Sexual Abuse

The results of sexual abuse are harmful and can create challenges with self-acceptance and sexual expression as an individual and in a relationship. However, sexual healing can be reached! Sexual healing takes effort and patience from the survivor, as well as, care, effort, and patience from the survivor’s partner (if applicable). 

The impact of sexual abuse and assault can impact both the survivor and partner. The journey toward sexual healing, is a joint effort and collaboration

“To decrease fear, and increase sexual interest, survivors and their partners need to reach an understanding. These two ground rules are essential: Expressing interest in sex, is not a commitment to a sexual activity. Declining sex is not an absolute rejection. (Maltz, Wendy 2012).” 

I suggest couples communicate (gently/ lovingly/ patiently/ and honestly), at least twice a week about their progress in sexual healing. 

Additional rules for communication:

  • Avoid blaming, name calling, and labeling.
  • Listen actively, don’t interrupt.
  • Seek understanding by repeating back. Ask for clarification. 

Creating an atmosphere of safety and trust is paramount. As a result of the sexual assault, lack of consent, and intrusion,— survivors may experience great sadness, dissociation, and feelings of low self-worth. Sexual survivors may blame themselves at times, and may develop negative frameworks about themselves and their bodies. Additionally, according to the American psychological association, survivors may experience flashbacks or nightmares as a result of the trauma. 

The results of sexual assault can create significant emotional pain, and negative associations with one’s self, arousal or sexual intercourse. Within a relationship, the lack of care, patience, support, and collaboration can inhibit or impede healthy sexual growth or connection, which further creates feelings of loneliness, shame and guilty.

Important aspects of our sexuality to consider: 

“Willingness, Libido, Pain arousal, Orgasm, and Satisfaction” ( Kauppi, Martha 2016). 

Does any kind of sexual touch feel uncomfortable or painful?  I would recommend speaking with your MD, and then a vulvar pain specialist, pelvic floor PT, urologist, or sexual medicine MD. 

I recommend my clients have a sexual vacation. A sexual vacation may be needed, to re-establish safety/ trust/ and healthy-boundaries, as well as to  learn new positive associations of one’s body/parts. 

During this time, it’s important to think about our ideas around sex as a result of the trauma, or beliefs that may have contributed to our view of sex. It would be beneficial to do research, or work with a trained professional/ clinician, to help facilitate this new awareness and continued growth. 

Take time to help relearn touch. Make non-sexual connections first. Touching does not mean sex must be the outcome. Non-sexual touching can be intimate and help create a close/safe connection. (i.e Sharing time, eye contact, talking, and playing).

When sex resumes, It’s important to ensure consent, and to continue a collaboration in creating honest/ safe spaces for open communication regarding comfort-ability.  

Desire for sex can increase, as you increase self respect, patience, safe communication, and care. 

I wish you well in your journey and support for sexual healing!

For additional support or questions, please schedule a consultation today!

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