If you’ve discovered that your husband, boyfriend or son has been a victim of sexual abuse while growing up, it’s important to keep this an open topic. Daily activities might be difficult, f.ex; closeness, sex, shame, feeling of being inferior, anger, frustration, violence and drug abuse. Sexually abused men while growing up are often food at hiding their trauma, but are very sensitive in different spaces and should be met with humility and understanding.
Encourage him to seek help if he’s got major problems.
As a next of kin you can call a help center (you can stay anonymous) to ask for help and advice.
A sexually abused male will often feel alone with their experience and the shame/guilt can be very difficult to share with others. Building trust and confidence will take a lot of time, do not pressure him and let him control the pace of the conversation. Listen, be curious and don’t be judgmental.
He’s not alone with his experiences and it’s not his fault (this should be stated clearly).
If you as a woman have suspicions about your husband, boyfriend or son have been sexually assaulted, but he keep quiet, this could be for a number of reasons; shame, guilt, impotence.
Approach him carefully and calmly about it, show curiosity and be open. Much trust and confidence is required for a victim to tell their story. Be patient!
Remember that 85% in cases of abuse is caused by people in close relations. When a father, mother, uncle, aunt, a neighbor, the coach etc. is the abuser it becomes very difficult to talk about the assault which happened during growing up.
Most importantly; do not give up! There’s hope and help, but things take time.
I’ve been married to a great man for 17 years
I’ve been married to a great man for 17 years. Little did I know about his secret when we met, and it would take many years before I got to know what happened when he was just 7 years old.
I felt early on that something was amiss. He was so much different from the other men I’ve been together with and a lot didn’t fit the image of how a man should be like. Most of it went on sexuality. He never took the initiative to sex, when we had sex I felt he never was himself and didn’t give of himself. When this happens a lot, as a woman, I felt that it was something wrong with me. Maybe he didn’t get turned on by me anymore. I kept these thought for myself for a long time and sex life dabbed of. I tried some times to talk calmly about it, but I noticed sex was a topic he steered away from. He felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. Friendly sex jokes among his friends were something he also didn’t participate in.
Physical contact was also a struggle, it was difficult to show affection with others nearby. If someone gave him a hug or touched him off guard, he would be startled and react negatively.
After a while I confronted him about why he would be as he was when it was about sex. I straightforwardly asked him if he had some bad experiences with sex. I recall him getting angry and didn’t want to talk about it. I brought it up periodically and our conversation lasted longer after each time, until he revealed his whole story. The story about a 7 year old boy, who was being abused by his female teacher and the school’s janitor. It was incredibly painful listening to his story, which he carried for 34 years. Nobody was to know, he was threatened by both of them. Despite the pain of hearing his story, a lot of pieces came together. Things made sense now. In addition to the sexual, he struggled with a low self-esteem and had a short temper.
It helped him a lot by talking, the weight lifted of his shoulders. There was finally someone who could listen and know about it. He knew he had the need to talk, his days were heavy, I was there for him. It’s important that relatives are there for each other. Let him talk when he wants, let him control the pace, let him end the conversation. Do not pressure or nag him. He must feel safe and feel the confidence. I was searching the internet for information and I did a lot of reading. I contacted a man who had experiences the same as my husband. Someone who was so much further in the process.
We had many talks about getting help, but my husband wouldn’t consider the option for a long time. He only had the ability to open himself up to me. Though I knew he needed professional help, I didn’t pressure or nag him about it. One day he decided to contact one of the support centers by himself. Before this I went to the support center for my own sake, to let out the thoughts I had and to get advice on handling the situation. This had been a great help.
My husband had three sessions with the support center and that’s currently enough. He’s gotten tremendous benefits from it. I’ve noticed how much the sessions have been rewarding for him, he’s well on his way now. Being able to place the fault on the responsible ones, casting away the shame, knowing he’s not alone had been a tremendous help.
It has been tough on me. Many times before I knew the truth, I wanted to pack my bags and leave. Although times have been tough and there’s still many issues to work out, I’m happy to know the truth and happy to stay. Life has gotten easier, we can now carry the burden together and I’ll be there for him. He’s got someone to talk to, also at night when the worst of thoughts comes.
If you have a suspicious about a relative being abused, carefully engage him into a conversation. If at first you don’t succeed, take a break and try again later.
Be there for him on his terms.
Encourage him to seek help, do not pressure or nag.
Talk calmly and show interest.
Contact a support center if you need to talk with someone, or find others in your situation.
It’s tough and nothing is a dance on roses, but there is help out there and hope. At the same time it’s important to know that your life isn’t supposed to be built around him. Don’t forget about taking care of yourself. Be sure to live your own life
It’s a long road, but it is easier with two.
We’ve grown so much closer and we have it good.
Thanks to my good, strong and safe husband- and thanks to all who helped
Yesterday I went to the Østlandske lærerstevne. There were many conferences to choose from, one in particular caught my eye; it was about sexual abuse and the speaker was the woman I was listening to nine years earlier. It was her who I spoke with after my husband told me his story, when it all was a secret and no help centers wanted to help or talk with me. That conversation nine years ago meant very much to me. I had to say thanks.
After the conference I thanked her: “You probably don’t remember me, but you’ve made a big impact in my life. Nine years ago you had a conference here for teacher students, I was one of them. After that my husband told me he was sexually abused as a child and youth. I really needed someone to talk with, but no help centers had the time or opportunity. I called in desperation and you took the time to talk. That meant a lot to me. I just have to say thank you!”
She asked me how we’ve been and I could say we’re doing good now. Well, true we’ve had our ups and downs, sometimes very difficult. But now it’s good, mostly good. The first year we experienced some turbulence, most of it was good, but some days were very tough. I kept the pressure on, I wanted the bad things on the front line, and he shut himself in and didn’t want to talk. We got married and I got pregnant. Now it had to come out. We wouldn’t allow our child to meet the assaulter. There was a long and heavy period of time. I would’ve given anything to see my husband smile with his eyes during the following two years. Fortunately there were many good moments. The support center for men subjected to abuse was one of them. There was a lot of help to get, group therapies and having someone to talk to, at the time for him to be ready. Help and support in connection with the reporting of abuse. Thank you to everyone who works there, you’ve been invaluable!
The second highlight was our family. They’ve been fantastic! Everyone believed my husband, everyone gave their support. Thank you all!
The last hightlight was when the bad moments came to an end. When my husbands’ abuser confessed and it was put into settlement. The fault was palced. Things just got better after that.
It was difficult to see my husband struggle, how he had to open up and share all the bad things which had been locked inside for so long. I was scared and sad, would I ever have my husband back? Would he be happy again?
Now it’s been five years since he’s been in contact with the support center and told the family about the attack, things are going well. The last three years have been very good and things are just getting better. My husband is happy and can talk about the bad experiences without withdrawing. He’s been contributing to this website, he’s been in the ministries and fronted cases of abuse. He’s been on NrK morgennytt and held conferences. He’s using his experience to make a difference. Most importantly: he’s smiling with his eyes! He’s the world’s best husband, my best friend and supporter. He’s the greatest father, a safe, clear and playful adult. We’re a happy family of four. Thank you my beloved husband, for pulling through the difficult times, so you could become whole again and be happy together. You’re the strongest man in the world (except Pippi Longsticking’s dad, as our daughter say) and I am so proud of you. Thank you for being mine!