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I'm New And Looking For Advice

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Hello everyone, I’m new here. I myself was never abused but I recently entered a relationship with someone who was raped and abused a few years ago. I’m looking for guidance as to how to be sensitive to that and how to treat her right and in a way that shows her I love her.

We had been going out for a while before she told me that she was victimized thusly, and during that time I did many things that I now know (by reading material on this site) to be damaging out of ignorance. These include pressuring her to trust me and to open up to me, and pressuring her about physically intimate situations. I did these things because I interpreted her hesitance as lack of love or lack of seriousness about our relationship. I now know that this is not the case, and I feel terrible about what I have done. Is there any way to reverse the damage I have caused? I told her that I didn’t know and that I was sorry but I’m still worried.

Is it something that will be healed with time or will our relationship always be bereft of a physical component? If it’s something that is possible to work through, is it something I need to leave alone until she deals with it on her own? Or can I help her at all? If so, how?

If it is something that is possible to work through, I understand that it will take a long time, and I am patient enough of a man and I love her enough to wait as long as she needs. I just really need to know if and how I can help, and what kind of support I can offer her, any help would be much appreciated.

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Hi Fautororis. I'm glad you joined this site. There is a lot of information, and people who can help you here. Healing is always possible. You asked some very good questions. We all heal in our own time, in our own ways. But there are things many of us have in common. A big one of these is trust issues. I see that your profile states you are a female survivor, yet in your post you say you are a man who is a secondary survivor. Is this an error?

I am not asking to accuse you of any wrongdoing, I just want to let you know of this contradiction, which perhaps was not intentional. Trust issues means our ability to trust others has been seriously compromised, and we all struggle to rebuild trust in all of our relationships.

I think the fact that the woman you are seeing is still with you is a good sign. :) I'm glad she found the courage to confide in you. This too is a good sign. Don't fret too much over past mistakes. You didn't know. What is important is that you listen to her. She will guide you as best she can in order to let you know what type of support she needs from you. You can also read and post to get advice on specific issues as they arise.

Welcome to AS. :)

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I apologize for the confusion, I am a man and if "secondary survivor" means that I'm in a relationship with someone who was abused than that's what I am as well. If not sure where I would go to fix this information, but I noticed today that today it said "group: secondary survivors" next to my name. Perhaps it has worked itself out? I had just registered yesterday, perhaps it needed time to update.

Thank you for your support, and I really appreciate your kind words, but I created an account here because she wasn’t doing such a good job in the guiding and letting me know what I can do for her department. It seems to affect her a great deal but she doesn’t like to admit that and thus hides what she’s going through. I’m feeling very lost, and I don’t really know what to do.

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Guest dreaminofangels

some of your greatest support will be from those other secondary survivors amoung you. we will all be here to help you and guide you as you learn to heal along with her. this takes time hun. and we welcome you here with arms wide open. be patient, and take care of your needs as well. you both are important. never forget that hun.

feel free to pm me if you ever need anything.


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Hi, welcome, i just want to echo what the others have said. The fact that she told you was a huge step for her, I'm sure. Its something I've never been able to do. I'm sure she knows you love her, just be patient, and she will let you know in her own time what she needs from you. Talk to us anytime, if we can help , we will. i love the quotation at the end of your post----I think it says it all. Lots of luck and healing thoughts to your girlfriend. I think it's wonderful that you've joined this board to try and help someone you love. :flowers:

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Might possible trigger so be safe when you read it. Hopefully it won't but just in case...

A few suggestions for you have come to mind.

It's quite common for survivors of SA to feel dirty, shamed, damaged, broken, and worthless, which is why it's so difficult for them to speak about what happened. They're afraid that in the eyes of others they'll seem to be nothing more than trash. Frequently, they will even blame themselves and feel guilty. All of these negative inner thoughts make it just that much harder to talk about to anyone, but especially someone we love. That's the last person you want to show your rotten inner core to. If you've ever done anything incredibly "stupid," like putting the ice cream in the refrigerator and discovering it 8 hours later, then you have possibly felt just an iota, a smidgeon, an infitesimal amount of chagrin, dismay, self revulsion, and self loathing that a survivor feels on a daily basis. But survivors feel these things intensely for every second of their waking hours and most often during their sleep too... ie nightmares. Try to be understanding when she can't talk about these things. Not understanding as in you understand but as in it's understandable that she feels this way because it's pretty much what every one of us have gone through or are going through.

The second thing is that you can't "fix" it. Or her. It seems to be a pretty typical reaction of loving partners that they want to destroy the subhuman who did this to their loved one, but that's not really going to help matters much. What she needs more than that is acceptance. Accept that you aren't supposed to fix anything but also let her know you are always going to be there when she needs you. Reassuring her that no matter what happened to her, you will always love her because things that happen to her are not her fault, nor is she responsible for them.

Hold her when she cries but give her space when she needs it. Sounds confusing as hell, I know, but it's what is needed to give her a healthy "space" to heal.

And, as others have said, don't neglect yourself. If you feel angry about what happened that's perfectly normal and okay. You can even tell her how you feel about what happened to her as long as you make it very clear that you don't feel any anger towards her. And please don't feel any anger towards her. She's dealing with a boatload of aftermath, and needs all the gentle, patient love you can give her. You might also find it beneficial to let her know whenever you're feeling negative emotions that she is not the cause of them... in relation to her SA I mean. If you're having other problems or issues, then you're on your own.

And, of course, there's therapy. If she won't go then perhaps you can suggest some reading material that others may suggest here. Courage to Heal is one of the best and I also like Women Who Love Too Much, but that's my personal thing. It does have good information in it but may not be pertinent to her situation.

Sorry to make this so long but you did ask. :wink: Take gentle care of yourself and your sweet lady.




Edited by Ardatha
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Ardatha, don’t apologize for the length, I really appreciate all the help, and from you others as well, thank you very much.

I have several degrees in the sciences, so I’m used to problem solving and procedures, i.e. “I need to do this, then this, and then if I do that, everything will be alright.” But I’m really beginning to understand that this is not the case. I just wish there was more I could do than just generally being there for her.

I don’t feel a great deal of anger towards what happened, things happen to everyone in their lives that they need to come to terms with. I don’t feel a great deal of anger toward her assaulter. He was probably going through a lot of his own problems at the time, which caused him to treat her like he did. She has forgiven him, who am I to take issue? I think what I’m most angry about is that this man from her past is interfering with the way we interact as a couple. I think that a relationship should be between 2 people, and it doesn’t seem right to have this other guy floating around affecting everything we do. I understand that this is not her fault at all and I have never blamed her for it, but it is still very frustrating.

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I think what I’m most angry about is that this man from her past is interfering with the way we interact as a couple. I think that a relationship should be between 2 people, and it doesn’t seem right to have this other guy floating around affecting everything we do.

Hun, we are all products of our environments, shaped by the people we've encountered and interacted with so there really is no true relationship between just 2 people. No disrespect intended at all, honestly, but it's been my experience that the more scientific degrees a person has, the less clue they have about people's hearts. People are not experiments to be solved with logic. :wink: We are the product of our environments and there are no two alike because our experiences are filtered through our minds, tempered by our unique personalities, for lack of a better word.

Remember what I said about you can't "fix it?" Even though she says she's forgiven the guy she still has to process what happened to her. This takes some time, each person recovering at his or her own rate. Recovery does happen so take heart in that. However, she is the one responsible for her healing and you can't make it happen. What you can do is to help her in any way you can which may mean being a lot more tolerant of what she's going through right now. Your reactions can have a big impact on how she's feeling and how she progresses through it.

I do have a concrete suggestion for you though. Remember those books I mentioned? It could be very helpful for you to read them as well as good books written just for secondary survivors. I can't think of any of those right off the top of my head but I know there are several out there. You could google for them though. They, more than anything else, will give you great information, if nothing else, about what she's going through and how you can most effectively help.

My husband is a secondary survivor and, in the early years, went through a lot of my healing. How we survived is a minor miracle to me. He is very patient, kind, loving, and nurturing which I believe are the qualities that allowed him to stick with me through the worst of it. He'd tell you it's definitely worth it, though. I'm not sure I'd agree because in the end he's "stuck" with me. :wink: What he did was hold me when I cried, listened to me when I vented, and gave me the space I needed when I needed it. He's been my anchor through it all and I am so glad he was there.

I know it's hard to hear advice that seems so contradictory and inconsistent, but there really is no hard and fast rule for loving and being there for a survivor. Maybe loving like it's described in 1st Corinthians is the way to go, especially the kind and patient part. Best of luck to you and your lady. If you can't get her to go to therapy, then read the books.




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Welcome to AS.

I agree with Lac about trust and how it is built up over time with people who respect our boundaries and who continue to show us with their actions that they are trustworthy. It takes time and respect. Good for you. It sounds like you are trying to work on that, give it time and effort.


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Hi there,

Have you suggested to her this site or others. Also there are a couple of books which contain information for partners including a lot on the physical side called Allies in Healing. This may help you.

Take it slow and easy and let her tell you about things.

Welcome to After Silence


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