DEAR ABBY: Many years ago, I was the victim of a violent assault that my then-11-year-old daughter witnessed. It traumatized both of us, but me, the worst. I completely dove off the deep end. I started drinking and smoking pot, and quit going to church. My whole personality changed. I dumped every moment with my children I could onto my husband so I could go out with my "friends" to clubs, bars, concerts or parties. I then started having affairs with many different people, including women. My husband knew about all of it, and despite the torture and pain I put him through, he stayed with me.
Years later, I have managed to slowly heal from that devastating assault. I have found true joy in my children and being a mom again. I don't party, drink or smoke anymore. But one thing has become clear: I'm no longer sexually attracted to my husband. I love him very much, but the thought of being intimate with him grosses me out. It makes me so uncomfortable. I don't even like it when he tries to caress me. It has been like this for a year. But I do love holding hands with him and cuddling with him.
I feel bad because I know he has needs, but I just can't bring myself to get physical with him. I've actually thought that leaving him might be necessary because he has never fully healed from what I've done, and I'm still struggling with finding other men attractive. Abby, what do I do? -- PUTTING THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER
DEAR PUTTING: Please accept my sympathy for what happened to you. I am struck by the fact that nowhere in your letter did you mention receiving counseling after the assault. If you didn't, please seek a referral to a licensed mental health professional now so you can understand the connection between what you experienced in your assault and your lack of feelings for your husband. You owe it to both of you.
Go online and search on "services for victims of crime" in your state. Help is available through these resources. Alternatively, your physician or health insurance provider can give you a referral. Explain to your husband that the problem isn't him -- it's you -- and you will be getting help for it. Please don't wait to reach out because help is available.