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Thread: I believe my boyfriend is a victim of covert incest. How do I support him?

  1. #1
    BeadyEyes Guest

    I believe my boyfriend is a victim of covert incest. How do I support him?

    Hi everyone!

    I am in a relationship with a man who, I believe, is a victim of covert incest. He has just started therapy. His mother has always controlled him. I've known him for 14 years and his mother controlled him like he was only a teenager instead of a middle-aged man. Some of the things I've learned about his life with his mother sounds exactly like the description of covert incest. His mother hated me and set limits on how much time could be spent with me. He was trapped as he was his mother's primary caregiver the last 3 years of her life. Even before she wasn't able to walk anymore she controlled him so the caregiving aspect that came into their relationship was just the lid on the coffin. He has tried to have relationships with other women before and hasn't been able to carry any of these relationships past the "friend" stage. Anything involving emotional intimacy sends him running away or pushing the woman away. He and I are at the "best friends" level. I would like to move on to the next level with him but he says, "It's just not in him" to love anyone. I'm hoping that therapy helps him to heal this awful abuse in his life. His mother overstepped so many boundaries with him that it makes me sick to hear about it. I have told him that it's hard to have a relationship with another woman when his mother disapproved of every woman he has ever had in his life other than his mother. He is a devout Christian man and my guess is he wasn't sure how to tell his mother to back off without "honoring" her. Anyways, while he is in therapy how can I help him as he heals? I know I can't push him for anything emotional right now. One of the traps I'm afraid of falling into is that I will end up a substitute for his mother. That idea totally grosses me out. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance...

  2. #2
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    Hi there I am a survivor of covert incest and it is very hard to deal with. But I think that by supporting him and offering him validation for his feelings and hurts helps a whole lot. Let him bent or whatever he needs to do.
    I very much understand how he feels and where he is coming from. I know what you must be feeling. My ex was in the same boat you are with him. It's not easy on him or you I know. Perhaps maybe ask him if there is anything you can do that would help him. Let him set the pace. Blessings!!!

  3. #3
    Unregistered Guest

    Thank you!

    Thank you for replying LovelyChantel! I will try to be patient with him. It's difficult. People who see us together know we are a couple but don't behave like one. This leads to awkward questions that causes him to freak out. I told him from now on if anyone asks if we are "dating" tell them, "It's complicated". Nothing more needs to be said! Some people that have known my boyfriend for most of his life have offered me support. They knew his mother was domineering and abusive for years. They've told me to hang in there. It's obvious he cares about me and if he is in counseling then that is good. His siblings have said the same thing. One of his sisters has told me that I must be important to him or he wouldn't be interested in trying to change anything. She is backing his attending therapy. She went through it for related issues and she said it helped a lot. She told me the same thing....hang in there and let him set the pace. She believes he cares enough about me to want to change.

    Thank you for your advice. I will take it to heart!

  4. #4
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    Hey beady-eyes...sounds like you and your friend have an excellent basis for building a relationship...if its going to happen I think he has the best chances with a caring perceptive woman like you...someone who can empathise with all he has been through and needing to overcome while still providing gentle encouragement and validation of him.

    For different historical reasons I have real issues with trust and intimacy...I have found working with a T has given me more understanding and more importantly the confidence to believe that I deserve to chart my own boat...to reclaim my sexuality.

    My partner and I (till this point we have had a loving but celibate relationship) are now working with a couples T...learning to take safe small steps...to tolerate gentle agreed intimate touch...it has been hard for my body to relax and accept (and enjoy ) caring touch...not to confuse it with negative unloving touch/coercion but gradually I am making progress.

    I give thanks everyday for my accepting, patient and loving partner...and think your friend is lucky to have you as a caring friend...who hopefully one day will be his intimate partner
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

  5. The following user says thank you to Jane for this useful post:

    weepingwillow (04-01-2014)

  6. #5
    Unregistered Guest

    Thank you Jane!

    Your post gives me hope! I know patience will be required. It's not easy for me. We've been together for a long time. I guess a little while longer won't kill me...and he is worth the wait if he can work through his issues.

    If I may ask...how long were you and your partner together before you went into couples T? I've asked my boyfriend to inquire. I know I might be jumping the gun here since he has been at this for only a short time. I've already told him that I would like to go for couples T eventually. I love him dearly and would do anything to see him through this and whole...even if it means he doesn't choose to stay with me.

  7. #6
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    I actually started couples' T therapist first...this T suggested I work con-currently with a personal T. So been doing both for about 4 years now...I suppose I was in your friends position rather than yours...and had got to the stage of being ready to accept and work on my issues.

    My partner deserves a medal she and I were together in a relationship for over 15 years...best mates but celibate. I could not even bear for another person to touch me...made me panic...I also felt guilty about not being fully there for the person I loved...wanted more than anything else to treat her well. The kindest thing my partner did for me was to accept me, accept the traumatic responses I had to work so hard to overcome...it was a priceless gift for me to have her in my life.

    I hope you and your friend continue to grow and find your way forward...support each other on this tough journey you are facing together.

    For you if I may a gentle hug.
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

  8. The following 2 users say thank you to Jane for this useful post:

    Tasha1701D (04-01-2014),weepingwillow (04-02-2014)

  9. #7
    Unregistered Guest

    Jane thank you.... <tears in eyes>

    This man is my best friend. I don't see myself with anyone else. I trust him with all that I am and all that I have. He is a precious gift in my life. Our relationship and what we have together is worth fighting for and I've told him that. We can make it through this with time and love. You have shown me that it will be possible and that I need to keep the faith and not lose hope.

    Thank you for sharing. <Insert gentle hug here!>

  10. #8
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    Thinking of you and your friend...wishing you well...glad that details of my experience have helped...

    I don't know if your friend is interested but as a person who knows the experience of living with abuse he is eligible to join our community. I have found it has really helped me connect and feel less alone to be able to share with others who 'get it'...who are also working to come to terms with and heal from their experiences. We have a wide and friendly membership which includes quite a big percentage of males.
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

  11. The following user says thank you to Jane for this useful post:

    weepingwillow (04-02-2014)

  12. #9
    Unregistered Guest

    Thank you again Jane!

    While his mother was alive things like the Internet and cable TV were not allowed in the house. She considered such things "invasive" and an extra expense that wasn't necessary. Now that she is passed on I hope he brings the Internet into the house so he can connect with the world and a community like this one who can support him as he heals. I will certainly mention this place when he does get Internet access! You guys have been really good to me. Nobody had to reply to my post but you people have. I appreciate even the "lurkers" who have been reading this thread and not posted! Thank you for reaching out to me so I can understand what has happened to this man I love so much.

    The more he opens up to me the more horrified I feel. I am a mother of 2 wonderful children. I would never have subjected my children to the things my boyfriend is describing happened to him. The only thing I can think of is either this woman was mentally ill or she was paying forward the way she was raised...or possibly a combination of the two. After seeing for myself how she treated him I'm finding it hard to "forgive" her. Nobody abuses people I love if I can help it! I couldn't help it. I know the "higher path" here is to figure she was either not able to break a generational cycle of abuse or that she was ill. Even with reasoning through this a part of me still wants JUSTICE for my boyfriend and his siblings. I should probably try to go find counseling myself. I need to let this go and I'm having a hard time doing that.

    Thank you again everyone! I keep saying this because words aren't enough....

  13. #10
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    Hi BeadyEyes...

    I am glad you are finding the support from me and other Fort members helpful. That's great.

    imho supporting another through their healing journey is tough...it is important that you take care of yourself...acknowledge your own needs in the process. Your somewhat tongue in cheek comment about visiting a T...finding a professional to support you...to share with...is in my book a sound idea...I really believe in the maxim "to look after another we first must look after our self.
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

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