If Someone You Love is Raped - Sexual Issues
Lee Van Donselaar, Ph.D. & Kim McKay, M.S.,Counseling CenterBall State University (765) 285-1736
A natural consequence of rape is that the rape survivor learns to link sexual arousal with violence, humiliation, or terror. Following such an incident, It is not uncommon for a survivor to experience flashbacks during sexual relations. As a result, the survivor experiences an increase in anxiety during sexual activity, causing disruptions in sexual responsiveness. If the survivor’s partner is insensitive to these issues, resumption of sexual activity can feel like a replay of the rape, thereby re-traumatizing the survivor and delaying her/his recovery. Below are some helpful hints for becoming an ally in your partner’s sexual healing journey. Understand: Your partner has been through a terrible ordeal. S/he needs to be believed and reminded, repeatedly, that it was NOT her/his fault. S/he will likely have an increased need for safety in the relationship for a period of time. You are in a unique position to help her/him by creating and maintaining such a safe environment. Facilitate Healing: Do:
Seek Help: Seek out resources on the topic. Utilize your support network. Consider joining a support group for partners of sexual abuse survivors. If problems persist, this may be an indication that you need to enlist the help of a qualified therapist to guide you through the sexual healing process. References: Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Was Sexually Abused as a Child, (1991). L. Davis. New York: HarperCollins. Ghosts in the Bedroom, (1991). K. Graber, Deerfield Beech, Florida: Health Communications. If She is Raped; A Guidebook for Husbands and Fathers, (1991). A.W. McEvoy & J.B. Brookings, Holmes Beach, FL: Learning Publications. Outgrowing the Pain Together: A Book for Partners and Spouses of Adults Abused as Children, (1991). E. Gill, New York: Dell Bantam Doubleday.
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