My husband just confessed to me that he was molested as a child by an older boy. I would like to think that he did this because he trusts me, but I feel like it is in response to our frequent fights about sex. All my friends tell me their husbands are all over them, but in our marriage, nothing happens unless I start it. And sometimes not even then. Is this a normal reaction for someone who has been abused? How should I handle this?
There are a lot of particulars missing from your letter such as how old your husband was at the time, how often the abuse took place and just who this older boy was. ALL molestation is traumatic, but it can be even worse depending on the circumstances. For example, was this just once, or did it go on for years? Was the boy a member of the family? Did your husband tell anyone at the time and if so, how was the situation handled?
The worse-case scenario is often that the abuse started young, went on for years, was perpetrated by a family member or trusted friend and if the child said something to his parents he was either not believed or nothing was done about it. Of course most children don’t tell, at least not until they’re grown. They try to forget about it, but it has a way of affecting all their relationships none-the-less.
Accept that your husband has been traumatized and that his introduction to sex was not based on love and pleasure, but steeped in pain, fear, shame and intimidation. He really needs to talk with a counselor about his experience. I’ve counseled many men who were molested as children and all of them report feeling much better once they really faced the issue with an uninvolved, non-judgmental party.
Victims of abuse often respond to triggers that remind them of the abuse. These can be certain places, phrases, sounds or smells. For example, many women have a hard time relaxing if their partner has been drinking if their molester was always drunk when he did his crimes. You want to be sure that your love-making is as different as possible from whatever situation surrounded your husband’s abuse and that you aren’t accidentally triggering his memories.
Then you’re just going to have to be patient and understanding. If your husband won’t see a counselor, go yourself and maybe he’ll follow your lead. Instead of insisting on sex, insist that he begin dealing with his trauma. You’ll both be happier!
Send your questions to Susan Lautz, LPC, P.O. Box 2001, Forney, TX 75126 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, susanlautzlpc.com