Relationship problems and a history of incest

My girlfriend is an incest survivor, and often she gets upset over the smallest thing. I usually come under suspicion when it comes to trust particularly around other woman: she has a deep mistrust of me when I associate with other women, this is usually at work. Nearly all of my colleagues are female. How can I reassure her that I am not interested in anyone else and that I love her? Here issues are with boundaries and what could happen. I believe that she is hyper sensitive with my association with other women.

This is a really hard question to deal with without meeting yourself and your partner. It might have nothing to do with her experience of incest, yet that is often a basis for mistrust and a lack of self belief and seeing oneself as unworthy of a good relationship. Have you been able to discuss this with her? It might be useful to see a counsellor together to understand how you can ‘prove’ your commitment and loyalty to her, when she’ll know she can trust you and so on. A lot of the legacy of such childhood experiences are not spoken about and hidden, so they can be hard to challenge until they are more openly acknowledged, and this is best done within the safety of a counselling situation.

With such a potentially complex topic I would encourage you to get professional assistance for you and your girlfriend by contacting an organisation such as CASA (which specialises in offering comprehensive support for people who have experienced sexual abuse) or us at the Counselling Service.

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