Sex is one of the most intimate experiences we have in our lifetime. It can be wonderful and fulfilling. It can be scary and painful. Or, it can even be both. Sexual identity begins at birth and forms through both healthy and unhealthy experiences. Our beliefs about sex develop as we grow and are molded by the perspectives of caregivers, friends, family, and society. Similarly, television, the internet, culture, and language also influence our beliefs. At times, the actions we are exposed to can occur without our consent. Sexual trauma can be one of the biggest influences on our sexual identity. All of these experiences come together to shape our sexuality, how we feel about sex and intimacy, and ultimately how we share ourselves physically in our significant relationships.
Those who have suffered any type of sexual trauma often struggle with seeing themselves separate from the trauma they experienced. Instead, they turn their negative thoughts toward themselves. Sadly, this affects their self-esteem. It reduces their ability to feel worthy and connected in relationships. Research has shown that sexual abuse is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and relationship problems, along with numerous other issues. Therapy can help individuals cope with and overcome these symptoms. In addition, almost anyone can benefit from exploring how their ideas about sex and past experiences affect their current level of intimacy. If you are having confusing feelings about sex and intimacy or are struggling to overcome sexual trauma, here are some ways therapy can help.
How therapy can help you improve sex and intimacy:
Untangle your past.
We learn how to talk and feel about sex from the people around us – our parents, classmates, friends, partners, and unfortunately, far too often, abusers. Seeking therapy to heal from sexual trauma can be scary and difficult. However, when you understand why you feel the way you do, it can help you process and transform negative thoughts into more helpful thoughts and beliefs.
Learn to communicate about sex directly.
For some people, the idea of talking about sex can feel cringe-worthy. Exploring why it feels scary can help people overcome their fears and even be more assertive about sex. It can also help to have your thoughts and feelings validated. When we feel like our fears and desires are valid, we often feel more comfortable talking about them which strengthens our ability to ask for support when needed.
Identify how your past affects your present.
Many people may not realize how their past impacts their current relationships. They may not even realize that what happened to them was abuse. Traumatic experiences such as inappropriate touching by another, exposure to pornography, or sex at an early age, whether consensual or not, can have long-lasting effects. Men and women often notice the impact of sexual trauma differently throughout their lives. Through therapy, they can gain a greater understanding of their ideas about sex and intimacy. With this new perspective, they can learn to heal and start enjoying sex and intimacy.
We are here to help.
Opening up the history of your life with a therapist may feel scary. Even so, the benefits of therapy are great. Therapy can help you view and approach sex in a way you may have never imagined possible. This can help lead to a healthier emotional and physical connection with yourself and your partner.
Our relationship experts understand that sexual identities and self-worth, as they relate them to one’s sexual experience, are very personal. Furthermore, we believe that no one should have to go through life feeling sexually damaged and unsatisfied. Everyone deserves, and can achieve, a healthy sexual identity and relationship. We would be honored to help you overcome your trauma. If you’re ready to schedule your appointment now, we’re ready to help you start your healing journey.