Brief Synopsis: One couple grapples with a painful past and sexual abuse.
Couple: Tess and Thomas
Challenge: When Tess was 16 years old, she was date raped by a man she thought she could trust. His lack of humanity not only took her virginity, it also has long lingering effects on her current sex life and her ability to trust her partner.
How they cope: Tess tries to be open and trusting, but it’s hard for her to enjoy sex or to be in the moment. Meanwhile Thomas feels confused and overwhelmed by her issues and isn’t sure how to help.
Where they’re stuck: Tess has never dealt with the emotional trauma from her sexual assault, and sadly this is negatively affecting everything from her mood to her sexuality to her relationship.
Dr. Berman’s homework:
Seek help. It’s very difficult to deal with the painful and long-lasting affects of sexual abuse, and trying to do so alone can be doubly difficult and overwhelming. You can find resources in your area by visiting the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at http://www.rainn.org/.
Support your partner. If your partner is dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse, you will likely feel very confused, lost, angry, and depressed. It can be hard to know how to help your partner and to find the right words to say. Rest assured, the best thing you can do is listen openly, be compassionate and take things slow.
Communicate. Talking about your feelings is the most important step on the road to healing. If you can’t find the words to say, try soul gazing and let your eyes do the talking. Sit cross-legged and face one another on the bed, and then place your right hands on each other’s hearts. Maintain your gaze and breathe in deeply, and simply be still and present with one another.