Your Body. Your Mind. Your Health.

What It’s Like to Try to Have a Normal Sex Life After Rape

Physical intimacy can trigger or worsen PTSD, but regaining a fulfilling sex life is possible.Rape survivors are more than twice as likely to report pain during sex and nearly three times more at risk for pelvic floor dysfunctions (difficulty urinating, lower back pain) than other women. Other survivors don’t believe they deserve pleasure—or they suffer flashbacks while being intimate, says sex therapist Holly Richmond, Ph.D.
In these cases, Richmond advises relearning what feels good through masturbation. “It helps them realize they’re capable of sexual satisfaction again,” she says.

The Clit List, a sex website designed for sexual assault survivors (each video outlines which sex acts are involved, the level of explicitness, and potential triggers), can similarly help women reexplore sex in a safe environment. “Many women take as long as two years to work through the process,” says Richmond.

If you’re ready to attempt intimacy with an existing partner, discuss when, how, and where you are comfortable being touched, which may have changed since the attack. “Certain touches or sex acts may be off the table permanently,” says Richmond. With a new partner, be clear and direct, saying “I was raped in the past and sex can be hard for me.”

By Carrie Arnold

Sep. 15, 2016