Why Childhood Trauma Messes With Your Sex Life And How To Fix It
Q: Emma called The Cooper and Anthony Show to talk to Dr. Cooper. She has a huge issue. Her fiance’ likes to have sex in the middle of the night while she’s asleep. He will wake her and ask. But she’s finding that it’s triggered her. So she went to therapy and discovered that it was linked to sexual abuse as a child. She wanted to know what Dr. Cooper thought.
A: I’m so glad you have a good therapist who you trust. Therapy is one of the things that can help you navigate your current sex life while you navigate the PTSD you’re facing as you recover from sexual abuse memories. You will recover. First, if you make the moves sexually, that can help you have a sex life filled with agency. And that is what you need.
WHY PTSD IS ASSOCIATED WITH SEXUAL ABUSE
Part of the PTSD comes from not feeling in control of your body. This is why when your fiance tries to have sex with you at night, it’s triggering. It mirrors you feeling out of control of the sexual experience, and it mirrors you not being allowed to make a choice as to what happens with your own body. Someone else is deciding that for you because you were too young to understand what was happening and too young to consent.
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO
Two things that could be helpful for you guys – and your therapist may already be doing this with you- but you should create a scale of sexual activities and how they make you feel, like a ranking of sorts. Share it with your fiance’ so he understands what is okay and what is triggering.
And then, have you tried EMDR? It stands for Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and it is HIGHLY effective for PTSD, especially sexual abuse trauma. Without getting too in-depth, it basically helps your brain reprocess stored memories and helps you stop being triggered because it teaches your brain that the danger is over. It’s relatively new, it’s complicated to explain here, but find a therapist who does it because it is highly effective.