My boyfriend just told me that he was abused as a child by several different people. One of the predators was a family friend, one was a classmate, and one was a family member. He told me his parents were angry with him for not speaking up sooner and basically blamed him.
He is a very sweet man and extremely overprotective of his little brother because one of his molesters threatened to do the same to his brother if he told anyone. He has really bad anxiety now, works to the point of fatigue, and has chronic body pain as a result. He also told me he has hated himself his whole life. He didn’t want to tell me about his abuse because he thought I would think less of him. He finally opened up because he was feeling extremely anxious after an argument with his brother.
He considers himself weak and sometimes gets physically violent towards other aggressive men. He has never laid a hand on me and I don’t think he ever would lay a hand on a woman. I feel like he likes getting into fights with other men because it proves his masculinity. He’s been extremely anxious since admitting everything to me and I’m not sure how to help. I already told him I love him and want to help him get through this. I told him he is not to blame in this situation at all and that he is a survivor. I’m not sure what else I should/can do. Please help!
You should encourage him to seek counseling and support him, if he’s willing to go for help. That’s the best you can do in this situation. You are not his therapist and cannot do any more than offer your love and support. His problems can be effectively treated by a mental health professional in counseling.
Apparently he views masculinity in terms of aggressiveness and dominance. Angry men who feel weak and who feel that they have something to prove, can sometimes be violent. These men also tend to be jealous and controlling in relationships. These characteristics might not describe your boyfriend, but his aggressiveness towards men and his need to prove his masculinity could translate into aggressiveness towards you.
It’s a mistake to think that his violent tendencies towards men are an isolated issue. Your stating that he has not harmed a woman and you do not think that he would means to me that the issue has at least crossed your mind. His anger and need to prove his masculinity, could be problematic for your relationship and could lead to you being harmed.
If he’s unwilling to seek help despite these issues, then you have to decide if you want to stay in a relationship with someone who knowingly has problems but refuses to treat them. Remember that the purpose of dating is to find the best match and that most of the people you date will not be a match. I would advise against choosing a mate with evident psychological problems who is unwilling to deal with them. They make for disastrous life partners. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle