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Wounded Attachment: Relationships of Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault


In my work with adult survivors of sexual assault, I am beginning to notice a pattern of behavior that I have termed “wounded attachment.” The impact of childhood sexual assault has reverberating effects on almost every facet of survivors’ livelihood, from relationships with family, friends, partners, spouses, and children to their jobs, finances, faith, etc. It is as if sexual assault redefines one’s pattern of and trajectory in life.

Sexual assault is the act of forcing, enticing, intimidating, or coercing another person to engage in a sexual activity, from fondling to coitus, when the other person is unwilling or unable (as is the case of one who is underage, drugged, or unconscious). Imagine yourself as a child, seeing the world through a child’s eyes, and then being introduced to a violent act—an act that serves to not only damage one’s physical body and mental/cognitive mind-set, but also disrupt one’s spiritual being.

This one act for some—repeated acts of violence for others—does untold amounts of damage to one’s psyche. Yet the resilience I’ve witnessed from many who choose to live their lives after the violence is remarkable. Unfortunately, for many the damage is such that many are unaware of how it has skewed their way of looking at the world. This sometimes is displayed in the relationships subsequent to the sexual assault.

Far too often, survivors believe that once the assault ends, it is done and they don’t need to talk about it. Yet the choices made, the decisions not made, and the relationships that come afterward tell a different story. Wounded attachment is an insidious component that I have seen repeatedly in my work with adult survivors of childhood sexual assault. What is wounded attachment? It’s the unconscious way of being attracted or attached to someone or something that reminds the survivor of or reinforces the wound/trauma, or in this case the sexual assault. At its core, it’s the way in which survivors subconsciously seek out relationships that reinforce the wounded aspect of themselves.

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Sometimes it is displayed in the choice of employment/work. For example, survivors may find themselves working at a job that belittles them, makes them feel worthless, or where they feel like they have to make everyone else happy at the expense of their own happiness, thereby reinforcing their wounded concept of self. Another example is when a survivor is continually engaged in romantic relationships that serve to reinforce the wounded parts of self.

As a child, depending on when the assault occurred and the developmental stage in which it occurred, the person seeks to please the adult and gain affection, attention, nurturing, love, trust, etc. A child who has been sexually assaulted blurs that idea of love, nurturing, trust, attention, and affection, and begins to believe that the only way to receive love, attention, etc., is to please the “assaulter.” This remains in effect as the child matures into adulthood.

Although the assault is no longer occurring, if the child did not receive any type of counseling, intervention, or effective treatment to process and repair the damage to the mind, body, and psyche, then this adult is continuing to live out the wounds experienced as a child. As such, the adult becomes caught in a cycle of relationships that reinforce the wounded attachments. Awareness of this plays a crucial role in helping adult survivors of sexual assault move toward recovery, resiliency, and healing.

© Copyright 2013 by Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, MA, LPC-S, therapist in Houston, Texas. All Rights Reserved.

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  • Vanessa F June 28th, 2013 at 4:06 AM #1

    When something like this happens to you as a child it is almost a guarantee that you are going to feel like you desrved this for some reason, and I know that there are lots of victims who then go through their lives as adults seeking that conformation that indeed they are not good enough and that they deserved the treatment that they got.

    I hate that too because there are so many good people who struggle with rising above this behavior. They are led to believe that they have no control and no power and therefore they are always seeking ways to have no control and power. Even if this abuse happens to you only once in life the ramifications are endless.

  • Al meggs June 28th, 2013 at 11:53 AM #2

    Please give me the Psych term for the victim of abuse
    In this case it was a boy of about 6 and two dominant siblings of about 13 girl and 14 boy
    Throughout life the younger sibling was used to bolster the older brothers ego
    Continuing to be ridiculed humiliated still threatened and otherwise lowered in his self esteem for the remainder of his life isnt there a term used to apply to the older perpetrator sibling?
    Did he not derive extreme satisfaction from this relationship and could he when threatened of losing his “punching bag” littler brother resort to violence?

  • Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, MA, LPC-S June 28th, 2013 at 2:55 PM #3

    In reference to Vanessa’s comments, I agree, the ramifications are endless, but NOT hopeless. There is help available and the awareness that it is okay to seek help and things can change is perhaps the first step in moving toward recovery and healing.

    In reference to Al’s comment, it appears here that you are referring to physical and emotional abuse. This article particularly deals with sexual assault. But to try to answer your questions… there are various terms once can use to describe one who has been abused physically and emotionally. Depending on their level of abuse and where they are at in their recovery, one can be referred to as a “survivor of abuse” and the one who is known to do the abuse is typically referred to as a “perpetrator”. It is difficult to answer your last question regarding deriving extreme satisfaction from this relationship…it is possible that the one conducting the abuse also experienced abuse and becomes the “abuser/perpetrator” rather than the “abusee/survivor” to deflect their own insecurities. In any case, I am hopeful that these individuals are receiving or have received counseling to address their behaviors and feelings toward self/others.

  • tiffany June 29th, 2013 at 1:18 AM #4

    would hurt the psyche no doubt.but the second most important thing to do (the first would be prevention of course) would be the immediate actions after such an assault.the guardian adults (most often parents) should accept what the child says.

    soon after seeking help is necessary.it is a compulsory thing to do.the child needs to be told this was not their mistake and that they do not deserve this.what is done thereafter could have an effect on how the child thinks and the child’s entire future life.

  • Kimberly April August 4th, 2013 at 9:33 AM #5

    Speaking from personal experience as an adult survivor, I totally agree with and want to emphasize what has been shared about wounded attachments.
    I especially can identify with the following insights you provided:

    “Sometimes it is displayed in the choice of employment/work. For example, survivors may find themselves working at a job that belittles them, makes them feel worthless, or where they feel like they have to make everyone else happy at the expense of their own happiness, thereby reinforcing their wounded concept of self. Another example is when a survivor is continually engaged in romantic relationships that serve to reinforce the wounded parts of self.”

    I also want to add another dimention to this area of wounded attachment. Those of us who have been abused in a variety of ways, especially spanning ages 2 through 18, have never really had, known, or experienced a safe relationship. We don’t even know what it looks like, feels like, or is. We don’t have any background knowledge or experience of it. What we know well is a betrayal of a very close relationship be it father, mother, siblings, etc. I think sometimes some therapists don’t think about the enormity of what I just shared here. It will effect your therapy for a long time. It will effect establishing safety and trust. It will effect how long it takes for the process of therapy to help bring wholeness.

    I have also experienced that it also effects the termination process as well. I am now coming to the conclusion of my therapy which has lasted for four years. I can’t put into words how difficult this process has been, and I beleive that part of the difficulty is because therapists don’t realize our lack of background knowledge on safe relationships, and take for granted that we know what one is, looks like, and how it feels. Also secondly, that perhaps for the first time in our lives this relationship that has been formed in therapy is built on trust and safety, as well as understanding, respect, and a true caring that we have not experienced before. I believe, and have experienced that this is probably another reason that termination is such a struggle for me. Now I feel like I am in a place where my therapist is not “getting” this, and this is causing me to feel afraid again, and wanting to run away using a myriad of strategies which are not optimal for healiing to take place. I need his help, but he doesn’t “get” it.

  • simply al September 12th, 2013 at 6:09 AM #6

    I completelt agree, my husband was sexually abused at the age of 4yrs onwards by older boys and then a friend of the family – he is british Pakistani…..I married my husband 12 years ago and found out that he has been having affairs, using escorts, prostitutes going on websites etc etc. He told me briefly about the rapes but in no depth and I didn’t push. He started therapy about 4months ago, but has now walked out on me and our 3 children……….I am very confused as to whats going on, and the impact of therapy on our relationship………….

  • Stephanie September 22nd, 2013 at 9:29 PM #7

    Kimberly, I understand where you’re coming from, I was sexually abused by my dad from 2 – 15.. The only reason it ended was because I stopped looking like a little girl. I completely relate to what you’re saying about having no healthy relationships to relate to. It is huge and has been an enormous barrier in believing in my instincts. I question everything, especially in romantic relationships. I grew up deeply stuffing my instincts and my enormous suffering. It’s made romantic relationships extremely confusing. It’s hard for me to know and judge appropriate boundaries, I question all the time if what I feel is acceptable or right. It doesn’t help that during your adult life you accumulate so much more disfunction and trauma. I know I sound bleak, but it made me feel really good and hopeful reading your message, it made me feel less different and disfunctional. I am not understanding what you mean when you say termination? Are you talking about when your done with counseling?

  • Sean October 25th, 2013 at 5:46 PM #8

    I’m looking for advice on how to cope being in love with a sexually abused woman. My partner and I have been in a relationship for nearly 6 years. We have been through some tough times as I recently found out she has been having sex with other guys all the while telling me how much she loves me. I asked her why she did that and I as told that I “forced” her to do that as I was too jealous and expected her to give herself fully to me alone. After a bit of soul-searching and talk, she admitted to me that she was sexually abused by her grandfather from the age of 5 to 15. At the age of 20 her grandfather continued to pester her for sex and she relented having consensual sex with him another 3 occasions that I know of. I met her after all this had happened. When I questioned her why she would consent to having sex with him, she answered that she did it just to stop him nagging her for sex. Her answer staggered me which then became an almighty row during which she said she was happy that he did this to her as he “taught her how to enjoy sex”. Needless to say, our sex life has been affected greatly. I love her and I know she loves me but I don’t think we can sort these issues out by ourselves. Can anyone offer advice?

  • Chris November 9th, 2013 at 11:28 AM #9

    Sean, my wife is a survivor and we are still early in the process of working thru it. The issue you are running into is that as you get closer and more intimate (not just in physical ways) to your GF it will scare her since her Grandpa was someone who was close to her and who did something evil. As a result she subconsciously feels less safe about you as your relationship gets closer. You’re right you can’t get thru this by yourselves. She desperately needs counseling and you will too. Also couples counseling would probably be beneficial. I can’t really tell you how hard the process is to get thru since I am still in the midst. You need to seriously consider if you want to stay in this relationship because it will be tough. I think that you need to set a boundary that if your relationship is going to continue she needs to be in counseling specifically to deal with the abuse. I pray that however things work out you each find happiness.

  • Liz January 12th, 2014 at 2:28 PM #10

    I just wrote a long piece about myself but the CAPTCHA Code wasn’t recognised so I lost everything I wrote :(

    It obviously wasn’t meant to be, my voice to be heard. It’s not a question of if, it’s when do I decide to leave this earth.

  • GT Support GT Support January 12th, 2014 at 7:41 PM #11

    Thank you for your comment, Liz. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Tony February 11th, 2014 at 12:56 PM #12

    Liz, please retype it. I’d like to read your story. It would help me and probably others, and it might help you.

    As far as ending it, lookup a story written in the New Yorker a few years back about suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge. The people who survived the jump all say virtually the same thing: the second they jumped they knew they wanted a chance to just live, and realize then they didn’t want to die.

    Type your story and post it please.

  • sunya February 14th, 2014 at 1:47 AM #13

    I am a child sex abuse survivor. I am 42 years old married and have a child. But my relationship with my husband or my child was never fine. We are constantly up in arms at each other. I want a happy and peaceful life. Can you please help

  • dee February 22nd, 2014 at 4:17 PM #14

    i am a child abuse survivor,my abuser died last year and nightmare”s is coming back more than i want.i maried and have two childrens but i cant to talk to any one,i feel like i going creisy .i am 45 years old but i feel like little girl again,please help me

  • Ru February 23rd, 2014 at 7:10 AM #15

    what happens when you get into a relationship that reinforces the wound what do you do

  • Lynne Silva-Breen, LMFT February 28th, 2014 at 6:27 PM #16

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories. All of you have pointed out the painful, life-altering effects of childhood sexual abuse.

    The best suggestion I have is for survivors to begin a relationship with a good, seasoned, licensed mental health professional. Research and clinical experience proves that a good therapeutic relationship can help to heal those wounds and help you establish new expectations of a close, trusting relationship.

    When you are ready, please reach out for help.

  • Brittanie February 28th, 2014 at 8:06 PM #17

    Hello! I just wanted to post a resource for people that state that they are in need of some support to address their own trauma histories. Firstly, as a therapist for youth, I absolutely recommend therapy at all stages of life for survivors. There is no one way to “deal” with your experiences, and it’s not something you do for a little bit and it’s done as this article states. Coping and healing are life long processes, so therapy at different stages of life is a fabulous way to process and redefine your story as it relates to the new you through your years.

    If you’re not ready to go to therapy yourself, but feel you are stable enough to begin to do some work there is a book: “The Courage to Heal Workbook”. This workbook can be worked on at home in pieces, and directly addresses building supports, coping skills, and dealing with crises when triggered. You can buy it off of amazon.

    Dee this makes me think of what you posted. Your abuser passing is VERY triggering, and it’s very common to begin to relive and experience trauma symptoms even if you have not for years. It would be a good time for you to seek a therapist or support group to process all of the feelings (maybe even mixed feelings), his/her death is allowing to surface.

    Everyone posting about their experience is demonstrating what being a survivor is about, good work and good luck!

  • Phil March 21st, 2014 at 11:59 AM #18

    My wife walked away from therapy 6 times over 22 years of marriage; always finding a reason and never dealing with the problem. She was court ordered into a year long group therapy (California domestic squabble law when an officer is called). She couldn’t walk away.

    Nothing happened for 6 months. In month 7 she opened up. No surprise, it turned out that most of the women in the group had had childhood violation experiences like hers.

    My wife is much better now. I only wish that the year had not come to an end. Another 12 months could have had her deal with even more of need to control, her sexual habitations, her insecurity in social settings.

    Though not perfect, I will accept the the great improvements which did occur.

  • Michael April 24th, 2014 at 10:12 PM #19

    My wife and I have been married for 14 years. We have two children 4 & 7. She confided in me ten years ago that she had been molested as a child by a family doctor while her mother watched and did nothing (she is from a Mormon family and the women are very submissive to men). Since telling me, I have pleaded with her to get help as her inability to show intimacy, any intimacy at all, has taken its toll on our relationship.
    This past November, I accepted a position in another state. Our house had been sold, most of our personal belongings had been liquidated and I was already relocated with my family to follow. And then her crisis hit.
    She filed for a divorce and I was forced to resign my position and come home to face the divorce proceedings.
    She has since retracted the divorce and we started marriage counceling and things were starting to seem better. Then ( about five weeks ago) she revealed her abuse to our counselor (who is incredible). At that point, our counselor began working with my wife on her abuse issues and, as a result, she has pulled almost completely away from me. We spend time to gather a couple of times a week and I can feel that she doesn’t want to be there. I love her so very much and it kills me to see her in so much pain. I try very hard to be supportive and understanding, but I am in pain too. I have lost almost everything over this. My wife, my family, my job and my home. We live in separate apartments and, while she talks about us moving back in together soon (july), that don’t seem possible given the current status of her recovery. I don’t want to leave the marriage but I am so afraid that she is just going to walk away.
    How long can I expect until there is a real sense of healing?
    Why does she want to spend time with her friends and not me?
    My heart is breaking over this and I don’t know how long I can hold on.

  • Jude April 26th, 2014 at 7:14 AM #20

    I’m a childhood sex abuse survivor & I’m 17. I just told my counsellor about it after being forced to be silent for almost 5 years. I have tried to kill myself twice because of flashbacks. My counsellor said we would do some sort of counselling but I can’t remember the name of it. Does anyone know what type of therapy is used?

  • Gerard June 15th, 2014 at 2:38 AM #21

    I am the male partner of a man who was raped as a child. We have been together for 8 years and it has been very very difficult. We clearly love one another very much, but recently my partner moved out of our home, though we are keeping in touch as best we may. My partner has “dropped” me more times than I can count, and finds reasons easily in my behaviour to feel contenpt for me, then later we reconcile. I have urged him repeated to seek professional help, which he has done from time to time, but has not seen it through effectively each time. He is not seeing anyone at the moment, even at such a crucial time in his life, he seems on the one hand to be trying to deal with it completely alone, and on the other hand confesses to me that he is very confronted to try to open up again to yet another professional. Recently, he and I made an appearance beofre the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Australia, which was a cathartic experience for us both, but the pattern continues of going along fairly well, to collapse of our relationship, to repair, via promises of seeking help, and me attempting not to be controlling, but at the same time urging him to seek out help. I feel my life is crumbling almost as mcuh as his is.

  • Susan E June 25th, 2014 at 10:09 PM #22

    Good evening. I’m a parent of a male survivor. He’s 21 and disclosed last year that he’d been abused by a family friend multiple times when he was 10. His high school years were a mix of success and then acting out with drugs and alcohol. He’s been in inpatient recovery, outpatient, sober living. He regularly sees a counselor with whom he has a good bond. He just seems so fluid and changes jobs, housing and girlfriends every 2-4 months. It’s hard to stabilize him. He hasn’t truly accepted sobriety. His dad gave up on him after his relapses. He has great family support otherwise. Will this calm down? Will he mature into a more stable lifestyle? Sometimes it feels like such a roller coaster.

  • sarah July 12th, 2014 at 12:50 PM #23

    I am a 30 year old survivor i was abused between 5 and 8 by my step granddad been emtionally sexually abused for as long as i can remember by my dad and i was sexually assulted by an unknown man when i was 12. It took me till 28 years of age to even talk about it I’ve had relationship upon relationship and in one way or another I’ve sabotaged them all by pushin people away at the least little thing and turnin to drugs and alcohol to block things out. I have good days and bad days but since I’ve spoke out i dont feel suicidal anymore and I’m slowly but surely learnin why i react in certain ways to certain things and I’m tryin to break bad habits and behaviour. Talking about it was the most scariest thing i have ever ever had to do, but its better than wanting to kill youself 24 – 7. I’ve got a long way to go and healing is an on goin thing but i felt compelled to write this incase someone else like me is lookin for answers or a reasurance to open up.

  • Scott B July 15th, 2014 at 4:41 PM #24

    Hello all

    First, thank you for you courage and your sharing. I was hoping I could get some feedback and insight.

    I am married to a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by her father. Our marriage is most likely done more from her perspective than mine.

    Throughout our relationship, she has very quickly alternated between expressing her love for me to then shutting me out completely and blaming me for all the problems in our relationship. After 15 years, I do find mysel to be a very negative and angry person which I wasn’t before our relationship.

    I have sought out therapy and treatment for depression and over the last year have really been able to take perspective. I have no problems taking ownership of the things I have brought to the table that have negatively impacted the relationship. However, as I have gotten healthier, I am now refusing to be the scapegoat for all the issues which was the MO of our relationship before.

    I guess what I am asking is are her behaviours “typical” of a survivor or is it really just me causing the issues? From my perspective I have seen:

    – very hot then cold feelings towards me. Last week she was telling me how much she loves me and I am the only one for her. Today she wants a divorce.
    – I am the sole reason for issues in our relationship
    – very secretive and withholding information to protect me or manage my feelings
    – she approaches childrearing like she is a single mom and I am a guest. The expectation is that I am to follow her lead and not offer my own opinions on how to raise our kids.
    – compartmentalising her work and friendships from me – never the two shall meet
    – and many others

    I don’t ask this as a way to blame her but rather to get a sense of my own worth. What is the possibility that I am really as bad as I am feeling right now? Is it possible it is entirely me?

    Thank you for your feedback.

  • Broken July 18th, 2014 at 7:48 PM #25

    Married! 14 years to a sexual abuser. Has abused his children and wife in secret for all 14 years. Habitually sleeping around under cover of secret phone and through so called friends. No true friend in this universe would lie or keep a secret and aide and let you harm yourself or others. Could be why I am not and never was fond of husbands friends. The ones I did like lie to my face. This has been the worst situation in my entire life. I was not sexually abused as a child my husband I found out now was. A victim of sexual abuse and because I did not know and this is certainly something you don’t automatically assume especially if you were not abused as a child. I had extreme trouble identifying it because my husband covered it by several legitimate things. I had to higher several investigators. OMG. This is so messed up and the findings were troubling and the negligence in his profession. 9 robberies, police find no robber, reports kids made, buying items in others name, so I will never know, fudge numbers, missing documents, I spots across several small towns, unidentified ss numbers attached to independant businesses, STD and STI infections hospitalized wife and then recovery program. Husband is a BAD Abuser and has never been in trouble or face it. Lives in denial continuing the behavior. The children and I are broken…

  • mm67 July 20th, 2014 at 9:22 AM #26

    I know you are feelong confused by your partners behaviour , its normal . I’m a survivor of sex abuse and I find it extremely hard to distinguish between what is normal for my partner and myself . I want to carry the world on my shoulders it comes natural to my need to make an effort as everything I do is in fear , I’m confused , I’m always confused . So I find meditation helps at least I can give myself some love and also accepting the kindness of others withoutfeeling that you have to ‘pay them back ‘ . I feel more self worth . We are victims and experience trauma . Try not to understand your partner but just to be there if needed .avoid alcohol together it doesn’t help .

    Good luck and its people like you who help people like us

  • Dane July 29th, 2014 at 12:39 AM #27

    I was sexually abused by my older cousin from about 6-11. I never told anyone until my mother came and talked to me saying my brother had told on my cousin for sexually abusing him and she wanted to ask me if it happened to me as well. I just remember crying. This was my older cousin who I was really close to and to this day idk if I would have ever told. Well we had court proceedings but the consensus was that if it happened again he would go to jail..but nothing was done afterwards. No therapy..nothing. and my parents continued letting me go over my grandma’s house where my cousin lived. I remember still being close to him and the continued but I never said a thing. When I was 12 the same cousin shot and killed one of my other family members. He was put away and I remember my dad giving me phone to speak to him when he was in jail and I spoke to him. As I got older I gradually became fiercely stubborn, hard, and emotionally detached. I still cannot be faithful in a relationship, am commitment phobic to everything, and have flashbacks of the abuse. I try very hard to convince myself that my sexuality is my own but always have thoughts of what the abuse could mean in that regard. I also am very controlling and don’t like being touched unless I expressly ask to be. My most recent ex had a big problem with that. My family still series it under the rug like it never happened…I forgive all of them but can’t help feel like I was left alone and I am alone in this world and if not even my own parents looked after me then who else will besides myself? I can’t trust a man to have my best interests at heart so I push them away. I desperately want to learn how to relinquish control and truly trust someone but I don’t know how yet. I have sought therapy but instantly feel like I’m back in control and stop going because I throw back up my walk whenever I feel like I was typo vulnerable around someone. I just can’t believe with me being who I am now..that back then..I didn’t have a voice. You ask anyone now and they will say I’m the most independent openly opinionated person ever. Always wish that could have been me back then and now I feel like I over compensate for that unknowingly.

  • Gia August 14th, 2014 at 9:01 AM #28

    I don’t have advice, but I can say that sounds so much like what has been going on in my relationship. He had his first flash back 5 months ago. We split two weeks ago. I’m heartbroken and really appreciate your post. It helped me to know I’m not alone or crazy. The whole thing is so chaotic.

    Good luck to you and thank you

  • Loumar August 27th, 2014 at 6:44 AM #29

    I am an adult survivor of same sex childhood sexual abuse, and have suffered with the self-hatred triggered by my history. I have had a history of getting into relationships where I have to prove my worth to the man I am trying to impress, and typically become overly attached. I recently became engaged to a wonderful man, who loves me unconditionally, but I have so much discomfort with being loved, that it is sending me spinning. I just want to be happy with this man, as I do love him, but have so much fear. Please does anyone have any thoughts on this matter.

  • Maggie August 27th, 2014 at 1:25 PM #30

    I’m a survivor if that’s what its called. Occurred first at 7 yrs. I told my 2 older sisters both victems never stepped up. I told mom. Nothing ever came of it. Other than it stopped. Then at 14 it started again. Daddy ruled with an iron fist and you didn’t say no. But the whom I feel betrayed by most is the 2 older sisters, both adults married w/ children the one through me under the bus so to speak by telling daddy I maybe sexually active. They both after a yr of it when I finally told again this time to authorities lied and said it never happened. I was the object of intense ridicule and punching bag for them through out my life. I’m 54 now and still at times look out at this world through a 7 or 14 yr olds eyes. I had 3 children that I now see as damaged as they have no more idea than I as to how to have a relationship let alone one that is healthy and happy. To this day the abuse conti ues. Not the sexual in that I at least know I did nothing wrong and had no control. But at this point I’ve lived a life wasted and no if I can’t get away now it will remain that way. The one person I was just starting to trust to come close to disclosing died he was my Dr (shrink) ;). The next I encountered belied any trust I will ever have for this proffession. As I find I’m raising 2 grandkids its now threatening a third generation. I’m tired and don’t know how to save them

  • Jaynne August 28th, 2014 at 9:56 PM #31

    You are so spot on that if I didn’t just disclose the abuse to my partner today, I would have thought he wrote your comment. Hang in, good luck, and much love.

  • Chris September 6th, 2014 at 8:54 AM #32

    He Loumar,
    I have struggled through the same exact thing. Still am to be honest. I’m still not yet fully healed. As a boy from ages 8-12 I was consistently sexually abused. Some times after he would finish with me he would be soft and gentle and say he loved Me, other times he would toss me to the ground like a rag doll. No longer having any use for me. I struggle with self worth and the thought of figuring out what love actually means. It was and still is so confusing. My counselor has been helping me realize what love is. And the “love” that was given to me by my abuser was simply another level of manipulation. I guess ultimately I had to find that my brain had been so messed up to the idea of love by the abuser that I simply had to rediscover what love was. It wasn’t easy. But with the help of a close friend supporting me and my counselor I am slowly beginning to understand again what love is like. Trying to distance myself from the thoughts and memories is difficult, especially when flashbacks come up, but it’s necessary for me to continuously remind myself (even though I sometimes struggle with accepting this as truth), that this wasn’t my fault. That was not love. He didn’t love me. He said those things to protect himself and keep himself safe.
    If this man loves you for who you are, then I don’t think it’s worth giving up on. Do your best to allow him to help define what love is. For me I had to draw boundaries for words to be said from me and to me until I was ready to hear them and accept them. Same went with physical touch. I hope this helps a little. I rambled a lot. Sorry

  • Emily September 13th, 2014 at 9:07 PM #33

    I was abused by my father starting at age 3? I was left messed up both emotionally and physically after suffering a brain injury. As a teenager I found comfort in the arms of grown men, drugs, booze and I ran away from every home I was placed in. I couldn’t deal with any form of stability and needed chaos, to some extent this is still the case. For years I looked for men who I was sure would hurt me and they rarely disappointed but by my late 20’s I realized I deserved better and not knowing what else to do or how to be free and safe so I locked myself inside my apartment and that is where I stayed for 6-7 years. I decided to rejoin the world last year and 2 weeks ago I was raped and roughed up pretty bad, he didn’t use a condom so I am now dealing with a lot of unknowns. I really do wish I could get help.

  • Vary September 20th, 2014 at 12:31 PM #34

    I have been sexually assaulted by a family relative continuously for 5 years.i used to love him and trust and as a child was not able to differentiate between sexuall assault or love and for me it was only mere touch of love which gave me pleasure.now all family members becos of the bond I had with him think him to be really good. but the reality is different .i am 19 now and have grown up to believe dat I was sexually assaulted.now he acts to be very sweet and innocent in front of my family and keeps bringing costly things to project me as the villain.i somehow overreact because of this realisation and somehow my family feels it is because of his marriage that I am nagging and everyone is blaming me and questioning my intentions and I go silent becos I have no reply I cannot tell them or else I will have another miserable life.hence I am alone in this grief I just can’t share it with anyone and has led to lack of self confidence control.it has made me a very negative person.as he is constantly in front of me cos of my family trust.whenever I see him enjoying all these memories come back and haunt me.i feel like a used fool who is out of her dignity and that person is enjoying his life.i really feel broken down.i wanted to come over this but could not so please help me to do so as i am in 12th grade and this is an important year hence so much pain and distraction is taking a toll on me. please help me!!

  • alex September 26th, 2014 at 6:14 AM #35

    Honestly he may never be that, but your continous support is everything. Dont give up

  • alex September 26th, 2014 at 6:37 AM #36

    My wife and I are both survivors of child abuse. Weve been married a year and our sex life is basically non existent. She is in therapy and i am not. I dont talk about my abuse to people where as shes very open about it. She was abused by multiple family friends as a kid and her father was also very verbally inappropriate with her. Since hes moved back closer to our area (a year ago) its taken a huge toll on our relationship. Im craving intimacy, finally being comfortable with sex and feeling good in my own skin (she was my first) wanting to be adventurous and discover. Shes not ready or interested in that which triggers me, i feel undesirable. I just dont know how to approach this. Everytime ive tried to talk about it, she seems to feel attacked. Can anyone give me some insight or advice…id really like to start seeing my own therapist but i honestly just dont know how to even start. I dont know if i could just tell someone i dont know things about me like that…

  • rick October 1st, 2014 at 6:36 PM #37

    I always swore to myself that i would never speak of the sexual abuse i endured as a small child.

    After 25 years of marriage, most of which was a continuous nightmare for my wife, i was shown, by this magnificent kind loving woman, that it was time to offer the truth of just what was wrong with her.

    The problem with her was me.

    Those of you who have survived will truly undstand that statement.

    From the age of about 5 until the age of 11 i was used by a male relative for his own pleasure. And it was never just his. There was always a friend, or friends, who were happy to use me as well. More often than not, at the same time.

    That is how it was discovered, in the basement/foundation of an old house. My arm twisted behind my back, my head pulled back by my hair, being used by three while the fourth watched and masturbated.

    I was told by the “adult” that found us that it was my fault. I was belittled and berated for the things that were done to me while the ones who did it suffered nothing but the embaressment of being caught.

    At the age of 45, after 25 years of marriage, i finally admitted the truth to my wife.

    And the telling has set me free.

    The realisations of the reasons that i have been the “man” that i was have been like blows from a hammer in my mind.

    I am beginning to understand the why of who i had become.

    It has ben just under three weeks since my “confession”, and it feels as though years have passed.

    I feel as though i am a completely different man.

    I can only hope that i am becoming a better man.

    The idea that this was something that could ever be admitted to anyone, much less to people ive never met, was unfathomable.

    I relive this every day since the telling. This was something that had been long buried.

    My perspective of quite literally everything has changed.

    I dont know what to do next, except keep breathing and know that im going to be alright.

    Theres no other choice.

    Thank you, to all who have shared your experience. Please know that it helps those of us who are just learning not only how, but also that we can.

    Scattered, thoughts, scattered mind, scattered life.

  • Disappointed October 2nd, 2014 at 2:36 AM #38

    I’m bad for falling into the terrible world of gossip and believing it what people say especially if it involves someone who I know can be annoying. Then I get into an emotional state of anger- blaming others, crying and disappointment, and especially hurt. I’ve been in therapy since August. She said it’s not always going to be comfortable in session.

    Having those emotions resurface at home, I’m wondering if this is what she means. Or if I still need to express all those bottled up feelings with her. I like her aporoach but not too comfortable yet to experience real emotion. She can hear it in my voice though when in talking about things.

  • Calemine October 4th, 2014 at 9:59 PM #39

    I was sexually abused as a child.

    After a disasterous first marriage, I married a second time. This second marriage began devolving early on, and then I became pregnant.

    I didn’t understand I had a choice, the choice of saying ‘no’ to sex. I felt guilty for not wanting to be physical with my husband, so I gave in and tuned out…over and over again.

    The intimacy in my marriage spiralled downward.

    When our daughter became a certain age, I began having nightmares my husband was acting sexual toward my daughter. Of course, these were dreams, only dreams.

    There were connections, however, in my day-to-day reality. My husband walked around the house naked – he’d done this from the beginning of our marriage – but when our daughter became a toddler, I talked with him about it.

    I asked him to cover up around her, but he didn’t listen to me.

    He also rubbed her back while we all sat watching t.v. It was a horrible trigger for me. I confessed to him my childhood abuse and how his behavior adversely affected me. He didn’t stop the behavior, however. He told me he had a right to give his daughter affection. I couldn’t cope with the fact he wasn’t going to help me. I grew more resentful and out of control. My coping mechanism was drinking.

    Recently I became sober. I find I want nothing physical to do with him. He’s a good guy, a good father who simply hadn’t a clue of what he was dealing with…neither did I until I quit drinking.

    This has been a surreal experience for me, as I’m sure it has been for him, too. At the same time I feel grateful to be available to do the work and make decisions that reconnect me to my life and my daughter.

  • jessika October 9th, 2014 at 10:36 PM #40

    Alex I’ve just started going to therapy and talking about my past. You have to know that nothing that happened to you back then was your fault. It’s a very scary and heart wrenching thing to do,going to therapy. But I’m glad I started. I’m already beginning to see that other things in my life were caused by the sexual abuse I went through. And that the things I’ve done in the past and the choices I made in relationships were due to the abuse. And also I’m starting to realize I’m not the only one who thinks, feels or even acts this way. you are never alone. And you’re never at fault.

  • jessika October 9th, 2014 at 11:11 PM #41

    Was the therapy dialectical behavior therapy? That’s what my therapist just recommended for me.

  • Lisa October 31st, 2014 at 3:38 PM #42

    For four years I was sexually abused by my mothers stepfather. The one time he tried to abuse my sister she told my parents and would not go to my grandparents house from that point on. They still sent me there. I was young and was afraid and ashamed so I never told my parents. Wouldn’t you think they would not let either of us go there?? At that time (and for many years after) My father had a girlfriend. Mom was depressed and self loathing and locked herself in her bedroom for days at a time. I had no one to talk to. Then my father got his girlfriend pregnant at pretty much the same time my mom got pregnant with my brother. I had to calm my baby brother down constantly when my parents fought. My sister became physically and mentally abusive toward me. She would beat me so bad I couldn’t move for hours. She told all of her friends one day when they were at the house that I wet my bed every night (which was true). I was there in the same room with all of them. My dad is now passed, my mother is still selfish and plays the martyr for attention all the time, just as she has my whole life. My sister is not married, is miserable and denies everything she did to me. To top it off, at 23, six months after I got married I was diagnosed with lynphoma. I made it through and am considered cured but now I have multiple issues from the treatments. I have been married for 25 years and am on my third affair. My poor sweet husband has never found out. I don’t have them because my marriage is bad, I believe I do it because I need to please men and make them happy using sex. It’s like I need to have validation that I can have good sex and also I have an insatiable desire to please them. I’m going to hell for this and I know it. There are days I want to take all of my pills and just go to sleep. In never at peace. I wake up every morning scared and shaking. I’m on tranquilizers and two types of antidepressants. At 49, I feel like I will never be normal.
    Thank you for letting me vent. I’ve told my husband all of this but I don’t think he understands the impact it has had in my life. That’s why I don’t tell anyone else. They just don’t get it.

  • Jennifer November 2nd, 2014 at 3:59 PM #43

    I have been dating a man for 2 yrs now. He has cheated on me throughout I believe. about a year ago he told me he had been abused by a priest recently told me he was 5-11 years old when it happened. He had been faithful for about the last 5 months I believe. He drinks heavily and has admitted to being an alcoholic and sex addict. We’ve had a difficult month and he has been talking out a woman. I caught them in his flat and the next day he told me he slept with her. He then said he want me back and can’t cope without me. loves me etc. I do love him but I can’t allow him to treat me this way. I’d like to help him but don’t know how. any suggestions? Could I ask him to talk to me or just counciling? I feel like I should walk away but at the same time stay if there’s hope to help him and us to have a faithful relationship . He’s 46 now

  • seeking God November 10th, 2014 at 7:15 AM #44

    I was abused by my dad from 2-18 he also had my brother abuse me and my brother introduced more until he realized it was wrong. ..I have been married 4 times and feel like a failure… this recovery stuff is hard and I’m trying to walk closely with God. …I don’t know how we survived but we’re here so we did. I’m praying for everyone.

  • Need healing November 13th, 2014 at 8:13 PM #45

    My marriage is suffering greatly from my past. My father was an unpredictable, confusing, needy and aggressive schizophrenic who exposed himself, was inappropriate physically and voyeuristic toward me (showers, toilets, dressing, spying on me having sex with my boyfriend). I’m grateful he didn’t rape me but the damage has been so deep as it was the fear of it that loomed constantly, always on guard. I can’t seem to trust my husband no matter what my logic tells me. I get close then freak out and pull away. If he looks at other women I’m beside myself fearing I’ll never measure up, he’ll leave or I’m worth nothing. I’ve seriously considered divorce and only associating with women.

    I don’t know how to have a loving relationship where sexuality and my sexual worth is not the central point. I don’t know what it is like to be valued for more than that and now I’m 40 and losing it I’m terrified I am nothing. While I was scared of men watching me when younger, now I feel worthless without the only validation of my existence I had grown up with. I don’t want to be the fool middle aged wife whose husband ‘loves’ her but lusts after younger women as my father did because I’ve been programmed to believe that for men lust is THE most important thing.

    Sexual abuse is such a horrendous crime against another human – to abuse their power and affect the course of another’s life and the ones they bond to. I’m sad no one stopped it for all the survivors on this post. One day at a time…

  • paula November 20th, 2014 at 2:02 PM #46

    Your words make perfect sense to me. Each fear and what feels like irreparable damage. And when told to just be yourself and u will be liked,it misses the point of wanting to unknow the possible coarseness if men. But most (although i have not taken a poll) men love to look at beauty and have many a sexual thought, healthy men see like and forget very quickly. There are healthy women who understand human men and accept such appreciation as folly..even cute. But the man ho secretly fetishes over the othet sex has issues. Love and list and sex…confusing and upsetting to the grown woman/abused girl. İii am with a boyfiend who explains that i will always be hurt if i think a man will not always look and think another eoman is attta tive. But to have sex or fsntasize about another? That hirt him that i do not trust his love.

  • phil November 25th, 2014 at 12:03 PM #47

    I was raped untill I was 10 from the age of four.A mentally handicap man living two doors from us, ued to use me on a regular basis. when my parents ask me if this was true I could not admit that this happened.

    I have learned my youth confused and hatted because I was a brat. I was always put down at home and in school. I have grown up not being able to have friends and or keep them. I find it easier to talk to women , but don’t touch me. that goes for men or women. I have been married for 26 years and I don’t know what being intimate is. the older I get I don’t know what love is? how can anyone love me when I hate myself. I am so tired of trying. I don’ want to hurt my wife and 2 sons, but I just feel like running away!!! @ 47 I was told I am adhd with 4 learning disabilities and then they said I have a ow IQ. so what would any of you do if you are me ? I guess I am just waiting to die because I have nothing worth giving.o @ 52 after over a 100 jobs and nearly bankrupt for the forth time what know???

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team The GoodTherapy.org Team November 25th, 2014 at 2:21 PM #48

    Hi Phil,

    We received the comment that you submitted on our blog earlier today. Thank you so much for visiting GoodTherapy.org. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! You can do one of the following immediately:

    • Call your local law enforcement agency (911);
    • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room;
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is equipped to take a wide range of calls, from immediate suicidal crisis to providing information about mental health. Some of the reasons to call are listed below: • Call to speak with someone who cares;
    • Call if you feel you might be in danger of hurting yourself;
    • Call to find referrals to mental health services in your area;
    • Call to speak to a crisis worker about someone you’re concerned about.

    If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can call your local hotline and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) (TTY 1−800−787−3224)

    RAINN provides support for sexual assault victims and their loved ones through two hotlines at 800.656.HOPE and Online.RAINN.org. Whether you are more comfortable on the telephone or online, RAINN has services that can guide you in your recovery.
    • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: If you need support, call 800.656.HOPE, and you will be directed to a rape crisis center near your area.
    • The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline: is the first secure web-based crisis hotline providing live and anonymous support through an interface as intuitive as instant messaging.
    • For more information visit http://rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-online-hotline.

    Warm regards,

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

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