healing from past sexual abuse memories struggling with shutting down
when you try to explain to your husband what is going on with you.
You are strong for surviving sexual abuse. How much stronger can you be when you join forces with the man you married?
It was 1985 and I told my manager at Denny’s to adjust the schedule as I was never going to meet my dream man in the smoking section. Then Tom Dau walked in with his buddy Mark and proceeded to Table One of the smoking section. After their second visit to my station and long conversations due to an empty restaurant, I was secretly giddy giving him my phone number. I was instantly magnetized to his genuine caring demeanor. Well that AND our 6 hour long conversations on our first 2 dates into the early morning hours that sealed the deal as my whole body sighed on the back of the front door when we kissed goodnight.
We got engaged 4 months later and were married August 8, 1987. Our life was busy as each child was born. Our household was loud and energetic and we renewed our wedding vows every 5 years keeping our relationship a priority as I was pretty much pregnant or nursing for 18 years bringing life to 7 children here and 3 in heaven. Our “normal” life was good.
Until September 2005, when foggy memories surfaced of what a family member had done to me at Christmas when I was 5 ½. First came disbelief, then denial, then slowly, my “normal” made sense. No wonder I watched the clock sometimes when Tom and I were together, no wonder I was so easily startled when he would touch me from behind and I didn’t know he was there. No wonder, deep down, I never felt my body was my own. What I thought was “normal”, was actually not uncommon for sexual abuse survivors. More foggy memories wafted back over the next few years: more family members, more abuse. And Tom was incredible.
He respected my needed parameters as I worked on my healing. But I found myself resenting our relationship. I thought it would be easier if I was alone. I wanted to keep him in the loop but I was tired of explaining my triggers, my feelings, my emptiness. I even laid in bed wishing for him or me to die while we slept because it was just so damn hard. And one day, it hit me: Tom is exactly the man I dreamed about marrying my whole life. And I realized– HE IS NOT THE ENEMY- WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM and I am no longer being abused-that ended when I was 18.
It’s been challenging for sure and even now some days are tough. You never get over being sexually abused. But I am so thankful that I made it my priority to value this prince charming that God brought into my life. I don’t have to figure anything out alone. I’ve got my best friend at my side.
Would you like your husband to be your best friend, right by your side?
Tom's Plea to Wives
Please keep trying. My wife can help you do that. Listen to my message.
This message is for you wives from me. First of all, thank you that you are desiring and wanting to find a way past what happened to you and through it. I don’t know where I would be in my marriage right now if my wife Vicki, didn’t take those steps and have the desire to work through and beyond what had happened. And I will tell you, I have so much respect for her and I have so much respect for you for doing what you do. And I want to encourage you to not stop, because it works. I have seen the horrible effects of what the trauma has done to my wife and what it potentially could have done to our marriage and the difficulties that it did cause. But what always happened and what always was tried and true is that Vicki never quit.
Whenever I think about her and her journey in all of this, and our journey and all of this, is that Vicki never quit. She always tried to figure out to work on herself to learn how to heal and move forward. And in doing so it was the effect of that, not just for her but for her and me as a couple, as a married couple, and as parents raising our children, our seven children. Oh my gosh, to be able to do that properly without healing through, this wouldn’t have been able to work. So please have confidence that everything that you’re doing, all that you’re working on, everything that you want to figure out is positive. And I will tell you from my experience, the more that you do it, the more that Vicki did it, the more that I was able to watch and react and respond and realize how awesome it was … but also I was able to realize, oh my gosh, it works.
We can come past this, she can come past this, and we as a couple can move forward and don’t have to just be victims forever. We can be survivors, and not just survivors, but we can move forward and beyond and have a happy, beautiful, wonderful marriage and parenting time, and time together as we move forward that wouldn’t have existed before. And the other thing that came out of all Vicki’s hard work and that I hope would come out of your hard work is as I watched her work on herself, I realized you know what, I bet I have my own work to do. And I found that I did. And when I started digging in on myself and working through my situations, different from hers, but traumatic nonetheless, it allowed me to improve myself as a person.
Now we’re two people working on each other and on the marriage. How much quicker is that going to work and heal and to what degree is it going to get better when two people are working on themselves and then supporting each other in a process too? Oh my gosh, the sky is the limit is what can happen and how quickly it can happen when you don’t quit. So kudos and applause to you for everything you’re doing. Don’t stop. You’ve got our support and I hope you believe you have the support of your husband in it also. And always remember to keep working on yourself because you being the best version of yourself, it will allow you to be the person you need to be for others. So continue to work on yourself. Don’t stop, be hopeful. It will work. It does work. We’ve been there. We’re doing it, and it will be and make for you an extraordinary marriage. Absolutely. Congratulations on what you’re doing and keep up the hard work!