Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma

Category: Mental Health
Author: Staci Haines
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by Ophidahlia   2019-11-17

This might seem inapplicable to you at first but I recommend looking into resources for survivors of sexual abuse.

  1. What TSCC does can qualify as sexual abuse even if no one touches you (only you can decide if this applies in your case of course) because of the environment of coercive social control, invasion of sexual privacy, intense shame, etc; especially the worthiness interviews many of us were subjected to as minors. Abuse is, after all, fundamentally about the exercise of power to control others.
  2. Even if you decide it wasn't a type of sexual abuse for you, some things your sexual problems will possibly have in common with abuse survivors is toxic shame about sexuality, your natural & healthy desires, your body, your right to pleasure, etc so you're likely to find a lot of helpful stuff in those resources, even if some of it doesn't apply. I wish I knew of resources directed specifically at sexual problems caused by cultic religious abuse; please let me know if you come across any!

Here's my two of favourite books about it [1] [2]. They both contain very practical guidance about how to work through shame, reclaim bodily autonomy, start experiencing sex as a positive experience instead of painful or anxiety-provoking, etc. If that doesn't seem relevant, I found another book that seems more general but I can't vouch for it. I also highly recommend seeking a therapist who specializes in these subjects if self-help doesn't get you to where you need to go. I wish you good luck and lots of pleasure and joy <3 :D

by unmarked_graves   2019-11-17

thankfully i’ve been seeing my therapist for a few years and she’s seen me through all of this. i didn’t have a session this week but i’ll bring this up next week.

other things besides PIV intimacy are good. i have been trying to do that because i think penetration is a huge stressor on me. unfortunately it’s also just being sexualized in general that’s bothering me too which is complicating all of this. but i’m definitely trying to do some smaller things to reassure both me and my bf.

i’m relieved i’m not alone but i’m sorry you’re having a similar experience. someone recommended me this book. i haven’t read it yet but maybe it’ll be helpful to you too- https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Sex-Mind-Body-Approach-Sexual/dp/1573442933

by aradthrowawayacct   2018-11-10

She really should be seeing a therapist who helps people heal from past abusive relationships. It's not fair to either of you for you to keep paying for what other guys did to her.

It's also entirely possible that she chose you because you treat her nice and aren't abusive, but she's not at all turned on by you or attracted to you. You're the safe choice, a nice man who loves her.

I know that is not at all what you want to hear, but it happens often enough that you should be aware of the possibility.

Her getting sober through AA and no increased intimacy is not a good sign for the future.

Also,

The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Wendy Maltz

Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma by Staci Haines

are great resources recommended by many therapists.

Start by making a marriage counseling appointment with someone who is sex positive.

If she won't go with you, you know that she is unwilling or unable to work on this with you. If that's the case, you'll need to decide if you can stay in this marriage.

by Vu70n0m0v5   2018-11-10

I am usually loathe to SAY something to anyone on this sub. I much prefer to pose questions for others to think about. Having said that I am going to risk sticking my neck out and be a bit provocative.

You repeatedly say that your body is, to paraphrase, letting you down eg >My body screamed NO >My body still doesn't want it. >I'm so mad at my body

I would suggest that it is all in your mind and your mind is controlling your body. Your body relies on your mind in so many ways that you can't comprehend and in a way that's okay because when things are good there is no need to think about how your mind controls your body, you just accept it for what it is to the extent you aren't even aware of it.

So, if that is true what does it mean? Well, it possibly means that your mind is fighting your mind. Your mind is conflicted. How is that possible? Well, your mind operates at different levels, basically at an instinctive level and at a rational level. Your rational mind tells you that sex is good, that you love it, that it fulfils your need for love at a practical level and that it fulfils your husband's need for love at a practical level too and that help you understand that he loves you.

Unfortunately, at an instinctive level, those parts of the brain that drive and control instinct, to prime you to survive to avoid the causes of pain and pain often comes from experiences that are about your ability to survive or thrive. That drive is incredibly powerful and will often overcome your rational mind or sabotage it in some way. It is often very difficult for your rational mind to tell your instinctive mind that what it is telling your rational self does not have to be true. That in essence what that internal psychological struggle about it. That is possibly where you are. You give some hints to it eg

>I love sex. I know I do.

That is your rational mind talking to you, probably most often when actual sex isn't imminent, but when sex is imminent then your instinctive mind intrudes more and more and that is despite the fact that your rational mind tells you that you only experience pain 1% of the times you have sex, but that is powerful enough to bring on the intrusion of your instinctive mind and that is reinforced by past experiences where it was a lot more frequent especially when with your ex who was aggressive about it. Pain associated with an aggressive attitude towards you can result in acute levels of anxiety and stress. It is a threat to your well-being.

It sounds as if you have made small steps towards coping with this but psychologically you still have a foot in the two different parts of your mind, the instinctive mind and the rational mind. Ideally, you want your rational mind to be predominant so that when your instinctive mind kicks in it is only when the threat to your well-being is real, rather than perceived. When it is perceived ie not real it becomes real because your instinctive mind tells you it is real, even though it is not.

So, where do you go from here? Maybe more appropriately Where can you go, where do you want to go? Well, that is one of the typical questions I put, where do you want to go? Do you feel that things have improved and are improving but haven't improved as much as you might like and that it is a bit haphazard?

The focus in your post is about sex being about penetration. For a lot of people I guess it is ie it's the culmination, the conclusion to sex. However, it doesn't have to be, it isn't for many people. What about non-penetrative sex? What about oral sex? What if instead of turning down sex at the prospect of penetrative sex you agree instead, between you, to engage in non-penetrative sex either to climax or not?

Have you considered seeking specialized sex therapy for those who have experienced sexual trauma because that is what I would suggest you have experienced? On those occasions when you dread engaging in penetrative sex what feelings do you feel? I mean not in terms of your body ie your genitals letting you down but those sensations in your stomach, your chest, your legs, your head?

Have you done any research through the Internet about how other women have dealt with sexual assault and sexual trauma? I would recommend it.

Imagine reaching a point where instead of anticipating whether you are going to experience pain you are genuinely surprised on those occasions when you do experience pain or discomfort? That could still be 1% of the times you engage in penetrative sex, all that would have changed is how you instinctively find yourself thinking about it. Painful sex should be a surprise, not inevitable.

PS. From a practical perspective think about Sensate Focus and prolonged foreplay. Rushed sex, where you squeeze it into the time available to you, doesn't sound it's for you.

Overcoming Sexual Assault: Symptoms & Recovery | Psychology Today

Recovering from Rape and Sexual Trauma: Tips for Healing after Sexual Assault

How Can I Heal From Sexual Trauma & Learn To Orgasm? - mindbodygreen

How survivors of sexual assault find pleasure in sex again - The Globe and Mail

Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma: Staci Haines: 9781573442930: Amazon.com: Books

by aradthrowawayacct   2018-11-10

I'm HL but have also been through years of therapy to recover from childhood sexual abuse.

The inhibited response to trauma that you experienced and also the disinhibited response (far less talked about) are both normal and both can be integrated into healthy sexuality. But recovery from trauma is not something you can make someone else do, and some will choose not to.

I often recommend these resources here, for others on this road, because they are so good:

The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Wendy Maltz

Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma by Staci Haines

There aren't a lot of self-help books for men recovering from sexual trauma, but the classic Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse by Mike Lew is a very good resource.