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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Marital Sexual Abuse

Written by  Dr. Louise Klein

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

I am a 32-year female. I have been married to my husband now for five years. But I have lived with him over 10 years. And he knows all my problems and fears. See, when I was about five or six, one of my uncles and one of my mom's cousins did some ugly sexual things to me. And it caused a lot of problems for me. And the cousin did the things to me while I was sleeping. And this went on for a long time. So my husband knows this. And I have shared with him how things trigger the nightmares for me. I have pleaded with him to understand.

Well for about two or three years now I have been catching him doing sexual stuff to me while I am sleeping. And I wake up frightened. And then I lose a little respect for him more and more every time. I now just can't have sex with him because the respect is not there. But I love my husband so much. But the disrespect that he shows me just takes a little of that love everyday. I now want to just not sleep in the same bed with him. It hurts deep.

How do I handle this? I can't talk to him, because we have already. I have begged him to stop. I am just falling out of love for him because of this. I don't understand why he feels it needs to be done. It's like he doesn't care or like he does it on purpose.

Its not like we don't have sex because we do, and a lot. I don't understand. I did not marry him to treat me like a piece of trash. That's the feeling I get when he does this to me. I cry myself to sleep after he does this to me. I would rather divorce him than to be reminded every night how those family members took my childhood away from me. It's hard to deal with this even now that I am an adult. Then to have to deal with my own husbands disrespect. It's almost like he is doing the same to me. LIKE HE IS RAPING ME. WHY?I am his wife. I just cry thinking about it.

ADear Abused Wife,

You have real insight into how your past is continuing to affect you. Now is the time to get some help to put the past behind you so that you can deal with the present.

I would sincerely recommend that you find a therapist who specializes in treating adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Let me suggest a couple of ways that you could find someone. First, you can ask your family physician or clergy person if they could recommend a therapist. There's also an organization called Incest Survivor's Anonymous. You can check your phonebook for a local branch of this organization. Call local colleges that have a psychology department and ask if they have a student-staffed clinic.

If you feel comfortable discussing your situation with close friends you may be surprised to find that they could also recommend therapists.

Go online or check out your local bookstore to find some books that can guide you through this process. Check the self-help section of the psychology department. It should reassure you to know that there are stages that you'll go through and that putting this behind you is really possible.

As a psychologist I see how often people find themselves in a situation that is so much like their childhood trauma. We don't consciously choose to repeat painful experiences but these situations come back time and again unless we deal with them. And I want you to know that you did nothing as a child to invite that abuse, just as you do not deserve to be abused now. A therapist would help you to sort through the issues with your husband and set boundaries with him. What he is doing to you in your sleep is considered rape in many places.

Because I don't know you and your husband personally, I'm afraid that I'm not in a position to give you more specific advice. But I hear the pain in your voice and I urge you to get psychological counseling. Your self-esteem is understandably low because of your childhood experiences. You need emotional support to deal with your situation. But most of all, you deserve to be treated with decency and respect by everyone in your life but especially by your husband.

Dr. Louise Klein

Last modified on Thursday, 12 January 2012 13:54
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Dr. Louise Klein

Dr. Louise Klein

Louise Klein was born on the West Coast of Canada but lived for many years in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Widener University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Louise Klein is an experienced therapist in insight-oriented talk therapy. She has worked with individuals, couples and groups for many years. Her experience with families includes stepfamilies, adoptive families, nuclear families and families dealing with illness or death. Dr Klein is also trained in thought field therapy and regression therapy and has taught and worked internationally. Louise Klein lives in a rural community with her husband and St. Bernard and has a stepdaughter in college in New England.

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