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You Can Have a Great Sex Life While Dealing With Sexual Trauma
by Kathiana Dulcine
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January 25, 2021

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You Can Have a Great Sex Life While Dealing With Sexual Trauma

Couple in bed (Photo courtesy of Rawpixel.com)
Couple in bed (Photo courtesy of Rawpixel.com)

Sexual trauma can feel debilitating because many are dealing with a multitude of emotions that encompass anger, confusion, and having to navigate how to cope. However, sex and intimacy can be enjoyed even after sexual trauma. The healing journey can sometimes have more ups and downs than a rollercoaster but, that does not mean your sexuality and confidence cannot be reclaimed as you navigate through the motions. Having a great sex life is not about ignoring what happened or pretending like you’re okay. It is about setting boundaries and reclaiming your power as you go through your journey.

At the age of 15 I was sexually assaulted by an 18-year-old man who was a friend of a friend and was again assaulted by a friend when I was 19-years-old. I buried these memories very far in the back of my mind. In fact, I had convinced myself that it did not happen the way I thought it did. I thought it was a “man being a man” (whatever that means) and I needed to “suck it up” and blamed myself for acting like a “fast” teenage-girl. 

Prior to confronting the memories of these traumatic events, I found myself in toxic relationships and situations where I was not valued. I was constantly spoken down to, gaslit, and eventually started talking down to myself. This led to me becoming very insecure as an individual which then permeated into my sex life. From either criticizing my body or my performance and having high’s and low’s when it came to my sexual desires, I experienced it all. Here are common signs of denial and avoidance when it comes to sexual assault.

Signs of Denial and Avoidance:

  • Convincing yourself “it wasn’t that bad”
  • Doubting if things really happened the way you know it did
  • Hypersexuality (trying to sex it away to prove that you’re ok)
  • Hyposexuality (major lack of sexual desire)
  • Disassociation with the memory
  • You tell yourself you were misleading with your actions and appearance 
  • Ignoring a person’s toxic behaviors in order to feel temporarily valued

Sometimes it feels like it is easier to try to ignore what really happened. Acknowledgement, for most, means having to relive the very situation that brings us back to a dark place. Being honest with where you are in your journey is one of the first steps in taking action to owning your sexuality and confidence again. I encourage you to take the steps to show yourself grace, forgiveness, and learning how to feel empowered. What helped me reclaim my power was being honest with myself about what was holding me back from healing. 

Couple in bed (Credit: @360photoss)
Credit: @@360photoss

Here are some tips you can take along with you on your journey that can help keep your sex life alive and well:

Identify Your Triggers

Identifying what your triggers are helps you pinpoint what causes certain reactions. This gives you the ability to communicate and set boundaries with what you need your current or future partner to be aware of and stay away from. Sometimes the fear of getting triggered is enough to put a damper on what could’ve been a great sexual encounter.

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Get to Know Yourself Again: Self-Dating

You know the past you, the current you, but do you know the future you is waiting to make your acquaintance? Take yourself out or stay in for the night, do your favorite activities, and challenge yourself to do the things you may have thought of doing but never tried. This time can be used to re-discover what makes you happy, re-evaluate your values, deal breakers, and discover new hobbies. Being alone with your thoughts with no pressure of entertaining someone else can help you become more comfortable with your own presence, before welcoming another.

Reframing Your Mind

It may sound cliché but, learning to speak life into yourself daily helps with your confidence. Naturally, we tend to focus on the things we do not like about ourselves especially when that is what we are used to, while rarely giving credit to what we love. What you focus on expands; take the time to focus on the good and reframe any self-deprecating thoughts and language towards yourself.

Self-Exploration

Courtesy of Nappy.co
Courtesy of Nappy.co

Practice getting to know those intimate parts of yourself again. This looks different for everyone.  It is not about how quickly you can start having sex again nor is it about reaching an orgasm (if it leads to that great!). Self-exploration is about getting comfortable with the intimate parts and the areas you feel were violated for yourself both mentally and physically. 

Having a great sex life after a traumatic event is possible. The road is not the same for everyone so it is important to take those steps that are most comfortable for you and gives you the ability to deal with your emotions in the healthiest way. Take your time, process, and do all the things that feel good for you. You deserve it.

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