Sexuality – The Bedroom Department

Sexuality - The Bedroom DepartmentSexuality – The Bedroom Department

For partners of Survivors, this whole aspect is very frustrating. The partner can wind up feeling like a failure for not be able to give pleasure or express their true feelings to the survivor. They may feel rejected and at a loss on what to do about this situation. Their own sexual desires are put on hold. They love the survivor but have needs of their own also. It is important to remember that the survivor is feeling these feelings because of the abuse they suffered and it is not that the partner is lacking as a lover. It is hard not to take it personally as what could be more personal than your sex life, however, it really is not your fault. You could be the best lover on the planet and that would only serve to make the survivor more confused, more guilt ridden. Survivors feel a tremendous sense of guilt for not being sexually available for their partners…for not enjoying sex the way they wish they could. The survivor probably loves you very much but it is just too scary to feel this with his/her body too. In fact, the fact that they are willing to stay in the relationship and have to deal with this sexual issue every day, is proof that the survivor must care for you a great deal. IT takes a big toll on someone to try and avoid sex, make excuses, panic at being touched in the night, have all those feelings continually brought up.

When the survivor starts being honest about his or her feelings with the partner, the partner might feel shocked, angry and bewildered, especially if the survivor seemed to enjoy sex before. Sudden upheaval of sexual issues is the norm when survivors start to work on abuse issues. Patience with the survivor is key. Survivors often cannot work on sexual issues until the later stages of healing. If a survivor feels pressure to have sex during this time, it only serves to make him/her feel worse. Especially if there is fighting or threats about this. The survivor feels like this is the original abuse because they feel manipulated again. This only shuts the survivor down further. When the pressure for sex is taken off of the survivor, this allows him or her room to heal sexually. As a partner, you do have a choice, you can leave the relationship and find someone else to have sex with but the survivor can’t. Unless she/he heals sexually, these problems will follow her into every relationship for the rest of her life. Her/his motivation to heal and change is greater than yours. You cannot make someone heal sexually. You can’t set deadlines or orchestrate the survivors progress. You can set mutual goals and work toward them. You can make your feelings and needs known and say that sex is important to you and that you want, eventually, to have a mutual sexual relationship. The survivor understands this, they want the same thing. Things will change and can even though it may not seem like it now. Ultimately, you will be rewarded with a whole and healthy person.

Working with a survivor on sexual healing takes an incredible amount of patience, persistence and an acceptance of the fact that you are growing as a person too. Survivors often need to be the initiators of sex in order to feel in control. This is an important thing for partners to understand.

Let the survivor make the moves and set the pace for your love making. If the survivor feels in control, often this makes a very big difference. Try not to feel rejected when you reach over in bed and your partner flinches from your touch. Remember that a lot of survivors do not like to be touched when they are sleeping. For obvious reasons, this is very triggering for them. Avoid power struggles over sex. During this time, partners may find it extremely helpful to join a support group such as SAVE.

3 Responses to Sexuality – The Bedroom Department

  1. Kona Kanai says:

    Not a great comment. Anyone who types about leaving a relationship of a person who has been sexually abused sure didn’t marry for better or worse. Id this site anti Christianity or does it just promote divorce then leaving the victim feel much more unlovable and not deserving of love. Isn’t this the place to uplift survivors when in reality every org has something for spouses and what they go through. This is about the victim, let’s keep that in serious mind.

    • HAVOCA says:

      Ultimately, the victim does not have the right to continue the abuse by being abusive themselves. For better or for worse, is a difficult concept to apply during any recovery plan. HAVOCA is here to support survivors take responsibility for their own actions.

      This site is agnostic in its approach to religion. Some survivors find religion helpful in their recoveries, others are not religious at all. Some survivors were abused by people who were representatives of a religion; so hopefully you can see and understand we have to try and represent all survivors.

      We have over 250 pages of information. If you find something on the site you don’t agree with or that simply wouldn’t work for you, you don’t have to sign up to it. Equally, that doesn’t mean the rest of the site doesn’t contain vital information that may be pertinent for you, as an individual survivor. We hope you find other useful support on the rest of our pages.

  2. An anonymous loving husband says:

    This has been a really difficult issue for me and my wife. We have been married for 20 years, and through the first 5 years or so we were sexually active, and had 4 children. As my wife began to feel safe for the first time, her memories began to return, initially as ‘rages’. It took about another 4 years for her to become fully aware that she had been sexually abused throughout her childhood. Over time sex became more difficult, as orgasm for her would become a trigger, my aim as a lover was to bring her as close to orgasm as possible without fully experiencing it. Due to this stress, I began to avoid initiating sexual contact, leaving the control to her, as it says above. It became increasingly clear that she was only being sexual for ‘duty’, or for ‘kindness’ to me, and derived little or no pleasure, and a lot of stress from intercourse. Ultimately, about 2 years ago, I said that sex is something that we just shouldn’t do in our relationship. However, the 20 years of love and commitment, in and of itself, has been healing. After years of seeking support, she has been having good therapy through a charity. That support is now coming to an end, but she can continue by paying ¬£30 a session. Her therapist thinks she might need another 5 years to feel whole and comfortable with herself and others. From time to time, she says she feels bad that she can’t express her love ‘in that way’, and that she hopes she can ‘sometime in the future’. For me, this churns up the grief of a lost sexual intimacy or anger at her abusers, but to her I tell her that I ‘just’ love her, and that she is ‘OK’ now, that she has survived so much, and that we are together whatever. But as you say this is a choice that I have had to make. It is really hard to be the partner of someone who was despised and neglected by her mother, and repeatedly raped by various male members of her family (behaviours that the word ‘abuse’ does not seem strong enough for). It is hard to be ‘male’, to be ‘strong’, to be ‘in charge’. It is very important, as with all relationships, and with all things in life to notice the good things, to make an effort to enjoy and affirm each other, to be intimate in the ways that work (such as writing notes, sharing conversations of hopes and dreams, discussing memories) Every day that our relationship is not abusive produces more evidence that the world can be safe. Life is never easy. Love is never easy, but with commitment life goes on, and love goes on. And we do it together, as close as we can be.

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