Past abuse, Present distrust

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: I was married to a violent man and abused emotionally physically and sexually I lived alone for many years after divorce now I am engaged to a man who cares for me but I am scared of trusting him thinking he will cheat on me. my ex did it often. can you help?

A: Thank you for writing. Once someone has been abused and betrayed, it is usual to be cautious about being vulnerable. As a woman in your 60s, it’s no small thing to risk again. I hope you and your partner have been talking about your fears and what he is willing to do to reassure you and comfort you. It’s important that he know your history and it’s important that you know his. If you find that you are still anxious, it might be helpful to have a few sessions with a couples counselor to help the two of you address these issues as a team. Please do this before you marry. Working it through will strengthen you as a couple and will help you go into this new marriage with the optimism and confidence in your decision that you both deserve.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie




Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Nov 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Past abuse, Present distrust. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from

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