Sharing Your Story


My grandmother's partner groomed me from a young age sexually assaulted me while I was drunk as an adult. My husband witnessed and stopped the assault. This has caused significant trauma and issues in our marriage. Now my husband is giving me an ultimatum: I must tell my grandmother about the assault and limit contact with her, or he will leave me. My grandmother is terminally ill with cancer. Is it fair for my husband to demand this of me? I'm not ready to tell my family, and I don't want to lose my grandmother before I have to. I'm also afraid that if I choose to leave instead, he'll tell my family anyway. What should I do?


Wow. This is a really tough situation. Thank you for sharing it with us. 

To start, while your husband's concern for your well-being is understandable, issuing ultimatums in such sensitive matters is rarely productive and can add unnecessary pressure to an already traumatic situation. Putting you in that position is extremely unfair. Your healing process should proceed at your own pace, and forcing disclosure before you're ready could potentially be harmful to your mental health and family relationships.

It's crucial to remember that this is your story, and yours alone. The decision to share it should be entirely yours to make. No one, not even your spouse, has the right to dictate when, how, or to whom you disclose your traumatic experience. Your assault is a deeply personal part of your life, and you have the absolute right to control your narrative. While, as I stated earlier, your husband's feelings and concerns are valid, ultimately, the choice to share your story must come from you when you feel ready and safe to do so. Your autonomy in this matter is paramount, and it's important to assert your right to make this decision on your own terms and timeline.

When you are thinking about what decision to make, prioritize your safety and well-being. This doesn't necessarily require immediate disclosure to your grandmother, especially given her health condition. Instead, you might consider seeking professional help from a therapist who specializes in sexual trauma. They can provide guidance on your healing journey and help you navigate the complicated family dynamics at play and the decision-making you are making during this tumultuous time.

Open communication with your husband is crucial. I would recommend that you express your feelings about his ultimatum and work together to find a compromise that prioritizes your safety and healing without forced disclosure. When discussing this with your husband, consider proposing some compromises that address his concerns while respecting your boundaries.

You could agree to limit your contact with your grandmother's partner without disclosing the reason to your grandmother, perhaps by meeting your grandmother in public places or when her partner isn't present. Another compromise might be committing to continuing or starting therapy to address the trauma and its impact on your relationship could demonstrate that you're actively working on healing. You might also establish a timeline for potentially disclosing to your grandmother in the future, when you feel more prepared. This isn't a promise to disclose, but a commitment to revisit the topic. Creating safety plans for any situations where you might encounter your grandmother's partner could also address your husband's concerns about your well-being. If you're comfortable, consider confiding in a trusted family member or friend about the situation, which could provide additional support without full disclosure to your grandmother. Remember, these are suggestions to consider, and any compromise should feel right and safe for you. The goal is to find a middle ground that respects your autonomy while acknowledging your husband's concerns.

You might also consider couples counseling to address the marital issues stemming from this traumatic event. Setting personal boundaries regarding contact with your grandmother's partner is important and can be done without necessarily disclosing the reason to your grandmother. Remember, your healing journey is deeply personal, and while your husband's support is vital, the decision to disclose should ultimately be yours when you feel ready.

Ultimately, there's no easy answer, but focusing on your personal healing, seeking professional support, and working on open communication with your husband are positive steps forward. Take the time you need to make decisions that feel right for you. Thank you for reaching out to us. We are here for you.

Safety Exit