As a society, we are talking about sexual assault across all media more than we have ever done in the past. The #metoo movement, as well as celebrities and others coming forward about their sexual abuse stories, has empowered other people to come forward with their own experiences.  

However, what is not being discussed as much is the impact of sexual abuse on sexuality. How does our body respond to a new sexual situation? What resources are out there to help survivors who have sexual challenges?

If you are reading this and have suffered from sexual assault and/or sexual abuse, you are not alone. It is reported that one out of every four women and one out of every six men have experienced some sort of sexual assault.

Let me repeat that: one out of every four women and one out of every six men have suffered from sexual assault.

Actually, that number is likely much higher. Many sexual assault and rape cases are not reported since very often the victim knows their abuser. Sometimes when working with a client who is struggling with sex, I discover that they may have experienced other types of sexual abuse that were not so obvious. These types of abuse are called “covert” rather than “overt”.

Here are some more covert forms of sexual abuse that you may have experienced:

Visual Abuse (e.g. Peeping Toms)

  • This could be anyone trying to look at a person’s body (especially if they are naked or undressed) without consent. A lot of times, this will easily be brushed off as “accidental” by the other party.
  • Example: Was there anyone in your family who always found a reason to come into the bathroom when you were showering, or into your bedroom when you were changing? They may have stated that they had a good reason for trying to come in, but if this situation happened to you repeatedly, especially if it was by a member of the opposite sex, you may have experienced a form of covert abuse.
  • Visual abuse also occurs when someone forces you to look at their naked body and genitals or exposes themselves to you.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse, like all types of abuse, is a way to establish and maintain control over someone. There are numerous forms of verbal abuse and they could come from many different places but most frequently it occurs with family members, partners, and authority figures. Body shaming is a very common form of verbal abuse that many women experience. Verbal abuse can also happen if your partner belittles you for not having sex, or uses sex as a threat or a bargaining chip.

Inappropriate sexual comments

This includes catcalling, which happened to me when I was 11 years old and made me hate my newly developing breasts. It happens very frequently among high school and college students, especially in the alcohol-laden fraternity and party scene where women are regularly demeaned. Inappropriate sexual innuendos in the workplace are yet another form of sexual abuse, which many women have experienced.

All types of abuse, including covert abuse, can negatively impact your sex life. This is because it is part of your sexual blueprint, which governs your adult relationship with sex and intimacy.  

Sexual Trauma and the Impact on Sexuality

Sexual abuse and trauma impact everyone in different ways. Abuse victims are much more likely to experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, chronic health conditions, and have more financial and job instability.  Many victims have significant sexual challenges as well.

Some of the ways in which your sexuality might be impacted were actually important self-protection mechanisms at the time of the abuse. Unfortunately, these often become patterns and are triggered during sex, even though the abuse is no longer occurring.  

If any of these experiences resonate with you, please be sure to check out some of the resources in this article and also consider consulting a sex or trauma therapist.

RESOURCES TO HELP HEAL SEXUAL ABUSE AND TRAUMA:

The journey to healing sexual abuse and trauma is never straightforward and it varies from person to person.  If you have access to therapy, please ensure that your therapist has been trauma trained and has experience with sexual abuse and sexual trauma. Practitioners who have been trained in EMDR, and Somatic Experiencing are highly recommended.

Rachel Grant is a very skilled sexual abuse recovery coach, www.rachelgrantcoaching.com. She has a Facebook group called “Healing from Sexual Abuse” for survivors of childhood sexual abuse that has over 5000 members and is quite active. Rachel provides free training resources and other types of helpful materials. Please check out her Facebook group here: https://facebook.com/groups/realtalkwithrachel.

I would also recommend working with a certified sex and intimacy coach once you are ready to re-engage with your own sexuality. Helping survivors of abuse heal their sexual wounds and feel safe exploring their pleasure, is something that I’m truly passionate about. For an FAQ about my services, please click here. https://powerofpleasure.com/faq/ . You might also want to check out my book, “Living and Orgasmic Life: Heal Yourself and Awaken Your Pleasure”, as it will lead you through a sexual healing journey.

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