I am having a difficult time dealing with my past abusive relationship. My ex, who I was with for two years was emotionally and sexually abusive. I ended the relationship almost a year ago but am still having a hard time. I occasionally have flashbacks and get frightened or angry and cant stop thinking about what happened. I feel guilty for being so upset because there are other people whose experiences are so, so much worse than mine, but I am still having a hard time getting over it. I am now with a really amazing man who knows about what happened. He really tries to be supportive, but has a difficult time understanding. He gets angry because he doesn’t understand why I allowed someone to do that to me for so long. He thinks that I stayed for so long because I actually enjoyed being sexually abused, and although he doesn’t mean to, he makes me feel like he thinks I am disgusting. He also says that it feels dirty and wrong to instigate anything intimate with me, because unless I initiate it, he feels like I won’t tell him if it’s something I don’t want. He tries so hard to keep me from feeling like I have to do anything and is so worried about making me feel the way that my ex did that I’m afraid to tell him when something he does triggers me, because even though I assure him he has done nothing wrong, he still feels like it’s his fault. I don’t know how to talk to him without us both feeling like horrible people and I don’t know how to get over what happened when I feel like it’s invalid for me to be upset at all about what happened, since it wasn’t as bad as what many people experience.
It sounds like your earlier relationship was traumatic and that you’re continuing to react to it. I would recommend EMDR, a trauma treatment protocol, to see if you can lift the feelings from the past, as untangling yourself from that experience is the first order of business. I’d also recommend would work with a couple’s counselor very briefly to repair the relationship you have with your husband now. This can put you on a new path. Here are links for couple’s counselors, or you can find one in your area by checking out the find help tab at the top of this page.
Wishing you patience and peace,