How to support my partner
While working in a different country I met a woman who had gone through awful experiences of abuse as a child and young adult, both emotionally and sexually. We fell in love, decided to leave the country together (as her family would not accept our relationship) and have been trying to settle in Australia.
We have issues due to cultural differences, I have been trying to find support, but it has not been easy (I actually feel let down by some of the existing services as we haven't been able to get counseling for her. We have been to couples counseling, it was suggested we -and specially her with her history- went to singles counseling, but with the Christmas holidays and administrative errors we haven't been able to access therapy for her in a couple of months), we are both looking for work and our financial situation adds stress, and our GP mentioned that my wife is likely to suffer from PTSD.
I am no psychologist and have been trying to support her the best I can, but periodically we have episodes when the smallest disagreement ends up in a fight, and they escalate very quickly. I have been working with my counselor and I am making an effort to extract myself from discussions as quickly as possible, but it seems like an impossible task. Whence before I used to try and use logic (big mistake), or present my point of view, now I understand the best I can do is to listen and not get entangled in the fight. But even then seems like an impossible task. I try to set boundaries (I try to not accept yelling, as in the past we both ended up screaming; or to have the option of step away when upset) but I'm yet to be able to not react at all when something bothers me. As, as soon as my face "changes" it seems like she gets triggered and her defenses come up, as she believes she may end up abused as used to happen when she was a child.
I am trying my best to support her, but it is so tiring. It feels like I live on a minefield. We are having many good days, but any bad day sticks in her head for weeks, and makes her feel like we are always in an awful situation, and makes her depressed. I know she also needs to go through therapy, but it is tough waiting for the system to help us, as it is not financially viable to go to a private practice in this moment.
Is there anyone with experience on how we can get support? What can I do better, while avoiding falling with her in deep spirals of hopelessness? And, where to go for help that can be accessed promptly?
Welcome here to the Forum, here if you look around you may find others in your circumstances.
I'll mention at the start the Blue Knot Foundation. I'm not sure they still have a counceling service however they certainly have a lot of information for those who have been abused, and for their supporters.
As somone with PTSD I can have some idea of the instant change of mood, aggression and fearfulness that can happen to your wife, together wiht brooding over things for long periods. It was easy for me to blame someone.
I think you are doing pretty well, you have already learned that answering such outbursts with logic or facts simply either makes no impression or makes things worse. Cutting right thought the barrage of words and accusation by saying "I love you" is the only thing I can think of that may work. Handing over a cup of tea (or coffee etc) - not using the best china - may help too.
It is easy to feel some degree of guilt when faced wiht very emotional accusations and counceling for yourself may be being a help there -it is not your fault. My partner thought it was indeed her fault untul my psych explained about well-known symptoms.
Your partner does need specialist help, trying to improve oneself did not work for me, and a loving partner is an undoubted comfort and gives a degree of stability, but is no substitute for experienced professionals used to people abused and traumatized.
I'm afraid such things are normally expensive, bulk billing is of course the ultimate, but there are so few professionals who can do that. Perhaps the Blue Knot may have suggestions.
You may also find our own 24/7 help line may have ideas too.
If you felt like returning and saying how you are getting on that would be great