Sexual Abuse

Even as I was avoiding the subject of the rapes in counseling, I was consumed with thinking about them.  A journal entry from that time:

I found an article that other day written by a woman who was raped by her husband.  She said three years out she realized she hadn’t actually healed.  She’d approached it clinically.  She researched it to death.  She found out anything about it that she could, but it never touched her emotions.

I realized that is what I’m doing!  It is almost obsessive.  I google every night.  I read anything I can.  I’m bringing in so much information that I’m convinced my brain is just going to overload, explode, and run out of my ears.  

I can’t let my emotions in it yet.  I have to be able to get mad and I can’t do that until I’m free.  I need to stay reasonable and amicable.  Fluffy needs to be contained until my Emancipation Papers are signed.  Once I’m free I can release Fluffy and the damange he does won’t be as bad as it would be if I released him now.  So, I wait.  I keep Fluffy in his cage.  I try to keep him asleep although he has been prowling recently.   I’m an expert on stuffing (my emotions) so I just need to continue stuffing for now.

I remember how I’d get the kids to bed every evening then spend hours pouring over google.  I’d search for anything I could about rape, marital rape, intimate partner sexual abuse, and any other term I could think to google that might just give me new information.  

I also checked out books from the library and even kept newspapers in my car and put book covers on the books as soon as I got out to the car with them so the children wouldn’t see what I was reading.  I’d hide the books way under my bed.  I did not want them knowing what I was reading about.

I started slowly allowing my emotions into it.  For me, I think one of the hardest aspects of this was acknowledging that I took part in my own rapes.  One of Bubba’s chief complaints was that I didn’t initiate sex very much.  Oh, the yelling he used to do over that one.  What was wrong with me?  Why didn’t I want to have sex with my husband?  He felt soooooooo unloved because I never approached him.  It went on and on.  I got the message, loud and clear, that I was defective on so many levels because “normal” wives wanted their husbands and enjoyed sex.  This was yet another way I was horribly flawed as a wife.  This was another of my failures.

I started initiating sex 7 or 8 times a month.  He would come home and I’d be wondering if he’d want sex that night.  Instead of waiting for him to approach me, I’d ask if he wanted sex.  I figured that if I asked him, we’d get it over with and he’d leave me alone for a few days.  

After I realized he’d been raping me all those years, I really struggled with the fact that I initiated.  How could it be rape if I asked him for sex?  Simply, because I felt I had no choice – it was either initiate or suffer more punishment.  I had been choosing the lesser of two evils – picking something that I thought would hurt me less.  It took many months to work through that one.

In the last few years of our marriage, foreplay had been reduced to him grabbing my butt or boobs in the kitchen while the kids played around us.  I was always deeply embarrassed and shamed that I’d been reduced to a glorified blow-up doll.  Then, after the kids were in bed, he’d look at me and say, “Do you wanna have sex?”  The only correct answer was, “yes.”  I knew the price for saying, “no.”  In turn, I began to simply ask Bubba, “Do you wanna have sex?”  That was as much initiation as I could stomach.  I hated, absolutely hated, kissing him if it was related to sex.  I didn’t want real foreplay.  I just wanted our time in the bedroom over and done with.

Initiating also gave me a small measure of control.  I could say when we had sex.  I could pick the times that I felt more physically able to deal with it.  Like so much else in my life, it was just an illusion.  

It wasn’t just submission on my part either.  There were times that I actively said, “No, please don’t do that,” or “No, I don’t like that.  Don’t do that,” and it never mattered.  I hated when he gave me oral sex.  I would hide my head under my pillow after I’d said no and he’d started anyway.  It never seemed to bother him that not only did I say no but then I hid my face from him.  The first few times I tried to squirm away but he held me firmly in place.  After that I just laid there and let him do it because I knew I just had to get through it and he’d eventually be done.  Even thinking about it now is enough to make me want to vomit.  I also know that if anyone asked him about it, he would say that there were no problems in this area.  He simply didn’t see me – either as a person who was allowed to say “No,” or as someone who’d actually said “No.”  He saw what he wanted to see because that is the only version of reality that exists for him.    

The sex in our marriage was not sex, it was rape.  It was about power and control and Bubba had all the power and control while I had none.  Bubba wanted me to initiate sex so I did, the punishments for not doing so were worse than the initiating.  

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30 Comments

  1. Cantata

    Ouch. Touching a very raw nerve today. Thank you for this post. It is only by naming the issue that we can get our power back.

    • It has been hard to share this aspect as openly as I have (and will in coming posts) but I think it is absolutely necessary to share so that other women know they aren’t alone. I am going to get into this a lot more during the month.

      You are so right. The more we bring this into the light, the more we power we take back. Abuse, no matter what kind, only has power when it is kept hidden and in the dark. When we shine a light on it, we can find help and healing.

    • Cantata

      I’ll share a little more now that I have had a minute to process. My rapes were much the same as yours, coercion and being told I was a bad wife for not initiating, etc. When I would initiate, he would get annoyed at me for wanting to try to climax too (because it took too long and was too much work, he wanted wham bam thank you ma’am), want to put me in positions I hated, then sometimes get annoyed at me for NOT being interested in getting an orgasm out of the deal. It makes my head spin. His favorite position was to have me face down on the bed. It was so degrading, I hated it.

      I am still working through guilt over the fact that I “enjoyed myself” during some of the rapes. I know it is biological, and I was also dissociating and going to a happy place in my head, where the person I was sleeping with actually loved me.

      The rapes I’m not sure I will be able to forgive him for are the ones that happened when I was pregnant. I was on bed rest, including strict pelvic rest. According to him, that was simply unfair, how could I expect his desires to just wait? Nevermind the offer of other acts to appease him. Nevermind the fact that he could literally have killed our child by causing him to be born extremely premature. I have a lot of anger over those ones that I still need to work through.

      • In my research, I found an article somewhere online (I can’t remember exactly where) that discussed orgasms during rape. Our bodies are wired to respond to stimulation. Our nerve endings can’t tell the difference between mutual consent sex and rape. The nerve is stimulated, the nerve responds. It is biology and absolutely does NOT mean we enjoyed our rapes.

        I am so sorry he put your baby in jeopardy like that. It is totally understandable that you haven’t forgiven him yet for that. I will pray it will come in time but there is not timeline for that. You work on it at your own pace. God has enough grace to cover that. If I may – (((very gentle hugs))).

  2. Michelle

    Thank you for sharing. My husband regularly raped me. He often assaulted me in my sleep. I suspect he may have even used something to knock me out. The sad part about marital rape is the lack of support. I remember telling my mom that he raped me and I think that he mediated my beverage to knock me out. All I got was a blank stare. She was’t supportive. or comforting. She wasn’t even willing to aknowledge such a thing could occur. Much of my anger at the moment is toward my FOO. I’ve processed the stuff with my husband(took 3 plus years) but for the last 9 months or so I have been very angry with my parents. They taught me to be a victim. They were abusive. They shamed me for ever having intuition or questioning ANYTHING. It is sickening to watch them continue to relate to each other and the world in their warped ways. They still try to shame, control, and manipulate

    • Michelle

      Oops wasn’t. finished.They still believe that a victim is partly to blame for their own victimization. When my father found out about his granddaughter’s sexual assault at age 12. He asked if she consented. I wanted to puke. When I found out my husband did it, I went to the police. They tried to talk me out of it. I have to keep my distance from those people.

      Thanks for listening to my rant. Im still working through this.

      • So many people have a “blame the victim” mentality. Surely we did something to anger him. Surely we contributed to the argument. Surely it was partly our fault.

        And I say, “Surely, he chose his actions. My part in the abuse was that I was his victim. I was his target.”

        It is best to distance ourselves from people who would continue to harm us. To deny our abuse or to place the blame on us is called “Secondary Wounding.” It is trauma added on top of trauma. It is wrong. I’m sorry you have experienced this too. We count on our loved ones to believe us. It is hard when they’d rather believe their own dysfunction than us.

  3. Amanda

    I am not alone – thank you.

    • Sadly, there are many of us who’ve had similar experiences. You are most definitely not alone.

  4. anonymousangel

    I was raped from a small child until my late teens by family members and by “boyfriends”. I go months thinking I’ve dealt with the emotions, the baggage, the anger… And then I read something like this and wonder where I went wrong in my dealing with it. Am I the only one that goes for a period of not having any emotions at all from this, thinking I’ve forgiven, and then get met at the door by an ugly skeleton with the manpower of a violent gang that makes me feel it all over again? How can I know I’ve forgiven when that happens? I’m blessed to have a man that understands and leaves me be when I need him to be, who loves me when I need it HOW I need it, and who NEVER EVER makes me feel guilty when I don’t want to have sex. I have a very low libido that I mostly attribute to my past experiences. But I know that it must both him on at least a couple levels to have a wife that does not constantly want to be sexual with him. Sometimes, even the word sex makes me feel icky and uncomfortable.

    • You aren’t alone. I think the abuse is so complex and layered that it takes a very long time (years and years???) to find all the different aspects that need to be worked through and healed. It is totally understandable that you could deal with one aspect of it and think you’ve taken care of the whole thing then have something smack you down unexpectedly a few months later. The thing is that what it is hard work to heal and when we’ve put that much time and energy into it, we think we’ve won the war. What we need to understand is that each step of healing is like winning a small skirmish. We can only see what is happening in that moment and that moment feels like the whole war. When we step back and think it is over and done with, another skirmish pops up.

      I used to do the same thing. It took me getting hit out of the blue like that quite a few times before I realized that new aspects will probably always pop up. Memories don’t all surface at once. As we heal, our brains allow us to remember more and then we need to continually process what we are remembering.

      For me, it has gotten easier to deal with now that I accept I’ll probably always have things crop up. Now I just think, “Well, this is something new I have to work through,” then get down to the hard work of healing.

      I’m glad you have an understanding husband. They are worth their weight in gold!

  5. Nobody

    This is an amazing story you are sharing. I’m glad to be able to read it and find some things that resonate with my own history. My mother in law used to say the best way to get back at your ex is to heal and live. She was right. –Blessings.

  6. Vesper

    I am kind of surprised (though the way God works, I shouldn’t be) that I found your blog when I did. This kind of abuse happened with my ex, and while it had crossed my mind that it was more than just inconsiderate, I didn’t put it in my mind this way until my husband brought it up about a week ago. My husband has a heart of gold and would never pressure for anything I might not want. There was a situation recently in which I fell back into an old pattern of thinking and it has damaged things between us. That’s what made him think maybe there was more abusive damage done by my ex than we’d discussed before. I am now very very worried that I have wrecked all the terrific things about my intimate relationship with my husband. (It is too messed up to explain in a comment, too conflicting to talk to my husband about, and I will not talk about it to a counselor or anyone out loud about it. I would text/chat with a friend, but I don’t want any of them to know. I wish there was someone to share with who could give encouragement, but there isn’t.)

    Anyway, it was like two days after my husband asked about my ex that I happened to check the facebook page of an old friend who isn’t even on my friends list to see if there were any notes on how she was doing. She had a link to your blog set to public on her wall. Weird things come together at the right times. I’m encouraged by your blog. I am glad to hear someone speaking about escaping and healing from such pain as I had with my ex.

    (That may be one of the most disoriented paragraphs I have ever decided to post anyway. I’m not even sure it made sense. Sorry about that.)

    • It sounds like you do have a lot of healing to do. It also sounds like your husband is supportive and will walk this path alongside you. You say he has a heart of gold so trust that he will be there for you and that things are not wrecked. Yes, they may be strained and it may be very hard to discuss with him but a healthy marriage is so worth it. Be honest with him, even if it is to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you. I now realize this is an issue I need to address. I need some time to work through it and I love you and would appreciate your support. I want to heal from this so that I don’t hurt you again.”

      Even though God has done things like this for me over and over I am never not in awe of how He works things. It is amazing to me that He loves me enough to do seemingly random things like this just when they are needed. I hope you find encouragement here and that you can find the appropriate support in real life. Have you checked with your local domestic violence agency to see if they offer counseling? I don’t know how I would’ve made it through this without Liz. She was an awesome counselor.

      • Vesper

        I have dealt with several counselors in the past. With this issue, I simply cannot talk about it out loud. Maybe someday. My husband is truly amazing. He would do anything for me. I hope you are right and things will be okay again.

      • Have you visited my resource page? I may have listed a book or website that you may find helpful. One thing I’ve found is that the hardest things to talk about are the ones that NEED to be talked about. If we don’t talk about them their poison is allowed to continue to infect us to our detriment. Bringing it into the open is hard and it hurts, but sometimes it is necessary. Think it over, pray about it, and again be gentle with yourself. You are a strong capable woman, able to make sound decisions for yourself. I hope that when you are ready, you are able to fight this demon and overcome it.

  7. AnonMom

    I’ve been really holding off commenting in your blog because email address is required and I would prefer to stay anonymous at this time. I just wanted to thank you for writing this blog. I’ve related to more posts than I wish to admit to. I’ve been raped by my husband, I’ve been controlled by him, my children have been held over my head, I’ve been physically abused, and treated as if I’m a child and not equals. I can relate to pretty much everything you have written. My own family, when I told them of the abuse and wanted to get away, didn’t take me seriously and told me I wasn’t welcome in their house. And they were the only means for me to get away from him. Sadly, I’m still with him. I have no means to get away. I’m trying to finish school so that I can support the kids without him.

    • You can do it without your family. I did. Do you have friends – a community? Is there a domestic violence agency near you? I urge you to seek counseling for yourself so that you can learn that you are strong enough to do this and that you do NOT deserve to be treated like you are and that you are WORTH escaping for.

      I understand how hard it is to leave. I only left once the fear of staying outweighed the fear of leaving. It took a long time for me to get there and I wish I’d done it sooner. My children are paying the price for me staying so long. I only have a few short years with the older two to teach them how healthy relationships work so they don’t end up continuing the cycle of abuse.

      Please get help for yourself and your children. You are worth so much more than to be abused. Put a plan together for getting out. You need to start somewhere and planning and counseling are both great ways to start.

  8. AnonyMommy

    I’ve been really struggling to bring myself to comment on your blog. I see a lot of what I have gone through and what I’m still going through in your blog. Perhaps the only difference is that my husband has been physically abusive in the past. Your blog always brings me to tears because I’m struggling with this stuff to this day. I have been raped by my husband, I have dealt with pain during intercourse and instead of worrying about MY pain, he just kept pushing right through it despite my burrowing my head and crying in pain. And then if I tell him it hurts too much and to stop, he gets all pissy and ignores me for the night. I have dealt with him being controlling and him treating me as a child instead of an adult. I have dealt with the FOO completely disregarding EVERYTHING I have told them about his physical abuse, not allow me to move in with them when I was trying to escape from his abuse. They were my only way out and I never received the help I so desparately needed because they told me I wasn’t welcome to move in. I could go on and ON about how similar our husbands are…you just have no idea. I would love to leave him, but I know this very moment just isn’t quite the time. I want to finish school first so that I can provide for my children and I won’t have courts questioning my lack of work. So I live through your blog posts until it’s time. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t despise my husband for his selfishness and how he has treated me through the years.

    • Your FOO is not your only way out. I’ve done this completely with no help from my FOO. They actively fought against me. I was strong enough and so are you!

      Are you safe right now? Do you have a plan in case of an emergency? Do you have an emergency bag packed and ready? Do you have important papers stored somewhere safe?

      All that being said, you will not leave until you are ready. I can urge you to get counseling and help for yourself, to protect yourself, and to get strong. No one can make you leave. If you leave before you are ready, you’ll have a higher risk of going back and the abuse will escalate. Plan, prepare, and leave when you are ready.

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. You are strong and you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

      • Michelle

        My heart goes out to you. I agree with Hope. Prepare now. The smartest thing I did was to prepare. I had money socked away, debt paid off, a plan, etc. It made it so much easier. Your FOO is NOT your only way out. YOU ARE! You are stronger than you think. You can find people that align with your values. Those people will help. Even if they are online. I had to stop looking to my FOO for support thinking that eventually they would get it. Bless you.

      • I had an amazing amount of support from women I met online. They were my prayer warriors and provided much needed practical help so many times when I needed it.

        Prepare. You can do this! You are strong enough and the big secret is that you actually get stronger once you leave!

  9. trixiekiddo

    Thank you Hope for sharing such intimate details. You shined a light on my own situation. When I read your post, I had a visceral reaction and wept. I also wondered, “Why did I go along with it? Why did I think it was okay for me to have excruciating pain just so he could have his pleasure. “Why did he think it was okay to continue?” Please go check out sexasnatureintendedit.com
    I can almost guarantee that all of our situations are common in that the man was circumcised. Circ’d sex is rough – broomstick jabbing- while women who’ve had both explain intact sex as tender and loving.

    • Cir’d or not, it isn’t the penis that abused me. It was the man attached to the penis who made the decision to use that penis as a weapon against me.

      I will check out that website when I have a moment. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Michelle

      I’m confused. Men who are abusive are what hurt. Physical pain aside, it was the abuse that was the issue not whether or not he was circ’d. These men would be abusers circ’d or not.

Trackbacks

  1. Burning Down the House « Hope Wears Heels
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