If your partner was sexually abused, you undoubtedly have many unanswered questions. Here at Living Well we receive a large number of questions and requests for advice from partners, family members and loved ones of men who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual assault. These are people who are deeply concerned about the men in their lives, and at a bit of a loss for how to best support them. See the comments and questions asked on our page Información para los socios de los hombres, como ejemplo.
Often a partner is the first person that a man will ever disclose a history of sexual abuse to. We want to acknowledge that this can be challenging and confusing for partners, y que, regardless of the closeness of your relationship, this information can be difficult to process and respond to. Not only do you want to support your loved one, you also need to deal with your own thoughts and feelings about it all.
Often there is a lot of worry around how to respond appropriately, and also worry about what this may mean for you as individuals, as a couple, or as a family.
Sometimes the man discloses the abuse, or you deduce it has happened and he acknowledges it, but he then is not ready to discuss it further, let alone seek help or tell anyone else. This can be a really uncomfortable place for you to be in, as now you have this information but are unsure what to do with it.
Si, as we know, there is not a lot of support out there for men who have experienced sexual abuse or assault, then neither is there much information for the people who care about and wish to support these men.
Below are some of the most common questions we get. We acknowledge that every situation is different, y pedimos que por favor mantenga esto en mente al leer sobre estos. Please also take care of yourself in reading through, as these topics can be confronting.
Hemos utilizado generalmente la palabra “socio” to refer to the man in your life, but these words can apply to any man — friend, son, padre, hermano, client, or any other man you care about.
Debido a su comportamiento, I think my partner may have been sexually abused, but he denies it. Is he just hiding it from me?
Some of the behaviours that people have described to us include:
- Infidelity, sexual addiction.
- Complete disinterest in sex.
- Unusual sexual or sexualised behaviours.
- Porn addiction.
- Consuming gay or same-sex porn.
- Strong emotional reactions to the mention of sexual abuse of others.
- Depresión, ansiedad, self harm.
- Abuse of alcohol or other drugs.
- Very protective behaviours towards children.
While it may seem as though there is a lot going on for him, realmente no hay manera de saber, del comportamiento actual de una persona, whether he has been sexually abused in the past.
La dificultad es, even if your partner demonstrates every single behaviour on a list of problemas comunes a los hombres víctimas de abusos sexuales, it still does not necessarily mean he was sexually abused. There are a great many reasons that could potentially explain why people might engage in different behaviours or have different reactions. Simplemente no es posible predecir la reacción cualquier individuo, lo que no hay lista de control de los síntomas que nos dirá con certeza.
It may indeed be that your suspicions regarding past abuse are right. However unless he is open to talking about it, there is no way for you to be certain. We can only work with what we know for sure.
This question is made more difficult by the fact that, when a man has been abused, it is something that can feel almost impossible for him to talk about. Muchos hombres no revelan el abuso sexual o asalto sexual décadas after the fact, if ever. Echa un vistazo a nuestra página en Hombres y divulgación, que resume algunos de los hombres se enfrentan a barreras.
¿Qué debo hacer si no me lo dirá?
Así que digamos que usted sospecha que su pareja o ser querido fue abusado o agredido sexualmente, pero no se sabe a ciencia cierta. Es posible que le has pedido ya, pero él no quiere hablar de ello. If you are in this situation, there may be things that sadden or concern you about some of his experiences or his responses. You might not know how best to help, o cómo explorar sus respectivas necesidades en esta situación, sin causar más malestar.
Si él no lo ha dicho que fue abusado sexualmente, it is generally recommended to not pressure him to talk about it until he is ready. Recordar, usted no sabe a ciencia cierta si este es el caso, pero incluso si es, ideally it is his decision to tell or not to tell. Es importante que usted deje el poder de esa decisión de. Sepan que es extremadamente difícil para los hombres a revelar. If he is not ready to do so, no es ninguna reflexión en usted, or on your relationship with each other.
We have heard from some men that they do not mind being asked, but they do not find it helpful to be pressed about it if they are not yet ready to talk.
It can be very difficult to want to support someone but to feel unable to do so. Si bien no es hasta usted para 'arreglar’ le, there are ways you can support your partner if he ever does feel ready to broach the subject.
Deje que su pareja sepa que usted está siempre abierto a escuchar sus sentimientos, experiencias, pensamientos e historias. Esté preparado para escuchar de manera abierta, non-judgmental manner.
Si usted siente que puede revelar el abuso a usted, take a look at our page Hombres y divulgación: ¿Cómo usted puede ayudar for some more information about how loved ones can support men through disclosure.
And through all this, above all else, make sure you take care of yourself. Step back for a while and look after your own well-being in the here and now. Engaging in self care in this way serves two purposes. The first is that it builds up your resilience and your ability to manage and cope with stress. The second is that it also means you are “modelling” self care for your partner – healthy behaviour tends to be “catching.” In either case, the importance of looking after yourself cannot be overstated.
We acknowledge and appreciate that you want to support and care for your partner, no matter what has happened — but it is important to keep in mind that you cannot make everything alright. Especially if you are losing sight of your own needs.
Su comportamiento me está afectando negativamente, aunque. ¿Cómo si no puedo conseguir que cambie?
Independientemente de si su pareja o ser querido ha sufrido abuso sexual o asalto en el pasado, you both always have a right to have your wishes, boundaries and desires respected.
Si es posible, le hizo saber que hay aspectos de la relación que usted quiere hablar. Concéntrese en lo que está sucediendo en el presente, y discutir juntos sus esperanzas de cómo desea que la relación sea. This avoids pressuring him into disclosing (o denegando) cualquier historia de abuso sexual. Podría ser útil para mantener los temas separados hasta (y si) que está dispuesto a hablar de su pasado - eso es si su pasado es, de hecho, pertinente. Con este enfoque ayuda a mantener de vista el hecho de que usted tiene el derecho a expresar lo que piensa la relación va, dejando la cuestión de la divulgación de cualquier historia de victimización sexual en su control.
Es útil si usted está claro sobre qué tipo de relación que desea, y qué expectativas, necesidades, and boundaries or limits you each have. Envision this together — invite him to share his expectations and hopes with you. Talk about how you would prefer you both behave in this relationship, y como demuestras amor, la atención y el respeto de unos a otros. In stating your vision for your life together, and in asking him to share his, you are both making a commitment to this.
Map it out — what it will look like for both of you. Get specific. Tómese su tiempo. Make it an ongoing process.
Esto significará hacer ejercicio y ser claro en cuanto a lo que es y no es un comportamiento aceptable. Es importante en cualquier relación de proporcionar un mensaje claro acerca de cuáles son sus expectativas y límites son, escuchar las de su pareja, y tratar de reunirse en el centro. The main point is that both of you should feel comfortable with things. No one should feel pressured to accept something they’re not comfortable with.
¿Es posible que él ha bloqueado el abuso, o no lo recuerda?
Research shows that the majority of people who have experienced sexual abuse retain very strong memories of the abuse. It also shows that there are a number of reasons that people may not wish to talk about it.
Dicho esto, sí, hay algunas personas que han sido víctimas de abusos sexuales cuyos recuerdos no son claras, o están ausentes, durante largos períodos de tiempo. These people may remember and piece together fragments of memories later on in life. De hecho, many people have noticed that these memories seem to come back once they have started to feel more stable, more strong, and more confident. In other words, just when you start to feel you’re really doing well, the memories start to return.
En este caso, working through it may not be about avoiding the memories, or even trying to chase them down and confront them. It’s about building yourself up to the point where your mind can handle them, and has the strength to cope with them. It’s about being ready.
Una dificultad aquí es que sólo se puede trabajar con lo que está disponible. Busca recuerdos de abuso sexual infantil puede llevar a más angustia, la confusión y la incertidumbre. Memoria en general es muy falible. It may be more helpful to try to work on acceptance of the uncertainty of the issue. In this case it’s about learning to be okay with not knowing for sure.
In either case the emphasis should be on developing a strong, stable and confident sense of wellbeing.
He has a few issues at the moment that I’m sure are related to the abuse. Is it common for men to…
It is common for a man who has experienced sexual abuse to experience a range of effects over the years. There are many negative impacts that are commonly known to result from a history of such trauma, tal como:
- Flashbacks and invasive thoughts.
- Nightmares and insomnia.
- Ira, and thoughts of revenge.
- Auto culpa, vergüenza, and low self esteem.
- Los pensamientos suicidas.
- Intimacy issues.
- Difficulty trusting others.
A more complete list can be found on the page dealing with sexual violence, along with some further information.
In addition to the above, there are also secondary issues that can arise. Often these are emotional and behavioural strategies that men have used to help them cope with the primary issues above. These strategies themselves, while helpful at first, can become problematic. These can include:
- Use of alcohol and other drugs.
- Use of pornography.
- Risky behaviours.
- Controlling relationships.
- Avoiding relationships.
More on these types of unhelpful strategies can be found on the page Hacer frente a los efectos del abuso sexual en la infancia.
Por supuesto, not all of these issues, even if a man has experienced sexual abuse, are necessarily related to the abuse. Del mismo modo, it is important to recognise men’s capacity to lead full and rewarding lives. Después de una experiencia de abuso sexual infantil o asalto sexual, it is not unusual for people’s understanding of their lives to become closely inter-connected with problems related to that experience. Sin embargo, seeing the person as the problem, and the majority of his current difficulties as a result of sexual abuse or sexual assault, can be counter-productive.
When trying to work through any present issue, it can be more helpful to look at it en the present. Whether or not this issue stems from a history of abuse, it will generally be effective to deal with it in the here and now. Set goals, establish safety and support, and put strategies in place, just as we do for anything.
I really think my partner needs to get help for this, but he doesn’t want counselling. How can I convince him to get the help he needs?
Counselling can be a really useful way for someone to process and work though difficult experiences, to build up safety and stability, and to figure out goals and strategies for moving forward.
It may be that your partner or loved one has given counselling a try in the past and found it unhelpful, and now is reluctant to give counselling another go. This might involve thoughts like, “I’m beyond help,” o “counselling doesn’t work for me.”
When it comes to sexual abuse it can be crucial that the counsellor or professional has a good background in trauma informed care, and experience in working around sexual violence. It is a quite specialised area and it can be difficult to find a good professional. In this case it can be worth suggesting you do some research together to find someone who might be able to help.
It can also be helpful to note that every professional works differently and has a different style. The first counsellor an individual engages with may not be a good match for him. If this happens it can be easy to give it up as too hard, “well I tried.” Perhaps in this instance he could be encouraged to give it another go, to find someone who does suit him and his individual style, with whom he ‘clicks.’
If he has never been to counselling for this issue before and is nervous about what to expect, it may help him to know that a good counsellor won’t pressure him to talk about traumatic memories. La atención se centra generalmente más en las estrategias para hacer frente en el presente, hasta el momento en que el hombre quiere hacer frente a experiencias pasadas (en todo caso).
Sin embargo, if he doesn’t want to try any form of counselling, we would suggest there is not much you can do about that until he is ready. Counselling is only therapeutic if the person is ready and has made the decision for themselves. As mentioned earlier, feeling pressured to talk about sexual abuse can be counter-productive. If he feels pushed into attending a session, even if he does go, it is unlikely to be beneficial for him.
Perhaps the best thing you can do right now is to let him know that, if he does ever feel open to trying, you’ll be ready to support him through the process.
I’m the only one who knows. How can I help him?
This is a big one. We recognise the huge amount of pressure that is put on partners, and other family and loved ones, of men who have been sexually abused or sexually assaulted. Unfortunately if there is not much support out there for these men, nor is there much at all for their supporters. And you need support too, because this is a really difficult position to be in.
The very fact that you are here shows that you already are helping him. You wouldn’t be doing this reading if you weren’t wanting to be as supportive of him as you can be, which says a lot. It’s also a big step towards becoming informed and learning what’s helpful and what’s less so, for both him and yourself. The links throughout this page should be helpful with this.
As mentioned above, sometimes the best (and sometimes the only!) way you can help him is to let him know that you will always be available to listen. That you are willing to hear his feelings, experiencias, pensamientos e historias – however he feels comfortable sharing them, and whenever he feels ready.
Sin embargo, as much as we want to, we can’t ‘make everything okay’ for someone else. We know that partners can often find themselves in this kind of position, with very high expectations of themselves. It’s important that you not take on too much. It’s important that you do take care of yourself.
Whether or not your partner is ready to talk it through with someone, it is always an option for you, demasiado. Counselling for yourself, as a partner, can help you to explore and process your own thoughts and feelings around this. It can help you to build up your own coping, resilience and wellbeing, and also to figure out how you can best support him.
Mi pareja fue abusado sexualmente cuando era niño. ¿Debo estar preocupado que podría abusar de nuestros / mis hijos?
No hay evidencia para sugerir que los hombres que han sido abusados sexualmente pasará automáticamente a cometer delitos sexuales. De hecho, la investigación sugiere que en realidad más de 95% no lo hará. It is an unhelpful myth that men who were sexually abused in childhood are the ones who then abuse children. Echa un vistazo a nuestra página en frente a la víctima a delincuente ciclo para más información.
Lo que sí sabemos es que los hombres que han sido abusados sexualmente cuando niños se preocupan por el bienestar de los niños, y si algo puede ser excesivamente protector. Por lo general no quieren lo que les sucedió a pasar a otro niño.
If you are a parent, Estoy seguro de que va a querer seguir hablando y construyendo la relación con sus hijos, so that if there is anything worrying them at home, en la escuela o en el vecindario que pueden venir y hablar con usted acerca de él. Esta es la mejor cosa que puedes hacer.
Mi pareja fue abusado sexualmente cuando era niño. I found gay porn on his computer, but he says that he isn’t gay. Why does he look at gay porn then, or chat with other men online?
This is an issue that can be really confusing, embarrassing and hurtful to partners of men. It can also be embarrassing and confusing for the man involved, who may not understand it himself. The fact is, it’s not unusual for men who were sexually abused or assaulted by another male to feel the urge to watch same-sex porn, or to visit male sex websites or chat sites.
Using same-sex porn can add to the already existing sense of shame, given the taboos in some communities about same sex attraction. It gets very mixed up with the experience of abuse and trying to work out ‘who I am.’
When a man was sexually abused as a boy by another man, it is usually the case that this was his first experience with any form of sexual contact. This can influence the way a person thinks about sex for the rest of his life. It does not mean he is gay, just that his first sexual experience was a very confusing one.
Para algunos hombres, memories of the abuse, including flashbacks, se puede cargar físicamente y emocionalmente. Como tal, they can be drawn to look at same-sex porn as a way to try and understand what is happening. It can be a way to seek answers about the trauma of the abuse, and also about questions of sexuality. La confusión acerca de la sexualidad y la orientación sexual es una desafortunada consecuencia de abuso sexual de muchos hombres.
But questions around sexuality are dead-end questions – they don’t go anywhere. It can be more useful to think in terms of where he is choosing to put his emotional energy, amor y afecto. Con el fin de resolver esto y no convertirse en el lado seguido (la cuestión Gay puede ser seguimiento lado), tal vez útil para invitarlo a considerar lo que está haciendo en términos de compromiso con la relación y para que.
I asked my partner to stop using porn. He said he would, but I’ve learned he’s still been doing it in secret. What can I do?
Porn use in general can be an issue. Where there has been sexual abuse, porn can feel like a relatively safe space to explore and work through confusing and unsafe thoughts and experiences related to sex. This can be difficult to make sense of, and can cause problems in relationships when the man struggles to stop.
One of the added difficulties in this instance is that the sense of secrecy and shame around accessing porn can increase distress for men who have been sexually abused. Secrecy around things that are considered shameful can be a legacy of sexual abuse; it can almost be considered a coping strategy — a way to deal with the effects. However it can be quite unhelpful in developing a healthy, supportive relationship.
If this is something that is coming between you, it can be important to be clear that his accessing porn or chat rooms is something that pushes you apart. It will be important to be clear to him that if he chooses to access porn and lie to you, él no está demostrando el amor y el respeto a usted y su relación. Él es un adulto que tiene opciones sobre cómo se comporta y donde él pone su energía. Él puede elegir para pasar tiempo con usted haciendo cosas que le gustan juntos, para nutrir y construir un mundo más íntimo, cuidado, relación sexy. Las relaciones toman el compromiso y se pueden reconstruir.
Lo que es importante es que cada socio asume la responsabilidad de sí mismos y hay un entendimiento compartido y el compromiso de hacer de éste un apoyo, cuidado, relación respetuosa que funcione para ambos.
Where can we find help?
La ayuda está disponible.
Living Well offers counselling to men who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual assault, and also to partners, families and loved ones.
If you live in South East Queensland, we provide cara a cara asesoramiento from Strathpine, Woolloongabba/Buranda, Booval and Southport.
If you live elsewhere in the world, take a look at our list of worldwide services online.
Por favor, Estar en contacto.