Guest Blog: From The Partner of a Survivor

We’ve met before. I’m Ruby’s partner.

Ruby and I have known each other for over 15 years now, in various guises. As you may have picked up from her blogs, she is not shy in speaking about herself. When we first met, and shortly after we started sleeping together, she told me a little about her being abused as a child; just a little. To be honest I was a little scared by this. Everything about this is foreign to me. I’m sure that I have met people who have been sexually abused before, but I haven’t realised or recognised or been told by them. I probably know people who are abusers but I’ve not known that about them.

Over the years she has told me more and more.

I don’t understand people who sexually abuse children – it’s outside my thinking and experience. Therefore, when Ruby told me of her experiences, I didn’t really know what to think or say or do or feel.  Of course, it was horrible, but she seemed fine. She is bright and bubbly and outgoing and personable and strong and dynamic and vivacious and amazing in bed. So, no issues then. Let’s just get on with life.

Apparently, that isn’t the way the world works. Bad experiences create wounds and even healed wounds leave scars.

But I don’t see these scars on her. To me, she is flawless, beautiful and perfect.

And then I say something and it all changes. Maybe it is the tone I use; perhaps the words themselves remind her of another time, another person. Or it could be that I touch her in a certain way, a way which brings memory and feeling flooding back.  All I can see is the hurt or the fear or the panic in her eyes. I feel her withdraw, pull away, turn from me. I’ve touched the scar and reopened the wound.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the 1989 movie “Entrapment” with Sean Connery and Catherine  Zeta Jones. Together they break into an impenetrably secure room, using his smarts and her talents. Clever, clever. They outwit the invisible laser triggers and bypass the alarms and, in the end, grab their target. That’s how I wish it was. Two people, working out where the invisible triggers are; working out a way to make sure they aren’t activated.

That doesn’t seem to be my lot in life. I’m more of an Indiana Jones kind of guy. Or perhaps I’m more his disposable sidekick. I’m the guy who grasps the treasure but then seems to hit every booby trap on the way out, never seeing the triggers until it’s too late.

Ruby calls herself a “Nutbar”.

She’s not. Well OK, yes she is, but in a good way.

Some triggers she knows about and she helps me see them and helps me work with them and through them. Some triggers we don’t find until I trip across them. But she has helped me there as well. She knows what she needs when she feels triggers. She needs to be held, gently and securely until the panic or fear or sadness passes. And she knows herself well enough now to be able to tell me when she needs to be held.

And to be truthful, I am not as clumsy as I make out. I am increasingly able to see the things I do which trigger her. The combination of honesty and awareness seems to be working for us.

The other day we were playing with each other in bed and I watched her eyes change and she retreated from being present with me. I recognised it and stopped what I was doing and lay down beside her and held her. In a moment or two, all was well again.

This is a road I love walking with her.