Intimacy after sexual abuse

Is it possible to be intimate after sexual abuse?

distel (2)Intimacy and sexuality go hand in hand. When you were sexually abused as a child, your sexuality has been hurt. With that, your natural development towards intimacy with another person is hindered. Can it be restored?

Emotional neglect

Recent studies from ‘Taskforce Child- and Sexual Abuse’ indicate that the number one form of abuse is emotional neglect. Little children need cuddles and hugs. When a child lacks affection at home, it becomes an easy target for all kinds of problems.

The Predator

An abuser will recognize a child’s needs for contact. The child who is emotionally neglected, will do anything to please others. It will do anything for a friendly touch, a hug.

Confusion between intimacy and sexuality

Survivors from child sexual abuse often have a hard time setting healthy boundaries. During the abuse the need for intimacy was taken advantage of in order to get sex. As a result, in the adult survivor, any form of touch is suspect. The threat of sex is foremost in their minds, even at the most innocent of touches.

Love and hate relationship with sexuality

Survivors often have a love/hate realtionship with sex. As long as a relationship with a partner is still in the very early stages, sex can be great. But as soon as a relationship becomes more intense, more exclusive, more committed, it feels unsafe to them. Intimacy has been used against them, so they find any kind of intimacy vaguely threatening.

Healing from child sexual abuse

To the survivor a life without intimacy seems a safe choice. In the end though, it’s not a very satisfactory lifestyle. To touch and be touched is a very deepseated (human) need. It’s worth the effort to heal. Because every human being deserves to love and be loved.

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

Can sexual abuse make you gay?

What’s the effect of sexual abuse on your sexuality?

leaf with gay blogIt depends on your age at the time of the abuse, the amount of force and/or violence that was used against you, how long it lasted and whether or not it was someone close to you who perpetrated the abuse. In general you might say: your normal sexual development was interrupted and thus hampered by the abuse.

Thinking about your sexuality

One of the most obvious reactions to sexual abuse, is that you are confused about your sexuality more than people who haven’t been abused. Men tend to think they’re gay because their bodies reacted to a -usually male – abusers’ touch. Women may feel the opposite. They tend to develop a distaste for men, because they’ve been abused by one and can therefore become attracted to women.

Can sexually abused cause you to become gay?

That’s a tough question. The discussion has been going on for a long time and no doubt will continue for some time, nature versus nurture: Are you born gay or is a sexual preference developed later in life?

How does sexual abuse play a role in feeling gay?

Almost all survivors are confused about their sexual identity and/or preference. I must admit that I, too, have wondered if my sexual preference for women ( later bi) was already part of me or if it was the result of the sexual abuse.

I don’t know and can’t go back and find out

Truth is: I will never know the answer. I can’t go back and live my life all over again, only this time without sexual abuse. Since I will never know if my sexual preferences would’ve been different without the abuse. I will never know if, left to my own devices I would have been gay. The only choice I have is to let it rest and accept who I am right now.

Grieving the loss

To accept the fact that you CAN’T live your life again, that you will never find out how you would’ve turned out, if you hadn’t been abused, takes time and is part of the grieving process. You need to grieve for who you might have been, and that’s not just on the sexual identity part either.

Accepting yourself and moving on

When you accept yourself the way you are NOW, also sexually, you will find peace in knowing that you are allowed to be who you are. You are a unique, beautiful person.
The key to happiness is in acceptance. Allow yourself to be. Happy.

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

Long term effects of child sexual abuse – CPTSD – Guestblog by Karen Blodgett

This Guestblog by Karen Blodgett about CPTSD is part 3 in a 3 part series

Please check out part 1 and part 2 of her story. In part 1 she outlines her childhood experience of sexual abuse at the hands of a boy 2 years here senior. In part 2 she talks about the hold he had on her throughout her teenage years and what the effects of his manipulations were on her. In this third part she tells about her struggle with CPTSD and offers her help to other survivors.

I thought it was overMe in a Tagul.com word cloud

I remember thinking: ” it’s over!” I had stood my ground and he did not persist, he avoided me as I did him, even when we were in the same room. My victory was sweet but short lived.

My brain chemistry has changed

It wasn’t over, my brain has protected my body for so long, that my brain chemistry has changed causing CPTSD. Shutting off, dissociating has become the norm for me. The last memory of being a child was when I was five years old. The rest of my childhood has been stolen.

Learning to cope

I learn to cope with a lifetime of post-traumatic stress. I live in the same community as him for another year. He parties with our mutual friends. I still keep it all bottled up. I feel very much alone and there’s only two people I even connect with. I know people grossly misjudge me. Also I still think they won’t listen to me, care for or even believe me if I told. I feel like I don’t belong. I turn inward.

Home for Thanksgiving

I go off to college and then come home for Thanksgiving.  I desperately want to connect with my wonderful (yet very reserved) parents. Clearly they have no idea why I am different or why I have been a very moody, distant, and a socially awkward child. I feel guilty at the thought they might blame themselves. I want to get to know them better and that means they would need to get to know me better as well.

My parents figure I am going through puberty

My parents wondered what was wrong with me many times. One case in particular, I was in fifth grade, I cried for almost two weeks. Tears streaming down my face for no appearant reason. They tell me, they were about to seek therapy for me, but the crying stopped. I was 13 years old then. They figured it must have been the hormones of puberty.

Reconnecting with my parents

I reveal the truth to my mother and asked her to tell my father. I thought I would feel better but instead I am deeply saddened. I drop out of college for a month. I am deeply troubled and with my parents help I seek help. They support me through the rest of college, therapy and more.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)

I am diagnosed as having Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD as defined by Dr. Judith Herman) and for the past 25 years, I seek support for this condition everywhere I go. The CPTSD slowly becomes manageable with the therapies and the methods I learn: Relaxation, mindfulness, EBT, listening/problem solving, some neurofeedback, workbooks, exercise and more.

Study and professional life

I earn a B.A. Psychology degree, an M.A. k-12 moderate disabilities with a licence to teach. I teach in Africa for a year and in the US for 3 years in public school. Since then I have worked from California to Africa with most ages and populations of people. Currently I’m looking for a position in which I can help others benefit from my experiences.

My offer is to share my story and help you heal

I am telling my story here and I am sharing what I hope will help other young people. More importantly: I would like to offer understanding and support for others in similar situations. It does not matter how a person comes to be hurt so personally, the emotional scars are similar no matter whether you’re a victim of incest, child sexual abuse, trafficking, kidnapping or child pornography.

I am safe now

I am living my life empowered and know I am safe. I have gained resilience, integrity, and acceptance of many people from all walks of life and cultures. I intend to help others realize this safety and freedom in their own time and place. You too are unique and unique is valuable. It can be very empowering to realize just how valuable you are.

I am ready. Are you?

I’m ready to offer my assistance to anyone working through the issues of child sexual abuse and those who care for them. I’m looking for a position in an organisation that has child sexual abuse or trauma at its focus. I believe that through the benefit of my experiences of healing my own trauma, and the extensive studying I’ve done since, I can offer my expertise in any team working with this issue. You can contact me through my linkedin profile.

Best,
Karen

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

What to do if your partner has been sexually abused

You suspect your partner has been sexually abused

9 jan (10)You’re in love. He/she is the most amazing person you’ve ever met. You’re on top of the world. Every minute you’re together you want to touch, to be as close to each other as humanly possible.You make plans together. A weekend trip, then maybe meeting the family, and then…
And then…

You notice certain changes

After a while things start to change. When you put you arm around your partner’s shoulder he/she jerks back. An intimate touch is met by a cool response. Your partner has moodswings. He/she can combust for no apparent reason. Her/his family relations are vague. He/she hates someone and won’t tell you why.

You suspect sexual abuse

One out of every four girls and one out of every six boys are sexually abused before the age of 16. With numbers like that it’s not a far stretch to think your partner may have a history of sexual abuse. You pay attention and the more you see, the more you suspect child sexual abuse.

How do you talk about sexual abuse

You could of course confront your partner: “You act like you’ve been sexually abused”, when your partner resists intimacy. That’s not a very tactful or supportive way to go about it. After all, he or she may just not be in the mood to be touched, without ever having been sexually abused. The important thing is to let them know they can talk to you about it if anything is bothering them.

Difficult discussions

Sexuality is a hard topic to talk about for the best of us. Let alone, when an abuser has always told you to keep it a secret. Still, it helps any relationship, to open up to each other and let the other know what you like/expect and where your boundaries are.

Don’t talk about it in the bedroom

The best place to talk it over, is where there’s no expectation of sex. Like when you’re having coffee at the kitchentable and your neighbors walk by hand in hand. Or something about sexuality is on the tv. Find a time when it’s a neutral topic. When there’s no ‘threat of sex’ in the air.

Don’t make it a huge deal…try to be comfortable about it

This is your sweetheart, you are in love. You can share these things. At the same time don’t push it if your partner feels very uncomfortable. Let them know you’re there and they can bring it up whenever they want to. Take the time to listen if they talk or when there’s just silence, allow that to be.

Take care of yourself

Just as important as feeling comfortable telling a personal story, is how you react to the story. It’s definitely not easy to hear someone you love has been sexually abused! It’s okay to tell them: “Look I truly appreciate you telling me all this. I need to get my head around what you told me so far, can we please leave the rest for another time? I love you but I love myself too and I need time to process this first.” That is just taking care of yourself and incidently, it’s a good example of how to set healthy boundaries.

So now I know. My partner was sexually abused. Now what do I do?

Now you can start the healing journey together. You can help look for the right therapist/therapy. Inform yourself about the long term effects of child sexual abuse. But, just as important, keep talking, keep listening. Keep talking about what triggers, about setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. Talk about what feels good and what you’re comfortable with as well as what is off-limits.

Healing from sexual abuse is possible

It’s not easy. There will be times when you both will feel discouraged. There will be lots of ups and downs. Are you prepared to take this difficult path together? If you do, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Buckle your seat belt ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. You’re going to need all the skills you can muster.

Make clear where your boundaries are and stick to them

You’re in this together! You have a say in it, too. Just because your partner has been abused doesn’t mean he/she gets to misbehave at will. All too often people make allowances for their sexually abused partner, that they wouldn’t stand for in any other people. While that may seem kind, it’s really not helping at all. In fact it’s very disempowering to have someone make allowances on account of you having been abused.

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com