Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Childhood sexual abuse

7 September, 2019

Question:

I was unfortunately abused by two adult family members ongoing for the majority of my childhood. I have been in therapy on and off for about 8 years and I’m now entering my third year of marriage and at this point my husband and I have no relations at all. I have tried really hard until the last few months where I just don’t have the energy anymore, sex is physically painful, always causes flashbacks and nightmares and has the opposite effect of what it should — it makes me revolted by my husband. I don’t like the smells, sights or feelings of intercourse despite the fact that I used to get aroused in the beginning of my marriage. We are seeing a sex therapist now for a few months but I feel like no progress has been made-I just want it less and less and it is affecting our already rocky relationship because of the absence of sex. I’m looking for some direction of if and how it is possible to succeed in this part of my life. It looks more and more like there is no solution for people who were abused like me.


Answer:

We are so sorry to hear about the abuse you suffered and the effects it is having on you and your marriage.

We strongly believe that the way to heal and have a healthy outlook and healthy sex life is through professional counseling. If you are not currently going to individual counseling with a therapist who specializes in sexual abuse, we urge you to start up again. As hard as it is, and as frustrating as it is, do not give up on this. For yourself and for your marriage. The same goes for sex therapy/marital counseling with your husband. If you are not making progress with your current therapist, it might be worthwhile asking your doctor for a recommendation for another therapist. Do not give up hope – with a lot of hard work, more time and patience, and with the right shaliach of a therapist, you will see improvement.

You can find additional resources for therapy, support groups, and reading material at https://www.jewishcommunitywatch.org/get-help/jcw-resources/

In the meantime, we recommend exercising regularly and eating right, taking care of your body to feel good and feel strong. You should also try to work on the emotional side of your relationship, even while struggling with the physical aspect. Sit down with your husband and discuss ways you can reconnect and have a good time together. Have a date night, go for a walk together, play board games, anything that the two of you enjoy and can do together. Make sure to keep keep the lines of communication open; send a text, leave a sweet note, call each other during the day, etc.

We hope these suggestions will ease some of challenges you are facing, and pray that with counseling you will make progress and heal from the trauma you experienced.

Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.

B’hatzlacha!


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