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Self Esteem

Question:

I am a 46 year old married female petite in size and stature considered very attractive. I hold an executive position in the federal goverment. I was sexually abused from the age 8 till 16 by my brother. I found out at age 19 that my father wasn’t my biological father I’m the third of 6 children, my mother still to this day won’t tell me who is my father. I have caught my husband (age 56) of 11 years in compromising situations with other women on two different occassions. I have no self confidence or self esteem on a personal level I let men walk all over me and treat me like I am dirt under their feet and that I’m not on the same level. I have an above normal sexual appetite and my husband likes to withhold sex when we argue I end up begging for him to touch me and have intercourse and he will sit back and laugh telling me how much he hates and dispises me then he will just go to bed. The next morning when I ask him how he could have no regard for my feelings or desires he says he doesn’t have any idea what I’m talking about. Could you help me understand why I feel I deserve this type of relationship?

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Answer:

You believe that you deserve the bad treatment doled out to you by your husband and other men because you were repeatedly abused when you were a child. Child abuse of any and all types causes people to repeat the pattern originally learned and experienced when young. It is important that you put a stop to the pattern of abuse and come to understand that no one is deserving of this type of treatment.

The fact that you believe you deserve being treated badly is a very revealing comment you made in your E. Mail. You state that you have an "abnormal sexual appetite." I want to point out that there is no such thing as an "abnormal sexual appetite." Variability in the sexual drive is a great as the variability of the snow flakes that fall from the sky. Men and women range in sexual drive from very mild to extremely intense. Marriages that have the greatest chance of success are where sexual drives between spouses are somewhat similar. Yet, you believe your drive is abnormal. Why?

The answer to the question of why you believe your drive is abnormal is that you probably feel guilty about the sexual abuse you experienced between ages 8 and 16. It is not unusual for children to believe that the abuse they experience is their fault and well deserved. We idealize our parents when we are small and, therefore, blame our selves for what happens. The problem is that when we grow into adulthood we carry the same beliefs with us and are convinced that we are "no good." In your case, to have a sexual drive is to be a "bad girl" who deserved to have been treated that way by your supposed father.

Child abuse also causes serious damage to both self confidence and self esteem for all of the reasons already stated. It is one of the reasons for your remaining with a hostile and abusive husband who refuses to show you love, both sexual and emotional.

I want to strongly urge you to enter psychotherapy and attend a support group for women who were abused as children. In addition, when you are ready, it would be a good idea to leave this husband and find a partner who is matched to you and with whom you can have a mutually loving and respectful relationship.

Best of Luck

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