Causes of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Trauma and Sexual Shame

Almost everybody has some kind of sexual trauma because of their cultural beliefs about sex. It’s not only rape or abuse but also a cascade of problems like inter-generational family issues.

We’re expanding our traditional beliefs of sexual trauma. We are all touched by sexuality trauma which stems from intergenerational and religious beliefs, the way that we raise our children. American parenting tends to be very hands-off compared to others. Let the baby cry himself to sleep. Right after birth you put them in an incubator and leave them alone. As a culture, we don’t really touch our little ones as much as they need to be. We don’t have names for genitals. Many of us grow up craving good appropriate touch.

Ariel Giarretto, Trauma Therapist and Somatic Educator

Causes of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Trauma and Sexual Shame – Susan Bratton
Almost everybody has some kind of sexual trauma because of their cultural beliefs about sex. It’s not only rape or abuse but also a cascade of problems like inter-generational family issues.
We’re expanding our traditional beliefs of sexual trauma. We are all touched by sexuality trauma which stems from intergenerational and religious beliefs, the way that we raise our children. American parenting tends to be very hands-off compared to others. Let the baby cry himself to sleep. Right after birth you put them in an incubator and leave them alone. As a culture, we don’t really touch our little ones as much as they need to be. We don’t have names for genitals. Many of us grow up craving good appropriate touch.
And then again, as we start to come into our bodies, sometimes we’re told not to touch ourselves. So, we have a lot of overlay of shame connected to this really important part of our body. Even if we haven’t undergone specific abuse, many of us feel deep layers of shame about our bodies.
Another issue is caused by medical procedures. I never really understood being poked and prodded. Your body’s going under anaesthesia and they do all these things to you and you wonder why it doesn’t feel good to be touched. The body remembers those things. Even if you’re under anaesthesia, the body doesn’t know that this is a friendly procedure. The body just knows there’s some crazy person with a scalpel cutting me open. The good news about anaesthesia is that we don’t actually experience pain but our bodies remember especially if we were premature. Think about a little tiny baby getting poked and probed and not getting that kind of contact.
There’s a lot of reasons why we grow up touch-phobic and why so many people have a lot of shame about sexuality. Then you complicate it when there is sexual trauma or bad boundaries at home or there’s sexual assault or molestation or even if you’re with someone who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge, which is everybody because no one’s taught how to make love. They see pornography or they’re insecure or they may not have a high emotional quotient. They might be your first partner or a partner who’s made a lot of blunders and errors with your body or who has had trouble orgasming. You think it’s you and you turn on yourself. There’s is a rainbow of reasons why sexuality gets traumatized.
Another thing we’ve talked about is that it affects everyone across the gender spectrum. When you think about sexual healing, a lot of times you think women get abused. Men suffer equally as much. One of the beautiful things about the #MeToo movement is that people are coming forward. They’ve been silent. And they suddenly are able to have a voice. This is a very powerful time.
In schools, there’s some sex education but it is health-oriented. It’s abstinence-oriented. It’s not encouraging you to explore your sexuality. It’s telling you all the dangers, the STI’s and the contraception. Again, this is another layer of negative programming around your sexuality that makes it scary. Imagine what a difference it would make if schools actually taught their kids how to make love and enjoy their body.
I’ve been a long- term therapist for many years but I don’t do traditional talk therapy. I really work somatically meaning how does somebody’s body respond to something that happened to them. As they remember a situation where they weren’t touched appropriately, I want to know not just what happens in the emotional or what they remember about the details, but also what starts to erupt in the body as well as what shuts down, what goes offline.
When you have people with sexual trauma or who have had bad boundaries, they end up isolating certain parts of their body so they can’t feel them. One of the best ways to handle sexual trauma is to disembody, dissociate, leave those parts that hold memories. My job and so much of what Susan does is to start to find pleasure in the body. How do you re-enter your body as one who has either had a bad touch or not enough touch or even sexual trauma? How do you start to become friends? How does your body become a playground of pleasure?
That’s often where I start when I’m working with people that have sexual trauma. I don’t start with the sex. We have to start at the periphery and support the body in becoming something that they want to go into, they want to experience.
I want to say one thing before we get into the exercise. I teach something called the Bullseye Touch technique and I teach this to male-bodied people about female-bodied people. But it’s really also very good for people who have had any kind of emotional and physical trauma around their sexuality. The bullseye touch technique says don’t go for the breasts and the genitals first. Start from the outside: hair, face, hands, arms, feet, legs, belly and then work your way in.
Start with non-sexual types of pleasure that don’t involve a partner because sometimes even having a partner, even having somebody touch is way too much for someone who has suffered sexual trauma and they will check out.
Here’s the basic practice. We’re going to call this a guided pleasure activity. This is something that I do with almost all my clients. Start to imagine and remember an activity that you love to do. It could be dancing. It could be hiking. It could be receiving a massage. It could be cuddling with your partner. It could be swimming. Swimming is very healing. It doesn’t have to be the perfect activity. It is the entry point.
We want to find out what parts of the body start to become alive. What wakes up? For instance, if I think about hiking, I begin to notice I can feel my legs, I can feel the strength in my muscles, I can feel how my feet touch the woods and the texture of the woods underneath my feet. I can imagine the Sun and the wind touching my face and I also notice what happens on the inside when I take a breath. I feel the air coming into my lungs. I can see my expansion. I can feel things falling away, all the burdens coming off of me and being able to stand a little taller and feel better about my body, feel like I’m energizing my body.
This is exactly what we want to be able to expand into the body. If you have sexuality trauma, you tend to get small and tight. This is the antidote. As I remember this again what happens on the inside. My breath gets deeper, my stomach softens, I start to have more access to all of my self. There’s movement. Part of the practice is to find words that describe your internal experience. For people who don’t do very well with that, we have to sometimes give a menu which is what Susan and I just did.
The other thing that can really help bring pleasure in the body is movement. We can do this together too. If I bring my joints in, we’re waking up our proprioception which feeds information right into our brain. We want to find movements that are pleasurable. Stretching muscles into the shoulders and the spine feel good. Bring a little movement into our pelvis. All this can enhance sensation.
Another one which we can do together is self-touch. Give yourself a hug. When we haven’t been touched correctly, we need to learn what our body likes. I’ll give someone some lotion and I’ll say let’s just spend some time feeling our hands, feeling each other and moving very slowly and noticing what my body likes best. Does it like slow touch? Does it like to be held firmly? Does it like feather touch? Does it like tickling or does it like pressure under the skin into the muscle? Does it like long smooth strokes? Does it like short strokes?
Also, a different day, a different body. I think you always want a little something different in each moment. It’s what you want right now. It’s that notion of tuning in to the touch that your body needs in the moment that helps you pull away that armouring and relax because you’re going to get the touch you need by giving yourself permission to experience different touch in different moments.
Permission is huge. With a lot of people who haven’t been touched appropriately, they have a hard time with noticing what they like. They get really clear about what they don’t like and as they spend a moment of time going saying “I like this,” I have to notice the response that my body has to something I like. This is the foreplay before the foreplay and many people move too quickly pre-foreplay.
Sometimes I have to work with people for months. There’s your basic practice. Keep practicing it because that’s the way in. You’re not alone. Almost everyone has some sort of sexual trauma from just being in our culture, being in the world today, and there are many steps that you can take to reverse that trauma and have beautiful pleasure with yourself and others.

FREE Gift: Rewriting Your Libido Story (VIDEO)

(Visited 537 times, 1 visits today)

You Might Be Interested In

Other Channels

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *