Relationship Recovery and Resilience/Feeling Betrayed


Hi Atieno

Yesterday I broke up with my boyfriend after only five months. Although five months might seem like a short time to most people it was an eternity to me. I am 28 years old and this was actually my first relationship and first boyfriend.

As a child (age seven) I was raped and forced to perform oral sex on a much older man and was traumatized for years. I avoided guys and dating throughout high school and college and never even kissed a guy until barely a few months ago. make a long story short. After years of sexual abuse counseling and therapy. I finally met a great Christian guy in my church who I was willing to trust. We were friends for a years and started dating five months ago.

I told him early on about my sexual abuse history and he was compassionate and understanding. We both agreed to take all forms of physical contact very slooowwwwwly. For the first three months we simple held hand and my boyfriend didn't seem to mind.

Everything was great in the beginning, but soon things quickly soured. My boyfriend became bored, moody, and critical of our rather slow pace. He often allude to sex and his desire to sleep with me. He was especially harsh and critical of my fears and insecurities about physical contact.

On several occasions he forced me to French kiss him even though he knew I was uncomfortable. He often laughed at my frightened expression. When I told him that I simply needed patience, time, and understanding he would get angry.

Yesterday he broke up with me and he told me I had serious "psychological" problems and would probably end up alone. I can't help blaming myself for the break up and feeling deeply "shattered" by this experience. I feel like an idiot for even trying and I wish I had never met him.

I don't even know if I should bother dating again since I have so many problems. Here's my question.

1. Do you think my boyfriend was right to break up with me? I told him in the beginning that things would be slow and was ALWAYS honest about what made me uncomfortable. I don't even know why he bothered dating me in the first place since he didn't want to take things slow.

2. Is it wrong of me to date a guy and expect him to adhere to my boundaries? Is it fair to deny physical contact that is usually acceptable in "normal" relationships (i.e. kissing)?

3. I can't help but feel that if I had giving in, we would still be together. Sometimes I just did things to keep him happy even though I didn't want to. How can I avoid this next time.

4. Lastly, I feel really depressed. How can I cheer myself up?

Thank You,


Priscilla, I'm so sorry about what happened to you and the terrible impact you've suffered. I'm not sure I have the expertise to answer but I will give it my best shot. Take what I say with a grain of salt as I'm not an expert in healing from sexual abuse.
1. Your ex was right to end a relationship that didn't meet his needs but he was NOT right to pressure you, laugh at you, criticize you or condemn you, and definitely not to force you! Good riddance on this guy my dear!
2. You need to be honest with guys that "slow" may actually mean "never." That is what the reality seems to be from what you are saying. You may find a guy with a low libido, similar issues, or endless patience. I believe life brings us the people and experiences we need to heal the past. Renew your commitment to healing from your past, and have courage! Healing wants to happen. It may be there are some energy work that could help, as opposed to just talk therapy. I could recommend some- I'm at
3. You are right in your commitment to be true to what YOU need. That doesn't mean that you may never choose to step put of your comfort zone for your own sake, even if it feels really hard. But to do it for someone else's sake is a repeat of your trauma! Definitely avoid that.
4. Do things to help others, take great care of yourself with sleep, plenty of water, healthy food, massage, exercise, etc.  Do things that make you feel successful, accomplished and competent, to boost your confidence and self-esteem.
Priscilla, you sound like a wonderful and healthy woman, I wish you all the best.

Relationship Recovery and Resilience

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Atieno Bird


I can definitely answer to whether or not you will always feel this badly - you won't! There are ways to speed the process of "cutting the cords" and moving on. I can teach you guided imagery and other disciplines, as well as ways to be gentle with yourself as you heal from past relationships. Many clients come to me in crisis, and after a surprisingly short time, they are free of intrusive thoughts and feelings that come from the past.


In addition to my degrees and certificates, I have fifteen years of coaching experience, through my personalized coaching practice, “Two Bird Coaching.” I’ve worked with hundreds of people from all walks of life, helping them raise their baseline of happiness and make the changes in their thinking that allow their lives to change as well.

“Congenial Alliance: Synergies in Cognitive and Psychodramatic Therapies,” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, (APA Journal), November 2007. “Curtailing the Use of Restraint,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, (APA) v 4, no 2, 2003. “Symbol in Mediation,” Mediation Quarterly, v 18, no 1, Fall, 2000.

EDUCATION MA in Conflict Transformation, Eastern Mennonite University, Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Harrisonburg, VA (GPA 4.0), 1999. Coursework in group dynamics, systems analysis, mediation formats, facilitation mastery. BA in Comparative Religion and Peacemaking, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH (Magna cum Laude, GPA 3.76), 1995. Phi Beta Kappa; German, Spanish, Religion Dept awards. CERTIFICATES Certified Coach, International Coaching Federation, 2009. Appreciative Inquiry Trained, Jane Macgruder Watkins, 2002. Certified Practitioner of Psychodrama & Group Psychotherapy, American Board of Examiners. (Over 800 hours of clinical training & supervision), 2001.

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