Perhaps no form of personal trauma is as painful and nefarious in its impact as sexual trauma. I have written extensively on this topic before, and my research in the area of impact of childhood sexual trauma on adult sexuality has won an award and been published in a peer reviewed academic journal. For those interested, you can read the journal article here- Pathways.
In my work with adult survivors of sexual trauma, I invariably encounter a cluster of difficulties that must be worked through. Specifically, the trauma is often internalized, which means that the affected individual may often place blame on themselves or make generalized assumptions about their own sexuality or identity. A boy, for example who has been assaulted may question his own orientation, wondering what made him vulnerable to attack. Of course, orientation never has anything to do with it, as violent hands-on sexual offenses are an indicator of sociopathy, which is marked by a lack of empathy and remorse. Or the survivor may often develop a phobia of sex, and a negative body image to boot.
It’s this phobia, this specific fear response that I want to focus in on in this article. After working with countless trauma survivors, I have found that at the root of their sexual difficulties, which may run the gamut from performance difficulties to pain syndromes to the inability to experience pleasure, is that an automatic fear response has become associated with their natural sexual response. In other words, fear and arousal become co-mingled. And as a result, one of our most important tasks is to create some separation […]