If you are reading this information sheet it is likely that are interested in learning more about how you can help a man you know who has experienced child sexual abuse. Or alternatively, a man you know might have given this sheet to you because he believes that you are someone who can offer him support. Telling someone that you have experienced child sexual abuse or sexual assault is not easy. How disclosure of child sexual abuse or sexual assault occurs and how it is responded to can significantly influence a man’s future well being. Unfortunately, research indicates that over 70% of men who have experienced childhood sexual abuse haven’t told anyone. Listed below is information on what can influence men’s disclosure of sexual abuse or sexual assault, along with some suggestions as to how you might be able to help him whilst continuing to take care of yourself.
Barriers to disclosure
Boys and men, like girls and women, commonly do not speak of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault. However men’s ability to speak about sexual violence is even further impacted by issues related to stereotypes about masculinity, homophobia and confusion regarding sexuality, concerns that a man will become a perpetrator of abuse, and a lack of visible support for men. Please take the time to check out the detailed list of barriers that men face on our page Men and disclosure: Deciding to tell.
Things that may encourage disclosure
Just as men and boys can be discouraged from speaking of abuse, so certain events can lead men to speak of their experiences. Disclosure of sexual abuse can be prompted by:
- Seeing a film about abuse or hearing a public discussion about sexual abuse (for example, a Kids Helpline advertisement, films like ‘Mysterious Skin’).
- Disclosure of a friend, partner, family or men’s group member.
- Seeing the person who perpetrated the sexual abuse, hearing about or visiting the place where the abuse occurred.
- Becoming a parent, or being close to a child who turns the age the man was when the abuse was perpetrated.
- When a relationship breaks down or when a partner insists that for a relationship to survive you must see a counsellor.
- When there are public inquiries into abuse or assault (e.g. The Royal Commission, Forde Inquiry).
- If the police contact you seeking further evidence for a prosecution.
- Reliving the assault through flashbacks, nightmares, etc.
- Health problems or a physical check up (e.g. suggestion of a prostate examination).
- When a partner offers support and understanding.
- When a man feels he must deal with it or die!
How you can help
You do not have to be an expert or know all the right things to say to be able to help a man who has experienced sexual violence. The fact that the man has raised the issue with you indicates that he believes you are someone who can help.
As a supportive person you can play a significant role in helping a man who has experienced sexual violence. There is no set way to support someone. Each person will react differently to what happened and will seek different kinds of help at different times.
It is not only emotional support that a man may require. Some simple practical ideas which may be useful to offer include company, transport to appointments, child care, grocery shopping or cooking a meal. It is important that you talk with the man and check in with him about what he would like. By being available, patient and understanding, you can assist a man to reduce the impact of sexual violence on his life.
Listen carefully to what he is saying. Let him speak at his pace, and reveal as much information as he is comfortable with. Try not to interrupt him or ask lots of questions. Being asked a lot of questions can feel like being interrogated. Don’t worry if he stops talking for a while – silences are okay. You don’t have to rush in to fill the gaps. You do not need to know all the details, try not to ask for more information about the actual events than is volunteered.
It is important that you let him know that you believe him. People rarely make up stories about sexual abuse. It’s also important to think about what you say. You will have been influenced, as we all have, by the many unhelpful myths in our society about sexual abuse, therefore it might not be helpful to immediately say what instantly comes into your head. Try to avoid reinforcing any unhelpful myths. (See the page on Unhelpful beliefs).
Try to contain your own feelings. Don’t allow feelings of shock horror, anger, outrage or disgust to stop you from offering support. A man could misinterpret expression of these feelings as a rejection of him or support for a belief that sexual abuse is a shameful/awful/disgusting topic that he should not be mentioning.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, say so and take time to breathe and collect your thoughts. Tell him that you understand that what he is talking about is hurtful and painful, but that you are willing to spend time with him. Be aware that if the person who committed the abuse is a family member or someone close, the man may have conflicting feelings towards them and it may not be useful if you say damning things about them. It can be useful to explain that your expressions of emotions relate to what he has been through and that you are not upset with him.
Reassurance, consistency and reliability
Tell the man that you are glad he has spoken with you. If he tells you of feeling responsible for part of what happened, take time to listen and try to understand how he could think this. Recognise that this is something he might talk through with a counsellor in the future, don’t discount what he tells you. Tell him that you appreciate that speaking about his feelings and concerns is difficult, however that you are pleased that he trusts you enough to talk with you.
Just being there providing consistent support is important, given that there can be ups and downs, good periods and difficult periods, even in a single day. If things aren’t improving right away, don’t assume that he is becoming mentally ill. Remember, sometimes things appear to get worse before they get better. Being consistent and dependable can have a positive impact in and of itself.
Offer confidentiality with limits
It is important that information which is disclosed to you is treated with respect and held in confidence. Make sure that you consult with him about what his expectations are before sharing what he has told you with anyone else. He probably will not want you to say anything to anyone else without his express permission.
In talking through his expectations regarding confidentiality, it is important to consider if anyone is in any present danger and to discuss how you might need to talk in confidence with a counsellor or a trusted friend for your own well being. If you have a concern that a child or adolescent is currently in an abusive or potentially abusive situation then the young person’s wellbeing must be a primary concern. You might need to consider talking further with someone who knows about child protection. Try not to make promises that you cannot keep.
Obtain support for yourself
Supporting someone who has experienced child sexual abuse or sexual assault will place extra demands upon you. It is therefore important that you take care of yourself. Put aside time to relax and ensure you engage in activities which recharge your batteries. As someone offering support you may also benefit from talking with a counsellor who can help you process feelings and explore your choices. Remember the stronger and better supported you are the more able you will be to provide assistance to someone.
Information for intimate partners
If you are an intimate partner of a man who has been subjected to sexual violence, be aware that actions in the present can bring back uncomfortable memories and trigger strong emotions. Sometimes he will not want to be sexual, or even close and physically affectionate. At other times becoming physically close and sexually intimate may be welcomed. If you are unsure about what he wants, ask before acting, and recognise that what he wants may change quite quickly. Also, it is important to ensure that your choices are also respected, and to remember that there is no excuse for abusive behaviour. The reality is that relationships work best where both parties feel supported, able to discuss options and have their preferred ways of doing things respected.
Check our our page When your partner discloses sexual abuse for more information on this topic.
Comment by Snave
Snave April 10, 2016 at 1:50 pm
Please help. My husband early on in our marriage about a year and a half ago told me he was sexually abused by his priest when he was younger.
This is our second marriage. Both of us have been married before and we are always having conflict. He becomes violent whenever I try to get emotionally connected with him. He always says he wants divorce. He behaves in strange ways, like kissing me on the cheek instead of the lips because he confuses me with his ex wife who was sick and he didn’t want to kiss me on the lips and get sick thinking I was sick. He acts psychopathic and seems to protect his ex wife more than our relationship.
The latest tragedy was he got upset with me for texting him and his ex wife, telling both of them to stop communicating so much, as they had made plans for their boys to go with her Easter morning, when I had been trying to make plans for all of us (our family of 7, my husband and I and our 5 children) to go to church Easter morning and he kept ignoring me.
I don’t understand his strange behavior and he becomes abusive with me. He got so angry with me the night before Easter that he struck me and caused a laceration on my face. I called the police and now for the umpteenth time he wants divorce. He cannot have a disagreement with me without saying he hates me, wants me out of the house, or wants a divorce.
I don’t know how to help or what to do. I feel as if I need to divorce him, but it is hard as I think his problem is his being sexually abused by his priest. He refuses to get help. I don’t know what else I can possibly do other than to divorce him at this point.
Please help. I love him and feel sorry for him. I don’t know what to do. I beg for divine intervention. A miracle. Something!!!! Please…….
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] April 15, 2016 at 10:29 am
Thanks for reaching out for some support, and for sharing your story. I know that its’t easy and I really want to commend you for that.
It sounds like a really difficult situation. I am hearing that you are concerned about your husband’s past experience of sexual abuse, his current behaviour and how this affecting your relationship in an ongoing way.
You said that this is a second marriage for both of you and that you have a blended family. It will be useful for you to make sure you are both supported in thinking through what your options and priorities are, and deciding where to from here. It is helpful if you are clear about what kind of relationship you want, what expectations there are in relation to how partners behave in this relationship, and how you show love, care and respect for each other. This will mean working out and being clear as to what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Providing a clear message about what your expectations and limits are is important for both of you.
All relationships can face difficulties that can take some working out, whether a person has been sexually abused or not. What is important is that each partner takes responsibility for themselves and there is a shared understanding and commitment to making this a supportive, caring, respectful relationship that works for both of you.
Snave I’m hearing that you have so much care and concern for your husband, however I need to be clear that his violent behaviour is not okay. What you described above is intimate partner violence, or domestic violence. A history of sexual abuse does not ’cause’ violent behaviour – that is his choice.
You mentioned that you texted both your husband and his ex-wife to tell them not to communicate with each other so much. I’m guessing this was a ‘last resort’ tactic to get his attention, as you said he had been ignoring your attempts to communicate with him about this. I’m wondering if you have tried to talk to him calmly and openly about your feelings around this – often when we become vulnerable about how someone’s actions make us feel deep down this can get more results than making demands about specific behaviours we want to stop.
I would like to invite you to check out our page Information for partners: Relationship challenges which has some strategies that might be helpful (in the comments section as well as the main content).
It looks like you are in the USA so we can’t provide you with counselling directly, however I wonder if the two of you would be open to getting some support, assistance and advice together with a professional counsellor? It can be very helpful to talk these thoughts and feelings through with someone who can help.
Finally, please prioritise your own self care through this. I know you want to support him, and I’m thinking that right an important way to do that is to ensure you have the resilience and strength to do so. That means doing things that improve your own well-being.
Our partners in the USA have some more info relevant to you both on http://www.1in6.org.
Best of luck, Snave.
Comment by Donna
Donna April 20, 2016 at 9:34 pm
I married Tim 4 years ago, this is our second marriage for the both of us. Tim and I went to school 30 years ago togeather. Tim was sexually abused by a babysitter when he was 6.
I found out about the porn before we were married. He told me he’s no longer looking but every time I leave he’s on the internet telling me he’s only checking emails. I found out on the computer he had a dating site that he said he forgot was still there.
I don’t get it, he tells me he loves me, there’s only me, that he cares for no one else. Our intimacy is great, he is always holding my hand or hugging me, always holding my hand in public or telling me I’m so beautiful. He told me he is not looking.
I asked him to cut off the internet for a while he said no that no one is going to tell him what to do. I told him I wasn’t, but to help us get through this. He said, let it go Donna it’s been 5 years. I told him it wasn’t that easy.
We are going to counselling now, he said I will do what ever it takes. Am I overreacting to this? Have I become obsessed with this? I have a Aeortic Anysurim and they think it has grown. I’m scared for me and I’m scared Tim is not being truthful.
Thank you for responding,
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] May 5, 2016 at 1:11 pm
My name is Jess and I’m a counsellor for Living Well. First I want to thank you for sharing your story and reaching out for some support. I know how difficult that can be; it takes a lot of strength and courage.
I got the clear message from your story that you and Tim care about each other so much, that this is demonstrated in many ways from each of you. I think that care and love is what is prompting this concern on your part, so no, I don’t think it’s an overreaction or an obsession. I think you simply want what’s best for Tim, for yourself and for your relationship. You want it to be healthy, open, honest and supportive.
It seems that Tim does also, as he has been quite open with you about his experiences (which, involving sexual abuse, is never easy for a man, with the additional barriers and stereotypes they often face). I’m hearing though that he may be facing a continuing struggle with porn and internet chat sites. I first want to let you know that this is not unusual for men who have experienced sexual abuse. Experiencing unwanted sexual contact as a young person can have lasting impacts on a person’s experience of and feelings about sex and sexual intimacy. Porn and the internet can seem to be a “safe” way to try to get through the extra layers of confusion and pain.
I’m so pleased to hear you are attending counselling together. I think this can be a space for you to be clear about your hopes, needs and expectations for this relationship, and to be clear with him that while you want to be closer to him, his use of porn is something that is ultimately pushing you apart. It can be helpful to talk about sensitive topics like this in terms of your own feelings, and how his behaviour is impacting you, rather than allowing frustration to take over and making demands (even if they are well-meant), which, as I’ve gathered from your comment, has resulted in defensiveness from him in the past. Allow him to acknowledge that the choices he is making are hurting you, and that it is this hurt that is prompting the fear and the suspicion. Hopefully he will then be able to see clearly that you are not “telling him what to do” – you simply don’t want to lose him, and that he can make different choices about his behaviour.
Donna please take care of yourself in this difficult time. Make your own self care a priority, to build within yourself the resilience that will help you cope.
Best of luck,
Comment by Maria
Maria June 12, 2016 at 10:24 am
My brother was abused by his teacher in grade 9. Now he is 30 and he has now disclosed this when we asked him to get married. He feels he cannot have relationship with his wife. He doesn’t want to go to any psychiatrist. Please tell me how can I help him, as I want him to start his life and be happy!
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] June 16, 2016 at 1:39 pm
Thanks for reaching out for some assistance.
I’m hearing that you care very much for your brother and want to help him, and I really want to commend you for researching ways you can do that! Ultimately the decision to seek support in processing his abuse, or to work towards developing a relationship, is up to him. It may be that he is not ready, and until he gets to that point on his own, the best way you can help him is to accept him, be there when he does feel ready to talk, and be patient with him. Keep in mind that there is no one way of working things out; it very much depends on the person.
It seems you are already doing what you can to help him – doing some reading to learn what he is going through. Some more pages that might be helpful include this one on men and intimacy, which outlines some reasons why he may be struggling with the idea of getting married just yet. Perhaps also these words of advice from men on how loved ones can best support them. Finally, although it is aimed at partners, this this information on disclosure of sexual abuse may also be helpful for any loved ones, including a concerned sister.
Best of luck Maria, and remember to take care of yourself too.
Comment by Amber M
Amber M June 21, 2016 at 8:50 pm
My husband just disclosed to me last night. The perpetrator was a female friend to us both. It occurred about 6 years ago while my spouse was blackout drunk. We must navigate a strange medical support system to get to a therapist as he’s active duty military as is the perpetrator. I myself am a veteran. There’s restricted reporting where the military records that an incident took place, but no information goes public nor are charges brought forth. I’m very familiar with CSA and wrote a book on it for grad school, however this (rape as a male adult) I have no idea how to handle correctly. I myself have been in therapy for bad anxiety (unrelated) and am in the process of tapering off of an anxiety medication with my psychiatrist’s guidance. I feel overwhelmed and alone as it is his private story. I feel the need to schedule an appointment for myself to talk all of these emotions out. I want to be a solid support system. I feel like I’m doing this wrong!
Comment by Tiffany
Tiffany June 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm
Hi, my husband was abused by his stepdad at 7. I’m his 2nd wife and we are heading for divorce. He thinks he has to have multiple partners. I believe he is confused, in the ways he wants sex and sometimes things he looks up, not that he wants a man. He told me he made him do horrible things he can’t speak of. But he won’t get help. He has always felt his children and I would be better off with out him, and that he is, in his words, a “in our way, a bother.” I know he loves me but I can’t do it anymore, it has been 11 years together and it was like this when I met him, it ruined his last marriage. It’s hard to leave, not that I want to but he is unfaithful, and that is scary. I don’t want to abandon him as he feels everyone else has done. He doesn’t even speak to his mom. Please help with advice, I want my family and I want him to be happy!
Comment by Ellen
Ellen June 30, 2016 at 5:34 am
Thank you for your article. I am in the very early stages of what we feel will be a serious long term relationship. my boyfriend and I are in the early days and have not got to the physical stage. we are in our 50s. he explained he was forced to have sex with his mother, who allowed it, when he was a very young teen. I am glad that he has told me, and feel so sad for what happened when he was a young boy. I am a mother of children myself.
I have not asked questions, but have just left him to talk as and when he wishes… I just would like to know if there is anything I can do, try to understand or help if and when he needs it? I want so much to be able to do the right thing for him as he means so much to me, and would be grateful for any further reading or information. We have both been married before and have children, and I myself was physically abused (not sexually) as a child. I just want to make sure I am there for him in any way and to understand his needs regards to this. He means a lot to me. Thank you.
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] January 11, 2017 at 12:21 pm
Thank you for your comment. It is wonderful that you are doing some reading and seeking to learn how best to support your partner. To be honest it sounds like you are already being incredibly supportive, understanding and loving. You said you have to far not pressed him about it, but have let him talk about it at his own pace. That sounds like a helpful way of approaching it, and if you have read this article then you know too some simple listening strategies you can use to ensure he feels heard and accepted.
You mentioned you would like some further reading. I’d like to suggest some of the pages in the For Partners section of this website. There are several articles on how to support a loved one who has disclosed sexual abuse. I hope they are of some help.
Comment by Cadence
Cadence July 11, 2016 at 6:09 pm
Hello, I’m seeking advice.
My boyfriend just opened up to me a few hours ago about being sexually abused when he was younger. We are both seventeen and I have been as well, by two different boyfriends a few years ago. I know the circumstances are different for women than they are for men. He hasn’t told me very much about it, just that it happened multiple times. He says he’s repressed many memories of it. He’s currently in counseling and takes medication for anxiety and depression, however he keeps forgetting to take it.
I guess what I’m wondering is what to say if it comes up again. I have many questions I’d like to ask him but am not sure if that’s a wise idea. I’d like to help him in any way I can, but I’m not quite sure how to do so.
Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] September 2, 2016 at 11:31 am
Thanks for your comment, and good on you for doing some research. I think it shows how much you do care for your boyfriend, and want to support him. I’m sure that position is something he will be picking up from you, which in itself would be really helpful for him.
If it does come up again, the best thing you can do is to simply continue to be your caring self. Demonstrate that care, and the empathy you have for him. Listen to him in a nonjudgmental way, and let him know you’re there for him. Let him go at his own pace – although it sounds like you’re already doing that. Encourage him to take care of himself, encourage him that healing and hope are possible. It is very hopeful and encouraging that he is opening up and sharing his feelings and experiences to you and to a counsellor and you can reflect that back to him to encourage him to continue on that journey.
We have a list of articles for partners that might be helpful in becoming informed and learning how to respond helpfully.
Best of luck Cadence.
Comment by Tay
Tay July 12, 2016 at 12:36 pm
I am engaged. We have been together for about a year. He told me of his sexual abuse by a family member when he was 8. He never wants to go into detail about it and almost always refuses to talk about it.
He gets in these moods where he is just sad. He is very quiet and doesn’t have many friends or a close relationship to his family. When he told me about the abuse for the first time he kept repeating that he wasn’t gay and he didn’t know what was happening. He doesn’t have a close relationship with his mother and doesn’t want her to know. It is affecting him severely enough that he has suicidal thoughts and horrible depressive episodes.
I know that talking about it will only help him heal and I feel that he needs to talk with his mother. I can’t force him because he is holding on to the tiny emotional attachment they have. She is very self absorbed and appearing that her family is perfect is more important than it actually being. She constantly sweeps things under the rug, such as who his father is.
I just need to know how to get him to tell her what happened and how he is feeling about it all. I mean he told me within months of our relationship and he can’t tell her. That says a lot about the depth of their relationship. It’s emotionally draining, because when he’s hurting so am I. Thinking of not having him around haunts me everyday. How can I help him heal without being pushy?
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] July 15, 2016 at 10:11 am
Thanks so much for getting in touch, and seeking some advice around this difficult and sensitive issue. It shows how much you care about your fiance and how much you want to support him.
I think it says a lot that your fiance was able to talk to you of his history of abuse. This indicates how deeply he trusts you. Many men never speak about their abuse to anyone.
It sounds as though he and his mother have a difficult relationship. If she tends to sweep things under the rug, and make things about herself, then I’m not sure that her reaction to his disclosure would be at all helpful for him. I’m guessing he is aware of this, and that is why he has chosen not to tell her. Ultimately it is his decision.
In fact, many men have come forward to say that it is not helpful to be pressured to talk about it. Talking about it can be a way to promote recovery, but not for everyone.
I know it’s hard for you, because you very much want to see him heal and move on, but the best thing you can do for him is to let him do so at his own pace. Be there for him as you have been. Suggest he seek help from a counsellor experienced in this area if it seems his depression doesn’t improve, but acknowledge that the decision needs to come from him and his own readiness.
Please know that you are not alone. Take care of yourself in this time. Check out some of our other pages for partners, including When your partner discloses sexual abuse, and For partners: Relationship challenges.
Best of luck, Tay
Comment by Tori
Tori September 15, 2016 at 4:32 am
Hello – my 38 year old boyfriend of seven years just recently disclosed to me that he was sexually abused by his older sister when he was 8 years old. I don’t know the specifics of the abuse but he has had a drug problem on and off for the last 20 years that I suspect is closely related to the abuse. He has recently relapsed and is in counseling to deal with the drug abuse (and hopefully the sexual abuse as well although he hasn’t spoken to his therapist about it yet). He also informed me that about 10 years ago he tried to tell his parents about the abuse but they didn’t believe him.
There is a history of abuse and incest in his family (his father sexually molested one, if not two, of his sisters, including the sister who abused my boyfriend). I’m so incredibly shocked and angry at the family members who knew about the abuse for allowing him to essentially self destruct rather than helping him with the trauma he experienced. I feel that they swept the abuse under the rug and ignored it in an effort for self preservation and thereby caused him to deteriorate and be in so much pain for the last 30 years.
I think that him disclosing this information to me has opened a festering wound and as of now, he’s in a very bad mental and emotional state. At this point I feel that I’m the only person he really trusts as his trust in his family is essentially gone. My first inclination is to separate him from his family (mainly due to their unwillingness to recognize the abuse and help him with it) but I’m not sure that would be helpful. He has agreed and is willing and eager to continue counseling but do you think that a temporary separation from his family would be helpful for him?
Comment by Tiffany
Tiffany November 8, 2016 at 1:28 am
Thanks so much for all the helpful information. My husband has struggled on and off with pornography through our 16 year relationship. He just disclosed to me 6 months ago that he was raped when he was 10. That is all he has said and he doesn’t want to talk about it or go to counseling. I don’t want to push him but I am fearful that it is all going to crash down on him someday. He says he has learned to deal with it and he’s fine. Does everyone need to go to counseling or do some people heal on their own? And should i try to get him to talk more to me about it or just let him know I’m here with no judgement of he wants to talk. But the pornography is really hard to handle of he starts doing that again.
Comment by Selena
Selena January 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm
My boyfriend just told me this past weekend that his brother sexually abused and molested him when he was 7 and his brother was 12. We have been together for almost 4 years now. He only told me, and recently one other friend, because he said he had just thought about it. He had been repressing these memories for more than 20 years. He said that he didn’t want to tell me about it because he didn’t want me to hate his brother. He has a very close family, and I would have never in a million years ever thought that his brother could of done this to him when they were younger. His brother’s family have stayed with us multiple times and I would have never thought twice about him. Now I am very worried that he might still be molester and he has 4 kids. Am I wrong in thinking that this might be the case? My boyfriend says that he doesn’t want to keep talking about it because he just wants to forget about it, but at the same time he wants to find some sort of resolution for it and confront his brother. I guess I am just absolutely disgusted and flabbergasted and I don’t want to talk to his brother ever again. I know that that would hurt him though because he still somehow loves his brother. I guess I am looking for advice, I cannot stop thinking of this situation and I keep seeing his brothers face over and over again in my mind and becoming more and more enraged and disgusted. Help.
Comment by Lee
Lee January 14, 2017 at 12:29 am
My partner of over a year is haphephobic and I believe has been the victim of a childhood sexual abuse. He carries guilt and shame like a cloak. I know he loves me. He is an incredible man and one of the best fathers i have ever met. He hasn’t told me this is so. I have seen porn on his browser history and shemales. He would probably be mortified if he thought I knew this. Sex is always at his discretion, and often he will declare ‘personal space’ if i touch him sexually without him instigating it first. He is apologetic about this and before realising that something might have occurred in his past, I have to say I felt hugely rejected.
I’m wondering how to broach the subject with him. His mother – according to his older brother – appears to be in an unnatural relationship (kissing on the mouth etc) with their younger brother who is also an adult. He doesn’t speak to his mother.
I know it’s taken a long time for him to find someone he trusts. I don’t want to stuff this up and I want him to be rid of these demons that haunt him. How do I help and support him please?
Comment by Brenton [Living Well Staff]
Brenton [Living Well Staff] March 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm
Hi Lee, thank you for getting in touch.
From what I’ve read, you have felt rejection from your partner in the past, which was lessened by the possibility that he has a history of trauma that might explain his discomfort with touch. I can also understand the sense of pressure you might feel to support him in a way that doesn’t overcome him with shame, and that offers the best chance of improving your life together.
It can take a long time for men to come forward, for a number of reasons. As you have already identified, the main one will be shame, but also acknowledging that it happened can (in the short term) increase difficulties like intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks.
I would recommend building the relationship up as an important first step. Spend more time together one on one, even if it’s just going for a walk, checking out a new cafe, or connecting over a glass of wine in the evenings.
During your time together talk about what you might hope for the future of the relationship, in terms of things like time spent together, shared activities, intimacy and vulnerability. You might talk about how open you want to be with each other, barriers to that openness, and even what you might like in terms of physical intimacy.
I would ensure to lead the charge in being open yourself, so that you can be a model what this looks like. Building rapport like this in the relationship may even prove to be healing in itself, and will certainly increase the likelihood of further closeness for you both. It is often thought that in order to get over sexual abuse, one has to go over the abuse again, and achieve a “breakthrough” that frees you from your past. This is not necessarily true for everyone.
Instead for now, I would recommend focusing on making things good between you.. and taking care of yourself.
Comment by Anonymous
Anonymous October 24, 2019 at 8:10 am
Please help me… I am so lost on what to do
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] November 22, 2019 at 11:14 am
Thanks for reaching out for help, I know that is not easy to do.
Please know that you are not alone. Help is available.
If you are a man (or supporting a man) who has experienced sexual abuse or assault and you are based in Australia we can support you directly; please Contact usgive us a call. If you are elsewhere in the world, take a look at our list of worldwide services.
Please take care of yourself in the meantime. All the best.
Comment by J
J September 13, 2020 at 11:50 am
I lied to my wife first about what happened because I was scared of whether or not she would tell others and how she would react. Now she says she can’t trust me because I wasn’t honest and is saying it’s my fault for not immediately telling her. I don’t know what to do anymore. She cares more about the fact that I lied than what happened.