‘I’m backing away from sex because of abuse I suffered in the past’
I’m a woman in my mid-20s and recently I met a lovely guy who I’ve really fallen for. We haven’t slept together properly yet because whenever things get too heated, I break away before sex can happen.
He’s being very patient and kind, but I can tell he’s confused about what’s going on in my head.
In a nutshell, I was abused in the past and had a very unsettled and traumatic childhood. My mum was an alcoholic and I spent time in foster care. I felt like I had come to terms with the abuse but, reflecting on it, I’ve never been able to have a proper, lasting relationship.
I went through a period when I was a bit younger of having lots of casual sexual encounters with guys I met in clubs and pubs. None of it meant anything to me and it wasn’t a happy time in my life.
I haven’t told my boyfriend about any of this stuff but if things carry on the way they are, I know I’ll need to have some answers. Any advice?
The first thing that’s apparent to me is that you haven’t dealt properly with the abuse you suffered. If you haven’t had counselling to help you work through that buried anger and all those complex emotions, then I think you should.
Understandably, you’re nervous of giving your whole self to another person after what happened to you – you’re not going to trust someone easily. But your boyfriend sounds
like a good guy, so you may be selling him short.
How do you know this will scare him off? At least it’ll give him an explanation as to why you’re backing away from sex. Right now, I imagine he’ll just be confused and might think it has something to do with him.
If you really like him, then trust him with the truth. You don’t have to blurt it all out in one go, but start by explaining there are reasons why you’re nervous about being intimate with him.
If he can’t handle it, then he’s not the right guy for you. Nothing that happened in the past was your fault and you mustn’t feel ashamed or guilty.
My own family was affected by abuse, so I understand how hard it is to talk about it, even years later. But opening up to a therapist and your partner could be a real breakthrough in terms of you being able to heal and move on with your life.
You can also get in touch with the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (napac.org.uk; 0808 801 0331), which offers help to adult survivors of all types of
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