How To Help A Sexually Abused Partner
“She’s always told me I have something to tell you but she will burst into tears and I will tell her baby take your time,” Timi Dakolo said during a press conference in which he reacted to his wife’s rape allegation against the senior pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, Biodun Fatoyinbo.
Bukola Dakolo accused Fatoyinbo of raping her when she was a choir member in his growing church; she was 17 years old at the time.
At least one in four women and one in six men were sexually abused as children. [The female pronoun shall be used in this article because women are the major victims of sexual abuse.]
Sexual abuse affects the emotional development of the victim. Later in life, victims of sexual abuse often struggle through relationships. Here are some of the challenges that an abused partner may have:
Betrayal of trust
An adult who has been sexually abused as a child is most likely to have trust issues, especially if the abuser was a person she cared about.
An abused child may be afraid to let anyone know her secret and too ashamed to let anyone get close. She learns how to behave as though everything is fine while keeping her true thoughts and feelings hidden.
Sexual abuse interferes with normal sexual development.
Instead of growing up to experience the body as a source of pleasure, your partner may have experienced it as a source of pain. She may think of sex as a form of control rather than an expression of love. As a result, she might withdraw from sex or use sex as a way to get power or affection.
Here is what you can do to help your partner
This is probably the most important step. Listen. A victim of sexual abuse might find it difficult to express her pains or feelings, even more so in a new relationship. There is an emotional barrier she forms around herself which you cannot break down. Listen to her and slowly watch the barrier dissolve.
Listening also means being patient. Let her take her time to come around. Be a trusted friend. Be there for her when she wants to talk, provide company when she wants it, and respect her privacy when she wants it.
Your partner needs to know she is not alone. However, this is not an opportunity to control the situation. Help through her decisions. Together, decide how best to deal with the abuse; whether to go into counselling, whether to join a support group, and whether to take some kind of action against the abuser.
If you try to interfere, she’ll feel that once again someone is trying to control her life. If her family tries to influence what she does, you can help by supporting her decisions.
For some victims, sexual activities may trigger repressed memories. She may want to avoid sexual activity or even ask for temporary sexual abstinence. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love you. Take time to understand her and her body.