“Dear Dr. Eve,
I was horribly abused as a child. My father just was not around and my
mother was strict. She treated me differently than my brother, she gave him
more respect and privileges.
When I told my mother that her father/my grandfather was sexually
abusing me she told me I was imaging it and warned me not to talk
about it again as it would upset the whole family.
I was raped when I was 16 years old and no one believed me – I went to
the police and they said that my boyfriend was just loving me. I went to
the Clinic to get an HIV/AIDS and pregnancy test done and when I told
them that I think I was raped, they said I was just trying to get out of
my own trouble for wanting sex.
Now I am married to a man who I think is sexually abusing me too. He
criticizes me sexually because I cannot do certain sexual acts, and he
insists on sexual activity knowing I have sexual pain. He also pressures
me to have threesomes.
How do I become a better sexual person for my husband?
DR EVE REPLIES :
Abuse and the resultant trauma can feel relentless, cant it ?! Once begun
in childhood it sticks throughout your life. It challenges your ability to
feel safe in your body and in the world. It makes it difficult to trust
yourself, value yourself and even respect yourself.
And as a result of this, it makes it really difficult to make healthy positive
choices for yourself .. especially when it comes to choosing intimate
I want to commend you. Not just for surviving your rough childhood,
rape, and now an abusive marriage. I commend you for reaching out for
help .. it is such a brave action to take.
And yet you were once again abused by the system.
The police and the clinic sisters neglected you. They are part of the
reason why abuse continues for women, all people identifying as women,
and most specifically trans and gender diverse people. The disbelief, slut
shaming, blaming, and denying of your story of abuse allow abuse to
continue. No wonder we have so many people in our country
You were traumatized by your mother’s neglect, the neglect that was
probably there before your grandfather abused you. In fact, the most
traumatic injury of your life is just this: your mother’s neglect of you.
Predators are razor-sharp aware of people’s neglect and use this to their
advantage. They know there is no one watching your back. They see
your vulnerability and hone in on it.
Right now your husband is doing the same: he knows there is no one
watching your back so he abuses you.
Abuse is always a combination of CONTROLLING tactics. The combination
includes sexual, emotional, psychological, physical, economic abuse. It
may be difficult for you to identify as being abused – it can feel shaming,
blaming, disloyal to loved ones.
So how about checking in and asking yourself if you have felt abandoned,
neglected, invisible in your family relationships, friendships, intimate
partnerships, and now marriage. If YES, you have a right to be free of the
abuse you are suffering.
Perhaps you have once again tried reaching out to your community but
they make you feel the same way – unseen, unheard, not believed,
shamed. You need support to manage your situation.
Anonymous, your husband is exercising sexual controlling tactics over
you, and he most likely controls other areas of your life too. You have no
responsibility to be a “better sexual partner” to him.
What you need is support from your community. I am however not
hopeful that you will receive the kindness, compassion, respect that you
are so needing.
It is my firm belief that communities and families keep violence alive :
they tolerate and overlook it, deny and not speak to it, protect it and get
lawyers and judicial systems to fight for it, they suppress and normalize
it and in fact support the perpetrators who generally lack accountability.
Find yourself a support system via an NGO, a therapist, and SAVE MONEY
for the day you are able to leave and have a place to go.”