Questions for Couples When There Has Been Trauma and Abuse

“I am your partner, not your parent.”

Many couples who are caught in the grip trauma reenactment find themselves acting more like parent and child. The partner may feel like the parent of the traumatized woman who has been rendered helpless as a child.

Therapeutically, it is important to involve both people, but first they have to change the balance in the relationship, so that the partner is treated as a partner, not as a parent.

Couples (see Questions for Trauma and Abuse) must find ways to do more physical activities together. Although sex is an obvious couple activity, it may be the hardest place to begin a safe, satisfying non-verbal way to connect, especially if the woman has suffered earlier physical violations. Something as easy as walking together may be a beginning, or going to a peaceful place outdoors, looking at nature in silence.

Talking is often not the most helpful healing for many women who self-harm, because their traumas of the past have generally taken place at the physical level.

Questions for couples:

  • Do either of you believe that the woman’s self-harm/addictions could be connected to her childhood trauma?
  • Is it possible to make the connection between the self-harm and the early trauma, but still believe that she is capable of being in charge of her self-harming behaviors/addictions – instead of a slave to them?
  • Do you both believe that the woman, until now, has found the best way she can to show to tell the story of her childhood abuse by harming herself?
  • Could you imagine what life would be like if you could unite against this trauma (vs. her drinking, or other abusive behavior)?
  • Who else could help you in this battle?
  • What else holds you together as a couple besides your mutual enslavement to past abuses?

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