Q: About one year into our relationship, my boyfriend of two years told me he’d been sexually molested by a female babysitter at the age of 11. He also told me that he was aware of incestuous encounters between his father and his stepsister and cousins, with whom he has discussed these childhood incidents. The weird thing is that my boyfriend does not seem to think any of this is any big deal. I don’t know what horrified me the most—the incidents he described or his current attitude toward them. We’ve talked about getting married down the road, but now I don’t know how his attitude on incest would impact on our future together. I really don’t think I’d be comfortable having children with him, for one, and, two, incest is a horrible, horrible crime to me. In my opinion, his attitude toward it is very accepting—and that bothers me big time.
A: Slow down. You may be missing something important here. Your boyfriend could be in denial. He’s not fully accepting the painful consequences of what happened to him as a child. He’s ignoring the true true emotional impact of the incest and molestation. In the short term, this protects him from having to face the traumas of his past. In the long term, however, it blunts his emotional growth and prevents him from moving on with his life. Suggest that he get into some good, long-term therapy. Hypnotherapy (using hypnosis to access childhood memories) can be an excellent way for him to get in touch with his pain so he can achieve catharsis—a sudden release of pent-up feelings—that will help in the healing process.