Support for Spouses?

I received an email today asking about resources, or groups for the spouses of abuse survivors. I agree that dealing with a past that includes child abuse can be very difficult, not just on the survivor, but also on the significant others of survivors, as well as many other close friends and family. It certainly seems like there should be some good support resources for those folks, but I have to admit that I haven’t really kept up with what is available for these folks.

So what do you guys recommend? Do you recommend a spouse seeking some professional help of their own, or support group, and online email list, etc.? Do you know of any good resources that this person should check out, to get their own support while they try and support their spouse through their healing?

Let me know if you know of any. If not, perhaps we can look at starting something ourselves?

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  1. This is me. I do feel the need to talk to someone. It is difficult for my spouse to talk about it and of course that means I do not have anyone to talk to. I really don’t want to talk to a counselor because I would feel like I was betraying him somehow. So I have been coming to this site just trying to see how others have dealt with this. It has actually been very helpful to me and has explained certain behaviors of my husbands that I always questioned in my own mind.

  2. Thanks Sherri, I’m glad the site is proving to be helpful to you. I hope you’ll keep in touch, and feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions. I don’t have all the answers, but I can post and ask the group for thoughts!

  3. My boyfriend and I are practically engaged, but have some difficult relationship issues. He was severely abused as a child–severely– and this has left him with PTSD, flashbacks, and depression, along with some ‘certain behaviors.’ We have talked about some of what happened, but only when he feels the need to explain his behavior. I love him and I want to help him. He is getting professional help, but some of his behaviors drive me mad! Later, I think back on things he has told me and they bring me to tears, make me sick to my stomach to think that someone could do that to a child. I really need help dealing with this myself, so that I can be there for him, and be more understanding. Ideas, anyone?

  4. Nikki,

    Off the top of my head, I would have your boyfriend’s therapist recommend someone for you to talk to. Obviously, there are issues in your relationship as a result of the abuse he suffered and continues to deal with, and I think it’s important for you to have someone with experience in this area to talk to about what those issues are, and how can approach them. Your boyfriend, as much as I respect the fact that he is getting professional help and making efforts to overcome his past, can’t be the only person you talk to about these things. You can’t just take his word for it that his “behaviors” are explainable from the abuse. They may well be, and hopefully his work will help him overcome those and move past them as coping mechanisms, but you need a place to get your own answers and support, just as he does.

    That’s my 2 cents, anyone else have thoughts?

  5. Mike- With any luck, I will have someone by the end of the month… I have my own problems to deal with as well that caused me to seek help long ago, its just been a LONG process as a broke college student. Anyway, thanks for the advice, let me know if anyone shows up that might be in a similar situation to ‘compare notes’ type of thing… I would really like someone that knows what I’m dealing with and doesnt just have the training to deal with these situations to talk to also.

  6. I’m the significant other of a child abuse victim. Our situation at hand has a lot more involved, though. My SO was internationally adopted in the 1970’s from S Korea, doesn’t have a clue who her biological family is (no traces whatsoever), is lesbian and was abandoned by her adoptive family for being so (therefore, abandoned twice in her life), just to name a few. Recently, the term “child abuse” has finally been used for the treatment from her parents (her father being the physical abuser, her mother being the enabler by looking the other way) instead of “daddy’s had a hard day, let’s give him a break”. Reality set in for my SO. She has asked me to give her space, which means I’ve left our home and moved to another city. She doesn’t want anyone dependent on her, no responsibility, and has called our relationship “a seperation” for now. She refuses to get counseling at this time and will not let me help her. I feel helpless and abandoned, myself. I need someone to talk to, too. Thank you for having this site.

  7. Kat, I can certainly understand your feeling abandoned yourself, but do understand that until your SO is ready to get help, or decide what is the best way to let others help her heal, there is very little you can do for her. Be patient, it takes time to come to terms with what happened, let alone figure out how to start healing from it. In the mean time, do everything you can for yourself. You may not be able to help her right now, but that’s no excuse to not take care of yourself. I’m glad if the site helps, and hope you’ll find other significant others to talk to and get support from!

  8. my husband told me he wanted space, felt trapped, wanted to start his life over, we have been together many years. the final blow came when he told me had been abused, which i think is the fundamental reason for this sudden anxiety. i respect his decision for space but i am not sure if he really will get help – my fear is he will try and sort this out on his own and in years to come he will be back at square one. i think what eats me up is that if i had known about the abuse years ago our relationship would have been different, not flawed as i would have seen his behaviours for what they were and not taken them personally which lead to all sorts of inner conflict while his emotions of anger, guilt, shame and low self esteem took their tole on our marriage. its hard when you are told to leave especially when all i want to do is put my arms around him and say it will be okay. thanks for this website. trying to stay positive.

    1. Now-What, it sounds like this has been incredibly painful for you, but at the end of the day I can only give you the advice I give to most spouses of survivors that I talk to. All you can do is suggest he get help and not just pull away from everyone as his “solution” to his issues. If he doesn’t want help, none of us can force him to get it.

      We can hold out hope that he does realize he needs help and moves in that direction, and if that means your relationship being healed, great, but you can only do so much in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want help. I know, I’ve been on the other end of this situation before.

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