Hi everyone.

I’ve ventured on to these forums as I’m wondering if any of you might be able to give me some advice. I have concerns about a friend of mine.

A couple of years ago, I met this lovely guy. We seemed to get on famously and met up a few times. There was obviously a strong attraction between us. I wanted things to develop further than friendship, but he was going out with someone else at the time. (He is mid-thirties and I believe it was his first relationship.) I expressed my feelings, we talked about it sensibly and I decided to walk away. We maintained a distant friendship. (Just for context, we’re both guys).

About a year later, his relationship had ended and we got back in touch. Whilst the attraction was still there, he seemed very distant and there was a slight awkwardness between us. Despite being slightly awkward face-to-face, there were a lot of very intimate text conversations. His fantasy life seemed rather ... well, I suppose the old fashioned term is ‘slap and tickle.’ Not usually my kind of thing, but I’m open-minded and rather enjoyed fantasising about a bit of playfighting or whatever. But his fantasies rapidly got more and more violent ... so a point where I became extremely uncomfortable. At one point he asked me, in a fantasy context, to physically render him unconscious and ‘use and abuse my unconscious body.’ I was very uncomfortable with it, even in the context of a text message.

On a couple of occasions when we were actually together, we ended up starting to be physically intimate. It started with the playfighting, but anything more intimate than that and he goes into what I can only describe as “shut down.” He will lie there, allowing me to touch him, but with his eyes tightly shut, not interacting at all, just bsolutely rigid, as though unconscious. He would only react, in the form of violently, almost in a panic, pushing me away if I touched him anywhere more intimate than the arm or chest. If I goaded him into speaking, he would reply in the voice of a child.

I was a bit freaked out, to say the least. I ended up, one night, getting very drunk with his ex-boyfriend, who wasn’t aware of my interest, and who told me why they had split up: because there was never any intimacy between them; that the guy concerned could only ever try to have an intimate moment if he got blind drunk first, and even then it never happened. His ex put it down to him having had a catholic upbringing, couldn’t cope with it and dumped him.
But I remembered when I had first met this lovely guy. We’d sgared a few personal secrets, including the fact that he had suffered very badly with depression and a desire to self-harm a few years earlier.
Additionally, he is becoming more and more known amongst our circle of friends as a very heavy drinker; his level of intoxication is now something of a running joke and I know he’s turned up at a few professional events inebriated before now.

Earlier this year, things started to come together in my head. The drinking, the depression, the self harm, the violent fantasies, speaking like a child and the inability to engage in physical intimacy....and I came to the conclusion that he may have been sexually abused or assaulted in some way.

I didn’t know what to do about it but decided that I had to do something to reach out.

Anyway, one night, after we’d been out with friends, I decided to confront it. I was on my way home. I didn’t have the courage to ask him face-to-face but I sent him a text, asking him if “something bad” had ever been done to him.

He gave me an odd reply. He said he “didn’t think so” but it was “kind of me to ask.” Which is neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’, really.

After that, for the last 6 months, he’s not contacted me at all. When we’ve been at parties together, he’s been unable to make eye contact with me. Which I took as some kind of confirmation that I was on the right lines.

I decided to back off and give him space. His last boyfriend obviously hadn’t been very sympathetic to whatever was going on and I wanted him to know that if I made him uncomfortable, I could understand why and I backed away. My thinking was that maybe one day, when he’s ready, he’ll get back in touch. He knows that I know that there is something wrong.

Surprisingly, out of the blue, last week, he got in touch, to ask me for help with an aspect of his work. It was a bit of a spurious request, a technical question which didn’t really need the kind of specialist knowledge that I have on the subject, but I took it as a good sign that he was finding a reason to get in touch, re-establish friendship and have a ‘normal’ conversation. It carried on like that for a few days and I couldn’t have been happier with the situation.

But then, after a few days, the fantasy texts started again. I went along with it at first, thinking that, as he was instigating it, he must be comfortable with it. It was all very innocent, but very very quickly descended into violence again. And again he asked me to strangle him and hit him to make him unconscious so that I could abuse him. Needless t say, even in a text, I don’t do that.

Hence, suddenly things are awkward between us again. We had a very stilted conversation earlier, when I tried to have a normal conversation about what we both want to achieve in 2014.

At the moment I feel terrible; he came back and got in touch with me and I feel I let him down by allowing the conversation to steer into sexual territory; a subject that in real life clearly terrifies him. I should have very clearly steered the conversation away from that area and kept in#t at friendship.

I don’t know what to do. I like him very much; he’s one of the lovliest, cleverest people I’ve ever met and I adore spending time with him. As a friend I’m concerned about him, but my feelings are obviously mixed up by the fact that my affection runs so much deeper. If he was merely a friend, it might be ewasier to have a more honest conversation.

I suppose the reason I’m posting this 'essay' is because I wonder if anyone on here with more experience in these matters may be able to help.

I am right to suspect sexual abuse?

If I am, what on earth do I do now?
He knows that that is what I suspect, and if I’m right, I suspect he would love to disclose it to someone. But his last (and only) boyfriend let him down and I guess he might be terrified of that happening again.

I suppose I’m looking for a magic formula: one sentence that will make him trust me, disclose to me and ask me for my help. I’m sure no such sentence exists. Life isn't that simple.

I just don’t know what to do.

Any ideas?

Sorry, long story.  But any advice appreciated!