Helping Ex with Her Past

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’ve was dating a girl for a couple of months and I knew there was something up. She came out and told me she was molested by her older brother as a child. She was eleven and he was 15. She is now 26. The parents don’t know anything. She has pushed me away and she finds it difficult to have a relationship, even with friends. She is not good at communicating. We are no longer together but we are however “friends.”. II care about her a lot. Is there anything I can do for her?? :(. :(

Thanks

A: Your caring means a great deal. The struggle your girlfriend has to attach to you and others is, unfortunately, often a result of the kinds of problems she experienced with her brother.

Perhaps the best thing you can do as a friend is to help her validate her struggle, while at the same time letting you know you are there for her as a friend.

I usually recommend people who are having attachment issues to enter into group therapy. Group therapy allows the issues from the past to emerge in a supportive environment with people who understand the struggle and difficulty to connect. One of the roles you may play in helping her is to help her find a group that she can experiment with. The find help tab at the top of the page can help you locate therapists in your area and here is an organization that has group therapists that can point you in the right direction.

Finally you don’t want this to become your mission rather than hers. This is something she needs to do with support from you — in fact, showing her this article may be a way of helping her begin to help herself.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Aug 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Helping Ex with Her Past. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/12/helping-ex-with-her-past/

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