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Author Topic: support for partners of rape survivors?
WolfTiger
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Member # 28319

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My partner recently confided in me that she was raped four years ago by a near stranger. She assures me that she has come to terms with the assault and it is not something that affects her everyday life anymore. I have tried to be as supportive as possible - that the rape wasn't her fault, that she didn't deserve it, and that she isn't "dirty" or "disgusting" (she asked me if I thought either of these things - obviously I don't). We've talked together about how she is not ready for some kinds of sexual touching and I have made it clear to her that at any time she can say "no" or "stop" and I will be okay with that and NOT angry at her or think that she doesn't love me. I've told her that I want her to feel 100% comfortable and safe in our relationship and I don't want to pressure her in any way. I feel very good about the way we have been communicating regarding both our relationship and her rape.

I am the first person she has told in four years about the rape and I am feeling very overwhelmed. She told me that she essentially closed herself off to any type of romantic relationship after being raped, in order to cope I suppose. So I do feel as if this is a big deal, in that it is her first romantic/sexual relationship since the assault. She WANTS to have a normal and healthy sexual relationship with me - both because she thinks she deserves it and doesn't want to feel like the rapist has "won" by controlling this part of her life anymore. As we've talked, I've become seriously amazed at how much of a strong and beautiful woman my partner is. But again, I am still very nervous/frightened about triggering her or making her flashback, especially because this is her first relationship since the assault. There are times too when I feel like even though she says she is okay with what happened, it seems as though she really isn't...thinking that it was her fault, that I might find her disgusting, that she isn't good enough for me, etc.

I really don't know how to sort out my feelings on this issue. I know the assault took place four years ago, but I feel upset/angry/confused nonetheless. I have tried searching for topics on this site but haven't found much for partners of rape survivors. I know Staci Haines "A Survivor's Guide to Sex" is often recommended - is this something that you think would help me to read? I feel like I am doing all the right things, I just don't know if there is more that I should be doing or saying to be the most supportive partner that I can be.

Posts: 5 | From: Las Vegas | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ecofem
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WolfTiger, you sound like a very caring and supportive partner. [Smile] First and foremost, has she gotten (professional) help/support for processing the rape before? That would be a really important step because while being a supportive partner is important, it's also not your place/job to serve as her counselor on this. Not that I think that's the case here, but it might need to be addressed regarding how she's dealing with it.

It sounds like you're doing all the "right" things in terms of listening, being aware, and respecting her boundaries. You certainly could also contact a hotline for survivors/victims of rape and sexual abuse, such as RAINN, and ask for tips or literature.

Keep that communication open, always asking before anything-- talking about how things are going, and being aware and ready for if/when she starts feeling bad-- which you shouldn't feel guilt for either, but understanding. (When that happens, asking first even to give her a hug is important.) If she would be ready to tell you about potential triggers, it could help you avoid some situations. But sometimes the feelings can just pop up unexpectedly if a situation feels intense or what have you.

Here are some links I found after an internet search:

http://partners.aest.org.uk/
It seems like a good site.

http://partners.aest.org.uk/does_and_donts.html
A list of some do's and don'ts.

http://www.geocities.com/hotsprings/2402/partners.html
I'm not sure about the general site (you already know this stuff) but the links might be of interest.

I wish the best to you and your girlfriend! [Smile]

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WolfTiger
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quote:
Originally posted by Ecofem:
First and foremost, has she gotten (professional) help/support for processing the rape before?

No, she never has. Which worries me a little, but she swears to me that she is fine and that she has made peace with what happened to her. I think that her not talking about it for four years just brought out a lot of emotion, which really scared me. Is it okay that she has never seen someone before? She told four friends about it in the immediate aftermath and says that was all the support she needed.

Now that I've had some time to process all this and read some stuff in the library, I'm feeling better about it. I think it was just when she initially told me she seemed so NOT okay...but it's been over a week and in the times we've talked about it since I can tell that she does seem okay (she even said, 'I've never thought so analytically about this before!' which kind of made me laugh [Smile] )

Posts: 5 | From: Las Vegas | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
FlyBoy1549
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This thread seems to be just what I'm looking for. Is anybody still interested in discussing the matters on it?
Posts: 1 | From: Ohio | Registered: May 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Would be glad to listen and give feedback if you want, both as a survivor and as someone who has been partnered with survivors of rape and other kinds of abuse.

[ 05-25-2010, 09:35 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Posts: 67145 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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