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#63951 - 01/05/05 11:48 PM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
The purpose of the family and friends forum is posted at the top of the page:
Open discussion for male survivors and their families and friends.
It is not meant to be hostile, and I don't believe it is. In fact the overwhelming majority of the posters here handle themselves with grace and compassion, and are more than willing to go out of their way to keep this community friendly.

I'd like to see a real open dialogue that discusses some of the points made in Aden's original post and in the responses. But I don't think that can happen if people come into a discussion with an attitude that says "accept what I have to say, and then be quiet about it."

There is a perception among some male survivors, which many F&F rightfully find offensive, that once a partner or family member has made the choice to support a survivor, she no longer has a right to vocalize and get validation for her own feelings when that choice becomes difficult, and that her pain should always come second.

Aden, I don't know if that's what your post is meant to imply or even if it's what you believe. But I would suggest that such an opinion does not take into account the depth and reality of any long-term relationship. And I'd further suggest that coming into a forum like this with such a belief has more to do with any perceived hostility than whatever existed on the forum prior to that.

Please don't devalue or degrade the real pain and hard work that you see here.

#63952 - 01/06/05 12:00 AM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
wifenneed Offline

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 96
Loc: Michigan
Well put SAR. There is pain we suffer too, particularly great at times. This post initially made me feel like I as a spouse of a survivor had no right to question, expect anything from, or get validation for how I feel from my spouse.

Thank you for putting in to words what I was thinking.


#63953 - 01/06/05 02:13 AM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
kolisha54 Offline

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Here are $0.02. USD.

To Everyone: I do not AT ALL think that A. meant to imply that we have no "rights" in a relationship - and A. please forgive if I am putting words in your mouth.

What I, personally, absorbed from the original post, was a wistful longing & plea for the kind of love that ALL of us dream about - unconditional, compassionate, undemanding.

And - I feel that A. is being realistic about curbing our expectations - but perhaps we need to clarify that those expectations are fluid & often change over the life of a relationship AND over the course of a healing process.

Let's look at an analogy: when someone is suffering through a physical illness, we who love that person are often subjected to a bewildering arsenal of emotional weaponry from the sufferer: sometimes we can call it to the person's attention - when it is appropriate and when it is helpful. Sometimes we just gotta know when to back off & shut up.

As Our Dave often says - Survivors are notoriously difficult people to deal with: this is a given, it's part of the package.

This is why so many Survivors opt NOT to be in relationships - because they KNOW this pattern & bec. they are honorable people, they CHOOSE not to subject others to their own internal lack of control.

But for those who DO decide to pursue a relationship, it is critical for EVERYONE to remember that SA or no SA, PTSD or no PTSD, normal or totally screwed up - Love brings about more Love, Anger brings about more Anger. Unexpressed resentment that is left to fester, violent language & name-calling, invalidation through silence - all of these testing behaviors are abusive. Those who are subjected to them - whether Survivors or Partners - have a responsibility to THEMSELVES to respond & object. If not, there is no Self-Love & without Self-Love, there is no other kind of Love possible.



If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

#63954 - 01/06/05 03:14 AM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Aden said:
No, you should not give everything you have and expect nothing in return. You should give everything you can and expect as little as possible.
and Kolisha said:
I feel that A. is being realistic about curbing our expectations - but perhaps we need to clarify that those expectations are fluid & often change over the life of a relationship AND over the course of a healing process.
Here is my very big problem with lowered expectations at any phase of recovery/ relationships.

No matter who is asking that a partner lower the expectations of the survivor, the message underneath is a LACK OF TRUST IN THE SURVIVOR.

I have seen survivors and F&F alike display this lack of trust in the form of lowered expectations. Some examples are:

A partner who takes on or wishes s/he could take on recovery work that must be done by the survivor, because "he needs my help" or "he has always relied on me for advice/stability/to fix things" or "he knows I am a take-charge person and wouldn't have told me unless he wanted me to do this" -- or a survivor who holds the partner responsible for his success/failure in his own recovery work

A survivor or partner who excuses continued abusive/ disrespectful actions because of SA history

A partner who dwells on and continually brings up past wrongs or acting out

A partner who goes without his/her needs met for extended periods of time in the relationship as an "act of love" or "committment", or a survivor who demands this from a partner

A partner who focuses all of his/her positive energy on the survivor instead of meeting his/her own needs, or a survivor who demands this from a partner

It is my very strong opinion that all of these are a piece of the same thing, and it boils down to a lack of trust.

We have to trust-- believe, and expect, and not obsess-- that the survivors we love will do their own recovery work, will live up to their potential as honest, caring partners, will ask for and accept forgiveness when they are ready to deal with the pain they've caused us, will maintain their own boundaries and respect ours.

If we lower our expectations, we are sending the message that we do not trust the survivors to do these things. We are disempowering them-- taking the power OUT of their hands, when we and they should be demanding that they regain the control and mastery of their lives that was first taken from them when they were abused.

Let's face it-- as important as the role of a loving partner is to some people's recovery, as much as we all need others-- Survivors got to where they are today because of their own inner resources. There was a time in each of their lives when they handled this on their own. If they were so weak and untrustworthy as we would make them out to be when we are trying to rescue and justify, they wouldn't have ever gotten to this point.

If I may make an analogy of my own:

If I never ask my daughter to help me clean her room, or demonstrate how it should be done, but wordlessly pick up after her while she is playing or asleep or at school, how will she ever learn to clean the room herself?

If I never pick up anything of hers, and neglect her room until it is too messy to play in and all her toys are lost and broken, is it fair of me to expect that she would just figure out how to clean it herself if she really wanted it clean?

Cleaning a room may not seem like a big deal to an adult who's lived in relative order for much of his/her life, but it requires a set of skills, some of which are over a small kid's head.

As a parent, I had to learn what was realistic and appropriate to ask of her at different stages of her development, and be patient but firm in asking her to meet my appropriate expectations. As she gained the ability to perform more complicated tasks, I raised my expectations.

Of course my boyfriend is not a child, and it is not my responsibility to teach him communication (or housecleaning) skills as I do my children.

When partners come here, they should be learning how to set and re-evaluate expectations that are both realistic and trusting. At times, in the beginning, we can have expectations that are too high and we should examine that. But I think mostly we set expectations too low and get upset (or complain, or nag, or blame) because we magically want the survivor to act above the level at which we trust him and give him permission to act.

Believing that a relationship where all is given and nothing is expected will mature and grow stronger is, in my opinion, about as sensible as believing that a child who is never expected to pick up her toys will wake up one day wanting and knowing how to keep a room clean all on her own. It is also about as loving.

#63955 - 01/06/05 04:06 AM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
dmcdd Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 26
My wife expects alot from me. She expects me to get on with my recovery. She expects me to be the best man I can be, regardless of past trauma.

She expects me to provide for our family - because I told her I would.

She expects me to protect our family - because I told her I would.

She expects me to love, honor, and cherish her - because I vowed that I would.

She expects a shining knight on a white stallion - I endeavor to live up to that.

When I was having problems with rage, she expected me to direct it away from her - I did, because she's the love of my life.

When I was having problems in bed, she expected me to be trusting and open - I did, even though it was the hardest thing I've ever done.

She has high expectations, and I love it. I have a lofty goal. Without goals, we stagnate.

I expect her to love me even though I don't always live up to her expectations - and she does.

I expect her to leave me and file for divorce if I ever abuse her or our children - and she will.

Being an SA survivor gives me no license to hurt others. I have hurt others, and I have tried to make ammends since I know what hurt does to a person.

IMHO, the best thing my wife can do is expect alot. Forgive lapses, but expect progress. Leave if there's abuse of any kind. Hold me responsible for my own actions. My abuser took no responsibility - I am better than that.

#63956 - 01/06/05 06:50 AM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
An Offline

Registered: 12/24/04
Posts: 151
Loc: usa
Dear dmcdd-
IMHO, the best thing my wife can do is expect alot. Forgive lapses, but expect progress. Leave if there's abuse of any kind. Hold me responsible for my own actions. My abuser took no responsibility - I am better than that.
I really appreciated your post as i have all of these- that last thing you said got me to thinking- I wonder if the biggest factor in how we're treated is whether the CAS has held their abuser responsible- something I sense my bf hasn't done yet. I anticipate that being key to consistent progress and he has said that too - would it be right to say that without that (the responsibility being put unequivocally on the abuser) the unresolved anger can only get projected unto the wrong people- either the survivor himself wherein he gets depressed and down on himself or the family and freinds and especially those closest to him and safest to throw the anger on.
I rumple up inside when my bf talks about needing to forgive himself for being a survivor ! cause I know the responsibility is not at all his and I feel like it prevents it being put where it totally belongs instead. I'll be glad when that day comes. And I like all that was said about trusting the survivor- of course when that trust feels so betrayed we find ourselves here "ranting" in our disappointment but we all want so much to hope, trust and believe, it's just a lonely place to be when it's only the two of you and he doesn't yet believe in his own power.
This is such a good place~ thanks again to all! An

#63957 - 01/06/05 09:26 AM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
Val Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/02/05
Posts: 8
Loc: nc

Thank you for your post. I hate the abuse that has occurred to my husband. I hate what it has done to him and our family. That being said I can not always use his abuse as an excuse for everything he has done hurtfull or harmfull. He is a victim but he is also an adult and must take responsibility for his actions. I will stand by him and support him but he must try to succeed and have hopes, dreams and goals for the future. It was just nice hearing a SA survivor say those words.

#63958 - 01/06/05 11:22 AM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
Aden Offline

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 499
Lets use my ex-wife as an example.

I cared for a 3 acer, heavily wood lawn, a 2500 sq. ft. garden, cleaned both bathrooms and the kitchen, mopped the floors, vacuumed and shampooed the carpets, took care of all the typically male responsibilities around the house (gutters, painting, installations, repairs, snow removal etc.) And my job required 60-80 hours a week. Figure up the time and effort required for all of that!

She gave the kids everything they wanted, and required nothing of them in terms of help or discipline. I cooked most of my own meals. Her kids didnít like the kind of food I eat. She and the kid lived on Hamburger Helper and Pizza. And she frequently complained that I didnít do enough laundry and that we didnít have enough money. In all of the years that we were married (10) we never once had a disagreement where I was right. She neither apologized nor compromised. Finally, she got fed up with my laziness and inattention, used our savings to pay off all of the debts in her name, bought herself a new washer & dryer, a new car for her daughter, and changed the locks on the house. Why? Because I was too moody.

Thank God and Greyhound...

Now I agree with all of you who believe that partners have a right to reasonable expectations from their mates. The key word being REASONABLE. Sometimes it is a good idea to back up and ask ourselves if our expectations from our partners are compatible with their present ability.
Maybe by rights you should never have to forgive an others weakness. But love forgives none the less.

I am not trying to defend any bodies bad behavior here. It is just that sometimes our assessment of a situation can be really one sided. You know how your partners actions affect you. But do you know how your actions, demands, expectations affect your partner?

The example of my ex-wife is extreme. Just luck (or poor judgment) I guess. But the point is, she never had a clue that she was unable to see the other side of things. She considered herself to be a self-sacrificing help mate, long suffering and companionate. After 10 years of that attitude, the divorce was like the grace of God descending. Salvation!

All that I am suggesting is that before you pass harsh judgments on your partners, take a long look in the mirror. Are you the saint you think yourself to be? Iím not. I was moody! But not all of my bad attitude was the result of CSA.

Some men are born irritable, some men become irritable, and some men have irritability thrust upon them... :p


#63959 - 01/06/05 08:29 PM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
FastForward Offline

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 188
Loc: US
Aden - You rock! it takes guts to look at yourself and actually see what is there. You must be one awasome human being.

Having said that, when push comes to shove, it is the two people involved in the situation that ultimately deal with it. Even with all the information contained here and elswere, it is my responsibility to decide my actions and be accountable for the results of those decisions.

I have been doing some serious reality living in the past 12 months and have realized that and more. THe sadest thing to me now is doing "the same thing over and over and expect different results". \:\)

Living in reality and holding oneself accountable is TOUGH. But hoe can one even beging to like the person one is is one is a stranger to him or her.

Moral of the comment: we all are fallible. Refusing to see it, acknowledge it, and deal with it is what hurts most. (IMHO)



L&P - always.

#63960 - 01/06/05 09:28 PM Re: Incursion into hostile ground...
reesersgrl Offline

Registered: 07/08/04
Posts: 37
Loc: ny
Wow-theres quite a lot of stuff going on in this post. Soemtimes, it's just not as easy as being there for them, understanding them, being patient.I have done all that. Somebody said placing a comforting hand on the back of his neck? My b/f recoils when I do that. Sometimes I can't touch him anywhere.And when I realize not to take it personally and where he is in his mind at that point, I try to comfort him with words and try to get him to understand that MINE is a LOVING touch, and NOT the hand of his abuser.
I am sitting here KNOWING that I have done everything in my power to be there for him, but being made to believe that I have done nothing.

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