When a spouse triggers (trig)

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2003
When a spouse triggers (trig)
Tue, 06-03-2003 - 7:08pm
Hi. I realized recently that the fact that my DH is a very big guy (over a foot taller than me and hefty) is triggering for me, and whenever I get confronted with the size difference, especially when we are snuggling, I tend to feel afraid and powerless. Have any of you dealt with this, and how do you keep from going into "little girl in the power of big man" type of mode?

Also, my DH tends to snuggle up to me and touch me in his sleep, while I am sleeping. He doesn't do it on purpose, but it's very triggering for me. I often have nightmares about being asleep and having an abuser touch me, and I don't always know it's my DH when he does it. It feels like being stuck in a nightmare, because I don't necessarily wake up all the way. I asked him to sleep elsewhere one night last week when I was feeling especially vulnerable and afraid to sleep in the same bed, but I don't want to sleep in separate beds as a general rule. But I also don't want to feel vulnerable and on-guard in my own bed. Has anyone dealt with this type of thing?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, understanding, etc. I am planning to discuss this with my therapist today, too.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Tue, 06-03-2003 - 10:44pm
I know all too well what you mean and unfortuantly I don't have an answer for you...

I am not actively 'dealing with my abuse issues", but when I was seeing my T, this was much of my problem....

I came to realize that I picked my husband becuase he was close to my abuse physcal shape... and one that I could not deal with.... we divorced this past Feb...

I think I will always 'not deal' rather then deal with it... I dont' want to look back at memories, or relive them.. i just want to get on with living....my present and future life... and so far since i have cut connections/communications w/ abuser and divorced, I don't have as much as a problem.... I still keep people at bay, wont' let anyone get too close but i've done that pretty much all my life...

I wish you luck... Please seek out a couselor... they will help you and your hubby.... I wish i had a better response for you...

thoughts and prayers to you.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2003
Wed, 06-04-2003 - 1:48am
Hello and welcome to the board!

I'm not sure I have a good response for you, but I wanted you to know that I read your post and I'm glad you're here.

What was your T's response when you told her/him? I'm glad that you have someone who can help guide you through this.

A book that I've seen recommended, although I haven't read it myself, is called "Ghosts in the Bedroom," and is a guide for partners of abuse survivors. Maybe this is something you and your husband could go through together? It might help initiate conversation in a way where you can express what you're going through without his taking it personally. I do think that communication is really important between spouses. I'm assuming that you are in a loving relationship? Is your husband aware of the abuse you have been through?

I'm sorry that I don't have more to offer. Be sure to keep an eye on your post, though, because I'm sure you'll get more responses! We have great people here!

Love, Heidi


co-cl, Sexual Abuse Healing Board

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Wed, 06-04-2003 - 3:14am
I'm going to offer you my opinion. Take it or leave it, but know that it's offered with a loving heart and the best intentions!

When I'm doing inner child work, I try to approach my inner child the same way I'd approach my actual children. One thing I do with my actual children is to "parent with the end in mind." In making my parenting decisions, I try to think of what I want my kids to learn from the experience. What kind of adults do I hope they will be? For example, I realized a few months ago that I was still cutting their food and I hadn't really given them the chance to learn to do that. So I started letting them cut their food--even though it was messy and they don't do a perfect job of it. (How could they? They're just learning!)

Anyway, the way I see this relating to your post is this: You have fears at night. I see that as your inner child's fears. So, if this were me, I would parent that inner child with the end in mind. I want her to know that my spouse is not someone to be afraid of. If I send my spouse out of the bedroom, that just reaffirms the non-reality-based fear. But if I let her feel the fear, but then reassure her and ground her in my present reality--which is vastly different from her past reality--then she will eventually learn that she doesn't have to be afraid anymore.

I speak to my inner child(ren) through writing, dom/non-dom handwriting (thanks to Gail!!!), and in conversation with myself. (Yes, I do talk to myself, and yes I do answer myself! LOL)

I hope this helps.