I am new to this site so first off I would like to say hello to everyone: survivors, partners, families, and friends of survivors, and hello to anyone else I might have missed. You are all incredibly strong people and I am glad to be a part of such a strong online community.
I will quickly introduce myself- I am a female partner of a male CSA survivor and I have turned to this site for support. After reading through many posts, I am touched at how responsive everyone is and amazed at all of the support given so I thought I would reach out myself with some of the challenges I am facing. Just a heads up this will be a long post as I want to give you all the whole story- since everyone has been so honest and open on here, I want to do the same.
My boyfriend and I have been dating just over a year now (we are in our mid-late twenties), he had disclosed to me about a month into our relationship that he was sexually abused by a family member when he was about 4 years old. He said that not many people knew about his abuse: just a few very close friends, his psychologist, and recently his parents/siblings (he had only come out to his family about his CSA about 6 months before him and I had started dating, so about 1.5 years ago today). Upon telling me about this, he said that he didn't want me to see him differently or feel that he was a charity case- and to be completely honest I don't see him any differently other than the fact that I view him stronger for having been through this and still shining(as are each and every one of you!) I was surprised that he had told me about this as he said that none of his ex girlfriends in the past knew about it, except for his first girlfriend when he was a teenager as this was when he was just beginning to deal with the CSA and needed someone to turn to. He has been in quite a few relationships ranging from a few months to 3 years and he had never mentioned anything about CSA in any of those relationships, so I was very surprised that he came out to me with this so early on- I'm assuming this is a good thing right?
I should mention that when we started dating he made it very clear to me that he wanted things to take a natural path and did not want to get into anything 'serious' too soon. He was not fond of labels and just wanted everything to unfold naturally. This was fine with me as I did not want to rush into anything either. Before he told me about his CSA, he just said that he had some "issues" that he had to take care of, and that he wasn't ready to be committed to anyone due to this. He said that he didn't trust people and when I asked why his past relationships ended he said that there was no connection.
Throughout our relationship there have been a lot of ups and downs, mostly on his part. In the beginning he came on very strong and we saw eachother frequently. Then, I noticed that after a few months he became distant and a bit withdrawn. This lasted a few weeks and then it was back to normal. Then again, after a few more weeks or maybe a month, he became distant again which lasted a few weeks/a month. I never used to really ask him about this directly, I kind of just assumed that it had to do with him dealing with the issues of CSA because when he shared his story with me he did say to me "that's why i'm so up and down all of the time, i feel like it's me against the world". I never really ask questions as I didn't want to be invasive, so to respect his privacy I just made sure he knew I was always there if he did want to talk or turn to me. I used to question whether it was something I was doing that was making him withdraw but little things he would say would make it clear to me that he was just going through a rough time. Right now he has been going through a distant phase since around mid April so it's been a little longer than usual and he has been more distant than usual; before we would still talk everyday but the conversations would be drastically shorter, and instead of seeing eachother every week it would be every 2 or 3 weeks. But now, we go 2 or 3 days without talking unless i am the one to initiate, and see eachother once every 4-5 weeks. The last time I saw him I asked him why he was being extra distant and he said that it had nothing to do with me, just everything had him burnt out (work, personal stuff) and that he has just shut down and does not want to see anyone or do anything. Since then he has still been saying this and it seems to be getting worse. He told me that his depression has gotten worse and he just sleeps and watches tv when he is not at work. Don't get me wrong, he will reach out if we haven't spoken in a few days but it is mostly me that has to do this generally and sometimes I get confused as to whether I am bothering him by reaching out, or if he wants me to reach out to know that I care and am not upset with him. I appreciate him opening up to me about his depression as I know it's never an easy thing to talk about this stuff.
Just wanted to get your opinions on my situation, advice, experiences of anyone who can relate.. things like that. I also would like to get an understanding of what it's like for him right now and why he goes through these periods of withdrawal/depression. What is he enduring emotionally to make him withdraw? Why does he withdraw from me? Why does this happen in phases? How can I support him better without being intrusive but still letting him know I care and am happy to talk about anything that he wants to. It's very tough caring for someone more and more and having them withdraw more and more. I can feel that he has genuine feelings for me and cares- whenever we are together it is the most beautiful feeling that grows every time we see each other and that is enough to keep me going; I am willing to support him through his entire journey. Just need some advice to keep me going through mine
Any and all advice is greatly appreciated as this is such an emotionally taxing point in my life, so I would be thankful for any contributions- thanks very much in advance for reading this and thank you for your time!