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#71588 - 12/07/02 10:24 PM What does this sound like?
davidb Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 2
Loc: New York City
I don't know where to start. Today is my first day at this forum and the first day that I have decided to deal with some of these issues. Please be patient or move on, if you like.

A couple of years ago, I was reading an article about the lingering symptoms in adults who were sexually abused as children. There was a list of five or six major ones, and I was somewhat dismayed to learn that I suffer from all of them. So does my mother. A lot of circumstantial evidence aside from these symptoms (old dreams and fears, flashes of related memories) suggest to me that my grandfather abused both of us. If all of this is accurate, which is probably quite unlikely, I was sexually abused when I was about two. Various psychologists and other professionals, whom I have been seeing for the aforementioned symptoms, have told me they felt I had undergone some trauma involving a male authority figure when I was around two.

In a series of flashes, everything added up. I could be way off base. This is something I have not wanted to explore, but a few of the symptoms have been flaring up in the past year, since I got a boyfriend whom I am just completely in love with. It's like, a-ha! Now you're happy and let's throw all of these issues at you!

The thing is, I don't remember all of what I read the symptoms are, but two of them were difficulty bonding with people in social situations and the tendency to shut down emotionally and appear like a Vulcan.

Today, as I look around the web, I can't find these listed again, so maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree. When I think about this possiblity, I feel so much guilt and shame, and it would explain so much if it were true. Like a patchwork of strange and previously unexplained things in my life coming together.

Again, I was doing all right until last year when I met the love of my life. Since then, my emotional state has degenerated considerably. Most notably, my social abilities have just vanished. I have always been shy, but I've always compensated for that. Now, when I meet people, I just shut down completely. There have also been some emotional symptoms that I could go into but I've rambled enough. These are the things that I've mentioned to therapists and other professionals, who all told me it sounds as if I went through a trauma when I was two, which, again, sews all of the circumstantial evidence together nicely.

I guess what I'm wondering is if anything I'm writing seems as if I might be a survivor of sexual abuse. I have not gone into great detail, and I'm not looking for a diagnosis. I don't know what I'm looking for. But these emotional problems are strongly affecting my relationship with this wonderful man. He is very understanding and I told him today what I'm afraid the cause is.

I guess I just don't know what to do. I'm in therapy, but I never brought this up. I don't want to acknowledge it or make it real. My mother and grandfather are still living, and I don't want to have any sort of confrontation. I don't have any direct memories, just memories of dreams and impressions and also a bunch of circumstantial evidence.

What does this sound like?

#71589 - 12/07/02 11:46 PM Re: What does this sound like?
Roy Offline

Registered: 08/02/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Los Angeles
Hi David,

Welcome. Yes, it all sounds like you may have been sexually abused. The symptoms you describe might also be related to some other early childhood abuse, neglect, or abandonment. When I say abandonment I do not necessarily mean it in a physical sense. There can be an abandonment of attendance to your primary developmental needs by your primary caregiver, usually the mother. Like you, I have pretty much all the symptoms of childhood sexual abuse, yet no conscious memory of it. Although my relationship with my mother is a loving one, it has been distorted by her treating me like her surrogate spouse. Since I have no clear memory of specific physical or sexual abuse I have spent a lot of time and energy thinking there is something inherently defective about me. I have learned through a lot of reading and therapy that it is very possible to develop symptoms and problems similar to those experienced by sexual abuse survivors even though the abuse I went through was more covert. I suggest you do some reading on sexual and emotional abuse that is covert in nature. It gets complicated. You mention feeling guilty and ashamed. A specific book I and others have found enormously helpful is "Healing the Shame that Binds You" by John Bradshaw. It filled in a lot of gaps for me.

The relationship you are in (lucky you!) might be forcing all this stuff to the surface because you are having strong feelings and considering intimacy and vulnerability. As you have probably already discovered, there is very little support available for male survivors, even in places like Los Angeles and New York. This site has been a wonderful source of support for me and is filled with a loving cast of characters. Glad you found us.

#71590 - 12/08/02 04:28 PM Re: What does this sound like?
rax Offline

Registered: 12/02/00
Posts: 75
Loc: Newark, CA
Hi David,

Im going through something similar. I was abused at 5, and later at 8, and the biggest effect of that abuse has been on my personality. Im shy and I shutdown quickly. I've also mastered the art of dis-associating. I hate large crowds and gatherings. I have difficulty in opening up and speaking. I can put my emotions in writing, but the abuser seems to have snatched my voice, my ability to speak, and to express vocally.

So, It is a struggle for me to talk openly, and I am fighting back. I love singing, but I can only do it alone. Someday I will sing openly again.

About the physical shutdown : (and this is where this post gets graphic, so please skip if it is a possible trigger)
I am in love with a guy and I've never felt so deeply in love with someone. We have a great emotional and sexual relationship, but when it comes to sex(penetration), I shut down. I feel no pleasure, I dont feel him in me. It hurts him emotionally to see me go through this, and he is gentle, but nothing is helping.

Im not sure if anyone else has gone through the same. Do you have similar physical issues?
Is there a way out? How does your boyfriend cope?

take care,

#71591 - 12/10/02 05:56 PM Re: What does this sound like?
davidb Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 2
Loc: New York City
Thanks for your responses.

Rax, that is fascinating what you say about your "voice." I feel the same way. I can write anything, usually quite forcefully or emotionally, but when it comes time to speak, I usually shut down completely.

I do not suffer the same sort of physical shutdown, however.

Thanks, guys.

#71592 - 12/15/02 04:46 PM Re: What does this sound like?
The Dean Offline
Moderator Emeritus
Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 2080
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
Hello David,

I am a great believer in not trying to conjur up memories that are buried. I think our psyche must know when we can deal with ideas that would otherwise terrify us.

It sounds to me like you have a very loving relationship. That means, you friend sees a lot in you that he very much loves and respects. Remind yourself that you are a really good person and you are attractive. Enjoy the love and let it heal you, with the aid of your T. Try not to hold back from the T--he/she can only help you work with what you tell the T.

Peae to you.


If we do not live what we believe, then we will begin to believe what we live.


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