My Girlfriend Has a History of Sexual Abuse

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From Australia: I met a girl, I’ve known her for a month now and shes feeling really comfortable with me and due to my past I’ve wanted to find out everything about her. One day we were in bed, messing around nothing serious, and she freaks out, I grab her and stop her and bring her around, then ask whats up. She explains to me that in her past she has been sexually abused by a family member. I tell her its all okay and she’s nervous she’s told me but I want to help. The other night we slept together, due to the freak outs it took a while and I took forever to make her comfortable. Up to all this I can handle and make better and help with, but today she informed me that all she’s feeling is dirty and disgusting and is really hating on herself. I can’t have that. I really want to help, what can I say? What can I do? Please I really need to know what I can do, without outside help. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

A: What you can do is back off being sexual and focus instead of being friends and getting more comfortable with each other. You’ve only known each other for a month. That’s very soon to be asking a woman who has been abused to be intimate. I know that at 19, this may seem a lot to ask of you. But if you really care about her, spend more time talking and doing things together and bring the messing around down several notches. The intimacy will evolve as the relationship does.

To your girlfriend: I hope you will consider getting some professional help. The consequences of abuse by a family member can be long and deep. But you don’t have to continue being so afraid. A therapist can help you put your past where it belongs. Meanwhile, it’s more than okay for you to say a clear “no” to intimacy you’re not ready for. If this man loves you, he’ll love getting to know you and will be happy with some hugs and kisses as signs of your interest and affection.

I wish you both well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jul 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). My Girlfriend Has a History of Sexual Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/07/11/my-girlfriend-has-a-history-of-sexual-abuse/