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Not Really Sure What To Do...
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An_258806 posted:
First off, I don't know if Im in the right discussion because theres many things I have to say. My girlfriend has told me that she has been molested when she was younger and from it she's noticed she gets worrisome and has panic attacks over almost everything. Ive noticed that she spaces out a lot, and I don't what to do to reduce her from spacing out. In the time we've been together she has neither been angry or too scared. I've read dozens and dozens of articles, websites, and discussions, etc. and none of them are accurate to anything I have to say or what I have witnessed. She isn't aggressive but I do notice that she says "sorry" excessively and gets a little panicky even over little things. It seems as if she's scared to lose me and everything about our relationship seems perfect besides all of those things. Plus she has nightmares and used to be depressed. But I'm afraid that she isn't completely better since she has admitted to me that she is starting to feel like she "isn't real" or that "everything seems like a dream." She is so disconnected from everything and I don't know what to do or say or think. I just need help understanding a victim of molestation. I try talking to her because she said its okay but she still won't open up. Help please..
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Reid Wilson, PhD responded:
Hey, An_258806-
I imagine you are feeling helpless right now, since you've been doing the best you can to study up on all that's going on with your girlfriend, but you still aren't clear on how to assist her. My opinion is the best way you can assist her is to help her find a therapist to check out if some of the symptoms she is having are a reflection of the work she has yet to do in managing the repercussions of that molestation. This doesn't have to turn into a big ordeal, especially since she's not really complaining about her symptoms. She can just get a couple of consultations with someone who is trained in sexual abuse. That expert can convey to her how she might help herself and how therapy might help her if she chooses that route. Some therapists will allow the partner to sit in on that first session. If the two of you decide to go that route, then the therapist can learn from you what you notice in your girlfriend that your girlfriend might not notice herself.


By the way, you say she feels "like she 'isn't real' or that 'everything seems like a dream.' She is so disconnected from everything." These are sensations of dissociation, sometimes called depersonalization and derealization. And they are a sign of something, even though we don't know what yet. However, we know that people who have been traumatized can struggle with feelings of dissociation.