Sex and Childhood Trauma

Cardinal

New member
I'm actually reaching out for advice. I have a very healthy spontaneous relationship with a new partner. Communication is good. Comparability is top notch. But there's an elephant in the room.

She sufferred extreme childhood sexual abuse that resulted in physical scaring and some emotional issues which don't seem to exist with me. She chalks it up to me having a "gentle soul". She's bisexual but the first male partner she had was abusive and they never engaged in sexual intercourse. She's been with women ever since. There has never been any penetrative play.

I am an experienced, kind, and conscientious lover but I'm gonna admit, I think I'm a bit out of my death here and would like to know if anyone can point me to resources for having such a partner or has advice from their own situation. She doesn't need mental help resources, shes getting everything she needs in that regard but this issue is a big one. Both of us have admitted to not knowing how to approach it.
 

lunabunny

New member
Just to clarify: you're a male, Cardinal?
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Cardinal,

My main advice was going to be for her to seek therapy, but from your post it sounds like she's already doing that. Let me know if I am incorrect in that assumption.

I guess I'd also advise you to pursue this relationship slowly. Little steps. With lots of communication along the way. Asking her how she's doing emotionally. If there's anything you're doing that's triggering her.

Childhood trauma affects each person differently, and she may be handling it better than most. Or maybe she keeps it buried, or maybe she's unaware of how it's affecting her. These are things for her therapist to sort out. Your only job is to be there for her, to be understanding if she does have a reaction.

I hope the two of you can work things out.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
You could consider attending a support group and/or therapy for YOU because you need extra support navigating this right now as a partner to an abuse survivor. She has her stuff and it sounds like she has her therapist and things in place. But you will come to it from your POV and your experience of it will be different than hers. You might have things of you own that you need to air out or vent or get help with.

You could google things like

http://living.thebump.com/loving-formerly-abused-person-13512.html

or check book lists like

https://www.dabs.uk.com/books

but I think the fastest route might be to call up your primary care doctor and/or local women's shelters to see where the local groups might be at. You could also try online groups like https://www.supportforpartners.org/

If you both don't know how to approach it, you will have to CREATE you path. Work together to find you way. In meanwhile, maybe consider learning non-violent communication together. It might help make your communication be as respectful and non-triggering as possible WHILE you are finding your way. There are several books but I like this one

https://www.amazon.com/Living-Nonvi...9050&sr=8-5&keywords=nonviolent+communication

You can also watch Marshall Rosenberg on youtube.

There's the website too.

https://www.cnvc.org/

Galagirl
 
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Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
So you and she have had sex, but she doesn't want digital penetration or PIV intercourse? Despite all her therapy? Are you OK with that?

Are you hoping that just being together and building trust will enable her to have a full sex life with you, a male? Is she hoping that too, or is she good with no penetration ever?
 

lunabunny

New member
Originally Posted by lunabunny View Post
Just to clarify: you're a male, Cardinal?

That is correct.

I assumed so from the rest of your post, but it's important to know for sure because any advice given might be somewhat different depending on your gender.

As you're male and in an otherwise healthy relationship with a bi woman for whom you have feelings, I assume you'd like to reach a point where you can both enjoy a mutually satisfying sexual relationship... however you fear her past traumatic experiences will, or are, hindering this.

I agree with the other posters that, for her, the best way to approach this would be through therapy aimed at healing from past trauma and overcoming her fears in regard to potential physical contact with males (since she's bisexual and currently in a relationship with a man). Likewise, you should (continue to) support her in this process, which might include attending support group meetings, and perhaps couples' counselling or sex therapy - but only when her individual therapy has reached a stage where she's ready and willing to focus on someone else's needs outside of her own need to heal.

If your partner has communicated that she has reached this point, and would like to TRY to engage in a greater range of sexual intimacy with you (including penetrative sex), I also believe you need to be very slow and deliberate when expanding the range of intimate acts she's willing to participate in.

Try to gauge how she's feeling in the moment by reading her body language as well as her actual words, as it's possible she could have different reactions depending on her mood or if something has triggered her (it's not unusual for people with high anxiety, depressive disorders or PTSD to seem alright in one situation, but become overwhelmed by something similar at another time).

And if in doubt, specifically ASK if what you want to do is okay with her, before you do it. And I mean, even when moving from something relatively innocuous, say, kissing to fondling... or from nipple stimulation to clit/vaginal play.

If she agrees/wants to try penetrative sex, definitely work up to PIV in stages; maybe start by suggesting she touch/finger herself first, and if that goes well, ask if she wants you to do the same. Another option is starting with a toy, letting her control the "action", pressure, depth etc. Always back off if she expresses discomfort, doesn't seem into it or starts to look panicky.

Similarly, let her "lead" when it comes to doing stuff to please you (oral etc.) For many survivors of sexual abuse, this can really be an issue/trigger. I'm not sure how much you know about what she endured, but it's worthwhile finding out if certain acts will definitely be off the table for the foreseeable future. And do not try any of the above if either of you have been drinking or are impaired in any way. (Inhibitions might be loosened temporarily, but neither of you need to blur the line of consent at this juncture.)

Issues caused by sexual abuse are subjective and highly personal; what affects one person may not be a problem for another. As someone who experienced sexual assault at the hands of a former partner, I don't really have any particular hang-ups, however, I can be triggered by situations in which I don't have control or where I feel I'm being coerced to consent to an act I'm not comfortable with at the time. Always ask for verbal consent and gauge your partner's instinctive reaction.
 

Cardinal

New member
So you and she have had sex

No, I didnt think I implied that.

I'm a firm believer that pain is a monster, when you mistreat someone's monster, it holds on tighter. I don't wanna live in a world filled with monsters.

She needs alignment, healing takes alignment, so I wouldn't dare walk down that road till she and I are ready.

Originally Posted by lunabunny View Post

Similarly, let her "lead" when it comes to doing stuff to please you (oral etc.) For many survivors of sexual abuse, this can really be an issue/trigger. I'm not sure how much you know about what she endured, but it's worthwhile finding out if certain acts will definitely be off the table for the foreseeable future. And do not try any of the above if either of you have been drinking or are impaired in any way. (Inhibitions might be loosened temporarily, but neither of you need to blur the line of consent at this juncture.)

I'm sure she will share more in the future but I've heard a lot, more than other people I've known in similar circumstances would reveal.

Issues caused by sexual abuse are subjective and highly personal; what affects one person may not be a problem for another. As someone who experienced sexual assault at the hands of a former partner, I don't really have any particular hang-ups, however, I can be triggered by situations in which I don't have control or where I feel I'm being coerced to consent to an act I'm not comfortable with at the time. Always ask for verbal consent and gauge your partner's instinctive reaction.

I'm in your boat. I have issues, I've been treated for anxiety, developmental trauma including sexual abuse, somatization disorder, PTSD. She's honestly the only person I've met besides myself who has laceration scars and cigarette burns on her skin. I've been delicate with her and I wouldn't presume to make her pain seem less significant just because I got treated and moved on in the ways that I could.

You could consider attending a support group and/or

You could also try online groups like https://www.supportforpartners.org/

Galagirl

This was an extremely helpful community. Turns out the two of us are just being anxious, we are following absolutely every guideline for trust and recovery we could possibly have in place. I was really surprised things werent as bad as we seem to have interpreted. Thank you.
 
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pittarotaro

New member
Hi, trauma survivor here. One thing I would probably add is to always ask for her consent, never assume. When you're getting intimate, or even touching her, it's good practice to ask, "May I touch you on your skin here?" and mimic the area on your own body. Better yet, ask, "Would you feel comfortable if I touched you here?"

TW TW
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My nesting partner made the mistake of inserting a finger where he shouldn't. I screamed, cried, and asked him, "Why would you do that?!" I went into a full panic attack. He tried to hug me closer and I screamed at him to not touch me. He listened. Felt awful, of course, but realized what he did was very wrong. He never caused another incident like that again, and started being less bold and much more explicit about what he wanted to do when we got intimate (and of course he went to older habits that he was sure that were successful). The up side is that he started talking dirty to me and I enjoy that a bit.

My abusers kept me a "technical virgin". So that zone is completely full of field mines for many reasons. I didn't even know it was a thing until I was assaulted there again by an ex BF. From then on I've just kept it as a red zone to all potential partners. I could only trust my nesting partner with it, and he wants to keep it that way.

TW over...
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If she's divulged in the details, then you might have more information of her more sensitive areas. It's a start...
 

1234567

New member
Keep on alert for signs of freezing. I am a trauma survivor,’and the only trouble I ever had was with a girlfriend who couldn’t read stop signs and me being explicitl with what was too much (overstimulation with pressure on my skin, not anything one would think) didn’r help, as she couldn’t grasp when it was a problem.


When I got in trouble— I froze. I couldn’t say no or stop, as I could with anyone else, I could just endure. The only sign she could have picked up is that I was still, and not into it.

So, keep checking in, and if in doubt, stop, and wait.

The upside— if she’s enjoying it and you check in— you get to hear it!
 

PennyCantrip

New member
I can’t really add much to this in the way of advice, as I feel like many of the points I would make have already been covered by others; constant check-ins, consent affirmations, finding where the boundaries are any not touching them until the trust is there, etc. but it sounds like you’re both very self-aware and that regardless of whether penetrative sex comes into play, you have the foundation of a really positive experience that stays mindful of abuse triggers and respects boundaries. That, in and of itself, will hopefully be a fulfilling experience, both for her and for yourself. :)
 
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