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Dating someone who has been abused
Even what I’ve written in this article and in previous ones might feel totally off to her.
Instead, let her be the authority on her experience.
We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship.
Now, onto this week’s topic: how to be a good sexual partner to someone who has been sexually abused.
Q: My girlfriend read your articles about sexual abuse, and found them to be helpful in understanding why sex can be so difficult for her.
For example, I once worked with a client who realized it was easier for her to give consent if her partner sent her a suggestive text message asking if she was interested in being intimate.
Having the distance of being over text message instead of face-to-face, and a bit more time to consider the decision, made her feel more comfortable with answering honestly. On your part, try to think of consent as inviting her to connect with you, each step of the way.
Her consent literally did not matter to the person abusing her.
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After an experience like that, it can feel to a survivor that her consent never matters.Some women feel like they need to keep their partners sexually satisfied or risk losing them, so they push themselves out of their comfort zones.Other people will start feeling pressure if a certain amount of time has gone by without having sex.It helps the partner understand more about what their partner is experiencing, and how they can work together to create a sex life that feels satisfying.There are also lots of great exercises you can do together to help your girlfriend feel more comfortable and safe.One client I worked with felt pressured when her male partner initiated sex nonverbally because she didn’t know exactly what he wanted, and would start getting anxious.If he used his words to tell her what he wanted to do, she felt much more comfortable.Even something as simple as regularly reminding her, “what you want is important to me” can be helpful.When I work with sexual abuse survivors in my practice, we frequently decide to bring their partners into the therapy too.We’ve struggled with our sex life because a lot of things feel triggering to her.I know she has her own journey to go through around this (she’s looking for a therapist now, actually), but how can I support her?