Although this is the first time I’ve written about it publicly, the issue of sexual abuse is one that is very important to me.
I have had multiple friends and lovers who have had sexual abuse in their past (either early childhood or later in life) and, with the average statistic saying that 1 in 3 women have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime, chances are you know someone who has been sexually abused in some way as well.
Sexual abuse, in any of it’s various forms, often leaves the victim with a combination of feelings of shame, guilt, anger, and resentment. It’s quite common (especially if they were abused in their younger years) for the victim to internalize the experience and make it say something bad about themselves individually.
When this emotional residue/trauma gets stuck in the mind of the victim it often manifests itself later in life in the form of sexual blocks… blocks that keep the person emotionally and sexually repressed, never wanting to fully open for fear of facing the underlying hurt that still exists within them.
The repressed trauma might reveal itself as an unwillingness to fully relax, receive, or open during sexual intimacy… or they might cry every time they orgasm… or maybe they have a deep fear of letting you touch a certain part of their body. Any of those three things can be totally healthy in certain contexts, but if it’s a constant theme and they want to be able to move through it, then this article is for you the two of you.
All toxic emotions can be melted through with enough time, love, and patience… and the feelings that surround sexual abuse are no different.
I have had the privilege of helping many of my former lovers work through some deep-seeded toxic shame that was placed on them from past sexual abuse and, while I am not a registered sex therapist, I have found with 100% consistency that the following methods work wonderfully for helping people work through any difficult emotions resulting from sexual abuse.
Here are three steps you can take to help your partner work through their stuck emotions from past sexual abuse.
1. Come to the relationship having worked through your own stuff enough to have compassion for them
If you have faced yourself and felt the majority of your own previously feared feelings with love and compassion, it will be that much easier for you to face your partner with love. In other words, if you don’t fear the full spectrum of your own emotions then you won’t fear your partner’s full spectrum of emotions either.
It’s very challenging to be able to really hold space for someone else’s experience if you don’t give yourself the same liberty to feel your feelings without judgment. So make sure that (whether through journalling, talk based therapy, or working with a trusted coach) you have done your own work and come to a place of love and acceptance with yourself first.
2. Be a safe, non-shaming space for them to talk to about their past experiences from day one
Come into your relationship with the overarching intention that your relationship is a safe space and one of the major purposes of the relationship is to allow for each other’s healing. Make sure that you both understand that emotions lash out sometimes and they may manifest themselves in strange thoughts, words, or ideas, but that thoughts aren’t necessarily truth, and any and all emotions that come up are valid and beautiful in their own right.
Those were some long sentences. What I’m saying is that whatever you or your partner feel, it’s all good. It’s all welcome. It’s all okay to express.
Whatever might come up for them, in or out of the bedroom, is 100% acceptable and loveable. Setting this foundation from day one will make the following step that much easier (not that you necessarily need it to be easy… intentional relationships are deep and vital work, and that doesn’t always mean that it’s going to be easy).
3. When your partner’s old emotional wound comes up in bed, embrace it and encourage their emotions with full love and acceptance
Some of the most common emotional experiences that tack themselves on to the victim of sexual abuse are shame and guilt… and both of these emotions make the victim want to push people away. They might experience the feelings (or themselves) as wrong, disgusting, or somehow inherently damaged beyond all repair. In order for the shame to keep thriving, they may try to put more distance between the two of you. Either by keeping the emotions hidden, or even by physically pushing you away when they feel the most triggered.
Let’s say that when your partner has an orgasm from penetrative sex (male or female) they cry after orgasm (especially deeper orgasms like G-spot or cervical) and feel intense shame. Their shame voice may tell them to push you away or to retreat internally (i.e. hide and internalize… something that shame is very good at). Shame thrives in solitude, and is doused and eradicated by love and acceptance.
When your partner begins to cry, envelop them… energetically, emotionally, and physically. Wrap your arms around them. Kiss them. Tell them how much you love them.
(Side note: physically enveloping them isn’t always the best course of action. Check in with your partner to make sure that they feel safe in this, as some trauma survivors will react negatively to physical contact while they are experiencing their pain.)
Encourage the fullness of their emotional release. Tell them that you’ve got them, and that you love them. Tell them their tears are beautiful. Tell them that they’re safe. Tell them to let it all out. Let them have the fullest expression of their emotional release as possible (as much as they are willing to let out in each session of emotional release – as there is no rush for them to melt through whatever there is to melt through).
Let it come, and love them through it.
When you envelop their fear, shame, guilt, or sadness in love and acceptance, it will melt away the sexual shame. Guaranteed. Not necessarily in one round of healing, but sooner than you each thought possible.
Remember, relationships are ultimately about healing and growing.
And sex is equally, if not more, healing. The way we show up in bed is a microcosm of how we live our lives. And if you can help your partner open up more fully and be less afraid of their emotions, past, and sexuality, don’t be surprised if you see them open up more throughout their entire lives after healing their sexual trauma. I’ve known clients that have had full life/career turnarounds after transformative, deeply healing sex with their compassionate, non-shaming partner. They felt like they were allowed to be their authentic selves for the first time since childhood. Because that’s the power of sex and relationship.
Love them. Accept them. Let them feel whatever they need to feel. And be there to hold them through it.
This is how we heal the world. One loving embrace at a time.
Dedicated to your success,
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