But I can SEE things getting better in our relationship! Can you see it in your relationship?
For some time *before* my boyfriend disclosed sexual abuse to me, things were improving in our relationship, and I did not see it.
He had come to realize how self-destructive, and destructive to our relationship, some of his behaviors were-- and had decided that actions speak louder than words-- so had not said anything to me about it, but started making changes.
He began taking better care of his health and hygiene, spending more time involved with people and less time in front of the TV, driving carefully, paying the bills on time-- practical stuff. Nothing changed dramatically overnight, but he was paying attention and wanting to change these behaviors for the first time in a long time.
I did not notice. I had spent too long living with him in self-destructive, negative, withdrawn mode to look for change, or to get my hopes up about much even if I had seen the changes.
I discovered he had been acting out sexually and hiding some other things from me as well. In the aftermath of this, he disclosed his sexual abuse.
According to him, his acting out and deception during our relationship had made disclosure complicated for him-- he had wanted to tell me about the SA, but didn't because he knew that would lead to my finding out about the lying and betrayal, and he was scared of that-- and he had stopped the lying and betrayal at the same time he started making the other changes, and wanted to come clean about what he'd done-- but didn't, because he was still afraid to disclose SA, and knew that there was no way to talk about one without the other.
Two big things encouraged me to stay with him-- the first was the connection, for him, between the SA and all the crap he'd done-- this made no sense to me. Why would you HAVE to tell someone about your childhood to come clean about your behavior in chat rooms? But for him they were so linked, in a way that he could not explain. It seemed so weak at the time-- like he could lie better than that, if he was lying-- so I decided that I had to entertain the possibility that he wasn't lying.
The second was that, when I expressed doubt that things could get better for us, he pointed out all the changes he'd been making on his own over the past few months, and once he pointed them out to me, I could see them. If there had not been evidence of the work he'd been doing on himself prior to these conversations, I don't think I would have stuck around.
These days I can see the improvements. They are coming faster and with more consistency. And I have apologized to him for not picking up on them sooner-- it was my woundedness that was preventing that from happening.
Jasper, I can't tell you what a turning point it was for me to have my boyfriend talk about how things were changing for him... and have things to point out, to back it up. Even just little things like "I shaved today," or "I had a lot of fun with the kids at the park." It gave me willpower to trust and support him enthusiastically. Please, please, make time to share this with your partner.