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raymondlovespenelope
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:01 am    Post subject: Many questions??? Few answers!!! Reply with quote

I am brand new to this forum so please be patient if I am ignorant of common etiquette here.

I have been dating an absolutely wonderful woman for about a year and a half now. We had immediate chemical attraction, have great fun together, our sex is the best we have both ever had, and, though we have had our moments, genuinely love each other.

She told me soon after we began dating that she had a few sexual hangups, and that she thought she may have been abused as a child. She is very well educated on the subject, and does look for new information all the time. This was very encouraging for me, as my ex-wife had been a victim that never wanted to face the past. I was not interested in going through that again.

My new girlfriend related to me a couple of instances where, as an adult, she found herself being sexually assaulted and froze, basically letting the assailant have his way without struggle. There is a clinical term for this, though I cannot remember it right now. In any case, she blamed herself for putting herself in the situations. She took a self-defense class, and believed that she would be better prepared for such occurrences in the future.

Last September she was sexually and physically assaulted outside of the bar she was working at, at dusk, while completely sober, by a patron she admttedly had been flirting with. She froze and let him touch her. She blamed herself for flirting with him. She didn't make a big deal out of it because he was a friend of a regular patron. Her solution was to call me and ask me to come hang out at the bar and make sure he didn't try anything again. (At this point she had not told me much of what really happened).

When she told me the truth the next day I was extremely upset. She said she wanted to get therapy, that she really wanted to heal and get tools for the future, that she valued me and didn't want to lose me and didn't want to continue this way.

Since then I have been patient and understanding, though at times I am filled with anger when I think of the incident. It has been 10 months and she has still not gone to a therapist, although she has recently started talking about it again. Our relationship has deteriorated some due to this, as well as things that have surfaced sexually. I REALLY love my lady and I REALLY want to help her help herself.

Everything I have read tells me that, as a partner, I cannot push her too fast, or say things like, "get on with it already" as that will only add to her guilt and shame. However, that is how I feel. I told her in September that this was not something that I was okay with going on forever, and I would be there for her, but she needed to get help, and she agreed. Now it is nearly a year later, things are coming between us, and still no therapy.

How do I help steer her in the right direction without alienating her? Does she really want help but is procrastinating? Does she NOT want help but is telling me what I want to hear to appease me?

Also, and this question is directed to anyone who has healed from this sort of thing, can I ever expect to have a sex life with her that is free from hangups? Our sex is great, but it is not free from worry. I have to always be thinking that something I do may conjure up a bad feeling on her part, from something in her past. What is the likelihood that we can work past this?

Thanks and I look forward to responses.
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ivonne
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
How do I help steer her in the right direction without alienating her? Does she really want help but is procrastinating? Does she NOT want help but is telling me what I want to hear to appease me?


I would start by asking her these questions, I guess. I can't answer them for you, nor I suppose could anyone else but her.

Making allowances is not working, placating her and allowing her to find therapy in her own sweet time is not working. I disagree with everything you've read about it: you can tell her to get on with it, you have a vested interest in this relationship. It is different perhaps when she's actually working at healing, but you can put your foot down about starting on it, or at least have her give you a reasonable timeframe in which you can expect her to get on with it.

If the way things are now is all there is ever going to be, will that be enough for you?

If not, let her know. These things can be overcome but it does take work and if she's not willing or unable to work at them, there's not going to be a change from the status quo.

Obviously she's not in a hurry to take the initiative on this. Perhaps she's not going to go through with it. Without making that into a judgement about her, it's her choice whether she is willing to take on healing, you have a right to know what her intentions are and a time frame for things starting to happen. Obviously it's hard to put a time frame on the actual healing, but you can put a time frame on starting the process.

If she's just hedging, your putting your foot down about it may be just what she needs to get moving. If she's not going to do it, you putting your foot down about it is going to give you that information. Then you can plan your next step accordingly.

What is the likelihood that you can work past this? It's possible, I've overcome most if not all of my issues. It's hard work and it sometimes takes years. Chances of surviving it as a couple are not good I'm afraid, there aren't too many who made it work. However I'd love for you two to make it, since you love this lady so much.

Ivonne
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ivonne
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oh, and welcome to the forum! Almost forgot.

We're a pretty unmoderated bunch here, just trigger mark things if there's going to be sexual detail or possible triggers, (you be the judge) so that if people are feeling fragile they can avoid reading the nasty stuff.

Ivonne
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raymondlovespenelope
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much! That helps a great deal. It is nice to know that I am not completely helpless and that I do have some rights in the whole thing! I feel like my feelings have been somewhat validated.

I actually had a bit of a conversation with her the other night, though it was on the phone and got cut short. I told her about some of what I read that triggered things in me, and that I thought it was time that we got some help. Her response was quite interesting...she asked me if I was sure I was up for going through this with her? So, while she admitted she has been procrastinating, the basis for her procrastination was very different than I had thought.

THE FOLLOWING COULD TRIGGER REACTIONS SO READ WITH CAUTION!!!

Penelope went through two years of counseling with her ex-husband. I already knew this, but I didn't know that they had delved into this matter. I still don't know how much they did. Much of what they were working on was her not feeling like she had a voice and not feeling free to set boundaries. What happened was that the counselor would set guidelines for them to work on things, with the object being for her to learn to come to him for affection or sex, and for him to not push for it or ask for it, so that she could experience affection and sex as being her own choice rather than something she did because her husband asked her for it. Week after week he failed to do what was asked of him, claiming ignorance the whole way. Please understand that he was not the original predator; the problem was a transference. She had learned to equate him with being violated for various reasons. Now the idea was for him to give her space so that she could CHOOSE when to be intimate rather that being pressured due to him touching her and making it obvious what he wanted. In the end, the counselor got so frustrated with him for things he did: spanking her #$#, coming up from behind and wrapping his arms around her, walking into the bathroom while she was in the shower, etc. While these are normal everyday things in most relationships, he was damaging the therapy by never letting her develop her freedom to decide when and how she wanted to be touched. The therapist finally decided that the only way Penelope would be able to make progress was if her husband was absolutely not allowed to touch his wife unless asked to do so. A few days later he was violating her "lady parts" in the middle of the night while he thought she was sleeping, and she froze. This was what ultimately ended their marriage, because she knew then beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could never fully trust him.

What this has to do with me is that she went through extensive therapy with someone she fully trusted, and not only did they let her down, but they in turn sexually violated her. So it is no wonder that she is apprehensive about getting back into therapy with me, or anyone for that matter. And while she admits that she has issues that are yet unfinished, it is easy to understand why at times she would feel like she doesn't need more counseling, because she has had a lot of counseling in the past and knows more than the average person.

In any case, when she asked me if I was up for it, I told her that I knew it would not be easy. I told her that I was good with going forward with therapy, whatever it entailed, but that I was not good with continuing as we have been and ignoring the problem. I could tell by the sound in her voice that this was a huge relief for her.

Questions, questions, and more questions???!!! Where to start now? Should we just find a counselor that we feel comfortable with? She really liked the counselor that she went to with her ex husband, but maybe that would be weird since she is with someone else now? Are there support groups that might help me to deal with working through this with her? I live in the Seattle area.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you might have.
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ivonne
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If she wants her old counsellor, I'd go visit him and see if I liked him/her too.

While I understand the premise of the counselling, going for no sex unless initiated by her, there's always the chance that sex will not be forthcoming, ever, at all. Is she longing for, wanting, choosing, to have a sexlife or would it be something she does because it was expected.

Basically you've got the conversation started, don't let it simmer down again. Ask her about which counsellor and be sure to state that you want a voice in that.

I always urge people to be VERY CAREFUL what they promise to any survivor. Trust is easily broken in pretty much all relationships, but perhaps more final in a survivors. Speaking from my own point of view: I could never trust someone who would tell me they loved me forever and I would be the only one. I had learned to mistrust love.
Promise to give it a go, promise not to give up on the first sign of trouble...

Also: DON'T HOLD BACK. In particular in the counselling, if you find yourself having trouble with for instance the no sex or no touching, no initiative thing: TALK ABOUT IT. Preferably in counselling.

Talk about expectations, wishes and progress. Talk about your own feelings: THEY MATTER. Don't allow her or the counsellor to discount them or make them seem any less important. That's what happened to her isn't it? Her feelings about it didn't matter. So that's the wrong example to be setting. If your feelings don't matter, what about hers? That road leads nowhere.

I don't know anything about your local situation, being European myself, but yeah, find yourself a counsellor that can help you out I think would be a good start.

good luck, and congrats on the progress you're already making.

Ivonne
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We dont see things as they are,
we see them as we are.
-Anas Nin
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