What is Sexual Assault and How it Affects
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
My good friends Kil and Dr. Roz have a blog by the name of Marriage-Exposed that deals with issues plaguing our relationships and marriages. I have decided to share with you an article I wrote for the Marriage-Exposed in hopes that it will bless someone. Read on...
What is Sexual Assault?Sexual assault is any sexual activity involving a person who does not or cannot (due to alcohol, drugs, or some sort of incapacitation) agree or consent. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to take part in unwanted sexual contact or attention.” Sexual assault is somewhat of an umbrella term, and can describe many things, including:
· Rape, including partner and marital (yes, you can be raped by your spouse)
· Unwanted sexual contact (touching or grabbing)
· Unwelcome exposure of another person’s body, exhibitionism, or voyeurism
· Child sex abuse
· Incest or molestation
· Sexual harassment
· Sexual exploitation of clients by therapists, doctors, dentist, or other professionals (yes, this does happen too)
How does Sexual Assault affect our relationships/marriages?Sexual Assault affects our relationships/marriages in many different ways. If you are the Survivor, you may feel completely unsupported by your mate, who may not understand why it is “taking so long” for you to “get it together” and get back on track. Partners may have many issues of their own that prevent them from being supportive — such as deeply held beliefs that you may have attracted sexual attention from another, guilt over not having been there to protect you, and just a general sense of not understanding your pain and your healing journey.
You shouldn’t feel guilty or foolish if you feel emotionally disconnected from your partner or unhappy in the bedroom. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your partner or that you are no longer a sexual being. Consider it a period of healing and growth in which you need to take things slow. You should be aware of some of the common fears and concerns that can haunt many victims of sexual assault. You may feel like:
· You are damaged goods
· You are not a real man (if you are a man who was raped)
· You can never enjoy sex again
· You are afraid to be attractive and look desirable
Ultimately, rebuilding a relationship after you have been raped might be one of the most difficult things you will ever do, but it can also transform your relationship in extraordinary ways if you and your partner acknowledge the challenges and work to together to heal yourselves, and the relationship. Your bond can become stronger than ever before, and your connection with your partner will be more intimate and powerful (I’m a witness!!!). Just make sure to keep the communication lines open and turn to a therapist or counselor for help if you can.
Until we meet again, be encouraged and know that your past does not define you. You can pick up the pieces and move forward with your life.
Peace and blessings,
Dr. Laura Berman