HOW DO I TELL MY WIFE I WAS ABUSED? by Jennifer Michelle Greenberg for Core Christianity
GNN Note – The first time I told “my story” before a group of AA my Mom was in attendance. Sharing the truth about my youth, that she didn’t know, was not only difficult for me to say but for her to hear. Our relationship grew stronger that night and God gave me the strength to push forward and help change lives. After that night sharing these tragedies with my spouse was as easy as discussing dinner plans.
I am often transparent about what happened to me online. I share stories that took place during over two decades of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse. I knew when I began this journey that I’d likely hear stories from other survivors too. What I didn’t expect was that over half of them would be male.
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There’s a popular myth in our culture that it’s primarily females that are raped or abused. Rumor has it, the number of girls far exceeds the number of boys in domestic abuse cases. However, nationwide studies coordinated by organizations such as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services* have demonstrated year after year that child abuse victims are split almost evenly between genders, with the balance only shifting by a percentage or two since 1995. However, because of the stigma our culture places on male victimization, and the humiliation and fear associated with these crimes, many male survivors never report. In fact, they never tell a soul. And that’s where I’ve had the unexpected and humbling honor of serving.
Recently, a young father, who we’ll call Jonathan, confided to me that he can’t enjoy holidays or family gatherings because when he was a boy, that’s when his cousin repeatedly molested him. His wife has picked up on his aversion to vacations, and his pattern of anxiety and depression around the holidays. The secret he’s kept for decades now strains his marriage. Like so many others, Jonathan asked me, “How do I tell my wife I was abused?”
And so, in response to Jonathan, and all silent survivors who wonder about this question, I am writing this article to you.
When it comes to sharing our stories, the first and only rule is, whatever works best for you. It’s an extremely personal decision, and it’s often a process. The goal should be for you to communicate what you want, when you want, in the way you want. Whatever makes you most comfortable.