This month I am writing about sexual trauma and how it affects sexuality as an adult. I will be covering types of sexual trauma, how it affects sexuality, effective treatment approaches and how partners of sexual traumas can be part of the healing. Sexual trauma occurs when sex is non-consensual and/or coercive. To adults need to both choose and consent to the sexual act. When adults are being sexual with children, it is always non-consensual since the child is not ready physically, emotionally or spiritually to engage in that behavior. In those cases it is always and only about the needs of the perpetrator and not the child.
1) Adults molested as children are often greatly affected by this sexual trauma both sexually and emotionally. This kind of trauma is often also called Complex Trauma because the abuse happens repeatedly over time. This is particularly traumatic because it is usually a close family member; family friend or babysitter that is supposed to be a source of support and love that is also the source of the abuse.
2) Rape as a teenager or adult can traumatize the victim, which can lead to sexual symptoms such as sexual avoidance or hypersexuality. (The same can be said for molest victims).
3) People that observe or even just know that other loved ones are being sexually traumatized can be as traumatized as the direct victim. I have treated siblings who were never molested but who witnessed or knew that another sibling was being molested. These clients present similar symptoms as the victims of sexual molest.
4) Children can be exposed to pornography and other sexual information, which can lead to sexual trauma. Here again, the child is not ready developmentally to be exposed to that material. Sometimes the child knows too much personal sexual information about the parent as the parent treats the child as a friend rather than a child. This too can be very detrimental.
5) Some children can be sexualized without direct sexual touching. This could be in the form of inappropriate compliments from parent/stepparent to child/stepchild, inappropriate flirting and inappropriate sexual talk. Related to that is when an adult who is uncomfortable with his or her own sexuality calls the teenage daughter a “whore” or some other derogatory term which can stick with the adolescent or tween child and cause its own brand of sexual trauma.
My next article will cover more specifically how these types of sexual trauma can affect one’s sexuality as an adult. There is much to learn and understand in this area. If you know of anyone who can benefit from reading this information, please pass this on or invite him or her to subscribe to my blog.