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Past Abuse

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I am having a difficult time dealing with my past abusive relationship. My ex, who I was with for two years was emotionally and sexually abusive. I ended the relationship almost a year ago but am still having a hard time. I occasionally have flashbacks and get frightened or angry and cant stop thinking about what happened. I feel guilty for being so upset because there are other people whose experiences are so, so much worse than mine, but I am still having a hard time getting over it. I am now with a really amazing man who knows about what happened. He really tries to be supportive, but has a difficult time understanding. He gets angry because he doesn’t understand why I allowed someone to do that to me for so long. He thinks that I stayed for so long because I actually enjoyed being sexually abused, and although he doesn’t mean to, he makes me feel like he thinks I am disgusting. He also says that it feels dirty and wrong to instigate anything intimate with me, because unless I initiate it, he feels like I won’t tell him if it’s something I don’t want. He tries so hard to keep me from feeling like I have to do anything and is so worried about making me feel the way that my ex did that I’m afraid to tell him when something he does triggers me, because even though I assure him he has done nothing wrong, he still feels like it’s his fault. I don’t know how to talk to him without us both feeling like horrible people and I don’t know how to get over what happened when I feel like it’s invalid for me to be upset at all about what happened, since it wasn’t as bad as what many people experience.

Past Abuse

Answered by on -

A.

It sounds like your earlier relationship was traumatic and that you’re continuing to react to it. I would recommend EMDR, a trauma treatment protocol, to see if you can lift the feelings from the past, as untangling yourself from that experience is the first order of business. I’d also recommend would work with a couple’s counselor very briefly to repair the relationship you have with your husband now. This can put you on a new path. Here are links for couple’s counselors, or you can find one in your area by checking out the find help tab at the top of this page.

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

Past Abuse

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

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Past Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/04/01/past-abuse/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.