Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.
I'm sorry to hear that you are going through this very difficult situation with your husband. It may be a shock to you and he may be experiencing deep shame and low self esteem from what you describe. But you both can get through this.
First, it is a testament to your marriage and how your husband feels about you that he was able to even share what he went through. He seems to trust you a great deal. That may not be a huge factor for you right now given what you are coping with, but his trust in you will help repair your relationship and also help him heal.
Second, it sounds like your husband was horribly sexually abused by his family. He not only suffered through poverty and going hungry as a result, but he was a target of his family members, especially his mother who should have been helping him through, not hurting him. When someone is abused as a child, their idea of right and wrong becomes skewed. He may not have realized until he became an adult that sexual abuse and incest were wrong. It is not unlike parents who abuse their children who then abuse others or become bullies. Children don't know much other than what they are taught by family. And if a good number of your husband's family members were incestuous, he may have thought it was normal behavior. Children also lack the power to say no. They depend very much on family to take care of them or even keep them alive. To say no when you have no power to do so is almost impossible. And because his mother made the abuse a secret (not uncommon at all) then he may have been too scared to tell another adult what he was going through until he told you.
Third, neither of you should be facing this alone. Seeing a therapist is imperative. Many therapists work nights and weekends and will try to accommodate your schedule. You can also try on line therapy which is available almost around the clock. Your husband needs to work through his abuse and heal and you need a chance to work on your emotions around what you learned and also how to help your husband. And you both need a lot of support right now.
If your husband was abused physically at such a young age and his mother controlled him, that is added physical and emotional trauma. If his father was not allowed to be involved, that means your husband's total exposure to what is normal was through his very abusive mother. It's amazing that he was able to cope with all he went through and became the person he is today with you and your children.
Here are some resources you and your husband can use at home until you can see a therapist:
Silently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners
by ***** ***** Ph.D. (Author), Patrick Carnes Ph.D.
Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused Steven Farmer
Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
by Susan Forward and Craig Buck
Most of all, try to take everything a step at a time. You have just been through a shock and your husband has just shared something deeply painful. You both need time and help in healing. This changes your relationship and you both need to work on how you will recover and come back together with an even stronger marriage. It is very possible so there is reason to feel encouraged.
I hope this has helped you,Kate
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If he was taught that sex with relatives was normal, then the attraction he felt for his sister would seem normal to him. What is normal in one culture may be seen as wrong in another. The "culture" your husband grew up in was very dysfunctional but he didn't know that until he found out for himself. It may seem upsetting to anyone who has not gone through sexual abuse but it is very common for sexually abused children to feel attraction or even to defend what happened (abuse can develop into Stockholm Syndrome as well). I am not saying your fears and concerns are not completely normal. They are very normal. But because your husband is telling you this now and the behavior has stopped, as well as your husband hiding the abuse until now all adds up to him realizing how wrong it was.
There is also the fact that so many family members participated in the abuse. Often there is only one family member who is abusive, usually the father or mother, and the children are abused by the parent. But in your husband's case, it seems there was family participation which is more rare, but it does happen. With so many family members involved, your husband literally had very few if no family members that were not abusive. The fact that he took this abuse elsewhere and participated himself for a long time would not be unusual in such a situation.
If you are scared about your husband's interaction with your children, talk to him about it. See his reaction. Also, if you can get to therapy, which is going to really help with this part, you need to express your fears to the therapist. The therapist can help you evaluate any potential issues with your children. You can also talk to your children depending on their ages. If they are older, try talking to them in general, leaving out details. For example, tell them their father was abused as a child and ask them how they feel about that. If you feel okay, your husband can be there as well. Let your children ask questions and be as open as possible without telling them the details of the abuse. You don't want to traumatize them.
What he went through may have been ingrained by then. If you spend your life doing something one way and were taught that it was okay, it takes time to change your behavior when you learn otherwise. Being abused your entire childhood will cause all kinds of issues including PTSD and other trauma related problems. It takes a long time to undo those behaviors and learn what is normal then act on it.