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#66590 - 10/28/06 05:11 AM How to move forward
Unsure Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 3
I am looking for advice on how to respond to boyfriend's abuse in a comforting way, but also how to manage my own personal concerns about it.

I've known about the abuse since the beginning of our relationship a year ago. But, I always felt uncomfortable because I didn't know how to respond really so it wasn't a topic we discussed much. When he told me, it caught me entirely off-guard and I didn't know how to respond. Like many people, I worried about what this would mean for our sex life and possibly our children. So, we never talked much about it. It has kind've been the topic that I'm always afraid to bring up partly because I'm scared to know. And, because I don't even know if I have the right to bring it up or how.

Recently, he tried to open up to me about some issues that may have happened after the inital abuse--I'm assuming that it has to do with a period in his youth that he was confused with his orientation and experimenting sexually with other boys or something along those lines. But, we never got there. He quickly felt uncomfortable and said he didn't want to talk about it.

I automatically started to push for more information because I just wanted it out in the open. I knew that was not what I should do, but I just reacted with all the questions in my mind. So, it turned into a bad, uncomfortable situation all around. I feel terrible about it and I am fearful that he won't attempt to open up to me again.

I want him to feel safe that he can share with me. How can I do this? How do I manage this? I feel selfish because sometimes my own personal fears come to the surface.

#66591 - 10/28/06 09:33 AM Re: How to move forward
kishka06 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 38
I don't have any advice, because I am in exactly the same situation you are. My bf and I are still coming out of a bad patch, and I really want him to feel safe enough again to open up to me.

I also have many questions I want to ask, but don't want to push him away by asking them.
So, rather than directly asking him things, I am beginning to share some information about my past, and why I react to certain situations the way I do etc. I am hoping he will eventually want to share with me.

Since he has already broached the subject with you, maybe you can simply say something like "I know you were trying to tell me something the other day/week, and perhaps my response was not what you expected. Whenever you are ready to talk about it, I am ready to listen. I won't judge you etc etc. Basically, he is terrified that you will be disgusted (a word used by my bf a couple of times) by whatever he has to tell you. My bf has sexual identity issues, and told me that he experimented a few years back with another guy. After that, he ran a mile, convinced I would now leave him. It took me A LOT to reassure him I wouldn't leave.

When my bf first told me of the csa, I didn't know what to say, so said nothing. When our rough patch hit - directly because of the effects of the csa - I told him that I hadn't understood the impact of what he was trying to tell me, and I was sorry I didn't say anything when he told me about it. I told him when he was ready, I would be there for him to listen.

Keep coming to this site. I read it everyday. Some things don't apply to me - yet - but I am learning as much as I can, to be prepared for what may lay ahead, and appropriate ways to respond.

Reassurance and patience are 2 things I have learned are very important in responding to my bf.


#66592 - 10/28/06 02:13 PM Re: How to move forward
beccy Offline

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 449
Loc: england

it's ok to have your own personal fears, they're your feelings and you are entitled to them.

I think Kishka's advice about ways which may encourage your bf to open up to you. I know my bf has felt very ashamed of some of his feelings, and unfortunately in the past(before i knew what I know now), I don't think I helped much. It's just that I read his very tense behaviour to mean it must MEAN a lot to him. Like sexually it was MASSIVE, and I was so jealous/worried it must mean he was gay etc. You know, like if he'd just casually said he was bisexual, been confidently expressive about it, or bragged about it even, I don't believe it would have bothered me much. Of course, the whole things was massive, just not the way I thought.

Do you know if your bf has ever talked to a therapist about his csa? I was with bf 12 years before this all came out/he went to therapy. And that was only after I went and I had to insist he did, or we were over! I sure did need it by then. My head was such a mess from being in a relationship with him.

It is a very good thing your bf is already talking to you and has told you some stuff. Just take good care of yourself in all of this too.

I hope this discussion board turns out to be as helpful and encouraging for you as it has for me,


#66593 - 10/28/06 06:37 PM Re: How to move forward
Unsure Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 3
Thanks for your advice and support.

We both have focused on my issues and he is very aware of some of the things that I do. I come from an alcoholic home, which has caused some issues for me. So, I don't think he was surprised by my reaction, but had hoped I would be able to back off and give him the space he needed. We have talked about my inability to do that in the past on other issues. I failed though.

The following day, the first thing I did was research. I felt like I had no information about boys and abuse and wanted some insight. That is how I stumbled across this site...and that is how I learned about some of the common myths that I was guilty of believing.

I decided to send him a card with a note attached. I apologized for my reaction and tried to be reassuring that I cared and wanted him to feel comfortable to share things with me and how much I love him. I also spent much of yesterday trying to reassure him that I loved him. But, it is still very hard. He should get the card today and I'm anxious about his response because now I'm beginning to think maybe I shouldn't have done anything. But, I felt really bad about it all.

As for some of your questions, I don't believe he has gone to therapy--as a result of money and insurance issues. I know that he has attended like a weekend retreat at some point. I think other than that it has predominantly been an issue he has struggled with on his own through books, talking etc. He had told me that it isn't an issue for him anymore cause it happened 30 years ago, but part of me wonders how that can truly be. I'm curious about that process. I hope that he can go to therapy at some point.

As for me, I have my own therapist and have for some time to deal with my own issues. I haven't really discussed this with her, but it will be my main issue the next time I see her.

Even though I feel like I should be prepared to hear possible stories about orientation issues or him experimenting with boys moving forward, I know I'm not. He reassured me the other day that he is attracted to women and always has been, but had said that as a result of being abused it caused him to question his orientation and led to a confusing time growing up. Does CSA always lead to questioning your orientation your entire life?

Intellectually I get it, but in my heart it is very hard to understand. Does that make sense?

There was a search that came up on his computer some time back that I had questioned him about and he denied that it was him or he had ever done the search. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if he lied to me about it to cover up whatever confusion he feels or embarassment or something. Besides, I'm honestly not quite sure how I would respond if he turned around and told me that he's been continuing to experiment with men through our relationship. I don't know.

#66594 - 10/28/06 10:24 PM Re: How to move forward
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus

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

I think you did the right thing by apologizing, but of course the most important part of that is the follow-through. If you have a history of not giving him space or of overreacting on him, even if you take all responsibility for it and never do it again, it will still take time to establish that those changes are for real.

You said you've been together for a year-- maybe there are things he wants to tell you because he feels it's important that you continue the relationship (or not) on an honest foundation. What does it mean that you are not sure how you would respond to him saying that he is bisexual or that he has experimented with men? Do you mean that you might leave, or do you mean that you would not know how to offer support?

In my opinion if you think you might leave based on what he has to say, it's better to hear it now than to stay with him and hear it in five years, and then feel that your decisions were influenced by his keeping secrets (or have him feel compelled to keep the secrets forever because they are what is holding you there). If you are pretty sure that you would stay with him no matter what he reveals about his past, then he's got years to tell you anyway and there's no sense in pushing.

Everyone's boundaries are different. For me, the line starts when my partner disclosed to me and committed to working on the relationship and getting his life in order. I don't think any new knowledge about events prior to that would really affect me, and I wouldn't consider it "secret keeping" if he didn't share with me. I feel good about where we are now and I have a lot of trust in him and how far he's come.

I would feel upset if he never got around to talking about struggles in his present life. At this point we are a team and both of us expect that we will have the chance to solve our problems together.

It is not uncommon for survivors to be very confused as teens. EVERYONE'S sexual emotions and thoughts are going haywire in puberty, whether or not they are survivors. Most teens are able to process or express those feelings in age-appropriate ways, because a good deal of that energy just goes toward figuring it all out. But for CSA survivors, they have a premature experience of being sexual that screws up this learning period. Also, they are often ashamed or unable to seek out good advice and information which is so important during this time.

This doesn't mean that the confusion and questioning has to continue for life, any more than it does for anyone else. I certainly don't carry around all of the confusion and experimental behavior from my teen years. I think that survivors are sometimes more ashamed of it and make it more of an issue than "normal" people who have had similar experiences.

#66595 - 10/29/06 05:28 AM Re: How to move forward
Unsure Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 3
Thanks for your feedback.

He responded well to the card. I am working on being more supportive and reassuring. I think I got frustrated because he started to tell me something and then stopped short so it left me wondering what he was going to tell me. He said basically there were a few experiences when he was young and he said they were "benign".

Things still feel extremely weird between us. And, he explained that he felt very hurt.

I love him. I don't want to leave him because of something he experienced that wasn't even by HIS choice and the possible way it has affected his life, i.e. sexual confusion, fear of intimacy. But, I am scared to hear the details--afraid of how I might feel --it is upsetting all around. But, I feel like my fear is not so much the struggles he went through in his past, but where he is now with this issue. And, I want to be able to be strong enough to understand and be supportive. I don't know. I guess I'm just afraid...of what to expect, what he hasn't told me...what he wanted to tell me.

#66596 - 10/30/06 06:19 AM Re: How to move forward
beccy Offline

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 449
Loc: england

It sounds like you're doing all the right things, like the research and being aware of your own issues. It wasn't your fault you believed some of the common myths, so many of us are not educated about any of it.

I can see you are feeling very anxious about knowing the details. I totally relate to that. The whole thing is so emotionally complex. It's also very understandable that you are worried about where he is now with this issue.

when you wrote,

''There was a search that came up on his computer some time back that I had questioned him about and he denied that it was him or he had ever done the search. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if he lied to me about it to cover up whatever confusion he feels or embarassment or something. Besides, I'm honestly not quite sure how I would respond if he turned around and told me that he's been continuing to experiment with men through our relationship. I don't know. ''

There probably some useful questions you could ask yourself;

would you mind if your bf was looking at stuff on the net? If not, how often? Everyone has different boundaries with these kinds of things and although nobody can tell their partner what to do, we all have a right to know and express what's ok or not for us in a relationship. I think it's probably the only way to go as far as being able to make free choices based on honesty.

I imagine you would feel very hurt if your bf told you he had been experimenting with men throughout your relationship. I know it would be in the context of the csa/confusion and you are aware of all that and sensitive to the nature of it too, but your own feelings would be real too. I hope that made sense....after that, it would be a question of what you both wanted. If he's still confused or not. If he needs/is willing to work through some of it. If you both want a monogomous relationship. These things are so personal, but I do believe everyone is entitled to this level of communication/respect.

You state very clearly that you love him and it does sound like you have communicated that very clearly to him.

I hope your worries are proved wrong and if not, wish you all the strength in the face of it.

take care


#66597 - 10/30/06 07:31 AM Re: How to move forward
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

As SAR says, abused boys are so often totally confused about their sexuality. But it's worth recalling that it's not unusual for boys in general (i.e. not just abused boys) to experiment sexually with each other. It's part of their curiosity about sex and I read somewhere (based on what research I don't know) that as many as a third of men admit that they did this as boys.

Whatever the case may be, your bf would be helped by knowing that this kind of behavior didn't make him bad or shameful as a child and doesn't reflect badly on him now as an adult.

Much love,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)


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