Talking to your sexual partner after being sexually assaulted

By admin
07 March 2013

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It’s important that you feel control over the amount and kind of sexual contact you have. This control can be established by talking to your partner about your feelings, says clinical sexologist, Elna McIntosh. 

If you feel that your partner can’t do this without resentment or pressure, we recommend that you first deal with trust and respect in your relationship.

Some common reactions with suggestions on how to talk to your partner.

1.            You don't want any physical contact

Tell your partner about these feelings and suggest other ways to be together that show caring such as cooking meals, taking walks, going to movies, etc. Talking to your partner about what is bothering you and what you feel good daily.

2.            You don't want sexual contact, but do want other forms of physical contact.

•             Tell your partner about these feelings and suggest other ways to be physical: "I'm not feeling like having sex these days, but I would like to have physical contact with you. What I feel comfortable with are massages, hugs, kisses, holding hands, and sitting close to you when we watch TV. I will initiate some of these activities and want you to initiate too." Other activities may include taking a bath together, cuddling and exchanging massages.

3.            You’re open to sexual contact but cautious as you don't know what your reaction will be. Certain behaviours, touches, looks, and smells may trigger fear, anxiety, and/or flashbacks (memories of the assault).

•             Stop the sexual activity at any time. It’s particularly important to stop when you feel anxious, panicky, or scared. Some couples set up a signal system ? a squeeze on the right shoulder means "stop now, I'm scared" for example.

•             Before beginning any sexual activity, you may want to say to your partner: "Lots of times I'm not sure how I'm going to react during sex, so I may want to stop even after we've started. I'll try to tell you what I want instead, like different kinds of touching or a different position."

•             Pay attention to what triggers your feelings and suggest other activities: "When you lie on top of me I feel scared and have flashbacks, and I'd like to lie side by side when we hug." Don't put any pressure on yourself to perform sexually.

Note: If you’re open to sexual contact and don't have anxiety reactions to specific activities, but you become aware of previous sexual issues that you have ignored or avoided such as lack of orgasm, painful intercourse, lack of desire, seek help from a therapist who specialises in working with sexual problems. The therapist can help you talk to each other, as talking can be embarrassing and difficult.

Source: Clinical sexologist, Elna McIntosh. www.safersex.co.za

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