QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
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behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy
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I am a survivor of rape and incest; I've been through
psychotherapy. I have recently started dating a really great man. Our
relationship has progressed slowly which pleases me. However, I have started
to worry about telling my story. I fear that he will reject me and think I
am a terrible person. When do I tell him the truth? Is it better tell him
earlier before I am too invested or later when I think I can really trust
First, it appears that a bit of your thinking may be projection. That is,
many victims of rape and incest blame themselves and feel as though they are
terrible people. They tend to think that they should have done something to
prevent what happened and believe that they will be rejected. These thoughts
are then projected onto others. I wonder whether a some of that thinking may
be operating here as well. Secondly, if he is as great as you say he is,
rather than reject you, your friend will be empathic and sympathetic. He will
see that you were the victim, not the perpetrator. If he does not respond
with tenderness, compassion, and understanding then perhaps he is not as
great as you think he is.
In the case of rape it is never the victim's fault. It doesn't matter what
the circumstances. Rape is a violent act; it is about power and anger, not
sex. Some forms of incest -- brother-sister incest for example -- may or may
not be violent or abusive. Father-daughter incest and mother-son incest, on
the other hand, are an abuse of power. The son and the daughter are being
used by their parents for the parents needs. Hence, the children are
victims; it is not their fault.
Whether you should wait until you can trust him depends on your degree of
comfort in talking about your past. When you speak of "trust," do you mean
trust him not to leave? Or do you mean trust him not to use your history
against you, judge you, and/or hurt you? If he leaves or hurts you by his
reaction, you have learned something about him. But if he is all that you
say he is, he will cherish the confidence you share with him and it will
bring you closer. Your own level of comfort with sharing should be the main
determiner of when to share your experience.
You might want to visit our
for more information on rape and incest.
Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist,
Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing
psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years.
He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation,
couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and
assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing
Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.