When my ex-boyfriend (current boyfriend at the time) told me that he was raped, I held him. He cried, and I comforted. It was like that for a while. We were together for three years, and I grew accustomed to the crying fits. I expected the sadness. I even expected the anger. Anger at the person who raped him. Anger at his parents for doubting him when he finally built up the courage to tell them. Anger at society for telling him “men can’t get raped.” What I did not expect was anger at me, misdirected anger.
Don’t Put Your Own Needs Aside
Even though it was not my fault that he got raped, I was the closest person to my ex-boyfriend when we were together. I was the person that he interacted with on a daily basis. And so, I became the victim of his anger. It was not intentional. I knew that then, and I know that now. There are many posts on how to take care of a sexual assault survivor, as there should be. However, I want to focus on how to take care of yourself when dating a male sexual assault survivor because it is something I don’t see addressed often.
When something bad happens to someone, sometimes they don’t know how to deal with the pain, so they take it out on others. This is what happened in my relationship. My ex-boyfriend didn’t mean to take his pain out on me, but the fact is he did. I wish I had put my foot down sooner. I wish I was had told him he couldn’t treat me badly just because of his trauma. I let things slide. Repeated cheating and lying were some of the main things I kept sweeping under the rug because I knew that hyperssexuality can occur after someone is raped. Letting things slide only made things worse, though. Just because someone is hurting doesn’t make it okay to hurt others.
Having A Mental Illness Is Not An Excuse For Bad Behavior
Do not let your partner manipulate you or use their trauma as an excuse for bad behavior. For example, I have schizoaffective disorder. One of the symptoms of my illness is delusions of persecution. Sometimes I get defensive for no reason and think someone is attacking me when they actually aren’t. Just because I can’t help this doesn’t mean it’s not hard to deal with when I become hostile for seemingly no reason. Most of the time, my ex-boyfriend was understanding and calmed me down. But sometimes, understandably, my delusions were hard for my partner to deal with. When things became too much, he needed alone time, so I would give him his space even if I was frustrated. I would go visit my sister or go to the library for a little while.
Having a mental illness and/or dealing with trauma is not an excuse for bad behavior. I can’t help having schizoaffective disorder, but if my symptoms are hurting others, it is my responsibility to work on them. My friends and family have the right to tell me when they need a break. Some people can’t handle my symptoms at all, though. They can’t handle me. And they have the right to walk away, just as I had the right to walk away from my ex-boyfriend when he kept hurting me. I did not leave him high and dry, though. I left him in the care of his parents and talk to him on a weekly basis. However, I now have a healthy boundary up between us that keeps him from manipulating and hurting me.
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August B Pfizenmayer is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and student. She studies creative writing, specializing in poetry and creative nonfiction. She loves sweets and warm weather. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.