Our sexual past can absolutely influence our sexual present. Sometimes that sexual past can be traumatic and can happen as a child or adult and we can carry that 'scar' with us. It can seep into so many areas of our lives too; our self-worth; our relationships; and of course in our sex life. It's always important when recovering from trauma to get professional help from someone who specialises in trauma. Coaching can be a great way to then move forward and create a new relationship with your sexuality - once you're ready! On my page 'Ask A Sex, Love & Relationship Coach', a question I received recently read....
“I am a 40 year old female, I was sexually assaulted as a child. I have completely switched off any interest in sex and a protective mechanism. I have a loving husband of 20years who is patient but it causes so many problems between us.
I am in counselling, have done kinesiology and other energy healing, I have done acupuncture and hypnotherapy to help me overcome my hatred of sex. I have had hormones checked and they are fine.
I have felt aroused at times but talk myself out of it so I stop having that feeling.
I am in a terrible habit now.
I wish I could be intimate with my husband without acting like a child who is being forced to eat boiled Brussels sprouts! I can't even pretend to enjoy myself. I feel terrible.
Do you have any advice as to how I can overcome my fear/hatred of sex?
Here is my reply...
Due to the nature of your question, any suggestions here are absolutely invitations and you absolutely must move at a pace which is comfortable to you. Frequently checking in what is supportive to you and taking rests when you need to. It is so important not to push past your window of tolerance.
First of all I would like to acknowledge that it makes absolute sense that you have switched off any interest in sex. I can see that you have done work around this as you are able to see that it is a ‘protective mechanism’. Your body has learnt that sexual encounters are unsafe and your body is therefore looking to protect you from further harm.
I think it’s great that you are continuing to search for answers and support as it can be so easy to ignore the emotional pain of your situation and dissociate and ignore that it may be an issue.
How your husband supports you in this is really important because the safety that you feel with your husband will allow your body to relax and be in a parasympathetic state to be aroused, instead of a stress response, in the sympathetic state, which is not conducive to sexual healing.
My feeling is removing any goal of sex and exploring how he can give you pleasure from touching other parts of your body - if that feels good to you! It is important to know what touch you can tolerate and what touch you can enjoy. So for example, shoulder massage? Foot massage? Bottom massage only? If massage is too much how about just holding different parts of your body so you have a gentle introduction to touch? Even just holding hands? Touching finger tips? Exploring what you tolerate and enjoy and teaching your nervous system really gently to
‘Without acting like a child’ again this makes sense as you go into defensive mode and now that your body is in a place to protect you and you are finding your voice then you are able to say ‘no’ where maybe you didn’t have that as a child. I see this as positive as many people can be completely shut down and be in situations where they are not able to advocate for themselves and can continue to be assaulted because they are not in a place to give consent.
I’m not sure how much of the trauma you are still holding onto or where in the world you live, but for those who still need to work through the trauma itself, Somatic Experiencing is very supportive in letting go of the trauma held by the body.
If a client works with me around wanting to feel more orgasmic, enjoy better sex, have more orgasms/better quality orgasms, improve libido, etc then if they have experienced sexual trauma I always suggest they work with a trauma specialist such as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner alongside the work we do together.
Regarding work I would do with a client in connecting to their sexuality and pleasure it would look like:
De-armouring the trauma from the vulva and vagina.
Creating a new relationship with the vulva and vagina.
Using the Jade Egg/Crystal Egg to create a better connection and improve sensitivity (many women become numb in their vulva and vagina after having experiencing sexual trauma)
Gentle pelvic floor work but referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist if there is particularly strong tension or on the other hand weakness.
Creating a loving relationship with your own body and sexuality (you may have learnt that to stay safe you need to stay small or put weight on (binge eating), avoid looking attractive/getting attention, etc )- so tuning into and empowering your sexuality enables you to connect to your internal confidence and arousal
Noticing times when you are aroused and working with that energy and supporting yourself in the emotions that arise - observing the stories around this
What you have written is so key here and the use of words is spot on ‘I am in a terrible habit now’ - the great thing about a habit is that it can change.
At any point you can choose to create new habits. For sure they won’t happen overnight but without a doubt with commitment and a willingness to love every part of yourself new habits can be formed that can create huge transformations.
Thank you for writing in and sharing your story.
From my heart to yours,
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Other articles which are supportive around this topic are: