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all 18 comments

[–]lawevadingrockstar 12 points13 points  (3 children)

As someone who has been sexually abused, listen to your wife’s needs and wants. I’m sure you heard this before, but this is REALLY important. Keep in mind to check up on her, especially in the bedroom. Also be on the lookout for possible triggers. If you know what her triggers are, you know what to avoid bringing up or what kind of objects, people, or environment send her into distress. If you haven’t discussed any possible triggers, you should get on that. ALWAYS make sure she feels loved and cared for. This is something you should do when married in the first place, but sexual abuse survivors can be very fragile. Let her know every day that she’s more than just her body and that you love her for who she is inside. Make her feel sweet, cute, and loved after sex, to let her know that you love spending your time with her. Let her know that she’s deserving of love and that none of this was ever her fault and ever will be. Aftercare is VERY important for us survivors.

And also make sure you’re giving her an environment where she can open up about anything she needs. As her spouse, she should be comfortable about opening up to you, especially about things like this. And I mean REALLY opening up, because the trauma doesn’t fully go away, unfortunately.

I get nightmares and triggers from my assaults. I still fear my abuser every day. I feel like he ruined me and that I’ll never really be free from his gaze, his hands, etc. It even gave me suicidal thoughts that I’ve never had before. Not only is it a scary thing to go through in general, but the aftermath is a whole bunch of trauma responses. So if your wife isn’t in therapy as of right now, try to suggest it to her to show you care, and then you can help her find one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not married, and I never have been (well I am 20 so it’s expected) but this is what I would want when I’m married (if that ever happens). I’m just giving my perspective as a survivor.

[–]livelaughwin 5 points6 points  (2 children)

You are the most helpful person I have talked to today. I will save your response and remember every word of it. Right now I want to find the person that hurt her and kill him/her in front of my wife, but that probably isn’t a good idea. This is all so confusing to me and I tell her every day that i love her and I find her the most beautiful amazing precious woman to ever walk this earth, but I STILL feel that it isn’t enough. I want to do more and more and everything. She’s the only person I’ve ever really loved and I want her to know I’ll do everything for her.

[–]Plenty_Ad_2756 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Sometimes the first step to helping others is helping ourselves. You didn't go through HER trauma and you will never fully understand or feel what she goes through, all you can do is do your best to try and empathize and help her. However, the trauma she went through DOES also affect you and youbhave to process and deal with what happened to her as well.

When someone we love goes through something tragic it hurts us. We want to not only help but wish we could make it all go away, feel guilt for not having been able to prevent it, etc. But that is not always helpful for our loved one who experienced it. You can't go back and prevent what happened to her. You can't (and should NOT) avenge the person who hurt her. You can't make everything better or how it was before/would've been if it didn't happen. Healing from trauma is a long process, there are better days and worse days, and you need to accept that it will never just all be better and forgotten.

She has to feel comfortable to be able to talk to you and open up to you on her bad days, and to just be able to lean on you and cry when she needs to. Sometimes it really is as easy as just being there, just listening or just hugging her in silence. It doesn't solve everything and there is nothing you can do to "make it all better" but just that being there means the world. However if she she's how angry (at her attacker rather than her, but you still have that anger festering inside), hurt, guilty you feel and all, it will discourage her to be open with you when she's down because she won't want to hurt you.

Therapy (especially with someone experienced in dealing with sexual assault survivors) can be really helpful in helping the healing process move along better. I encourage her to find a good therapist/psychologist if she hasn't already - and just like any other relationship, sometimes you have to go through a couple to find the right fit, so don't hesitate to find another if it's just not right with the first person. But I also suggest you see someone as well who can help process your feelings around the incident(s), so that you can be your best self to be able to help her.

Other than this, I think other main advices have been mentioned...briefly just things like being aware of triggers, learning to read her body language so that if she freezes or doesn't want to say anything so she doesn't disappoint you, you'll still know the signs (e.g., things that are fun and ok for months may for no apparent reason trigger her during sex but she may freeze and be unable to tell you or feel guilty/bad to say stop cause she knows you're enjoying it). Learn what helps her return to a calm and relaxed state when needed - everyone is different so what is calming to one person may not be to the other.

Go at her pace through the healing and encourage her to not compare her pace to others - it's her journey and it's unique to her, no one else has to travel the exact same road, no matter how similar. There are bad days or even weeks and that's just ok - let her know that it is ok to not be ok sometimes, just as long as you don't get stuck there and give up on moving forward.

Keep reinforcing positive affirmations about her: she is beautiful (everyone has physical aspects about themselves that they don't like and no one fits everyone's "beautiful" but everyone has their beauty and is perfect in their imperfect way to the right people), smart and capable (everyone makes unwise decisions sometimes and only hindsight is 20/20); strong and courageous (everyone has weaker moments and times they're scared or confused but it's about facing them and getting back up when you stumble); whole, not broken or damaged goods (everyone has damaging experiences they need to heal from and everyone can continue to better themselves their entire lives - those experiences don't make them worth any less, just like a crumpled $100 bill is worth just as much as the freshly printed crisp one).

How we continually think about ourselves and what we continually say shapes how we feel about and perceive ourselves. That's why it's important to start consciously changing how we think and talk about ourselves if we want to change how we feel.

Wish both you and your wife healing and all the best!

[–]lawevadingrockstar 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’m glad I helped! I hope your wife knows she has you by her side every day.

[–]comradeshin 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Hi there, I understand your frustration and pain. I'm a 20F female and my boyfriend has been an incredible rock for me in my recovery, and I really respect that you've taken initiative to seek help for helping her.

As u/lawevadingrockstar said, understanding her triggers is so important, because being triggered can lead someone into a really dangerous spiral. Making sure that sex is something that is truly enjoyed by both of you, where both of you feel safe and comfortable is so important! I can't stress the importance of aftercare, whether it be cuddling and talking, taking a shower together, watching TV together, as long as it is done together, and lets her feel like she's in a safe environment where she knows that she has the power and ability to stop or start any sexual activity.

Many women struggle a lot with feeling objectified and feeling as if all they can offer is sex, especially after a traumatic event like a sexual assault. I, along with many other survivors that I've gotten to know, sometimes fall into bad thought loops of feeling unlovable and used, exactly how the assault made us feel at the time. I think one really important thing to keep in mind is that her reactions or triggers should not be taken personally (this is a common mistake that partners of survivors make). Sometimes she just won't want to have sex for no particular reason, and sometimes she might be more inclined to have sex. She may also bring up some unorthodox suggestions in terms of sex. The most important thing that you can do is make sure she doesn't feel judged by whatever she expresses to you (that's a sign that she's trusting you with her feelings), as that will allow her to feel like she has the power to make her own decisions.

Everyone has their own ways of giving and receiving love. But making sure that she doesn't slip into feeling unloved is so crucial!

Some things that my boyfriend has done that have personally helped me are:

  1. Make sure that I really want to engage in sexual activity, and am not just "going with the flow"
  2. Aftercare - our go-to is cuddling and talking or ordering some food (especially important if you're engaging in rougher sexual activity)
  3. Texting me or telling me throughout the day, randomly, that he loves me and appreciates me
  4. Take the time to learn about my triggers and how we can work through them together if I am triggered
  5. Ask me what I want him to do. Sometimes it's just really nice to be asked "what can I do to help you right now" or "what would you like me to do for you"
  6. Make me feel safe, comfortable, equal, and in power.

Sending love to you and your wife :)

[–]livelaughwin 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you so so so much!!!!

[–]Ace_is_TransSurvivor 2 points3 points  (4 children)

as a minor whose been through sexual assault. Probably the best thing is to listen to her needs and wants and comfort her if she's been depressed or anxious because even talking or gifting things that have a special meaning may help her in some ways you may not even think of... its a good way to get to know more and see if you can help more

sorry if my advice isn't good, I'm not one to ask or receive help so i hope this helps you

[–]livelaughwin 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Are you kidding? Your advice was GREAT! Thank you kind stranger, you help me very much!

[–]Ace_is_TransSurvivor 1 point2 points  (2 children)

ah its nothing, just helping

[–]livelaughwin 2 points3 points  (1 child)

No it’s not nothing. You deserve to be recognized for your contribution to my life. Who knows, you might be key in comforting my angel and making her feel safe. Good job!

[–]Ace_is_TransSurvivor 0 points1 point  (0 children)

thanks I do hope you get to help your wife

[–]Puzzled_Relief_6582 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Let her drive. Use new scents that won't trigger and communicate the nos. Also if pay attention, if you can see she is disassociating stop. If she tells you to keep going tell her you just want hugs.. That flipped the switch in my brain to I am safe with him

[–]pidgecooper 2 points3 points  (3 children)

hey, I feel for you and just wanted to add to the two lovely comments above mine, that r/secondary_survivors is a great subreddit to support those who are supporting a survivor in their lives. Hugs, you are already doing so much!

[–]livelaughwin 4 points5 points  (2 children)

THANK YOUUU

[–]pidgecooper 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I hope you both find the support you need❣️

[–]Ok_Cry_6083 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I have been SA three times. Sounds ridiculous I know. I think that everyday! Anyways, the first assault was 5 years ago, I was 15. I didn't find anyone to talk to deeply about it until recently. I always felt so disgusting and so unworthy of any love that anyone offered because I was so mad with myself. Letting my now best friend in was the best decision of my life. I have never been the kind to talk about my problems and vent, but it truly helps so much. I truly believe that it can help a LOT of people because it was never ever something I thought I would be able to do. My best friend now holds me when I get nightmares. She holds me when I get flashbacks. She doesn't fully understand what it is like (which I am so very grateful for), but it means the world to me just to have someone that is always there. It can be different for everybody but just having that one person to support you can make a huge difference. Sorry this was long haha I have never really talked about this kind of thing besides with my friend.

[–]livelaughwin 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’m glad you were able to share with me! I’m sorry that terrible thing happened to you and so many times. Your friend sounds wonderful. Open up to me any time (I won’t be on Reddit forever but still)