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Dealing with Sexual Assault or Abuse


Stop sexual abuse

Catlin Grace – Wellbeing Coach and Intimate Relationship Whisperer

In the closing months of 2012, sexual assault was 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.

The sad thing with sexual assault is that most incidences do not make headlines, and often the perpetrator is someone who we know. The New South Wales (NSW) Rape Crisis Centre states that only 1 percent of all sexual assaults  by strangers. This is not a very comforting fact, but true nonetheless.

Sexual assault strikes at the very core of who we are. It attacks our privacy and intimacy. However, as a society we are still at the stage of blaming the victim; she shouldn’t have been walking alone at night, she dressed provocatively and she was drunk. The truth of the matter is if you are a victim of a sexual assault it was NOT your fault, you did nothing wrong and the guilt lies firmly with the attacker. This is the biggest hurdle that anyone who has been assaulted faces, confronting that belief that they are somehow to blame.

The other major issue is the number of victims who do not report the crime. This 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 these crimes are reported the more we, as a society, can declare that it is unacceptable behaviour and arrest and shame the perpetrators.

Shame, guilt, anger and grief are common emotions felt by survivors of sexual assault. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also common and 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.

Whichever form of counselling or therapy used to treat sexual assault or abuse, it is important that the therapist specialises in sexual assault so as not to re-traumatise the client.  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 and 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 by empowering them to take charge of their own wellbeing. She is a strong advocate of the mind, body connection and 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 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.

Don’t underestimate the impact that sexual abuse or assault can have on you, your sex life and your relationships. 

Implications of abuse can range from being highly sexed and sexual to a complete aversion to touch and challenges in forming healthy relationships. Know that these problems may not arise immediately in a relationship, but can lie dormant until after the honeymoon period hormones wear-off or until they are triggered again. Sometimes these events can seem trivial, accept that this, often, is the nature of dealing with trauma.

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, especially if you have an aversion to sexual touch, 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 connotations with sex and allow these positive responses to replace the fearful, negative ones.

If your partner has suffered abuse:

  •  Also seek help. Supporting a partner through this issue can also 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 sexually assaulted or abused, 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 and 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 now been helping people improve their sex lives and relationships for over five years including working previously as a sex surrogate alongside top psychologists.  Isiah owns Passionate Spirit, a world-wide coaching organisation that inspires love and passion through great sex and better relationships.  Passionate Spirit provides education, practical skills and compassionate support to help people develop self-confidence, more fulfilling sex lives and truly intimate relationships.

Pauline Ryeland – Intimacy and Sexual Coach, Educator and Healer

This is such a big topic and ultimately everyone will deal with it in their own unique way, this is part of the journey to healing. There are so many ways that people will react to having experienced sexual assault or abuse. They may exhibit anger and rage, turn to drugs or alcohol, become depressed and anxious or emotionally eat food. Guilt and shame are also common reactions after experiencing such trauma. Some people will carry this with them all their lives as a burden and 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.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years of sitting in circles with women, is that in those circles, nearly a third of the women had been sexually abused. At the time, I was always completely blown away by that fact and was grateful that I hadn’t experienced anything as traumatic as rape, sexual assault or abuse.

Sexual assault and abuse can come in many forms. Some are more violent than others and some are more subtle. Some acts are 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 when you don’t want to, this too is a form of abuse.

It was only very recently when I was doing a workshop, that a memory was triggered. This memory was deep within me. It was of an act that had occurred a long time ago, but I had brushed it lightly aside. The reality, however, was that I had been sexually abused, but I had never acknowledged it as such because it wasn’t rape and it wasn’t aggressive. Instead, it was manipulation and coercion. The act occurred when I was  young and when I was unable to say, “NO, I don’t like that.”  Instead, I just endured it many times.

Realising that I had, in fact, experienced sexual abuse was quite a revelation for me. Once I acknowledged this had occurred, I set about doing some intensive healing to shift this experience from my system. I feel very lucky that I was able to acknowledge it, shift it and heal very quickly. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Some people take longer to heal.

What I have discovered in my practice is that about half of the women I have seen, have been sexually abused. In these instances most of them have been young children and the way they have handled it has been very different. Yet, it has effected them their whole lives. For these women, their emotions are confused, guilt creeps in and many think that perhaps they deserved it or that something is wrong with them. These type of feelings can also can affect their current sexual lives and intimate relationships.

Thankfully, the women that come to see me are aware that there are aspects not really working for them in their life. They are aware that certain behaviours are occurring that may have stemmed from this abuse and they want to make changes within themselves so they can be happy and live fulfilling lives. Many are also aware that they want to let go of the pain and leave it in the past, so that they can move forward. The problem is, that many of these women don’t know how to do this on their own.

This is where I come in. By talking and delving into the period 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.

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.

2 thoughts on “Dealing with Sexual Assault or Abuse”

  1. A very touchy subject that was handled really well. Thanks for being brave and giving insight into this topic. I found it very informative.

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