For many sexual trauma survivors, post-trauma reality is further burdened by a realization that their experience has drastically altered their approach to sex. In many cases, this manifests as dissociation—wherein the individual disconnects from their current situation—and a fear of intimacy, both of which make it difficult to form and maintain a healthy, meaningful romantic and sexual relationship.
"There's not necessarily one way that trauma presents itself," said Nedeljko Golubovic, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at the University of San Diego. "Responses to [sexual] trauma can vary greatly. However, some things that are most likely to happen in terms of physical consequences are greatly impacted by the level of physical pain that was endured."
Understandably, recovering from a life-altering traumatic experience requires adopting healthy coping mechanisms, re-centering priorities, seeking therapy and healing—all of which take time. This process may complicate how you navigate your relationships alongside your sexuality and sex life. However, it is important to find a safe way to address and reconnect with your sexual self.