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Partner with C-PTSD Withdrawing

Hi there, I'm coming for advice specifically about complex trauma and what to do when someone you deeply care about doesn't want your help.


My partner has complex PTSD and, long story short, is terrified of me hurting her, emotionally. I've definitely let her down over the course of our relationship, but it's gotten to the point where she can't be at home (we live together) and is choosing to live in her car. We've tried couples counselling but it seems like there's too much pain there for her to be open to reconciling.


She doesn't have anybody but me, she is incredibly high functioning but has almost no money. I'm terrified she'll end up on the street but she desperately does not want to go into the public mental health care (she has a lot of trauma from being in the system).


I am absolutely terrified 24/7 about her safety.

What do I do? I'm trying to be as open as I can and give her options but she has a reason to say no to everything I suggest. Is there anything I can do for her? 




Re: Partner with C-PTSD Withdrawing

Hello @Throwitfaraway I'm not sure that I can help, because to be honest I was a little confused by your post, whether you're seeking relationship advice on how to get back together or just want to know more about c-PTSD.


I guess for me there are a few contradictions that stand out. If she is refusing help and does not want treatment how do you know she has c-PTSD. And you say she is incredibly high functioning but functional impairment is a key component of c-PTSD, where difficulty meeting educational, inter-personal, career and bonding milestones are observable - often from young childhood. The fact that she is with you at all says to me that she may be more well than you give her credit for and you could step back a little. I am assuming, but could be wrong, that incredibly high functioning means working too and she has demonstrated she is capable of financial independence....maybe she just needs help with managing finances, which is something that can be taught.


How many times has she been single in her life if you don't mind me asking?


I guess all I am saying is I think that people can get themselves into dangerous situations where they 'play the system' in that you are encouraging her to avoid engaging with the public mental health system via inaction. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind mate, and anyone that has lived through the humiliation of a public breakdown will attest that as awful as it is, it is sometimes necessary for the safety of the person that you dob them in and call for help.


The only reason I can come up with is that you may have MH yourself and you too wish to be protected from parts of the system and protected from being exposed & that is why you are complying with her wishes. How else could you be worried for her safety 24/7 and not call for help. I understand that it is scary and it is daunting but not as scary as the very worst result....and we all know what that is.


I think when a couple attempts to manage each other's MI's in secret that that can become really dangerous and unhealthy, and if I was a social worker on the ward, I would ask why? Why all the secrecy. I understand there is still a lot of stigma but it seems to be a central dynamic in your relationship. 


Just my 2 cents. I am sure there are lots of complications and mitigating factors you haven't gone into, but I would encourage you to open up to a health professional and bring more of what has been happening out into the open in a private space.


Maybe its a cultural thing, but I can't see how either of you can be well when so much is hush-hush. It will make you sick and un-stable if you are not half way there already, and she doesn't need to be babied, she's already proven that via her functional capacity.


Learnt helplessness is a real thing, and maybe you guys need to consider if it has developed in your relationship and if the caring is actually doing more harm than good. I am sure all your help comes from a very sincere place, but we can over do it. Take it from people that have learnt the hard way and learn from our own mistakes that have cost us dearly.


Good luck




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