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My wife recently "came out" to me about adolescent sexual abuse
November 5, 2019
10:48 am
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November 5, 2019
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Hi, and thank you in advance for reading this.

My wife and I started counseling about 6 months ago for help with conflicts regarding extended family (mainly on her side). She told me a long time ago that her stepfather talked to her in graphic detail about an encounter he had with a prostitute when she was 17. Since we started the counseling, she has shared other details of her adolescence, between ages 13 and 17, with me. Each has been more dramatic and troubling and honestly I'm having a hard time being as supportive as I would like to be because I get so emotional about what she's telling me.

The first revelation was that her stepfather had touched her in an intimate way when she was 13. I was horrified by this but based on how uncomfortable she is with intimacy, I had always wondered if there was more to his abuse than the one conversation she'd told me about. So it wasn't terribly shocking, just sad and of course I was very angry that it had happened at all.

The next revelation was somewhat devastating to me. She had led me to believe that her first sexual experience was with her ex-husband, whom she started dating at 19. However, one night after we made love she innocently, almost teasingly it seemed to me, asked "Did I ever tell you how I lost my virginity?" Right off the bat I was nervous. Then she told me it was with her dance teacher when she was 17. She told me she was not raped, but that it was "not consensual" and that she started dating him AFTER the encounter. It was just so completely contrary to everything she had indicated about her sexual history that I felt very confused and somewhat betrayed. She has since shared other details that are also far from how she had previously described her adolescence.

As I said, I find all this very confusing. Clearly she was abused in multiple ways by her stepfather. She describes her relationship with the dance teacher as sexual abuse, as well. I am trying really hard to empathize but my default, true internal reaction is confusion, anxiety and fear that she misled me intentionally because she didn't want me to think poorly of her somehow. To be honest, had she been open from the beginning, or had not portrayed things differently from actual events I would have found it much easier to be supportive. We have big blowups every time there's a new revelation, and then slowly we come back together to be comforting to each other but the anxious, nauseous feeling in my gut just does not go away.

Has anyone had similar experiences, in either role? I want to be strong with her and for her, I want us to get past the damage to our marriage, and I want to help her heal in any way I can but I can't get my own feelings out of the way so far.

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