Relationships after Abuse - a Personal Journey - The Kavanagh Sisters Skip to content

Relationships after Abuse – a Personal Journey

Many people ask if it is possible to have a relationship after you have been abused and the answer is yes. It does however, depend on you.


I had a rough time building any form of relationships after the sexual abuse. The idea of sex made me cringe at times. Other times I wanted sex so bad it physically hurt.  Either way, no matter what was going on I always felt guilty and ashamed of myself. It was difficult for me as I really didn’t understand how I was feeling or why.  I never really gave credit to the fact the abuse I had suffered as a child had any effect on me. I was convinced when the abuse stopped its effects were over.

I did have a couple of long term relationships, but sex was always an issue for me unless I was drinking.  Because I didn’t connect the dots in relation to my past, I sometimes took it that there was something wrong with me and on the other hand I felt it was normal to not want sex on a regular basis.


When I began therapy I lost all interest in sex. I was getting multiple flash backs daily.  I didn’t even like to be touched, I could not determine if the feelings I had about sex were related to the past or the present. Everything I felt seem to trigger a memory from my abuse. I was consumed by my past and spent a lot of time crying without ever really understanding why.

I devoted myself to my therapy in an effort to identify and understand my feelings. In between sessions, work and my family I was kept busy enough. I was concerned however, that I was incapable of committing to any relationship and did resign myself to the fact I may always be alone. At the time I didn’t really see that as a problem.

When I finished therapy, I didn’t really feel any better about myself. I had learned so much but had no way of connecting it to my present situation.  I laughed a lot with my sisters about being cured and that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

It was only when we wrote our first book that I finally integrated my learning and was able to apply what I knew.  I treated myself with a lot more compassion and really saw my innocence, which up to then I had read as stupidity.  I began to like myself and my own company.

I can’t really put my finger on the moment it happened, but I do know I felt very content with myself.  I didn’t give much thought to a relationship even then, but I know I no longer held any fear around it.

Because of my role in the family I had never been able to reach out for help. I always seen it as my job to mind others. Now I found I could confide in my sisters and express my feelings and together we were able to give and receive support.  It was the first time any of us ever knew what unconditional love was. We were there for each other like never before, we challenged, supported and never judged and there is such comfort in that which led to each of us growing more confident.


It was writing our first book that saved my life. It helped me see things much clearer. I was able to own my life good and bad alike. I saw my innocence and let go of the guilt and shame that was rightfully my father’s.

I am sure I wouldn’t have had so much difficulty with relationships if I had this understanding at the beginning of my journey.  I could have made better choices, embraced my learning and improved my life. Furthermore, I could have entered into relationships where I mattered instead of spending so much time trying to fit in with other’s needs.

Our second book was like the icing on the cake. I was able to see further into what I considered my imperfections and gain a much deeper understanding of myself and my behaviour.

Things are constantly improving in my life and I am under no illusion that I am finished as life is like an onion and all we can do is continuously peel away at the layers.


I am now in a good satisfying relationship and it is good because I have learned to share my thoughts.  I honestly believe communication is the most important element of any relationship. I can be strong and weak but no matter which one I feel on any day it is okay.

So yes, relationships are possible after abuse. To be honest the best relationship you can aim for is the one you have with yourself, after that everything will fall into place.

Published inBlog- February 2018

Count Me In! Podcasts

Follow Us On Social Media

Website Designed by Paula Kavanagh