Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

How does past rape, molesting, or other sexual abuse effect future marriage?
MarshalC
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Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby MarshalC » Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:22 pm

Please help me figure out how to help her and not say or do the wrong thing. I love this woman more than I've ever loved anyone in my life and I plan a long happy life with her, and she's so upset right now and I don't know what to do.

The history is this - we've been engaged 9 months, together for a year and a half. Our wedding is in three weeks. Although we are both Christians, she was definitely raised to be more devout/conservative than I was. I did not wait for marriage, for her, for sexual contact. When I met her and fell in love with her, I knew waiting was part of the deal and I was happy to do that for her and I've been grateful that she's helped turn me away from that sort of sin. She told me she was a virgin and wanted to save that for marriage. Yesterday she told me she'd lied to me, that she's not a virgin, that she's had crushing guilt over this "lie" and needed to tell me before we got married so I could back out if I wanted to.

It turns out she was raped when she was a teenager. I'm shocked and angry, but not at her - at the monster who did this to her and, honestly, her family for making her feel like she had to hide it and be ashamed of it (she was basically told that she shouldn't tell any future prospects, including me, because they wouldn't want a woman who was "tainted" that way. I'm having a really hard time not causing a scene with her parents over this, but I won't because I know it would just make her feel worse and not solve anything). Obviously, I don't consider this a lie, though I do wish she'd told me sooner. (And, honestly, even if she'd lied about a consensual sexual past, I would not be considering ending the relationship.) Not so I could back out, but because I want to do what's best for her and make sure I treat her with as much understanding and sensitivity as I can.

I know she had some counselling, but considering what she was told by her parents, I really question the quality of it. I want to urge her to see someone else soon because I imagine getting married might bring things up for her? I'm also really concerned about what this means for our future sex life. I don't mean that in a selfish way - I just don't want to hurt her. I really wish I'd known sooner because we could have gone to counseling or something together and now I feel like we're barrelling toward the wedding night without any kind of plan. She didn't really want to share any details about what happened with me because she doesn't want me to have pictures in my mind of her in that situation, which I can understand, but I'm really worried about doing something the first time we make love that scares her.

I know it can't be perfect but I want it to feel healthy and good and loving for her and I realize now that some of the anxiety she's expressed about our starting that aspect of our lives together is more than just normal first time fear of the unknown jitters but maybe some real fear thrown in. I guess I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice on where to go from here. What I've done so far is just try to reassure her that I love her, that I want to marry her, that I don't feel betrayed, or that she's less worthy of my love because of this. I think those are all the right things, but it doesn't feel like enough. What I really want to do for her is something no one can do, which is make it so she never had to endure it in the first place.

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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby doug-h » Sat Jul 02, 2016 3:18 am

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage.

It seems like you have your head on right about this, so about the only thing I can tell you is to let her take the lead on how to deal with it. It is impossible to know anything at this point without that. Give her a safe place to work thru things, and watch for signs that she may be struggling. A little bit of struggle is probably to be expected, but it doesn't necessarily spell out failure. She may be well into her healing from it. Truth is she probably doesn't even know, herself.

Counseling or a group might be beneficial, but not if she is feeling pressured to attend. That would only serve to tell her that you believe she is damaged.

I guess what I am saying for now, is to not borrow trouble. It is good that you are concerned and compassionate. You are right to have not confronted her parents. That wasn't your place, yet.... I'm sure they were misguided, but only had her interests at heart. The truth is that despite their advice, your fiance followed her own conscience and told you It sounds like she has a pretty good grip on things, so unless there is reason, there is no point in revisiting her parents advice.

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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby IM_a_Farmwife » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:30 am

I'm guessing that your FW will needs to sort out the fact that sex is to be good between the two of you, as God intended. Big time. I was barely 16 when I was raped. I was a virgin. I felt like damaged goods for a long time. I did not get married until I was 27. During that period of time, I worked on me. I got to the point that I felt like I was no longer damaged goods...correction, I felt really good about myself. It was already in me, I just had to find it. I also was not following the Lord at that time. Long story, but now I am a devout follower.

I am wary of the fact that your FW's parents buy into the idea that their daughter is "damaged goods". I even find that, well, repulsive. Be prepared to have some work ahead of you. Your FW is a product of her environment. We all are. Take your time with her. Give her the space she needs to feel comfortable and safe with her body. Help her remove the shame. It might even take more counseling. Yes, it's true that things happen to us, but it doesn't have to ruin the future. You have 50+ years to have sex. I would suggest that you wait until she's comfortable. Counseling is a must if you aren't able to consummate the marriage. I would mention this gently but firmly before you get married. Remind her that you are on her side.

Farmer and I have a extraordinary marriage. Even with all my baggage that I brought into it, it still worked out. Almost all of my issues have been worked out. Farmer still can't "take me" in the middle of the night without me being fully awake and aware. That's the only thing for us that still lingers from my past. I shared almost no details about the rape to Farmer. All he knows is that I prefer he not "take me" when I'm sleeping and groggy.

Congrats on your future marriage!

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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby happilymarriedkate » Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:04 am

In the time you have been dating and engaged have you sensed that she has no sex drive, is turned off by touch, is fearful of advances? Did you discuss the wedding night before you had this info? How did that go?

I don't think this should be ignored simply because the wedding is fast approaching. Can you talk to a pastor? You should be able to get in to see a counselor at least twice before the wedding and possibly schedule another visit for a month out of the wedding to follow up. I think you need support in place now. Even if she seems comfortable with knowing she is entering into a sexual relationship with you, she still may not be prepared for feelings she has after she has sex for the first time since the rape.

I am praying for you both.
~HM Kate

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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby ledgemoor » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:54 am

Hi. Glad that she told you. Going against her parents to do the right thing speaks well for her.

Please help her understand that she is not damaged goods. She IS still a virgin in all but the most technical aspect. No one would consider a married woman who was raped to be an adultress.

She will be sharing her heart only with you, and will be giving her body only to you.
Everything you ever wanted in life is just outside your comfort zone (Jamie Lee Curtis)

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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby Unfulfilled » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:22 am

A book to consider reading for you is: "When the woman you love has been abused." By Dawn Scott Jones.

It is written for husbands. It deals with this woman's experience having been sexually abused as a child. Granted a little different event. But sexual trauma/abuse whether childhood or forces me rape has or results in much the same behavioral responses and side effects etc. the author has spent most of her life since in the mission to help women that have been abused. It is not purely a Christian book. But she clearly. Talks about God and faith and the importance etc. mothers was nothing on it that I recall that would in any way be against Biblical principles or beliefs.

Again it is written for husbands and how her sexual trauma effects YOU. And how or what things to do to support her. And what things to avoid or understand if you see those behaviors in her.

I was able to order it from Barnes and noble book store but is also available on Amazon.

I think it would be ONE tool for you.

I also agree to get together for counseling FAST! She may be taking the wedding night too lightly thinking she has this under control. But she also has not been faced. Directly face to face with sexual situation like she will encounter on wedding night. So she is going into the unknown. Having BOTH of you on the same page and some realistic possibilities that could happen to help prepare and not be frightened or angry etc if they do occur. Fear is largely a function of the unknown. The better you can anticipate, the less unknown there will be for the both of you. And this the better chance of success. With however you both define is success.

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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby MarshalC » Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:28 pm

Thank you everyone for listening and offering advice and encouragement.

IM_a_Farmwife wrote:
I am wary of the fact that your FW's parents buy into the idea that their daughter is "damaged goods". I even find that, well, repulsive. Be prepared to have some work ahead of you. Your FW is a product of her environment. We all are. Take your time with her. Give her the space she needs to feel comfortable and safe with her body. Help her remove the shame. It might even take more counseling. Yes, it's true that things happen to us, but it doesn't have to ruin the future. You have 50+ years to have sex. I would suggest that you wait until she's comfortable. Counseling is a must if you aren't able to consummate the marriage. I would mention this gently but firmly before you get married. Remind her that you are on her side.

Farmer and I have a extraordinary marriage. Even with all my baggage that I brought into it, it still worked out. Almost all of my issues have been worked out. Farmer still can't "take me" in the middle of the night without me being fully awake and aware. That's the only thing for us that still lingers from my past. I shared almost no details about the rape to Farmer. All he knows is that I prefer he not "take me" when I'm sleeping and groggy.


Yes, it really bothers me that they bought into that idea, and sold it to her, too. The church I attend, and that she now attends with me, is a lot more liberal when it comes to addressing sexuality. That's not to say sexual sin isn't acknowledged and discouraged, but it's treated more like sin in general - that you can be forgiven and move forward and do better and aren't damaged irreparably by mistakes you've made in that department. Not that my fiancee needs any forgiveness for what happened to her - I just think an environment that doesn't treat sex so shamefully can only help someone who has been sexually abused or raped. Her parents and I get along well enough, but I know they wish she had chosen someone more conservative and in line with their beliefs and aren't happy that she left their church to worship with me. They have pretty strong, rigid feelings about gender roles in marriage, though, which I think helps them deal with that. If she marries me, they think I get to be in charge of choices like where we worship. In any case, it is going to be difficult to be civil to them for awhile, but I'll do it. I suspect requests for help with that are going to dominate my prayers for a bit.

Also, thank you for letting me know that things are good between you and your husband. I'm sorry you had to go through that, but it's good to see you're doing well.

happilymarriedkate wrote:In the time you have been dating and engaged have you sensed that she has no sex drive, is turned off by touch, is fearful of advances? Did you discuss the wedding night before you had this info? How did that go?

I don't think this should be ignored simply because the wedding is fast approaching. Can you talk to a pastor? You should be able to get in to see a counselor at least twice before the wedding and possibly schedule another visit for a month out of the wedding to follow up. I think you need support in place now. Even if she seems comfortable with knowing she is entering into a sexual relationship with you, she still may not be prepared for feelings she has after she has sex for the first time since the rape.

I am praying for you both.

She has never seemed fearful of being touched or seemed uncomfortable or afraid of me. We've really only kissed, held hands, hugged - that sort of thing. Since I've always known that waiting was important for her, I've tried to make sure that I don't take things far enough that she feels the need to ask me to stop. I never wanted her to think her willpower was the only thing keeping us from going too far. In retrospect, I'm really glad I kept my head enough for that to mostly be the way it's been (there have been a couple of times where I got a little too caught up and she had put on the brakes, but it's mostly been me doing that). In any case, she seems like she desires me sexually and has said (both in previous conversations and since she told me about her past) that she looks forward to starting the sexual part of our life together after we're married. As I said, she has at times seemed anxious and apprehensive, but it's never been anything I saw as out of the ordinary for someone who isn't very sexually experienced. We haven't had a lot of detailed talks about how things would go, but the plan was, and as far as I'm concerned still is, to take things at her pace since I do have previous sexual experience and things will be new for her. I think it's probably even more important now.

You're right that we should probably see someone as soon as we can. If not before the wedding, to have something set up for not long after we get back from our honeymoon. I'll talk to her about it and maybe make some calls on Tuesday when places are open again. I might be able to see if our pastor can at least sit down and chat with us for a bit between now and the wedding.

ledgemoor wrote:Hi. Glad that she told you. Going against her parents to do the right thing speaks well for her.

Please help her understand that she is not damaged goods. She IS still a virgin in all but the most technical aspect. No one would consider a married woman who was raped to be an adultress.

She will be sharing her heart only with you, and will be giving her body only to you.

Thank you for putting it that way. It really is of no importance to me whether she's a virgin or not, technically or otherwise. I'm not and I would never try to hold her to a standard I wasn't able to live up to myself and judge her for it, even if she had made the choice to have sex before we met like I did. But it's obviously something important to her and she really hates that she' was unable to live up to this ideal. Maybe if she can see it like you put it, in terms of it not being adultery, it will help.

Unfulfilled wrote:A book to consider reading for you is: "When the woman you love has been abused." By Dawn Scott Jones.

It is written for husbands. It deals with this woman's experience having been sexually abused as a child. Granted a little different event. But sexual trauma/abuse whether childhood or forces me rape has or results in much the same behavioral responses and side effects etc. the author has spent most of her life since in the mission to help women that have been abused. It is not purely a Christian book. But she clearly. Talks about God and faith and the importance etc. mothers was nothing on it that I recall that would in any way be against Biblical principles or beliefs.

Again it is written for husbands and how her sexual trauma effects YOU. And how or what things to do to support her. And what things to avoid or understand if you see those behaviors in her.

I was able to order it from Barnes and noble book store but is also available on Amazon.

I think it would be ONE tool for you.

I also agree to get together for counseling FAST! She may be taking the wedding night too lightly thinking she has this under control. But she also has not been faced. Directly face to face with sexual situation like she will encounter on wedding night. So she is going into the unknown. Having BOTH of you on the same page and some realistic possibilities that could happen to help prepare and not be frightened or angry etc if they do occur. Fear is largely a function of the unknown. The better you can anticipate, the less unknown there will be for the both of you. And this the better chance of success. With however you both define is success.


Thank you for the book recommendation. As soon as I'm done posting, I'm going to go see if I can buy it to download to my kindle. Otherwise, I'll order a copy.

And yes, I do worry that she's prepared for what will happen between us than she thinks she is. Obviously I plan to be sensitive to her reactions and her needs, but I worry she won't tell me if something is bothering her until things go bad. Maybe things will go smoothly and we'll communicate well and be able to laugh if things are awkward and fix things that don't work for us and that's still my hope, but I feel like I need to be prepared - especially as the partner who hasn't suffered trauma and who has more sexual experience - for if things go poorly. We had already talked about how we might not get to the "main event" on our wedding night because the day will be a long one and we have to get up early to get to the airport the next day and we don't want to rush things. I think I just really need to plan on taking the whole thing really slow.

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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby ledgemoor » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:45 am

But it's obviously something important to her and she really hates that she' was unable to live up to this ideal.
But she DID live up to the ideal. That's my point. What happened to her is unfortunate of course, but this isn't her fault in any way, shape, or form. It's tempting to Monday-morning-quarterback this sort of thing, but she did the right thing when she was attacked. She is alive.
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Postby Job29Man » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:43 am

MarshalC wrote:Please help me figure out how to help her and not say or do the wrong thing. I love this woman more than I've ever loved anyone in my life and I plan a long happy life with her, and she's so upset right now and I don't know what to do.

The history is this - we've been engaged 9 months, together for a year and a half. Our wedding is in three weeks....I know she had some counselling, but considering what she was told by her parents, I really question the quality of it. I want to urge her to see someone else soon because I imagine getting married might bring things up for her? I'm also really concerned about what this means for our future sex life. I don't mean that in a selfish way - I just don't want to hurt her. I really wish I'd known sooner because we could have gone to counseling or something together and now I feel like we're barrelling toward the wedding night without any kind of plan. She didn't really want to share any details about what happened with me because she doesn't want me to have pictures in my mind of her in that situation, which I can understand, but I'm really worried about doing something the first time we make love that scares her.


Brother MarchalC,

Welcome to TMB. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. :D I really appreciate and admire the sensitive spirit and manly protective instincts that your writing shows. You will go far in life and marriage with that maturity!

I'm Job29Man, part of the Oversight Group, father of ten, husband of over 30 years ... businessman, pastor ... seen a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff. Here's some of the stuff I've learned; marriage is a challenging proposition even when all the fundamentals are great and each spouse brings zero baggage to the marriage and to the marriage bed. You probably thought you were in that situation, zero baggage, and now you've had a bomb dropped in your lap with a 'three week deadline' to figure things out. I've also learned (sometimes the hard way) that a man sometimes needs to do the difficult things that please no one, yet are best for everyone.

If I were in your shoes here's what I think I'd do. (Based on what you explained) I think I would pray about whether the date for this wedding needs to be reset. Why? You do NOT have time enough to work through together what probably needs to be processed before the wedding night. If you marry in three weeks, then you will "need" to have sex in three weeks, and I fear this could indeed cause more harm to you both and to the marriage. If you delay sex after marriage until the "time is right" after counseling, talking, processing, healing, etc then you will find yourself in a sexual institution but a celibate marriage. The spiritual cacophony that could create is much greater than the temporary pain of a rescheduled wedding date.

I propose you consider postponing the wedding, but not cancelling the engagement. Reaffirm you commitment to her, but let her know YOU need more time before the wedding, not to convince yourself or reassess whether you want to marry her, but to feel comfortable with the fact that she is healed, recovered, to the point that she can marry you and have a joyous wedding night, honeymoon, and first year of marriage (and beyond) with BOTH of you convinced that she is ready. (AGAIN assure her that you do NOT have doubts about marrying her).

I believe this could be the best LONG TERM solution. The pain of a 6-9 month postponement will be forgotten soon after you wed, but the damage that could be caused by marrying to soon for HER could be years or decades in the healing.

There are a hundred reasons you, she, and her family might be inclined to reject this counsel, but as the man in the marriage, YOU are the "protector." This may be the first act of protection you are called on to do. A thing that over three decades of marriage has taught me is to NEVER let anyone or anything rush me, or my wife, into important events and actions. It almost always comes back to give me regret.

Just my opinion brother.

Love to you both, and again congratulations!
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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby Unfulfilled » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:25 am

I would agree with ^^^

Super duper difficult with time money and effort and planning and invitations already sent etc.

But you do not want the possible fall out just because of PRIDE.

This is protection. And most people will believe that you are getting cold feet etc. and you will have to understand that you are doing this primarily as protecting HER. And protecting the long term marriage. And you will have to accept the burden of people casting aspirations at you and you will have to take the blame. Because I doubt that you will want to "out" your wife sexual trauma. Something she and her family have kept hidden and secret to the public.

You are put in a VERY difficult situation. The proverbial rock and a hard place.

I will pray for you in whatever you decide to do.

I wish you courage to make the correct choice for you, your bride and your marriage.

God bless you!

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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby Job29Man » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:37 am

And you owe NOBODY an explanation, except perhaps her parents and maybe your parents if they insist. If her parents fight it, don't back down, this is your marriage, not theirs.
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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby Ashbrown » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:32 pm

Hi MarshalC,

Your post inspired my first post ever on this board. I'm approaching your situation as a woman who has a similar history to that of your FW. I hope I can help provide a little perspective on what this all feels like from her point of view and the things you can do to help make things - your relationship, marriage, future love making - more comfortable and joyful for her. Before I say anything else, I want to say that the best person to answer most of your questions is your future wife. I'm NOT saying that you shouldn't be asking for guidance here, or that you shouldn't seek professional counseling and spiritual help, or (especially not saying) that you shouldn't pray and ask for God's help and guidance to make the right choices moving forward. I'm just saying that, despite similarities in the experiences of rape and sexual abuse survivors, the specifics of what she's experienced and those events have impacted her are going to be unique to her. Only she knows what she's thinking, what her fears and anxieties are, and what she's looking forward to in starting a life as your wife. So get outside help and counsel, but please don't forget to talk to her and listen to what she says, even if it's uncomfortable for one or both of you. Be sensitive to potential pitfalls as you become sexual with one another, but don't make assumptions about how she feels or what she might want to experience with you.

Secondly, having just read the last few posts, I'm going to neither recommend you postpone your wedding nor encourage you not to. But I think that if you have any doubt in your mind today that 3 weeks from now you'll be walking down the aisle, you need to postpone and you need to do it fast, today even. If you were a few months out from the wedding, I'd recommend taking a few days or a week to make that decision. But the closer you get to the "big day," the harder it will be on her to hear that you want to postpone. No matter when you do it or how nicely and kindly you do it or how much her best interest is your reasoning, it will likely initially feel to her that her worst fears in telling you are being realized, the worst fears that her parents have been filling her head with for however long it's been since this happened. She will probably view it as a prelude you you breaking the engagement as opposed to a postponement, no matter how fervently you reassure her that you aren't leaving her. I'm not saying that's a reason to go ahead and get married even if you think it would be better to wait - I just think you should understand how it will *feel* to her, even if she knows that you're making the right choice for the right reason. The sooner you decide to postpone, if that's what's going to happen, the sooner you will be able start building her up and demonstrating through your actions that you have no intention of abandoning her and making sure she knows that your decision isn't about the crime that was done to her but about having a strong and healthy foundation for the future. It's also likely that you'll be having to counteract a lot of "I told you so" type messages she'll be receiving from her family. Obviously, either one of you can cancel or postpone right up until the moment you make your vows - that's part of the point of an engagement. But if you have doubts, don't wait on them and hope they resolve. If the morning of the wedding you wake up and know you really should wait, there's a good chance you're going to just go ahead and get married despite your reservations because you don't want to hurt her or embarrass her or make people think you're a terrible person. You don't want to start a marriage like that. I would also add that, if you decide you want to postpone, go into the conversation with her with solid idea about how long you expect the postponement to be. Don't be vague here. As I said, she's going to feel like you're cancelling the engagement. Do you what you can to reassure her that you're not.

Now that I have that stuff out of the way, I'll tell you a little of where I'm coming from. I was also raped as a teenager. Like your wife, I was raised in a very conservative religious tradition. Sex was rarely discussed and when it was, there was a big dose of shame involved. A high premium was put on sexual purity, particularly among girls and women. In an attempt to convince young men not to try to pressure girls into sexual activity, they were taught that even consensual extramarital sex was akin to sexually assaulting a woman. I understand where they were going with this and believe that the intention behind these kind of messages was pure, but it was misguided. Girls were taught lessons about how no one wanted to chew the gum someone else had already chewed up and lessons about how you can flatten out a crumpled piece of paper, but it never looks new and fresh again. So that's how I felt after I was raped - like chewed gum no one would want. Like a crumpled up piece of paper. What it left me with was the feeling that what happened to me was the same on many levels as if I had given into the sin of lust. A few years ago, Elizabeth Smart (the Mormon girl who was abducted from her bedroom and forced to "marry" her captor) talked about the damage the "purity" lessons she received from her church did to her psyche as a survivor and contributed to her not fleeing even though she occasionally had the opportunity. I was not raised Mormon, but a lot of the lessons were similar/the same and certainly their affects were. I'm telling you this because if you don't come from a religious tradition that puts such importance on sexual purity you might not understand why her parents acted the way they did and why it took her so long to open up to you about this to you. I think the fact that you have her attending a much more open church is only going to help her in that regard and it might be why she found the strength to push aside the messages she's received her whole life and share her past with you. I understand your anger toward her parents, and I share some of it as I went through it with my own parents, but please try to be understanding of them and forgive them when you are able. They probably had her pest interests at heart, however misguided. The fact that I was raped was not something we were able to keep a secret and I saw first hand how I was treated by families within our community who had sons that might have been interested in courting me. It eventually drove me from church, from God. In the end, I chose sexual sin because I figured I was already lost, that no good Christian man would ever want me anyway, that I was unworthy of the love of God and of a good man. It sounds like your FW did not go in that direction, which is a blessing from God, it really is.

I met my husband around the time I turned back to God. We were married very quickly, in part because I knew I should wait to be with him sexually until we were married, but I was struggling. He knew about some of my sexual past and was okay with it, but didn't know about the rape. I just couldn't bring myself to tell him. I remembered how people looked at me when they knew, and I couldn't handle the idea of seeing that look in his eyes. And, yes, I had a fear that he wouldn't want me anymore. I realized even then that it was irrational - he knew I'd had consensual sex. He had had consensual sex with other women before meeting me. It made no sense that being a rape survivor would be the thing that made him back away slowly, but I still couldn't get past that fear. I couldn't trust that he was a good enough man to not blame me for it. It was a huge mistake not to tell him. Huge. Please, again and again, praise your FW for her honesty and the trust she's shown in you. On the surface, in the beginning, we had a really good, solid sex life. We learned to please each other. I didn't refuse his advances. I didn't shy away from his touch. But what I didn't predict was that there would be such a huge difference between the sinful sexual activities I engaged in and the loving, blessed, married sex I would have with my husband. I made me feel vulnerable in a way that I never had before and with that vulnerability came fear. And fear led to me erecting emotional walls that kept him out during love making and sometimes during nonsexual parts of marriage. Sometimes I couldn't handle the intensity of what happened between us, and I would go to another place during sex (If you do any reading about surviving sexual assault or go to counseling to help you move forward, you will probably learn about dissociation. That's what I'm talking about here. It's what can help a lot of women get through a sexual assault as it is happening, but it can cause problems in consensual sexual experiences when the mind "checks out." ). There was something between us that he sensed but couldn't identify and it started to damage us and our love for one another. Sometimes I had nightmares. Occasionally flashbacks, though oddly never when we were making love. When I finally told him, around 2 years into our marriage, he was more relieved than anything else, because so much made sense. It wasn't overnight, but counseling really did help. I started with individual counseling and then we added couples counseling a couple of months down the road. I asked my personal counselor to have him into one of our first sessions, though, so she could help give him ideas on how to talk to me about my experience and how to respectfully navigate sex going forward. Now, she might think she doesn't want counseling at this point. I think it's your right, and responsibility as someone who loves her, to push that issue. If she's fine and has nothing to work on in this department, seeing a counselor is not going to hurt. Maybe the counselor says, "Well, it looks like you have this handled! Good job!" If that's what happens, you guys are only out the expense of a copay or hourly rate. But if she could be helped by a qualified counselor and doesn't get that help, well, that comes at a greater cost to both of you. While others might disagree with me, when helping her find a counselor (and looking for one to counsel you individually or you both as a couple), I think it's more important that you find someone with a great deal of experience treating sexual assault survivors than finding one who counsels from a Christian perspective. A good counselor of any religious belief will take into account the beliefs of their clients when making advice and designing treatment plans but a Christian counselor without a lot of experience helping victims might not be able to offer the kind of practical advice the two of you need. Ideally, you'll find someone who is both strongly Christian and can relate to your FW on that level AND knows what she needs practically to help. But if you have to choose, get your spiritual counseling from your pastor and everything else from a secular practice, so long as they aren't discounting your and your FW's spiritual beliefs or suggesting sinful things as "therapy." if you check out rainn.org , you might be able to get a lead on experienced professionals in your area. If their practice is mainly dealing with the fallout of sexual abuse and rape, they likely have "emergency" appointments available to get a new patient in quickly for an initial assessment, even if you have to wait a few weeks before you can get on a regular schedule.

Well, I think I probably have more to say, but this is long and I think I've gone on long enough. You and your future wife will be in my prayers.

MarshalC
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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby MarshalC » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:37 pm

I wanted to give an update on how things are going for us.

First of all, Job and Unfulfilled, thank you for the advice. I understand why you're making the recommendation for postponing the wedding. This was, in fact, a subject of discussion both between my finacee and I and between the two of us and our Pastor and after that, we've decided to move forward as planned. I don't make that decision lightly - I think it's in the best interest of both of us and our life together not to postpone.

That said, I think she (and therefore we) is in a better state than I thought she was after our initial conversation about this. It was such a painful, difficult conversation that there were things I either missed or she never got to tell me. The most important of which was that, before she told me, she'd already called and booked an appointment with someone who specializes in rape trauma. Her being proactive about that is important to me. I would have helped her find someone to talk to if she'd wanted/needed me too, but it's comforting both that I didn't have to talk her into counselling and that she took control of the situation and found someone on her own. She has her first session starting in about 20 minutes, and we're going to meet after I get off work to chat. I've asked her to ask for recommendations for a couples counselor as well. Assuming she clicks with this person, she's hoping to get at least one more appointment in before the wedding. Ashbrown (first, thanks for you post), I saw that you said you invited your husband to one of your early sessions. Did he find that helpful? I wonder if it would be a good idea to see if I can join her for the next session.

I'm also encouraged that she took some of the questions I asked that she didn't want to or know how to answer initially and came back to me with answers. I feel like we're communicating really clearly here, even though it's been difficult. She told me she stood by her reticence to leave me with horrifying pictures in my head, but also thought I deserve to know anything I think I need to know. So she told me I can ask what I want and she'll do her best to answer. My biggest concern was who had hurt her. In our initial conversation, she only said that it was someone she knew, that it was violent, and that he was never prosecuted. I needed to know more about those circumstances because the guy is still out there and I need to make sure I can protect her - I mean, if it were a family member or someone she's likely to come in contact with, I wanted to make sure things were handled appropriately. I'm confident from her answers that, unless we return to her hometown for some reason (she no longer has any family there, so she has no desire to go back), running into him is unlikely. I didn't ask for any more specifics than that - just that she please spend some time thinking about if there's anything she would like me to avoid in our first lovemaking sessions and to let me know. I know she can't predict everything, but if she knows there's a particular sex act, position, certain words or phrases that she worries could cause an issue, I want to know so we can either choose not to go there at all or to approach them with a lot of caution. We spent the whole long weekend together, except the nights, and while we had some hard conversations they were productive and I think we're in a good place. She was able to be more open and frank with me than she ever has been in the past about her sexual desires and what she looks forward to trying and experiencing with me. We were able to touch, kiss, be as physically intimate as is permissible (so, not very :D ) for the next few weeks and it didn't feel like she was holding back or pushing through just to make me happy.

Ashbrown, thanks a lot for your perspective as a woman raised similarly to my finacee. It sounds very much like the upbringing/church environment she was raised in, at least in regard to sex and sexuality. I'm really sorry you had to go through this too. I'm glad you were able to find your way back into the fold of the Lord and find comfort in Him again and it sounds like you have also found a good man to help you. Thank you for the push to forgive her parents and see them in the best light possible. I'm not there yet, but I hope and pray that the Lord will bring me peace on this and compel me to act with love in the future. I'm marrying their daughter, who loves and honors them despite their flaws, and they will be family, so at some point I need to work on forgiving them for their part in this. At present, they don't know that she has disclosed any of this to me and I'm inclined to leave it that way for the foreseeable future, unless and until she decides she wants to talk to them about it.

Anyhow, thanks to all of you for listening and your advice (even when I don't take it - I do value it). I am open to hearing more suggestions, if anyone has anything else to offer.

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happilymarriedkate
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Re: Fiancee told me she is a rape survivor

Postby happilymarriedkate » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:55 pm

Kudos to your fiancée for helping herself! This is a great sign!! Great job being supportive and patient. I am so glad she will be getting two sessions in before the wedding. Beware that things may actually get worse before they get better...I hate to say that with only three weeks until the wedding but in may happen- re- telling/ re- living traumatic situations can do that.

I am very glad that you all are communicating well together. I will keep you both in prayer.
~HM Kate


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