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How to move on after abuse

By Faeza
09 September 2016

Abused lady writes:

I was sexually abused by a boyfriend from the past. To have this done by a man who was supposed to be my pillar of strength and my protector, literally destroyed me. Since that relationship, I have lived a life of shame and in the process have been promiscuous. I partly believed that I had somehow brought this on myself. To this day, I do not even understand what my logic was when I decided to stay with this man for over five years. He would never ask for sex.

He just took it and it was always violent. You could even say he raped me. I got used to that life until he was arrested for an unrelated matter. He is now out of my life but for a long time, I was afraid of getting into another relationship. Eventually I dated and married the most unmanly man that I could find. I felt that my husband was least like my abuser. Our marriage ended in a bitter divorce because I had been taking out my anger on my husband.

I couldn’t bear for him to touch me. In our three years of marriage, we probably only had sex about 12 times. Miraculously, one of these ridiculous attempts at love-making resulted in me falling pregnant and giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. Fast forward to today, I am still single and long for company but I just don’t know how to love and trust a man. What do I do to live happily in a relationship like other women?

Linda Yende writes: 

I could quote all the information that I could possibly gather from as many books as I can find. But I assure you, none of them will ever get past the fact that therapy is what you need the most. You need to deal with your past and you need to find a way to talk about it, so it doesn’t burden you and weigh you down so much. The more you unload to others, the more you get the chance to release some of your load.

You need that desperately. Experts and psychologists agree that untreated sexual abuse is a time bomb waiting to explode.

Sometimes it ticks so quietly that even the victim doesn’t hear it. But if it is not defused, eventually there’s an explosion. Experts also found that many rape survivors suffer from severe depression, had sexual problems or became promiscuous. Some become alcoholics or drug addicts.

SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOUR

For many adults who were molested, self-destructive behaviour is the only visible clue that abuse has occurred. Selective amnesia is common among survivors, whose memories may be blocked by years of threats to keep quiet about their traumatic experiences.

SUFFERING IN SILENCE

Marriage is the spark that ignites the time bomb within many survivors. Making the commitment to marriage brings up all the issues connected with the betrayal of being molested: intimacy, trust and sexuality. And when marriage is perceived as an obligation to take care of their partners’ sexual needs, it brings back those terrible experiences of being trapped and unable to say no.

If the abuse hasn’t been resolved, victims blame themselves for it and the resulting disturbances – depression, anxiety, guilt and low self-esteem – often put a strain on the spouse. On the one hand the spouse feels the urge to cure the survivor; on the other, there’s a resentment about having to take care of this vulnerable, fragile, often withdrawn partner. Survivors often have difficulty forming close emotional relationships and trusting their partners. Many survivors project the rage they feel towards their abuser onto their husbands. It is inevitable. So, it is not surprising that your marriage did not last.

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

In the meantime, you could also try to open up to your ex-husband, just so he at least understands where your behaviour comes from. I assure you, it is not unreasonable of you. It is sad that he is caught in the middle of this but if he is a caring man, then he will just have to understand where you are coming from.

I cannot tell you how saddened I am by all that you have been through. I would also like to commend you on your bravery and strength in speaking up about it. That is your first step towards finding closure and healing. I sincerely wish you find peace of mind and the strength to get through this and to make sense of this situation that you have found yourself in.