Q: My previous boyfriend was abused by a priest when he was an altar boy in his teens. We were together for over 7 years. He is on one hand sweet but not able to commit to a relationship. He dissociates and does not believe his abuse is affecting his ability to have a relationship and tells me it is my problem. I have left the relationship and feel like I am suffering from PTSD as a result of years of living with someone who was unsupportive emotionally and who left me feeling like I was demanding. He has had numerous relationships since we separated. None of which he can commit to. I know he is not honest with his girlfriends.
We have seen each other occasionally and last weekend we ended up sleeping together. He told me that if I need help from him to get over our past he is prepared to help me. It makes me angry as I want him to get help as I can see he is doing the same thing to other women. I see the pain in their faces and see myself. I want to be able to get him to seek help as I think it will help me recover. I want to talk to him about it — how do I do this?
A: I appreciate your situation and your concerns about him not addressing his issues and therefore continuing to hurt others. However, as you have already learned, you cannot force someone to get help if they don’t want it or don’t see the need. I would ask you if you know he hasn’t received help and has continued to play out the same scenario with other women, why have you allowed yourself to spend time with him again? You can let him know that you care about him and want him to seek help and then you are really only responsible for yourself.
It sounds like you would benefit from some counseling to help you examine how and why you were hurt, how you can forgive him and yourself, and how to move on with your life separate from him. There is a point that we risk drowning ourselves if we hang on to someone too long who is already going down. This may sound harsh but it’s time you focus on your own healing. I wish you both luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Oct 2007
Counts, H. (2007). My ex-boyfriend was abused by a priest as a teen and now has commitment issues. How can I hlep him?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 10, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/10/15/my-ex-boyfriend-was-abused-by-a-priest-as-a-teen-and-now-has-commitment-issues-how-can-i-hlep-him/