I am 25, my girlfriend of a year 27 & from the other side of the world – New Zealand. I care for her & love her dearly, I want to spend the rest of my life with her. She’s my fish. I am immigrating to Auckland this year so that we can be together. With this in mind we both agreed that we should know about each others sexual history. We talked on the phone about all sorts of things, both very open about our pasts which was great. She just seemed to be holding back a little. Then last night, via text, she explained briefly why.
When she was at university she was raped by her then flatmate, she went into denial telling none & going into her shell, her “happy place” as she calls it. Since then it has happened on two further occasions with different men but all in the same situations. People she thought were good friends but who took advantage & betrayed her trust. They disappeared once they’d unlawfully got what they wanted.
My feelings for her haven’t changed, in fact I feel a lot closer to her now then I ever have before which in essence is great but the situation isn’t. She’s been in denial for many years now, forgetting that these instances ever happened & I don’t believe this is good for either of us. I want to help, I’m here for her yet I don’t know what I can do to help her deal with this & move on. I just feel helpless, all I can do is be a sounding board.
This is a big burden for me to bare on my own, I will if that is what she wants but I think in the long run she needs to talk to somebody else. I want to do the right thing by her, I want to be together, yet I don’t know what that will be. Who can I turn to for help as she dosen’t want family or friends to know? What should I do? How should I deal with this?
Rape is a devastating experience, for women and for men too. As I think you’ve realised, it’s not about the sex but the loss of trust and control and belief in yourself. Going into denial is a common reaction and it says a lot for the trust she has for you that she has told you. You’re right that, especially now she’s taken you into her confidence and brought this out into the open between you, she needs to talk about it, and so do you.
However apparently successfully people repress traumas such as these, they have away of intruding and affecting lives and loves. So it’s not something to brush back under the carpet. And you need to get hold of your reactions before you find your own pain at what has happened to her overwhelming you, and coming between you. Sharing this together is fine but it’s something that really needs a professional and an outsider to contain the fear and anger and guide you both to dealing with it. So – tell her what you feel. That you want to help, love her as before if not more and feel closer than ever. And that you would like to support her in seeking help.
Suggest she contacts Auckland Rape Crisis, (Crisis Phone Auckland 09 366 7213)
Get a hold of your own feelings of frustration and helplessness by getting in touch with your local Rape Crisis Centre to see if they can help – some do, some don’t. Or ask your GP for a referral to a counsellor. Even if she puts off speaking to them, don’t let that stop you getting your own support.