I was sexually molested in my late teens and while I feel I have kept that incidence behind, twenty years later, I find myself struggling with intimacy. I have a strong feeling that the two things are connected but don’t know how to heal completely. I want to have a normal relationship, just like everybody else. Please help.
Ans: Trauma does stay behind, but well stored in our bodies. Unfortunately, your body will remember it, get triggered and bring it up, at some point in your life. At this stage of awareness and acknowledgment of the abuse, you might want to look for active ways of healing instead of leaving it behind. The experience will be filled with many emotional highs and lows and will need a lot of commitment from your side.
Healing is important because, history of sexual abuse can disrupt many aspects of our lives, not just intimacy. Abuse can make us feel insecure and inadequate even in situations unrelated to sex. Abuse can also interfere with our ability to make life choices that are good for us and select safe and trustworthy relationships of any kind. You need professional support because intimacy problems will not go away by merely not thinking about them. Trying to heal on your own will also make the process harder. Find yourself someone specialised in sexual trauma and start your healing journey with support. Expect re-living the event under the care of a trustworthy practitioner but also understanding your real sexual self, learning to regulate automatic reactions and thoughts, discovering your triggers and how to defuse them. In your journey you will have to create a new meaning for sex and bust all the myths in your head, e.g., sex is hurtful, sex is uncontrollable, sex is something you give or take, etc. You will have to re-learn touch, first the non-sexual kind.
The tools and skills you will be exposed to will be useful in your non-sexual life too. Relaxation, active awareness, playful touch, exploring your senses will help you re-experience pleasure and feel safe. Feeling safe is fundamental to our wellbeing.
The writer is an Intimacy and Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual well-being
The writer is an Intimacy and Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual well-being (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on email@example.com)
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