Supporting partners after sexual abuse

Supporting partners after sexual abuse

A key learning for those working with men who have been sexually abused is that it is important to prioritise support for women, partners and family members. Men are invested in ensuring their partners receive support. Men live and breathe in relationships and like women their lives are enhanced and grow in relationship contexts. Although it may sound common sense that we should ensure that women, partners and family are provided with quality information and support, there is still much work to do. Too often potential allies in a healing journey are left struggling on the sidelines.

A Vivir Bien, requests for assistance for men who have experienced sexual abuse are often initiated by women partners or family members. These women tell an all too familiar story of care and concern, as they struggle with the impact of sexual abuse on their partner, on their relationships and on themselves. It is typical to hear the following comments:

What women partners report

For the past couple of years I have been struggling to understand what has been going onI love my husbandI know him as a dear, kind man, yet am watching him distance himself from me and our childrenHe is working longer and longer hoursHe stopped talking to mehe stopped coming to bedhe keeps saying it’s not you, it’s meif it isn’t me then why am I being punished? When I told him things had to change or I’m leaving, that’s when he told me… he told me about being sexually abused two years ago, but he won’t go and get helpI don’t understandhe made me promise not to tellI know it sounds ungrateful with the hell that he has been through, but I didn’t sign up for thisHow long will it take for him to get better… No sé qué hacer… I feel like I am going underwe need helpIt’s tearing our relationship apartIt’s tearing me apart.

The women we speak with are not just wanting to know how best to support the men in their life, they are seeking support for themselves as people whose relationships and life are being ‘torn apart.’

What can make relationships particularly difficult

In supporting partners after sexual abuse, and trying to offer personalised support, we are aware that there is a complex interplay of factors, both social and sexual abuse related, that confront these women. Young men’s typical ways of managing the effects of sexual abuse can have them flying under the radar in their teens and twenties. These coping methods include not talking, denial, potable, drogas, casual sex, numbing, risk taking, and limited expression of emotions. It’s how young men behave, derecho? Sin embargo, when young men start a relationship they are often challenged to change these ways of living life, as partner’s seek relationships based on commitment, trust, amor, care and intimacy. What can make this even more difficult is intimate relationships can trigger reminders of the childhood sexual abuse. This is because abuse often occurs in similar interpersonal contexts, but involving a betrayal of trust. It is not surprising then that pressure for change often builds in relationships.

Partners are quite often the first person a man will tell of the sexual abuse. On average, men disclose sexual abuse 22 years after the event, 10 year later than women. Telling does not mean, sin embargo, that the shame, culpa, and fear of people questioning his manhood or sexuality (the things that led him to keep the abuse secret) just go away. Partners report pressure to take on and keep the secret. This has an effect of isolating women from important sources of personal support for them at a time they most need it.

Pressure to be the sole supporter

The pressure partners can feel to act as sole supporter is too much to expect of one person. We know that being well connected and supported is important for our health and bienestar. Sin embargo, current men’s health research notes men are less likely to access health care and counselling than women. Además, men have smaller social support networks than women, and men are unlikely to have a close confidant other than their partner. Esta falta de apoyo compuestos por parejas que sufren problemas con el abuso sexual, dejando a ambas partes luchan para hacer frente.

La falta de reconocimiento de la comunidad, conciencia y apoyo para los hombres que han tenido contacto sexual no deseado y abusivo tiene un impacto significativo en las vidas de los hombres y en las vidas de las mujeres. Our intent in naming some of the challenges that couples face in addressing the impact of sexual abuse has been to both highlight the complexity of factors at play, and to encourage greater support for partners and families. Hay mucho que no se mencionan aquí, incluyendo los desafíos particulares que enfrentan las mujeres que también han sufrido abuso sexual, madres / padres y parejas del mismo sexo (hopefully we can includes some articles on these issues at some point).

Las relaciones pueden ser un lugar de curación

A Vivir Bien, sabemos por experiencia que al igual que las relaciones pueden ser un lugar donde pueden aparecer problemas relacionados con el abuso sexual, sino que también puede ser un lugar de profunda sanación. Recorriendo el camino de sanación juntos puede ser un trabajo duro e infinitamente gratificante. Saludable, las relaciones de pareja pueden ser un antídoto contra el abuso sexual. Las relaciones pueden ser un lugar donde las personas aprenden a sentirse seguros y que sus decisiones respetan. Las relaciones son un lugar donde las personas pueden aprender el autocuidado y ofrecer atención, apoyo y aliento a los demás, donde las parejas pueden construir confianza, respetuoso, íntimo, sexy, relaciones amorosas.

Si usted o su pareja está luchando con el impacto del abuso sexual, nos animamos a buscar más información y el apoyo de un consejero o un proveedor de servicios que tiene conocimiento y experiencia en el trabajo con personas que han sufrido abuso sexual. Partners of men might also find help in our pages under Información para socios.


1 comentario

  1. Comment by Pauline

    Pauline Responder Marzo 5, 2017 en 2:07 pm

    My husband of 21 years of marriage has just disclosed to me his sexual abuse from his mother. I told him how sorry I was to hear this and that he it wasn’t his fault. I have been through infidelity with him many times and I asked him if there was more than the three that I know of and he said yes. What I don’t understand is why he wants to bring the sexual abuser his mother into our bedroom almost like it turns him on more. I have stopped having sex with him in the last two weeks and I told him prior to his disclosure that I want a divorce. He had been going out every weekend telling me that he’s going to see the guys but after all this then I know where he was. I want to help him I just don’t know if this is possible. He said he remember seeing something on TV a guy from jail and the only way out of this is to hang himself. These kinds of scenarios I don’t like to hear or see and this evening he’s out again, I’m probably 90% positive that he’s with one of his girlfriends. I just don’t know what to do one part of me says to just let him go like he says he’ll move out in the summer but I don’t know if he’ll do that either I told him I’m not his backup if his girlfriend is don’t work. I try not to say really anything to him about his girlfriends and he keeps trying to have sex with me every night. He is obsessed with p*** in pictures of young girls and boys. This is such a sad state I feel so bad for him. I know what is like to be abused sexually because I was at a younger age but I have gone beyond that and have decided that was then and then I have to keep on going with my life but I don’t think he gets that it’s affected him very much more

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