INSHAPE NEWS SEXPERT
Sexual assault or abuse is confronting and often traumatic. Often this kind of abuse makes you feel vulnerable and ‘at risk’ from future attacks. However, there are ways for you to deal with sexual assault or abuse that enable you to regain your confidence. Let’s look at these now.
Catlin Grace – Wellbeing Coach and Intimate Relationship Whisperer
In the closing months of 2012, sexual assault appeared regularly in the headlines. From the rape and murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne to the gang rape and later death of an unnamed Indian woman during a bus ride home, it was all too real and too common.
However, most sexual assault incidences do not make headlines, and often the perpetrator is someone that the victim knows. The New South Wales (NSW) Rape Crisis Centre states that only 1 percent of all sexual assaults are committed by strangers.
How You Feel When Dealing With Sexual Assault Or Abuse
Sexual assault strikes at the very core of who we are. It attacks our privacy and intimacy. However, society still blames the victim; did the victim walk alone at night? Did they dress provocatively? Was alcohol involved? The truth of the matter is if you are a victim of a sexual assault it is NOT your fault. You have done nothing wrong. The guilt lies firmly with the attacker. Often, this is the biggest hurdle that anyone sexually assaulted faces; confronting that belief they are to blame.
Not Reporting The Crime When Dealing With Sexual Assault Or Abuse
Another major issue is many victims do not report the crime. This act is understandable, but is not advisable. In the event of any sexual attack getting help from a rape crisis centre and calling close friends or family to support you is vital. Yes, the procedures and routines are invasive and can be traumatising. But the more assault or abuse crimes reported, the more society can stamp this behaviour as unacceptable. Plus, more arrests and shaming of perpetrators can occur.
Common Emotions When Dealing With Sexual Assault Or Abuse
Shame, guilt, anger and grief are common emotions felt by survivors of sexual assault. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common. One of the most effective treatments of this is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is a tapping technique, which uses the same points as acupuncture. But instead of inserting needles into these points they are lightly tapped with the fingers. It is also possible to receive a service dog for PTSD and many sufferers find this calming when times are tough.
Whichever form of counselling or therapy used to treat sexual assault or abuse, it is important that the therapist specialises in sexual assault. This is essential so as not to re-traumatise the person abused. Also, remember if you are not completely comfortable with the therapist then find another one. Don’t give up.
Caitlin Grace is an intimate relationship whisperer and wellbeing coach. She feels she has been preparing for her role her whole life. She is an accredited journey therapist, Reiki level III and EFT practitioner. Caitlin’s driving passion is to help people live their best lives. She evokes this by empowering them to take charge of their own wellbeing. She is a strong advocate of the mind, body connection. Plus, she believes we can only be truly well when we have let go of our underlying limiting beliefs. Caitlin has been married and divorced, and has been in her current relationship for 20-years. She has three sons, four step daughters and nine grandchildren. Caitlin is a self-proclaimed Sex Goddess and empowers other women to become the same. For more information, read Caitlin’s blog online or book a session.
Isiah-Rebecca McKimmie – Sex and Relationship Coach and Owner of Passionate Spirit.
Sadly too many women, and also men, have experienced sexual assault or abuse. In fact, one third of women will experience sexual abuse at some time in their life. Sexual abuse has implications for not just the abused, but also for their partners and future partners as well.
Anytime that we do not consent to sex or sexual activity, it is considered as sexual assault. Not saying ‘no’ doesn’t make it okay to sexually harass, touch or pressure someone into sex or sexual activity.
If you have suffered sexual assault or abuse:
It’s important that you break the perception of shame surrounding sexual abuse. If you have been abused, know that what happened is NOT your fault. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You can speak up.
Underestimating The Impact Of Dealing With Sexual Assault Or Abuse
Implications of abuse range from being highly sexed and sexual to complete aversion to touch and challenges in forming healthy relationships. Know that these problems may not arise immediately in a relationship. They can lie dormant until after the honeymoon period hormones wear-off or until they are triggered again. Sometimes these events seem trivial, however, often, this is the nature of dealing with trauma.
What To Do When Dealing With Sexual Assault Or Abuse
If you have been sexually assaulted or abused then you need to:
- Understand that dealing with abuse will take time. Our body can remember trauma long after the mind thinks it has moved on.
- Get help. Build a support network of multiple avenues if possible. Therapy, psychology and a sexual abuse survivor groups can be helpful.
- Gain the support of your partner. This is essential. Know that you don’t have to tell them anything you don’t want to. But that their understanding and support can aid in your recovery.
- Set boundaries, take control of your body and have your voice heard. These are essential parts of recovering.
- Feel safe and comfortable. If you have an aversion to sexual touch take time to heal as this will be the key to learning to enjoy sex again. Don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. But rather, work at a pace that feels comfortable to you. You must retrain your body and nervous system to have positive connections to sex. Over time these positive responses to replace the fearful, negative ones.
If Your Partner Has Suffered Assault Or Abuse
- Also seek help. Supporting a partner through abuse can be challenging for you.
- Be patient and understanding with your partner.
- Be there if they want to talk about it and understand if they do not want to.
If you are dealing with sexual assault or abuse, report the incident to the police or your doctor. Confide in a trusted friend – support is so important for you to heal. Know that it is never too late to say ‘NO’ and your ‘no’ does not need to be justified or repeated. Together we must take a stand against sexual abuse.
Isiah-Rebecca McKimmie is a certified Somatic sex therapist. She studied at the Institute for the Advanced Studies of Human Sexuality in the US. She has additional qualifications in Gestalt psychotherapy and Tantra. Isiah has helped people improve their sex lives and relationships for over five years. She has worked previously as a sex surrogate alongside top psychologists. Isiah owns Passionate Spirit, a world-wide coaching organisation inspiring love and passion through better sex and relationships.
Pauline Ryeland – Intimacy and Sexual Coach, Educator and Healer
Dealing with sexual assault or abuse is an emotional topic. Ultimately each individual will deal with it in their unique way. This occurrence is part of the journey to healing. There are many ways people react to having experienced sexual assault or abuse. For instance, one person may exhibit anger and rage. Another may turn to drugs or alcohol. While another may become depressed and anxious or emotionally eat food. Guilt and shame are common reactions after experiencing such trauma. Some people carry this with them all their lives as a burden. Others will step through the pain and have successful and happy lives.
Nobody can tell someone who has been through this trauma how they should feel or act. Recovery is an individual process.
You Are Not Alone When Dealing With Sexual Assault Or Abuse
One thing I’ve noticed over the years of sitting in circles with women, is that nearly a third of the women experienced sexual abused. At the time, I was completely blown away by that fact. I was also grateful that I hadn’t experienced anything as traumatic as rape, sexual assault or abuse.
Types Of Sexual Assault Or Abuse
Sexual assault and abuse comes in many forms. Some experiences are violent and some are more subtle. Some acts get carried out by strangers and others by mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and partners. When you are a child, you may or may not be aware that the act is not acceptable. When you are an adult, your partner may coerce and push you into having sex. However, if you don’t want to, this too is a form of abuse.
Pushing Aside Memories When Dealing With Sexual Assault Or Abuse
Only recently when doing a workshop a memory triggered. This memory existed deep within me. It was an act that occurred a long time ago. But I brushed it aside. The reality, however, was sexual abuse took place. But I had never acknowledged it as it wasn’t aggressive. Instead, it was manipulation and coercion. The act occurred in my childhood so I couldn’t say, “NO, I don’t like that.” Instead, I endured it repeatedly.
Once I acknowledged sexual abuse occurred, intensive healing took place. This approach removed this negative experience from my system. By acknowledging the abuse, I shifted it and healed quickly. For other victimes, however, this is not always the case. Some people take longer to heal.
Sexual Assault And Abuse Is Common
In my practice about half the women I see experienced sexually abused. In these instances most were assault or abused as young children. Each handled it very different. Yet, many felt the effects of the abuse their whole lives. These women live with confused emotions, guilt and many think they deserved it. These feelings also affect current sexual behaviour and intimate relationships.
Speaking Out About Sexual Assault And Abuse
Thankfully, the women who see me are aware aspects in their life need resolving. They note certain behaviours occur or stem from this abuse. As such, they want to make changes within themselves so they lead happy and fulfilling lives. Many want to let go of the pain and leave it in the past, so they can move forward. However, many of these women don’t know how to do this on their own.
This is where I come in. By talking about the time around the abuse and looking at all aspects of their lives, I begin to work with them on the unconscious level using neuro linguistic programming (NLP) to create shifts and changes to help them move forward in their lives. Everyone responds to different techniques in different ways. On occasions, I will use energy work to help the body heal, as the human body holds memories at the cellular level as well as the emotional.
Talking About Your Experience When Dealing With Sexual Assault Or Abuse
If you have been sexually abused or assaulted the most important issue for you to face is talking about your experience. Find someone you can confide in and talk to. Yes, the effects of sexual abuse can be devastating, but you can work through the pain and find a place of healing. You need to move beyond the victim mindset and seek help so you can be taken to a place of healing and forgiveness. Not only forgiveness for yourself, but also for the perpetrator as well, which can be the hard to offer. Forgiving the perpetrator does not mean that you are saying what they have done is okay, but rather, it allows you to move on with your own life.
Pauline Ryland works as an intimacy and sexuality coach, educator and healer and draws on a variety of techniques. She combines working with two different styles of NLP to create change on an unconscious level/and or work with the body drawing on a myriad of healing techniques using energy to promote sexual healing and awakening. Pauline also teaches and educates on how to raise your sexual energy (libido) and interest as well as teaching a variety of Tantric and Shamanic principles including breath work. People who see Pauline are either having challenges with intimacy, sex or their sexuality or are wanting more out of their sexual experiences. She also teach couples how to connect into each more on a deeper level.
Disclaimer: The author’s professional and personal knowledge, and opinion, form the basis of this column. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.
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