Family and Partners
|At MPower, we receive many calls and emails from parents
and other family members and from partners of men who have been raped asking
"what can I do to help?"
It can be a distressing feeling that we cannot seem to help
the person we love and it hurts us too to see him go through his pain. We want
to help so much but we feel powerless to do anything that seems useful. He may
reject you, you may be the target of his anger. He may seem to turn against
you. It is natural to ask "what have I done to deserve this? This points
us to the first thing that we must keep in mind.
> I didn't do it. I am not to
blame for what happened..
It is really important that you keep reminding yourself of
this. Raped men and those men getting in touch with earlier childhood
experiences will be emotionally volatile and at times irrational and not
logical. It may seem to you that he is pointing the finger at you; that somehow
you are to blame. This is a natural part of his coming to terms with what
happened and his process of recovery. Those closest to him are likely to become
involved with his process; simply because you are close.
> This is not about you. It is
Take comfort from the fact that he has disclosed his attack
to you. Firstly admitting to himself that it happened will be a difficult task
and his feelings will be all over the place. He will quite possibly be taking a
huge risk in telling you. Things that may be going on for him might include
"what will he/she say or do? Will they believe me? Will they see me as
different? How will this affect the relationship? It's too risky; I'll manage
this on my own." But, despite all these fears, he has told you and you
have become part of his recovery process. That says a lot about the trust he
has in you and in the relationship you have with him.
> He trusts you.
Family members and partners often ask us "what can I
do?" We would ask if there is actually a need to do anything at all
in terms of actions. Just being consistent and reliable will be helpful. And,
at times, that in itself will be difficult for you.
it is important for you to be "grounded" in
yourself. It won't help if you get drawn into his low feelings and depression.
Be yourself and be there when he needs you. If you are to help, let him remain
in control of when he needs your support and help. Let him go through this at
his pace and in his way. Stay being you, and the things that he loves in you
that attracted him to you in the first place, and react and respond to him as
he needs you. Of course, if he wants to talk to you (and he may, even though he
seems to be holding you at a distance at times), then you are there for him in
your grounded, natural self. Just listen. Don't be tempted to take on his
problem and solve it for him. This is not the time to be directive. This may
sound harsh, but he will be wrestling with all sorts of emotions and options
and there is a danger you will force him to challenge things that are yet to
become clear for him. That will be frustrating for him and may prompt anger to
well up. During his ordeal, he had lost control and it is important for him to
regain a real sense of control in his life now. Paradoxically, your help could
feel like pressure to him.
>Be there when he needs
If he is seeing a counsellor, don't expect a miracle cure;
these things take time. It is also likely he will share things with his
counsellor that he may not share with you. This won't be because he doesn't
trust you, or have faith in you, but loved ones have an emotional investment
and an interest and he won't want to hurt you or bring his pain to you. Men are
not supposed to get raped. It is quite likely he will be questioning his
"manliness", his ability to be a stong protector and defender. Being
raped pushes men to question fundamental and important issues of maleness,
including his ability to support you and his capability to live up to society's
(and nature's) demands of men to be "big and strong" and protect
their partners and family from danger. This is likely to put him in a very
difficult position with you. He may be having feelings of inadequacy. You may
find that he wants to be alone and is currently keeping his distance from you.
He will need an awful lot of time to "process" what's going on for
him. Try not to feel "excluded" if he prefers his counsellor to you.
Counsellors are trained to keep the boundary clear; not to take-on the client's
pain. There is no emotional investment from either party.
MPower is here for you too, his
family or his partner - male or female. If you would like to talk, please call
us. Your call will be welcome. It's free and it's confidential. We won't make
you disclose his name or any details about him and we won't make you do
anything you don't want to do. You may find it helpful to talk through some of
your worries and concerns with us.