Experiences from the past can sometimes haunt us in the present and future whether we like it or not
As a psychologist, I have learned many things about human behavior that I find very interesting and amazing. One such aspect deals with how generational patterns of relating repeat themselves, sometimes with pinpoint accuracy. I am sure many of you may be aware of this phenomenon when considering alcoholism and those that have been sexually abused. These generational patterns seem pervasive in our day and age. One only need pick up a newspaper and read about yet another case where perpetrator was a victim of the same kind of abuse that he or she is caught in the act of doing.
I recently had a client who came to an insightful realization after his marriage failed. Through therapy, we discovered that as a result of his wife's first sexual experience of being raped and the fact that she did not seek help or report it until months later that the pattern of abuse was primed to be set in motion. What he learned was that the rape, although completely unsolicited, would end up being a relational pattern that unfortunately would repeat over and over again.
As a result of the rape she was unable to have what he labeled "healthy sexual relationships" with anyone following that trauma. She reacted to the trauma by being verbally abusive to all subsequent men, which resulted in them feeling stripped of their masculinity so much so that the end result was violence. He had the occasion to speak with two of her former sexual partners and learned that while neither of them considered themselves violent individuals that the constant chiding, criticism and verbal abuse about them not being "man enough, long enough, hard enough, etc." eventually elicited rage induced, forceful sexual encounters that had all of them ending the relationship.
What I found interesting was that she never saw the situations, where she was the common denominator, as having anything to do with her. It was all about the men she attracted into her life where they all had sexual issues and found her sexually intimidating because as she put it "was very confident and comfortable in her expression of sexuality". In essence though, she had learned to relate to men sexually in a way that resulted in the sexual abuse being perpetuated. Even though it was extremely painful for my client to end his marriage, he found relief and what he considered a healthy and loving sexual relationship with a new partner.
This is just one example of how relational patterns can be discovered through therapy that can help bring about healing through understanding and insight. The client was able to successfully extract himself from being fully enmeshed with his wife and create and sustain healthy boundaries from that point forward.