frightened-girlDear JoAnn,

Dear JoAnn,
Thank you for being so vulnerable and for creating this site. I am actively pursuing healing for myself and struggling with how to stop trying to fix my husband.

I left him because of his isolating and controlling behavior. When I finally recognized that my submission was actually enabling him and hurting our children, I stood up to him by breaking his favorite rule–I was not allowed to drive. I thought I was saving my marriage by demonstrating to him that how capable, competent and trustworthy I was. However, he seemingly went insane. I’ll spare you the details. I was convinced that if I stayed with him I would die. My only safety was in complete submission–a prisoner in my own house–and I couldn’t live like that anymore.

The next morning I fled my 17 year long marriage on foot with my two kids. My daughter (11 yrs) had over heard me talking with a friend to come get us and I knew that my leaving was a life and death secret so I had to act without any preparation as soon as he fell asleep. Fast forward over a year later, I have been so blessed. Every fear I ever had that kept me from standing up for myself or leaving, has evaporated. God has provided for me miraculously.

I just started reading Hope After Betrayal and I’m having trouble getting into it, maybe because sex addiction was not THE problem that ended my marriage. Yet, it has pained me more than I’m willing to admit to myself. I first confronted my husband if he had a porn habit in 2010. He presented such convincing reasons and I didn’t want to believe that he had a porn habit so I was satisfied.

You see, he quit sleeping with me when I was pregnant with our son (9yrs old now) and moved to the guest bedroom upstairs.He said it was so he could work on his starting his new business. For years he convinced me that he was a workaholic. I was frequently locked out of the upstairs of our house where his bedroom was and his office. Most of our marriage, he rarely had any interest in sex although I’m a passionate and cuddly person. When we were building our house, we actually went 8 months without having sex. He said having sex with me made him weak and he couldn’t afford to be weak. I often wondered what was wrong with me that he didn’t pursue me sexually, but never could I grasp that porn was a possibility or other sexual acts. He was so awkward on our honey moon. We were both virgins–at least he said he was and he had so much trouble maintaining an erection, I assumed that he had to have had no prior experience. Intercourse was painful for me, but not if we made love regularly which in 17 years of marriage, in spite of my pleading, never happened.

The April before I left, I began finding semen encrusted towels by his bed on a regular basis. My mind was so numb, my emotions so dead that I recognized that he was having sex without me but I couldn’t really process that he was involved in porn. I was in such denial. I just tried to keep the house cleaner, make his favorite meals more and be more attentive to him thinking that I could win him back. I didn’t understand anything. I confronted him the following September by throwing a crusty rag on his desk and saying, “This is what I’m mad about!” We had been fighting, both of us saying we really didn’t want to be married anymore. He never confessed anything but he did apologize and we agreed to work on our marriage. The next few months, he was more attentive and extremely generous, buying me things I had wanted for a long time and even taking us to see my sister who lived 1000 miles away.

He didn’t admit to porn until after I left him. He told men in the church that I left him because I caught him watching porn, something I had never done although once I found a bunch of porn in his About Tabs. He told me that anything can pop up in you About Tabs. I didn’t believe it because porn never showed up in my About TAbs. I still didn’t really do anything. I was so numb, so dead inside and so powerless from the years of emotional abuse–not in your face, derogatory stuff I could put my finger on. His abuse consisted of long Mr. Professor like lectures if I broke one of his rules, me not being allowed to drive, me not being allowed to spend money without his immediate supervision and scrutiny and me not being allowed to know anything at all about our finances and there were other rules such as never letting our children be alone with anyone, not even his own parents. The kids and I couldn’t even ride in someone else’s car. We couldn’t go anywhere without him and we were homeschooling. We were home-trapped. His mom knew I wasn’t allowed to spend money or drive so she bought most of our groceries and anything the children need. If my kids out grew their underwear, they had to tell Daddy or Mimi cause Mommy couldn’t do anything about it.

It wasn’t until after I left that my daughter began opening up to me about her own fears. She told me, “Mom, you told Daddy everything.” I knew she had kept it inside because of fear I would tell him. She had dreams of him sticking his penus in her face and she had developed a compulsive masturbation habit trying to reproduce a feeling she said she had felt before. She told me how he would come into the bathroom and look at her behind the curtain. She began locking the bathroom door. He would pick the lock. She couldn’t take a shower for six weeks after we left without me pleading with her to do so. She felt so traumatized and fearful. She told me of an incident that Daddy wanted her to cuddle him without the covers on when he was only in his underwear. He had always been so modest around her that she felt very afraid. She said there was something strange about his voice. He began tickling her in her groin and in the wiggling and squirming, she was pelvis to pelvis with him. She said, “Mom, it just weirded me out and I got out of there!”

My greatest nightmare was that my husband would be accused of being a child molester because he seemed so clueless about what was appropriate. He would tickle other people’s daughters or pick them up or let them sit on his lap. He was comfortable being alone with other people’s daughters. He has all the characteristics of a narcissist–acting like he’s better than everyone else and owns the place, like he is above the law. I realized that all those years, I had sick feelings that he could be messing with my daughter, but I dismissed them because of my own abusive childhood. I thought his family had it all together and was so pure–that’s what attracted me most to him. I thought I was escaping the filth of my own childhood.

I can’t prove that he molested my daughter. She doesn’t know if it was a dream or not. She started to tell me once that she thought he was coming into her room at night. But it’s a dream or “I think”–nothing definitive. CPS closed the case as “undecided” but the detective told me that he was displaying sexually grooming behaviors. Even a friend of mine came to me after I left and told me how she had dismissed her own ill feelings because she was my friend but there were two incidents when he was unexplainable alone with one of her preverbal daughters. She had such a sick feeling about it, but being passive and hating confrontation and not wanting to believe it because she was my best friend, she dismissed it.

Now he has supervised visitation. He can take our son and daughter for the weekends on the condition that the children spend the night at his parents house across the street. I just found out from my daughter that he takes them to his parents’ house late at night after his folks have gone to bed. He stays in the bedroom with them until they fall asleep and then so as not to disturb anyone, he climbs out the window.
CREEPY!! He’s completely circumventing the supervision.

So for now, my kids have to be in harm’s way because we don’t have a clear out cry. He thinks he has made sufficient apology and is now seeing his 4th marriage counselor. He doesn’t want the divorce and is trying to woo me with flowers and money. He wants me back to make him look good again. It was his rule that my daughter and I wear ankle length skirts all the time and kept our hair up. We mad him look pure and pious. (We did not belong to a church that taught dressing like that, but I went along with it sucumbing to his spiritual reasoning.) He’s gaining sympathizers now that he can take the children to church with him about how sad it is that his wife left him. He is not taking responsibility for himself.

Are there other women in your forum that are dealing with sex addiction that seems to have turned toward children or that are dealing with this kind of ambiguity?

Right now, I’m just so disgusted with him and with myself for being so stupid and desperate for my children to be safe but abuse without bruises or a clear outcry from the child doesn’t mean anything to the courts.

I still want my husband to get better. I pray for him daily. I scrutinize my heart for feelings of bitterness. I intend to live separately until the children are grown. I am in the process of filing for divorce. But still I have the fantasy that I’ll grow old with the only man I’ve ever had sex with. He was my high school sweetheart, so the bond goes deep. I’ve been involved with him more years of my life than I haven’t been.

I’m not sure what kind of support group I need.
Thank you!