My husband just revealed to me that he had sex with his mother - several times. He told me about it during sex and fantasizes and talks about it during sex. My feeling is from how he talks about it, but only during sex, that he doesn't think it was wrong or that he was abused. I don't know what to do?

I recommend you ask him whether or not he thinks it was sexual abuse. It might be true that he doesn’t think of what happened to him as abuse. Ask him to talk about what happened outside of the sexual realm. In my professional opinion, when a parent is sexual with their child, it is always sexual abuse. Believe it or not, not everyone agrees with me. I don’t see it any other way.

Often men and women don't want to see what their mother did as sexual abuse because they want to protect her. Mothers are supposed to protect their children from harm, not perpetrate it!

Also females abuse very differently males abuse. When mothers sexually abuse their children it is often covert and subtle making the child feel confused and unsure as to what is happening and wrong with the way their mother touches them, kisses them, hugs them and gives them a bath. When males abuse it is often more overt involving intercourse, masturbation, and oral sex.

In your husband's case, his mother abused him overtly which is more unusual and yet more common than is reported. Sons protect their mothers and call what happened to them something other than sexual abuse.

Do the fantasies make you uncomfortable? If so talk to him about that. Ask yourself and tell him why they make you uncomfortable. Is it a turn off? Do you feel like you are approving or validating the abuse by going along with his sexual fantasies about it? This requires that you dialogue with him about it.

Some men’s sexual fantasies and desires are shaped by the abuse and later in life it turns them on. Psychotherapists have often frowned upon this stating that the person is re-enacting their abuse and not experiencing the pain around it. While this is often true, it isn’t always true at the same time. And even after trauma resolution, many men—and women—sexually fantasize either about the abuse or aspects of it. It is normal and can be a healthy way of dealing with it.

Not all sexual abuse traumatizes a child. Current research shows that someone can be physically, emotionally, verbally and sexually abused and/or neglected and the child is not always traumatized nor does it interfere with his or her life. It might shape their sexual fantasies or influence the type of partner they meet but it doesn’t always reflect a negative outcome. That doesn’t mean it still is not abuse because it is. This speaks to the child’s personality and resiliency if they are able to process the event without it traumatizing them. It still should never happen!

Talk to him and see what he thinks about what happened between he and his mother. I also recommend he get a psychological evaluation by a trained therapist specializing in sexual abuse to ensure that the effects of the abuse are not interfering with his life.

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