc: US

Is IM instant message-ing? I re-read this thread and you seem to have a lot of insight into this. My friend and I have not spoken in months - his choice to have a period of no contact that I am honoring. I am not sure what will happen when it is over. BTW, I went to college in NYC. Hope you have a good weekend.


L&P - always.

#56488 - 06/20/05 11:39 PM Re: I'm an Ex-Girlfriend of a Survivor, I need some help...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus

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

A personal trigger of my own has kept me from replying to posts here for a couple days. So yes, we can get stuck and need to protect ourselves from the ways "their" issues can get to us sometimes. A few good nights of sleep can make a lot of difference.

When it comes down to it we are all just afraid of being alone and abandoned and unheard, I think. Maybe because if someone is determined to abandon you, there is nothing to do but "take it."

It is not being an asshole to be clear about your limitations and boundaries. If you are not in a place where you can listen to the things he needs to say (blunt-- do you mean graphic?-- statements about his abuse)-- it is sensible and kind to refer him elsewhere, like to this site, or a therapist, or another friend. But if you can't hear that stuff right now, then why are you upset that he's not telling it to you? Isn't that better than if he were to disregard the good care you're showing for yourself, and continue making statements that are disturbing you and triggering you?

The most solid thing I think friends and partners can do is be their consistent best selves, and try not to allow knowledge of the abuse to affect the relationship as it was at the time of disclosure.


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