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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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What are some signs that your husband has been abused as a child? (Physical, Verbal or Sex

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What are some signs that your husband has been abused as a child? (Physical, Verbal or Sexual) Our marriage is having serious issues and I've had a feeling for a long time that he was abused some way. He has a terrible temper that he can't control unless he hits something, we haven't had sex since our daughter was born (she's 3 now), he's very stoic and robotic like when it comes to intimacy, he has kicked our dog a couple of times because he thought the dog was trying to "the leader" of the house, he can verbally be abusive at times and most of the time he is obsessed with working out, the way his body looks and puts 120% into his work on an everyday basis.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is not uncommon for adults who have been abused as children to show signs like your husband is showing. One way of coping is to avoid the feelings associated with what happened and to express them instead through anger, avoidance and depression.

Because every person reacts differently to being abused, it can be difficult to tell how someone was abused unless they are willing to talk about it. Blocking memories from childhood is very common but most people can remember some of what happened to them, enough that they know they have been abused. Many kids grow up to be adults who are very skilled at hiding their pain, particularly ignoring the pain from their childhood. They may feel relieved at getting out of the situation and so they move on with their lives. They may avoid talking about it or any references to it and some even can have contact with the very parents that abused them without letting those feelings out. But the feelings do find a way out usually through behaviors like you describe with your husband.

Your husband laughing about what happened to him as a child shows that it not only hurt him, but that he most likely was abused. No child who is cared for and loved fights and steals and thinks that is funny. Hurting the dog, the lack of sex and the lack of empathy about what you feel are also signs that something is wrong. You also describe him as stoic and robotic, which is another indication that he is not in touch with his feelings.

If your husband is willing to work on his issues, he can feel better and improve your marriage. Unfortunately, he has to be willing. If he is, talk to him about going to therapy. It would be ideal for him to see someone individually first so he can get to the bottom of what is causing his behavior. Then you both can work on the marriage together. Also, he can work on his problems through self help. Here are some resources to help:

I hope this has helped you,

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