Sexual Healing...After Abuse
by Dr. Doug
The following provides some basic principles for beginning the process of sexual healing from the aftermath of sexual abuse.
- Work toward establishment of the essential conditions for ensuring an atmosphere in which sexual recovery can occur (these are essential for any healthy, sexual relationship):
- Mutual consent
- Equality of personal power in relationship
- Mutual respect
- Mutual trust
- Safety and comfort in the sexual setting; no fear of danger, pregnancy, disease
- It is an important goal to integrate emotional closeness (intimacy) into love-making. Sexual interaction can become an expression of feelings of closeness.
- Begin the process of dealing with unwanted intrusive thoughts or flashbacks by not 'avoiding' them and by using relaxation and/or systematic desensitization techniques.
- Begin work on deconditioning feelings of guilt, disgust, shame, or embarrassment which may exist or come up during sexual activity.
- Begin cognitive reframing of sexual activity as becoming more natural, pleasurable, fun; a healthy and enjoyable expression.
- Work through any difficulty you may have with the balance between giving and receiving physical pleasure. Especially allow yourself to get in touch with what pleases you physically; give yourself permission to ask for it and to enjoy receiving.
- Learn the skills of focusing on the moment and of how to 'turn off' thinking about the past or future altogether. Cognitive activity is incompatible with sexual arousal and fulfillment.
- Begin facing feared sexual situations in a gradual but consistent way. What you fear grows smaller when confronted directly. Work through any issues around control which may interfere.
- Communicate with your partner about how active he or she wants you to be during love-making.
- Refrain from 'guilt-tripping' yourself for whenever you are sexual or for lack of progress or set-backs in the sexual relationship.