Relationship problems sexual abuse victims and shame

relationship problems sexual abuse victims and shame

Many men find it difficult to admit they have been sexually abused. Both heterosexual and homosexual men can have difficulty with sexual relationships as a result of their abuse. You could at times experience problems with sexual functioning. Shame is a deep sense of feeling 'bad' as a person. Sexual Assault, v .. Forced and Child Marriage, > [li] The law punished victims for “provoking” domestic violence, and police could issue warnings to women . as many victims of rape are afraid of public shame, mistrust police officers, and. In the case of sexual abuse, former victims may have continued the cycle of abuse to relate to others, navigate intimate relationships, and be a good parent to your with the problem of how to heal the shame caused by the childhood abuse.

If an adult continually invaded your privacy - by watching you shower, or making sexualized comments about your body, this is another form of sexual abuse. Areas of your life that may be impacted by sexual abuse Both heterosexual and homosexual men can have difficulty with sexual relationships as a result of their abuse.

Confusion about Sexual Orientation. You may be confused about or question your sexual orientation We're not really sure how sexual orientation is determined.

We do know that it is not usually determined by the abuse - neither by the abuser's sexual orientation, nor by what he or she did to your body. If you felt "turned on" and disgusted at the same time by what the abuser did, you might feel as though you can't depend on your body.

If you are homosexual and were abused by a male, you may wrongly believe, just as many heterosexuals do, that your sexual orientation was caused by the abuse. Both heterosexual and homosexual adult males suffer from similar kinds of sexual orientation confusion as a result of their abuse. For example, if the abuser performed oral sex on you, you may have been aroused as well as repelled by the experience.

Whether you were abused by a male or a female doesn't make a difference. This is because your penis responds to stimulation regardless of the gender of the person who is stimulating it. Adolescents or adults who sexually abuse children do so because they are sexually attracted to children, and enjoy having sexual power over them.

If the abuser was male, you might have developed a fear of other males, especially if you believe they are homosexual. You may even avoid friendships with other men. Your fear of homosexuals may express itself in negative statements or jokes about homosexuals.

This fear and these actions are called homophobia. However, homophobia is pervasive in our society, and is not an indicator of sexual abuse. You might also try to prove yourself sexually by initiating a lot of short-term sexual relationships with women, in the hope that your fear of being homosexual will eventually disappear.

No number of "conquests" can overcome this kind of insecurity, but you will succeed in destroying the trust of your partners. If you were abused by a female, you might have felt overpowered and "less than male" when the abuse was happening. You might feel "different" because sexual abuse by women is less frequent. This in turn could make you feel more isolated and ashamed. You might believe that the abuse was a sexual opportunity, and not really abuse at all.

Our culture often minimizes and even denies the seriousness and harm caused when boys are abused by older females.

relationship problems sexual abuse victims and shame

Difficulties with Sexual Functioning. You could at times experience problems with sexual functioning. Painful erections, difficulty maintaining erections, premature ejaculation, lack of desire, or an obsession with sex may all stem from childhood sexual abuse. If you can function sexually only during "one-night stands" or only in short-term relationships, it could be because the abuser was a family member or someone you trusted and depended on, who had power over you for a long period of time.

Long-term relationships may remind you of these feelings of powerlessness, so you might avoid them. You may have difficulty making commitments in other areas of your life for the same reason. Dependency or Misuse of Drugs, Alcohol or Food. If you have trouble regulating your use of drugs, alcohol, or food, it may mean that you are using these substances to mask the pain of sexual abuse. It could also mean that the abuser used these substances to lure you into sexual activity.

Because these substances can be addictive, they can block your recovery. There are a number of recovery programs available that serve as an important adjunct to sexual abuse counselling. Self-Harm and Harm of Others. If you feel worthless as a result of the abuse, you could turn these painful feelings against yourself.

This might take the form of cutting, burning or harming yourself in some way. You may find yourself in situations or remain in relationships that are harmful to you, emotionally, physically, sexually or otherwise. If you find yourself thinking about or acting out your sexual abuse by becoming sexually aggressive, you need to seek help immediately because of the damage you could be doing to others.

Contact your local crisis line, doctor, etc. Flashbacks, Anxiety and Nightmares. If you have unexplained anxiety or panic attacks you could be re-experiencing the trauma of being sexually abused. Flashbacks are sudden intrusive thoughts about the sexual abuse. They might come when you least want them, for example, when you and your partner are making love.

When this happens it could mean that your sexual arousal is triggering memories of the abuse. You might also experience recurring nightmares which remind you in some way of the abuse. A counsellor can work with you to reduce these symptoms. You might feel that, as a male, you're allowed to express and to act out your anger.

If you feel only anger, you are probably not allowing yourself to have other feelings such as shame, fear or loneliness. A counsellor can help you to identify your feelings and learn ways to manage them. If you were sexually abused as a child, the underlying emotion you might share with other people who have been sexually abused, both male and female, is a sense of shame.

Shame is a deep sense of feeling 'bad' as a person. The abuser might have cut you off from the support of loved ones during the abuse by forcing you to keep the abuse secret.

When Males Have Been Sexually Abused as Children: A Guide for Men

He might have told you that no one would want anything to do with you if they knew what you were doing. Guilt is related to shame. Guilt comes from the belief that you are responsible for the abuse. Remember, this happened when you were a child, and adults are supposed to protect children, not abuse them.

You are not responsible for the abuse you experienced. You could now be afraid that you will experience further shame if you talk about the abuse to a counsellor or anyone else. Shame can make you hold yourself apart from others in your adult life.

A support group, where you can talk and listen to others who have had the same experience that you've had, can help you overcome your shame and the isolation that goes with it. There are a number of physical symptoms that are sometimes related to child sexual abuse. If you suffer from frequent headaches, choking sensations, nausea in the presence of certain smells, blurred vision, floating sensations, or pains in the genitals, buttocks or back, they might be related to your sexual abuse.

If your physician can't find a medical reason for these symptoms, your counsellor might be able to help you understand the reason you have them. How can I get the help I need? You might have difficulty acknowledging that you were sexually abused, and that another person had such power over you.

You might even believe that being abused has made you less of a man. This belief comes from our patriarchal society which values power, seen as a male trait, and devalues vulnerability, which is seen as "weak" and as a female trait. As a result most men resist admitting they were once overpowered and helpless, and this is called "denial".

relationship problems sexual abuse victims and shame

Denial is an obstacle to getting help. Because of social values and attitudes, denial of vulnerability is usually stronger in men than in women. It takes courage to acknowledge you've been sexually abused. A counsellor, a support group or both can be helpful.

The best way to find a counsellor is by asking people you trust, such as a doctor or friend, for personal recommendations. If that isn't possible, professional counselling associations will provide names of people qualified to work with men who have been sexually abused.

You can then check out those qualifications and find a counsellor you feel comfortable working with. Individual counselling over a long period of time can be expensive, although some social services have a sliding fee scale for clients. Another option is to see a psychiatrist or psychologist who may be covered through your provincial medical plan or supplementary insurance plan.

In some provinces, when you file a police report against the abuser you may become eligible for counselling from a qualified psychologist, clinical counsellor or clinical social worker through a crime victim assistance program. If working with a counsellor isn't possible, a support group may be a good second choice. How can a counsellor help? The first step to recovery is to admit to yourself that you have been sexually abused.

Once you acknowledge to your counsellor that you have been sexually abused, you have taken an important step to recovery. Even after you've acknowledged the abuse, you may: It is not unusual for individuals to minimize or deny traumatic experiences and their impact as a way of coping. A counsellor can help you work through any thoughts or feelings you may have. Then you can understand the ways in which you managed to cope with the abuse and begin to resolve the trauma of the abuse to decrease the negative effects it has on your life.

Your counsellor may ask you about any symptoms of post-traumatic stress that are impacting you, for example, flashbacks, nightmares, depression, anxiety, or relationship difficulties.

When Males Have Been Sexually Abused as Children: A Guide for Men -

These skills are an important step to help you maintain control. Remembering too much or moving too quickly can feel overwhelming. Tell your counsellor when you need more time to understand and integrate what is happening. Your counsellor might also recommend that you read some articles or books written for men who have experienced sexual abuse. Your counsellor might also recommend that you join a support group for men who have experienced sexual abuse.

A counsellor will probably have to remind you repeatedly that you were neither responsible for nor guilty of the abuse. Your relationship with your counsellor is a partnership. You'll decide together what subjects you will discuss, and when it's appropriate to slow down or end counselling.

If you aren't happy with your counsellor, you have the right to express your concerns and to find a different counsellor. What kinds of questions are counsellors often asked? Wasn't I old enough to know better and shouldn't I have been able to tell him to take a hike? Boys who are dependent on an adult or an adolescent are vulnerable to being sexually abused.

He let us drink around the campsite and I wasn't used to it, and all I can remember after that is waking up later with him lying beside me, passed out, with his hand between my legs. Shouldn't I have been smart enough and old enough to be able to figure out what he was up to? When teenage boys are sexually abused, they often feel even more ashamed and responsible than younger boys and have a hard time reporting the abuse.

See booklet " When Teenage Boys…" The boys in both of these stories grew into young men who believed that they were responsible for the abuse, and felt guilty as a result. A counsellor will probably remind you that children are never responsible for adults or older teens abusing them. I told my Uncle Gordon, and he said the teacher was probably gay. Could that be true? Do you think there's something about me that turned him on?

More importantly, it's not some quality about you that makes you responsible. Sexual abusers are people who want to exercise sexual power over children because they're smaller and less powerful. Uncle Gordon's response was misleading because of its anti-homosexual bias. It is important that you keep your feelings and fantasies conscious and discuss them with a counsellor who is trained to work in this area to ensure that you do not act them out by offending. You have responsibilities towards your partner but not for them.

It is helpful for you both to know that ultimately your partner is responsible for their self. Each will need to give the other space and time to process the feelings that will undoubtedly arise.

It will be about encouraging one another to take the next step. The good news is that if you do choose to go through healing together, it can be a deeply rewarding and enriching experience for you both. Healing from childhood abuse requires honesty, courage and commitment from survivors and from those supporting them. Your partner did not choose to be abused and probably did not expect to suffer its long-term effects. Your partner, like most victims, usually escape from the abusive environment during their teens and for a long time the freedom, distractions and momentum of life carry them forward.

They seldom realise that the growing emotional and behavioural problems they experience are linked to their history and that one day they will have to choose to deal with it or continue to suffer. On average, it is between 25 to 30 years after the last incidents of abuse that victims disclose. Understanding the Healing Journey Every survivor is unique with a unique experience of their abuse history, so all we can do here is cover some of the most common steps.

You may have already found that more emotional chaos and less control is experienced as work commences. It may seem that your partner is coping less well yet these are the ways that most survivors respond in the early stages. The buried trauma and related feelings are rising to the surface and instead of engaging his or her defences; your partner is allowing this distress to live and the pain suffered by their inner child to at last be heard. It is important to accept this. As your partner continues with their work, they will learn where these feelings come from, to whom they are truly directed at and where they belong.

The more you understand about abuse and your partner's own story the more you may be able to help. You may be able to offer comfort to the abused child within your partner who is still in great pain or terrified. Just to hold or hug gently for a few minutes might be all that is needed. You may find that the unpleasant feelings, including hatred and anger are projected onto you. This can be distressing until your partner understands what they are doing. Show that you love and care for your partner and that what happened to him or her in the past will never change that.

When children are abused, they lose their sense of worth and sometimes even their sense of self is lost as they disconnect from feelings that are painful. In many cases the abuse had remained a dreadful secret. The secrecy and sense of shame further isolated the child from family and friends. If the child did disclose, the abuser and usually other people, will have blamed the child or insisted that the child was a liar or foolish.

Whether or not these things are said out loud, the child's reality and sense of the world are badly distorted. As adults, most survivors feel and believe the abuse was their fault, even if common sense tells them otherwise. It therefore follows, that survivors do not trust themselves or anyone else. Despite this damage, your partner trusts you enough for the two of you to have got this far. Your honest support can help to reverse the damage and restore their trust in life and their self.

As you learn more about childhood abuse and its long-term effects, many aspects of life with your partner may start to make sense. When children are abused they are humiliated and their real needs and feelings are ignored or belittled.

An adult survivor who still represses their feelings may suffer from depression, nightmares, panic attacks or dissociation. They may turn to substance abuse to help suppress the feelings and fill the void left by the absence of self-worth.

relationship problems sexual abuse victims and shame

Much of the trauma of childhood abuse is stored in the person's body and many survivors suffer from chronic pain and other health problems. Children who are being abused cannot afford to feel the full range of feelings in their bodies.

Feelings which may include pain, outrage, confusion and hatred can be blocked. Even pleasant feelings, such as joy, peace and love together with physically pleasurable sensations and sexual arousal can be obstructed. In many cases the child and now the adult will go numb or dissociate from their body.

relationship problems sexual abuse victims and shame

This learnt defence mechanism may become more noticeable during healing. When upset, threatened, or sexually aroused, even in minor ways, survivors may 'click out'. When with your partner you may feel alone or you may notice nothing unusual at the time but later wonder why your partner does not recall conversations and experiences. Remember that for your partner, even pleasant feelings such as contentment, joy and pleasure may be linked to the abuse and this will be frightening.

This can be especially true during healing when fear and pain is close to the surface and not fully understood. Child sexual and physical abuse is a profound violation of power. It may involve acts of extreme violence and cruelty, or there may be no physical contact at all. It involves a betrayal of trust, a breaking of boundaries and destruction of the survivor's sense of self.

At one extreme, it may be hard for you to see what was so awful about your partner's experience. More likely, you find it so shocking that it is hard to believe or take in. A lot of people do not want to know or believe some of the horrible crimes perpetrated against children and you also may find it difficult.

It may take time for you to understand or fully accept your partner's experience but it is crucial that you believe them.

For your partner to tell you of the abuse and find that your love for them is not diminished can be deeply valued.