Relationship Replay: Tess has been suffering the residual effects of sexual assault stemming from a date rape which occurred when she was 16 years old. She is unable to be present and enjoy sex with her partner, and he isn’t sure how to help her or how to fix her pain.
Dr. Berman’s homework:
Consider couples therapy. Sexual trauma is one of the most difficult crimes a person can endure. A couples’ therapist can help your partner to understand where you are coming from and offer them tools to help you on your journey of healing and recovery. She can also help you to improve your communication so that you can feel comfortable opening up to your spouse about what is happening for you on an emotional level.
Restore non-demand touch. It’s important to able to enjoy touch and intimacy without the expectation of sex. This is especially true for victims of sexual trauma. You need to be able to feel like you are in control and you can turn down sexual activity when you choose to. However, just because you don’t want to have sex doesn’t mean that you don’t want to enjoy cuddling with your partner, kissing, holding hands, etc. Just take it slow and move at your own pace.
Get educated on where your partner is coming from. If you are the partner of a victim of sexual trauma, you might feel confused, frightened and unaware of what to do. Luckily, there are many support groups and resources for partners of sexual abuse victims. You can ask your therapist for a support group in your area, or you can search online.