Boyfriend - How do I help him?

A discussion area for anyone who loves a survivor and needs some support of their own.

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Boyfriend - How do I help him?

Post by Yellowcat » Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:56 pm


I'm new to the forum. My boyfriend and I are in a serious relationship. He had an abusive childhood: sexually, physically, possibly emotionally and verbally as well, I'm not entirely sure on that forefront. I want to do what best I can to help him as far as communicating properly. My mother also had an extremely abusive childhood, and I remember learning from a counselor my dad went to that it's important to let survivors know that they are heard and that their feelings are valid. I try to be very blatant in making that known to him, but sometimes I feel like it's not effective. I was hoping you all could help give me some insight on what you like to hear from your loved ones and how they support you. He and I have talked about what he needs for support, but sometimes what a person needs it unknown to them, so I just wanted to see if there were additional things I could do, or should avoid.

Thanks in advance :)

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Re: Boyfriend - How do I help him?

Post by Joe » Fri Aug 14, 2015 2:39 am

Hello Yellowcat,

Glad you have joined the forum.

My wife and I met on a support site. Honestly, what we do for each other is give ourselves space. We have validated each others experience at one point, but we each have our resources and we do not treat each other as counselors (if that makes any sense) because we both know that neither is qualified to give that sort of help. There is only so much you can do for someone without taxing the relationship.

Healing from abuse is a long process, you need tools and experience dealing with your 'symptoms'. If you are not ready or cannot afford therapy, there are a few peer support sites out there. Encountering others and sharing these difficult experiences or even your present state has been most beneficial to me.

In our case, we both agree, we would never consider 'fixing' each other. Just being together as partners in life, knowing that the other has enough background to just accept and have the will to cope with the other's issues is a great gift.

Sorry I can't help more than that

Good luck! and welcome to the site
Last edited by Jonesy on Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed MT to NT
Anger is a poison you drink expecting the other person to die

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Re: Boyfriend - How do I help him?

Post by Jonesy » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:14 am

Hi Yellowcat

A belated welcome to isurvive - I have been on holiday and only just found your post.
Some wise words there from Joe.

Communication is definitely important, but some days he might not want to talk or simply find it too hard to. It can take a great deal of energy jut keeping emotions in check at times and unfortunately a survivor's anger can sometimes be directed at the wrong person... their safe person... ie you.

I agree with Joe about not trying to 'fix' him. Listen, validate, encourage, support and love.
I tend to think you will develop the 'time-to-back-off' sense too, ;) .

I also need to remind you to take care of yourself. You are important too.
You are important


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Re: Boyfriend - How do I help him?

Post by usinginnerstrength » Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:28 am

HI YellowCat

And welcome. I am very new to here as well. I have to say the advice given is spot on. In my situation i am the victim and my husband is in your position i suppose. He found it very hard in the beginning to communicate with me as he wanted to help so much and he wanted to be there for me all the time. the thing was sometimes it can be the littlest thing and i go inside my head and he has learned this is part of my coping strategy and i just need space and time to work it out myself, i'll come back when i have it worked through and then talk a little about what ever was on my mind. I think another important thing is that also from my point of view i never want my husband to know everything that happened because i don't want him to hear or have images in his mind that will hurt him. But he has gotten real good at it over the years he knows when to give me my space and when to just mind me (we call a hug a mind :) )
Finally for you .. make sure you look after your own mind to, it's tough. I know my husband needed someone out side of us that he could talk to for support, (at first i was angry at this but now i know he just needed the extra support for himself) so find that person for you for when you need to rant, talk or just get some space!!

I wish you's both a world of love and support and we are all here to help you in anyway we can!

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Re: Boyfriend - How do I help him?

Post by ry » Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:07 am

I am in a similar situation with my boyfriend too. He was actually abused by his ex both physically and emotionally and he has put up so many walls that at times, like right now, I can't even see over them. It helps me to know that there are other ppl out there who are in my shoes and it also helps me to know that there are others who are/have been in boyfriends shoes too. He has a very hard time with communication as well and it gets very frustrating. I haven't seen him in around 2 months because of his anxieties and fears and it feels like we're in a long distance relationship because of it even though we don't live very far from each other.

I know that didn't really answer your question but I just wanted to share that because I know how hard it is.
Last edited by Jonesy on Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed MT to NT

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Re: Boyfriend - How do I help him?

Post by Xanthia » Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:19 pm

Hi Yellowcat

Great that you're aware, willing to assist, seeking ideas . ...
Your boyfriend will probably open up as you listen; sometimes, having been truly heard is a gift and is all I want from someone.

Wishing you both well.

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