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Sex Assault While Grieving for Husband

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My husband died 3 years ago.  He had been planning to move with me from where we were living in the UK to another country, halfway around the world where I had accepted a job.  He had been suffering chronic health problems for years and his health had been declining.  Both of us wanted to leave the UK and I thought a new start might turn things around for him.  Instead, he wound up in hospital after we'd accepted an offer on our house and died after struggling for 5 very difficult weeks.  I had already resigned from my job in the UK and agreed to start my new job by the given deadline.  I had a very short time to plan his funeral, clear our things out of the house, and plan to move my self and our dog to our new location.  I packed 2 large suitcases and put the rest of my things and, some of my husband's, into storage after a large clear-out.

I didn't know anyone in my new location, but wound up in a nice neighborhood with neighbors who welcomed me with dinners and friendly chats on the street.  I was numb with grief and didn't really want to socialize much anyway.  I started my new job 2 weeks after arriving in my new location.  It was a welcome distraction.  

I was forced to resign from my job a little over a year ago, due to a new manager who falsely accused me of misconduct.  A lawyer took my case on contingency and is working to help me reestablish my professional reputation.

Last spring, I found out that the actions of a male work colleague, while I was still working for the employer, amounted to sex assault.  I was trying to grieve the loss of my husband when the incident happened (a little over 2 years ago) and, although I liked him and felt a spark with him, did not want him to do what he did.  I even tried to pull away, but he would not let me go.  I was terribly vulnerable and spent months thinking he wanted to ask me out, but was giving me time and space to grieve for my husband, which I needed.  I wanted to grieve for at least a year before I started dating.  I later found out he is married. I am not promiscuous.  I feel terribly humiliated by him and have been told I have PTSD.  I feel I have betrayed my husband's memory because my focus changed from him during a time I was grieving for him to someone who did not respect me.

I did not and still do not want to get this man in trouble. However, I have long wanted to say something to him about the tremendous distress he has caused me. I tried to bring it up with him before I lost my job. I have written him a letter, but have been warned that I should not communicate with him until my legal dispute is resolved.  I cannot imagine him sharing my letter with his employer’s legal counsel because he could lose his job.  It is very distressing to me to have to have suffered so much, without his being made aware of the amount of distress he has caused me.  

Has anyone else on this forum experienced anything like this?  What did you do?


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Oh Hon, I want to take you under my wings and console/protect you!  What you experienced is NOT your fault, you did not betray your husband!  What happened is some low life took advantage of your vulnerability!  Predators can sniff it out, I'm not kidding.  I went through something that I can relate to your situation...

I was newly grieving my husband...my family couldn't relate as they all still had their spouses. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF OUR FRIENDS disappeared immediately!!!  I was 52, he barely 51, when he suddenly/unexpectedly died, leaving me in shock, extreme anxiety, terrified, alone.  I didn't have a clue where to start to try and mend my life.  A man called, saying he was a friend of George's, and me desperate for someone to talk to, took his calls.  I told him I was sorry I hadn't notified him as I didn't know about him, we'd just held his funeral.  Over the ensuing months, we'd talk now and then, eventually every day.  He was the only one I had to talk to as my daughter had gone back to her life by then and my son was in the Air Force.  My sisters didn't get it.  

Eventually we married but he did a switcheroo on me, he'd said he'd move here, etc. but instead stayed in Portland, about 3 1/2 hours from me.  He never did live with me but I discovered he lived with at least two other women while we were married (one at a time) AND he used my credit for $57,000, then quit his job and went into hiding with our new motorhome (which I had to pay for, along with our car, etc).  He also stole multiple tools/equipment from me.  The police would do nothing. I never was able to collect on my judgment against him, following my getting a divorce.  I do not think of him as a husband as he never was that to me, but instead refer to him as Con John.  He set out to prey on me, perhaps reading about George's death in an obituary?  

In your situation, the guy knew your plight and vulnerability.  You are as much a victim in this as I was in my situation.  I feel humiliated all these years later!  I could be on a Dr. Phil show, how embarrassing is that!  I was anything but "thinking" and clear in those days.  It's common to not have clarity of mind in our early (first 2-3 years) grief.  We get what is commonly referred to as grief fog, widow's brain, etc.  It's all such a shock to our system and can take quite a while to process their death, our grief, let alone see anything with clarity!

That you are fighting this with a lawyer is commendable!  GOOD FOR YOU!  I pray with you that you win and get the resolution you so deserve.  I think even more important than winning is that you are fighting!  It shows you are not taking this laying down!  You are reclaiming your life!!  And that is the most important thing.  Say only good stuff about and to yourself.  You are deserving, you are a good person, well deserving your husband's love.  Think of him as looking down on you with love/support and a smile for you.  Never once did I think of my husband as condemning of me for being so stupid as to be taken in by this man because my husband always understood me, would be the first to understand all I was going through and how everything developed.  My husband would want to fight to come to my aid!  But barring his being able to do that, he would support me 1,000% in my efforts to fight for myself!

I refinanced my old mobile home & property to pay all of the indebtedness, it will take me until I'm nearly 80 to pay it all off, it's certainly affected my retirement.  I struggle to make ends meet but I'm doing it.  People have asked me why I didn't just file bankruptcy, I could have, but the lending institutions had good faith in me when extending credit and it wasn't their fault I brought this  *&$!#/ man into the equation!  Had it not been for me they never would have heard of him.  And it's been my experience that when you crawl out of debt the hard way, you learn lessons you never would have if you took the easy way out, so I keep plugging away.  Anyway, I fault no one for making different decisions under the circumstances, it's just my morals I choose to live by.  I'm ethical but broke.  ;)  At the end of the day, I can live with myself and that's what's important.

I don't tell my story often, it's embarrassing, but I do tell it when I need to, and I feel I need to, with you.

This man raped me in a different way...financially, my BEING!  There's more than one way to rape.  But I have also experienced rape in the literal sense, when I was 16, like you, I did not give assent in any way, shape, or form, I was innocent and had that innocence stolen, I did not even know what he was doing, I had to have it explained to me later.  I didn't tell my mom, I came home and washed up, trying to get him "off of me" in a way!  

That this destroyed your career is so wrong, a wrong on TOP of a wrong!  I do hope with you that you clear your name.  Do not give up on getting back in your field.  I hope you have a good therapist who can help you through this, help you tap into your core of strength!  Meanwhile, please keep coming here, updating us, vent, scream, cry, whatever you feel, we're here for you!


Maybe you've already figured some of this out but I want to leave you with this anyway...it's something I wrote at about ten years out, kind of a synopsis of what I've learned over the years...learning to take a day at a time helped me tremendously, as did learning to look for ANY bit of good in my day!  And this place, right here, saved my life, nearly 16 years ago.

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.


There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.



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10 hours ago, Interrupted said:

I did not and still do not want to get this man in trouble.


10 hours ago, Interrupted said:

I cannot imagine him sharing my letter with his employer’s legal counsel because he could lose his job.

PLEASE do not worry about this man!!!  PLEASE!  Save your concern...for YOU!  He made his bed...you did not.  

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Thank you for your kind reply and for telling me your story.  I am sorry the police did not do what they should have done, which was to hold the man who preyed on you accountable.  I have had more than 1 man try to take advantage of me financially because of my being a vulnerable widow.  One of them, my former handyman, succeeded, though not anywhere near in the way that happened to you.  He gained my trust and then ripped me off on a bunch of repairs, leaving me thousands of dollars out of pocket.  A State agency is now going after him, though I will not get a penny back if they succeed, thanks to some weird administrative rule.  It's unlikely he has any money to pay anyone back anyway.

I wanted to clarify a couple of things in your responses.  Firstly, my lawsuit is not about what the man who sexually assaulted me did, although there is a chance what he did may be uncovered.  My lawsuit is about the ridiculous and inappropriate standard to which I was held, compared to other people who did not get into any trouble at all.  Secondly, there are different degrees of sex assault and the man I wrote about did not rape me.  The degrees of sex assault vary from State to State.  I think what the man I encountered did would qualify as 3rd degree sex assault in my State, because it involved strong compulsive force.  I did not, and still do not, want to get him in trouble.  I would rather resolve it with him directly and am extremely frustrated that the unethical and malicious actions of my former employer have stalled my ability to find peace in the way that I want.

There aren't many places I can vent about this, so I am grateful for this forum.  My reaction to what my work colleague (if I can call him a colleague) did is complicated by the fact that I was grieving for my husband and trying to honor his memory.  I'm not sure what my husband would have thought of this.  He was a highly respected consultant neuropsychologist who did not suffer fools gladly.  He was intelligent, funny and irreverent.  I miss him terribly, but would not want him to return in the condition he left.  He was very unwell and struggling to cope.

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I understand.  I would not want my husband with me either if it meant undue suffering.  But the day he died is the day his suffering ended and mine began.

Although there are varying degrees of sexual assault, knowing there are worse degrees does not lessen in any way what you experienced.  Wrong is wrong.  I hope you get some justice.  I understood that your lawsuit was against the employer, not the man.  You're a better woman than I am, I reckon, because I still think your number one concern should be for yourself, not for him.  He did wrong and if he has consequences, he earned them.  I am sorry you're going through this on top of grieving your husband...already quite enough to deal with on its own!

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