Laura Russell, Ph.D., Archive  

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can men recover from sexual abuse trauma?


Q. I'm eager to know if I'm correct in the way I'm attempting to help my fiancé. I am a licensed therapist specializing in post traumatic stress disorder and worry about my objectivity in this situation.


A. Here is the list of the things you are doing to help her that I gleaned from your letter:

  1. Extreme patience

  2. Nurturing 

  3. Introducing her to the new world as an open place  

  4. Accepting her intellect

  5. Explaining her perpetrators behavior.

  6. Encouraging her self-esteem

  7. Loving her

  8. Liking her for the person she is

  9. Being really emotionally involved with her

  10. Valuing her well-being.

  11. Feeling and expressing anger toward her perpetrator.

  12. Gentleness

  13. Understanding 

  14. Being cautious about her triggers.

Looking at your situation with this list in hand, you are doing a magnificent job of being a friend, lover and support person. I don’t see anything much more that you could do. The people I have met that needed no counseling after a trauma all had people like you in their lives. 

It is obvious from your letter that you love your fiancé. And love is very healing for everyone. 

Don’t worry about your objectivity. You are not supposed to be objective with the person you love. Many well meaning psychology minded people make this mistake. 

What takes place is a therapist office is supposed to take place in an office. It doesn’t translate to any other relationships. 

Objectivity is important as a therapist in a clinical relationship. It is not helpful in personal relationships. In fact, objectivity can get in the way of intimacy, putting relationships in jeopardy. 

About triggers, I write a lot about this subject as healthy and part of the healing process. Consequently, while you want to continue your sensitivity to her process, you do not want to live a life of avoidance. 

You didn’t mention if she is participating in psychotherapy for her PTSD. If not, I would highly recommend it. This would certainly relieve you of the burden of feeling like a therapist when you are with her. Then you’d be free to be her fiancé and enjoy the obviously healthy relationship you have described. 


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