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Violence

My name is Devan, and I'm writing to you about my girlfriend. Her life right now isn't what it should be. As a child, she was raped and beaten by her uncle, also by other persons not of the family. She hasn't told me everything about what's happened to her because she says she doesn't like to talk about it. But it is all affecting her now. She walks around everyday putting on a "happy" show for everyone but deep inside she is really hurt. She doesn't completley trust me, she doesn't believe me when I tell her my feelings towards her or what I think about her. It seems as though she is pushing me away. She says she keeps me at a distance because she doesn't want to be hurt anymore. She is afraid of me hurting her like everybody else. She says she has seen a counselor, but that she didn't like going because they made her feel like it was her fault. Now she won't see one. I want to help her, but I dont know what to do. I thought maybe if she didn't keep all of her feelings all bottled up, she could move on, and forget all that mess. I'm really confused. I love her, I want her to respect herself, love herself, and love me. She tells me she doesn't deserve someone like me, she says she's so used to men treating her so bad, that she doesn't deserve anything better. Please help me...I don't know how to help her. Can you help me? Thanks for your time and please write back as soon as possible.

I just received another question that was very similar to yours, which is just further proof that incest is far too common and clearly not spoken about enough. It is so painful to see how many people--particularly women--go through this and how alone they feel and filled with guilt while blaming themselves. In my own life, I can relate it to losing my virginity before I knew what it was--to an older boy who did know what it was. I was made to be embarrassed and ashamed and he celebrated his "success."

There is still so much shame wrongly put on those who were sexually abused as children. You have to understand that she clearly has not resolved this issue within herself. She seems to still be blaming herself and also not fully realized that what happened to her does not have to happen again. Sometimes sharing personal experiences is a comfort in itself. I myself wasn't abused as a child, but two of my close friends were, one by her father and the other by her brother. Both of these women have a hard time in sexual relationships because they haven't fully learned to separate violated sex from mutual sex. The good news is that since they both have been able to be honest with themselves about what happened and with others--family, friends, a therapist--they have stopped blaming themselves and moved beyond denial and have moved onward.

Although you want to support your wife through this, which you should, she should also seek to talk to someone who she won't fear being judged by. This could be an external person or a support group or a professional.

I'm sorry that I couldn't be more helpful. Thank you for taking the time to write and good luck to you and your wife.


Amy

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