Resources (books, articles, personal advice) on how best to support my boyfriend?

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oxytocin
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Resources (books, articles, personal advice) on how best to support my boyfriend?

Post by oxytocin » Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:38 pm

My boyfriend has recently opened up to me about the physical abuse he suffered at the hands of his father while growing up (my understanding is that the abuse was physical but not sexual). I've read through many of the posts here, especially the ones that reference being in a similar situation to mine, and I hope this one doesn't feel too repetitive (I apologize if it is).

I just want to preface my questions by saying that I 100% understand that I can't be his therapist or counselor, and I have no desire to try to "fix" him. I really am just looking for the best ways to love him through all of this, and to be the best possible partner I can be for him.

As he began opening up to me about what he experienced, I simply forced myself to listen and tried to be a safe space for him, validating his feelings and divorcing my own feelings and opinions from the conversation.
He's never talked to anyone about what he went through and so him opening up to me is something so precious and feels so fragile that I really don't want to fuck it up. I am generally a super open person and rely on a lot of different people in my life to help me process and work through things. I was in an abusive marriage in my early 20s and am very open and willing to talk about it. I only mention this to say that it's not my instinct to keep trauma in, but that I recognize his experience is so much deeper rooted than mine and is HIS so I really, really want to respect his privacy and confidence. Even posting on here feels like maybe it's betraying his trust a little (if any of you think that it is, then I will ask the Director to delete this post) but I can't seem to find the proper resources through my own internet searches and I feel that it would REALLY be betraying his trust to seek help from anyone in real life.

As I process the things he's told me, I feel like my heart is being torn out of my chest and I've actually been physically sick thinking about someone I love so much going through the things he did. I have not and will not express that to him as I would never ever want to burden him or make his pain about me. I'm not used to having to keep a secret of this magnitude and I don't know the best way to move forward in his confidence, while still maintaining my own mental health. I would love any advice on this, if possible.

A lot of dots were connected for me, in terms of some of his insecurities and small bouts of depression, when he told me about the abuse he survived. We've only really had two conversations about it, and those have both consisted of me listening quietly while holding his hand, him being very clear that he doesn't want to discuss what went on during the conversation again, and at one point me telling him how loveable he is and him getting angry and telling me not to say that (which on reflection, I totally understand--it felt, to him, forced and disingenuous, even though I was being totally genuine).

His father is still in his life, pretty regularly, and has, according to him, totally changed into a different person. He would like me to have a relationship with his dad which feels like a-whole-nother topic but is also obviously relevant here.

So, I'm wondering if there are any books or articles anyone could recommend to help me better understand who he as a person, how the trauma might affect how he interacts with me, and to learn how to best be his safe space? I would also really value and appreciate any personal advice from anyone reading this.
I should always let HIM bring it up when he's in the head space to talk, and not bring it up myself, right? During those conversations, can I ask him questions I have, or should I just let him share whatever he decides to divulge? If some questions are okay, are there some I should definitely stay away from (I would never ask for details about any of the abuse, I'd more like to ask questions about how he's feeling/what he's thinking during the periods of time that he feels overwhelmed by the memories, about his relationship with his dad now, about whether he's really processed his anger, etc.).

Thank you so much, in advance, and I apologize (please let me know) if I've said anything niave or offensive.

wolfspirit
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Re: Resources (books, articles, personal advice) on how best to support my boyfriend?

Post by wolfspirit » Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:06 am

oxytocin,
I don't have much to share on resources, but I know that YOU are probably his most important resource for healing. It sounds like you are already doing a lot to support him within your relationship.
Has he considered therapy to help him heal?

A therapist can help you find the best resources for you. Perhaps getting in contact with someone near you and telling him/her exactly what you've written here will help you find something.

I think it is so kind and compassionate to be there for someone who has been abused and has deep wounds that need to heal.

take care,

ws
Wounds are where the light enters you.
Rumi

oxytocin
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Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:14 pm

Re: Resources (books, articles, personal advice) on how best to support my boyfriend?

Post by oxytocin » Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:02 pm

wolfspirit wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:06 am
oxytocin,
I don't have much to share on resources, but I know that YOU are probably his most important resource for healing. It sounds like you are already doing a lot to support him within your relationship.
Has he considered therapy to help him heal?

A therapist can help you find the best resources for you. Perhaps getting in contact with someone near you and telling him/her exactly what you've written here will help you find something.

I think it is so kind and compassionate to be there for someone who has been abused and has deep wounds that need to heal.

take care,

ws
I've asked him about therapy and the hard part is that his abuser was/is a counselor so he understandably has a lot of reservations about any kind of therapy.
I'm in therapy myself and have been considering talking to my therapist about all of this... it's just a hard thing and even though there's so much confidentiality with therapy, I really don't want to betray his trust.
Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement.

In terms of resources, in case anyone else ever reads this post, I found and ordered the following books on Amazon (they haven't arrived yet so I don't know if they'll be any good but they have decent reviews):
-Trust After Trauma: A Guide to Relationships for Survivors and Those Who Love Them by Matsakis PhD, Aphrodite T.
-Wounded Boys Heroic Men: A Man's Guide to Recovering from Child Abuse by Sonkin, Daniel Jay
-When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey
Last edited by Serenity on Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed MT to NT, as no triggering content included

the husband
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Re: Resources (books, articles, personal advice) on how best to support my boyfriend?

Post by the husband » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:47 pm

Hi oxytocin

That's a good list. Also check out "Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Was Sexually Abused as a Child"

I too, was hesitant to discuss my spouse's abuse with my therapist. There is such a strong sense of secrecy and protectiveness. I was much better off when I did finally share. I took the position that I am discussing my situation with my therapist. I received the support I needed AND the therapist helped me decipher what my spouse was going through and why she behaves the way she does.

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