themighty logo

How Past Sexual Abuse Affects My Ability to Trust Others Now


It’s amazing to me how after three years of therapy and infinite reassurances from my husband, friends and therapists, I still find trust so hard.

I wish I could accept that when I’m told I’m loved, cared for, can rely on someone and express my needs/fears, I didn’t still have this asshole voice in my head that argues with me and makes me question things and makes me behave irrationally.

That’s the hardest part about sexual abuse. Never mind the discomfort in my body, flashbacks, nightmares, the power that’s taken away and the fear of being hurt again. The inability to trust fully and accept care completely is the single most awful thing that has been taken from me.

It’s the thing that silently destroys relationships and fulfills my hidden fears. It’s the thing that makes me behave irrationally and on one hand, be too clingy and on the other, reject everyone and isolate myself. 

The closer the person is, the more terrified and irrational I get. It’s so frustrating. And I can hear people saying, “just get over it.”

But it’s not that easy. When you grew up not being able to trust the presence and care of your primary caregivers, you develop a severe aversion to attachment and trust. It’s almost like a phobia.

My hope is that one day I can get to the point where I don’t need so much validation of the trust and care people give me to feel secure.

To those on the journey right now with me, I’m sorry for how irrational I am sometimes. I’m not doing it on purpose. It comes from a genuine place of almost debilitating insecurity and fear of losing you. It comes from simultaneously desperately needing connection and the safety of trusted individuals while feeling like these needs will overwhelm you and make me a burden to you.

I know the psychology behind it. I am aware of how it developed. And I know the only way to heal these wounds is to expose myself to the very things I fear. Namely, allowing myself to be vulnerable, allowing myself to feel my feelings and persevere in spite of them, allowing myself to tolerate my relationship anxiety and allowing myself to risk that trust might be broken so I can learn that there truly are those who will be there for you no matter what and no matter how broken I sometimes feel.

Unsplash photo via Timothy Paul Smith