My name is Traci. I am only 21 years old but I am currently trying to get over past issues from an ex fiance who abused me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I was very young when I started to date him and he was much older and of a different race. He started to abuse me after 3 years of dating. Once we became engaged it just got worse. I moved 32 hours away from my family and home to be with this man. He cheated on me more than a dozen of occasions. I knew, but did nothing about it because I was afraid of the consequences. He would hit me in the head, stomach, and back. He would kick me in the legs. I was not allowed out of our house and if I did without his permission he accused me of cheating on him. I was not allowed to have a phone or have many friends. I finally got out of the relationship after 4 years.
I stayed single for awhile, but then I met the man of my dreams. We went to high school together and our families love each of us so much. We separated a few months ago because of my trust issues. I got so mad one night and started ranting. I know this man would never cheat or hit me, but I am so scared of getting hurt. He loves me so much, yet I cannot seem to get over the fact what my ex had done to me. I want to be back with the man of my dreams, but I want to get over my issues first.
I need help. PLEASE.
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
I am sorry to read about the trauma you have been through. Of course, you were very young when that terrible relationship began. You made the kind of mistakes that are understandable and even predictable for such a young person. For example, an 18 year old might use bad judgement out of a sense of rebellion against the family. There are other reasons for an 18 year old to use bad judgement, such as, romantically wanting to save a “bad guy,” wanting to be adventuresome, being truly naive as a result of having been over protected and so on. Also, I can’t but ask myself if you had been abused when you were much younger? Sadly, that happens too often, especially when abuse occurs at an earlier age. It seems that, once abused, it repeats, especially when it happens during childhood.
Your experience was traumatizing and you may be experiencing the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Among the many symptoms of this disorder is a lack of trust of anyone who gets too emotionally close. In other words, having once been harmed, there is an automatic wish to prevent future harm by being self protective. What better way to be self protective than to never let anyone get control of you. The problem is that, even though you might think and feel this way, intimate relationships have nothing to do with controlling or being in control. When you come to truly understand this you will be able to trust your present boyfriend.
I want to assure you that there is psychotherapy designed to help relieve the symptoms of trauma. A treatment called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) helps retrain the unfortunate and automatic thoughts that result from trauma. In this way, you can learn a better way of thinking than that your boyfriend wants to control and hurt you.
I think it’s important that you explain this to your boyfriend so that he knows you love him and that you will go for psychotherapy to help you. By the way, there is no reason why you can’t recover from this. I also think it’s important that you resume your relationship rather than waiting. Avoidance of relating is not a good thing to do. There is nothing like good experience to replace bad experience. If you love each other, that is the best medicine of all.
You should consult a licensed clinical psychologist or licensed clinical social worker who is trained to use CBT and who is trained and experienced in PTSD. It is even possible that medication will be suggested on a very temporary basis to help get you through as the psychotherapy takes effect.
Keep in mind that, in asking for a professional for a conultation, you are frist getting an opinion and then making your own decision about treatment.
Best of Luck