How to Understand a Sexually Active Person Post Sexual Trauma
When someone uses threats, force, or emotional blackmail to conduct an unwanted sexual activity, they are known to be a sexual predator. Most of the time perpetrators of sexual crimes know their victims and often have earned their trust. Immediately a victim of such abuse will feel intense fear, shock, or disbelief, but in the long run, acute anxiety disorders, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are among the many problems often affecting the survivors. All evidence considered in the treatment of sex offenders remains unpromising, at best, treatment protocols and crisis interventions for survivors are becoming increasingly effective.
Regardless of how old a person is or their gender, sexual violence impacts an individual far past any of the physical injuries. The emotional trauma of being sexually assaulted or raped can be life-shattering, leaving the person feeling alone, ashamed, and in fear. Flashbacks, nightmares, and traumatic memories create an environment that never feels safe for a survivor of rape, incest, or any other form of sexual trauma. It is seemingly impossible to trust another person and sometimes you don’t even trust yourself.
I had trouble distinguishing what was in response to trauma and what was real. You may have low self-worth and even question your sanity and judgment. Self-blaming, feeling dirty or damaged, and thinking intimacy is a dangerous place to go, are common feelings for the survivors of sexual violence. The most important thing for you to realize is that what you are experiencing are normal reactions to sexual trauma.
The good news is that blaming yourself, feeling defective and helpless are NOT reality. As difficult as it must seem, there are strategies and techniques that will help you come to terms with the unfortunate circumstances in your life so you can regain your sense of trust and safety, and learn how to heal and move forward in your life.
The truth is that you were not dealt the best hand in life, but using that hand to find your purpose is all you need to live a happy, healthy, and productive lifestyle. Understanding that you’re not alone and so many others have beat the odds that you seek answers for. I believe this method will open a lot of eyes and minds to those who are walking in the dark from sexually traumatized events. All things considered, hearing someone open up about their past can release a lot of negative toxins from within yourself as well as in others.
Understanding a Sexually Active Individual
Understanding what it means to be a healthy sexually active person takes a holistic perspective. Psychological, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions are all part of the human experience. Integrating healthy sexuality into your life is an endeavor that takes balance and development over the course of a lifetime. The following are considered to be characteristics of a healthy sexually active individual:
- Respectful and appropriate interaction with all genders
- Effective communication with friends and family
- When or if necessary, asking other adults appropriate questions regarding sexual issues.
- Ability to negotiate and communicate terms and limits for sexual encounters.
- Respectfully able to express your desire to engage in sex or not to engage in sex
- Doesn’t feel insulted or hostile when someone refuses to have sex.
- Can express yourself physically, feelings of desire and attraction that are not focused on the genitals, such as hugging, kissing, caressing, etc.
- Have an open discussion with your partner(s) about what your relationship intentions are, such as friendship, dating, marriage, etc.
- Ability to respect others’ limits and boundaries.
- Sensitivity to non-verbal gestures related to the limits and boundaries of others.
- The ability to have friendships without an agenda that includes sex
- Does not exploit partner in any way
- Chooses responsible, safe, trustworthy, and giving partners
- Can engage in emotional intimacy without physicality, such as discussions about sexual desires, wants, and needs.
- Develop friendships that do not have a sexual agenda.
- Take responsibility for your own personal boundaries.
Self-Worth and Self-Esteem
- Knows appreciation for your own body
- Can touch your own body without any disgust or shame
- Comfortable experiencing sexual and sensual pleasures
- Appreciate their own bodies
- Allows yourself to be nurtured by others and to practice self-love
- Know the difference between touch rather than sex
- Comfortable with sexual orientation and identity
- Growing awareness of the impact of sexual trauma and societal maladaptive patterns toward sexual violence.
- Allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
- Comfortable setting boundaries
- Start addressing issues related to past experiences
Understanding Sexual Repression/Depression
For many individuals, sexy thoughts inspire anticipation or excitement around possible sexual experiences in the future or warm and fuzzy past encounters. Spending time on these thoughts may leave you feeling aroused and possibly lead to masturbation, which is totally normal! However, if you are struggling with repressing sexual thoughts, just thinking of the word “sex” can trigger shame or embarrassment.
Some people learn from a very early age that sex is only for procreation, marriage, or that it is painful or unpleasant. Maybe you were taught that touching yourself is a sin and that if you masturbate you will go to hell. The worst-case scenario is that you experienced discomfort or trauma with parts of your body and your mind at such a young age that you didn’t even know that should never happen. As a result of any of the aforementioned scenarios regarding your sexuality, you have learned to repress your completely natural feelings and desires to protect yourself.
If you have found yourself suffering from sexual repression, you may also suffer from a host of emotional and physical issues including low self-worth, aggression, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, and/or chronic irritability. Simply put, sexual repression is the inability to express your natural sexuality in a self-fulfilling manner.
Sexual repression causes your drives, urges, and sexual instincts to be stunted. It can affect you in a way that you are either completely uninterested in sex or overly interested in sex. I often wonder these days, how come people seem to be A-okay with watching slasher flicks but are so uncomfortable with watching any graphic sex scenes. Children’s video games are riddled with guns and other killing machines! But, letting a child see a naked butt? No way!! The answer is in societal conditioning not only from parents, but our religious affiliations, media, and even the educational system.
Religious-based institutions have laid the foundation for what is considered acceptable or “right” and what is considered inappropriate or “wrong”. Sexual repression or depression is about thinking sex is immoral, dirty, and awful to be a part of. And if you’re like me, you’ve bought into these beliefs big time. Depending on how you were raised and what your religious environment was like you may have been taught that sex is dirty or that if two men or two women are together sexually, they are an abomination and that God will punish anyone who has sex outside of marriage.
I had a friend growing up that was told the old adage that if you masturbate you will grow fur on your hands. I knew a girl whose father told her that women who wear miniskirts deserve to get raped. Most people who experience erotic wounds started with early childhood dysfunction. Even in the 1960s, TV marriages slept in separate beds. The reality is that most people are poorly educated when it comes to sex, many were punished, shamed, rejected, and abused as children for such things as playing ‘doctor’ or touching their own genitalia.
Sadly, those shameful reactions from parents, teachers, religious leaders, and the like towards sexuality in a person’s early years molds perceptions about sex in teenage and adult lives. You nor myself certainly weren’t ashamed about getting our diapers changed, so it had to be learned somewhere. The following are some examples of sexual repressions based on early childhood experiences:
- Shame around any form of nudity
- Discomfort or shock when viewing anything sexual on TV or in the movies.
- Shaming you for sexually expressing yourself in any way (i.e., You dirty boy, take your hand off of there!”)
- Dirty, bad, and/or wrong labels for sex (Dirty magazines).
- Anything having to do with sexuality is a family secret
- Stiff gender roles
- Punishment for any type of sexual expression.